you flew out of my grief, bird
caught on the wind, telling tales
of shattered days
made whole with a song,
nothing more than the right note
at the right time,
a composition of compassion
played by perfect hands
in the dark –
it was what took the monsters
from my dreams,
told the ghosts to go
one by one, shattering the hold
that ruined me for myself,
a crack down the middle
of more than just glass.
I dream about living in the world
of your smile, that strange city
haven of sin and song,
a miracle of lightning and bone,
only to be returned twofold
with deft fingers
and willing skin.
I wanted to create like that.
I wanted to resurrect so easily.
I wanted wild moments
of yes this, of sparks
that turn heads
from myth to man –
perfection found in a lonely, strange place,
where the unimagined gesture
is the price we eat, glad
for the pleasure that comes straight
for our pain.
are a love I will not give up,
because even when our worlds end,
even when our hearts stop,
from the dust and blood,
and dangerous –
something that we can call ours.
And I will stand in Hell
straight within the flames
for even a glimpse of that.
When I was in second grade, I told a couple of friends a joke I’d heard. It had a curse word in it. It was a BIG deal in my world. I wasn’t going to tell them, since I’d only known that gaggle of girls a short while, but I did. They asked again and again. So, I caved in, and I trusted them. I told the joke (which, by the way, I still remember).
One of the girls, whose name is etched upon my mind, promptly went and told the teacher. Mrs. Disapproving Face sauntered over, gave me the Look of Shame – and told me if I told another joke like that, she’d tell my parents. I nodded. She left. Looking at Judas, I felt an odd mixture of anger and grief. Here was a girl I *thought* I could trust, and she shat all over my fine judgment. Or, as it turned out, not so fine. Needless to say, I did not trust her again, because once broken in so deft a way, it is hard to put your faith BACK into a person.
Learning who to trust, who to trust partially, and who not to trust at all – it is a lifelong pursuit, shaded by mistakes and unfortunate instances where hindsight is twenty-twenty. There are times where I still trust the wrong people, but the instances are rarer than when I was seven or eight – and I thought the world was made of rainbows, goodness, and CareBear hugs.
I’ll be honest: I love that moment in a relationship (any relationship) where you suddenly realize, “Holy shit, that other person really trusts me. And I trust them. And…this is so good.” Because there is something heartwarming and wonderful about realizing that, about knowing it down to your marrow. In a world where we are constantly reminded that people can be shitty just for the hell of it, really trusting someone – and being trusted in return – is a kind of everyday magic. It’s the kind of thing that makes me happy, that makes me smile and sing.
Trust is a kind of love. It’s a leap of faith. It’s a small bit of brilliance, unasked for. Trust, of course, is earned. Most of the time, it happens slowly. You don’t meet someone for the first time, shake their hand, and say, “Hey! Want to hear about the time I [insert deep, dark secret here]?” Because…no. That’d be crazier than a barrel full of rabid monkeys wearing tutus and sword fighting with bananas.
People trust at different speeds, with varying degrees, based on a indiscernible combination of personal fears and worthiness. You don’t trust the mail person with your feelings, just like you don’t offer a man named Buffalo Bill a bottle of lotion and a basket: it wouldn’t make sense. And it could end poorly.
Every day, I strive to be the most trustworthy person I can be. Then once I know I’ve earned your trust, I work very hard to keep it. It’s not like a prize you stick on the shelf and forget about. It’s something you cherish and respect. It’s nothing short of an honor. Because once someone trusts you, they have faith in who you are as a person – that they will listen without judgment and protect the things you tell them. I can count, on one hand, the number of people I trust, completely. The people I call up when I am sad, having a bad day, or I have absolutely good news that I cannot wait to share. The people who I know will love me, even if I’m being a total idiot – or maybe BECAUSE I’m being a total idiot. The people who can listen to my thoughts, feelings, and mistakes…and it doesn’t alter how they see me.
No one is perfect. No one. I’m not. You’re not. Perfection is a myth that someone stitched out of stars and bullshit. I don’t want to be judged by my bad days or my mistakes. I don’t want to be weighed only by those painfully squicky moments – so, why would I judge anyone else by them? (Rhetorical question, folks.) If we go into any relationship with the moon in our eyes, assuming that no one leaves the seat up, farts, says the occasionally stupid thing, or wears sweatpants around the house (not heels and pearls!) – then reality has fled, and things are based on impossible fantasy. Personally, in any relationship, I do not want perfection. I want the messy moments. I want the arguments, the bad days, the confessions, the confidences, the unvarnished truths, and the comfort in secret-sharing. It is easy to handle the good days, because they’re GOOD. But it’s how you handle the uncomfortable moments, the difficult times, and the ugly truths that matter the most.
I remember the first time I realized that I completely trusted my best friend. In a moment of total panic, I confessed something to her and asked her advice. It was the kind of thing that you don’t TELL anyone. And I told her. Not only did she still love me anyway (unless these 15 years have all been a LIE. Hehe), but she gave me advice. She still does She sees me face-deep in Kleenx, wearing bleached out yoga pants, hair wild and twelve feet high – and she loves me anyway. I ask her for the MOST AWKWARD favor EVER, and she doesn’t hesitate. The reverse is also true. She has my back. I have her back. End of story.
But, again: I love that feeling when you realize someone totally trusts you, and you trust them. It makes me want to hug unicorns. It makes me want to burst into song. (I do that a lot. I’m a human Disney character. Not kidding. “There goes the baker with his tray like always…”) People reveal themselves to be trustworthy, and the best way to be trusted is to show trust yourself. It is a thing of courage. It is something that makes the world a little better, a little brighter. And a brighter world is a wonderful place of possibility. J.M. Barrie once wrote, “All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust.” And I couldn’t agree more. This is the ordinary magic of life that leads to extraordinary things.
“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.”― E.E. Cummings
“It is not true that women cannot keep secrets. Where they love, they can be trusted to death and beyond, against all sense and reason.” – Mary Stewart, The Hollow Hills
The other day, I was having a conversation with my BFF, discussing wants, needs, and love. Sometimes people confuse these things with each other, and it’s often hard to parse them apart. Now, you can want something/someone without needing them. (But, Daddy! I WANT an Oompa Loompa! Veruca, may WANT an Oompa Loompa, but she doesn’t NEED one.) You can want someone and not love them. (I’m pretty sure Veruca wasn’t looking to elope with one of Willy Wonka’s orange-faced minions.) But can you ever NEED someone you don’t love?
To me, if I don’t love you, I don’t need you. Any kind of love, mind you – friendly or romantic. However, since the conversation, I’ve been thinking about needing someone, and I’m kind of stumped. You can need a lot of things: comfort, company, someone to talk to etc. But to NEED a person? There’s much more to it than just filling some sort of niche.
Needing someone is a funny thing. The people that we need are the ones who matter most to us. The ones who, perhaps, in some way complete us or make us better. I stumbled across a quote yesterday that I really loved, “Love is needing someone. Love is putting up with someone’s bad qualities because they somehow complete you” (Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby). To me, that sums up love and need perfectly. They are not the same thing, but they do go hand-in-hand.
Back to my original question: can you ever need someone without loving them? I don’t think so, but I want to know what you think. Can you need without loving? And, the reverse: can you love without needing?
“True love must be fought for, because once you find it, it can never be replaced.” ~Once Upon a Time
The sign of a good show, in my opinion, that it reflects reality in a way that reveals truth. It can have fantastical elements (Buffy, Once Upon a Time) or not (Gilmore Girls, Once and Again). All that matters is that it rings true, that the situations and characters resonate loudly. The shows I listed are the few that, for me, have done – or do – that. Whose heart DIDN’T break into a million pieces when Buffy slept with Angel, only to have him go full-on EVIL? Whose heart didn’t explode with joy when they reunited only to frakkin’ part AGAIN? (If your heart was unmoved, you’re a robot. Or an alien. Or Regina stole it.)
For Once Upon a Time, which starts up again on September 30th, it is a show made of pairs – couples joined, torn apart, kept apart, and reunited. There’s Snow/Charming (Mary Margaret/David), Nova/Dreamy (Leroy/Astrid), and Rumplestiltskin/Belle (Mr. Gold/Belle). What do all these couple have in common? Everything.
There’s an element of we shouldn’t and we can’t. There are obstacles, difficulties, false starts, heartache, and heartbreak. There nothing easy about these pairings. There’s no straight line. In the case of Nova/Dreamy, there’s no happy resolution (yet), and the resulting separation turns Dreamy into Grumpy. In reality, love is a fight. It is a struggle. Much like, I might add, the original fairytales written by the Grimms. Those things were a bloody – often literally – mess.
Love makes us braver, stronger, and a better version of ourselves. Real love doesn’t seek to change. It enhances who we already are. It draws out the courage and the awesomeness. It quiets the doubts and the voices, the fears and insecurities. It is everything you’ve ever hoped for and dared to believe. For me, that’s what a show like Once Upon a Time exemplifies. It reminds me, through art, that we all run away sometimes. We all love sideways, with the best of intentions. And that fighting for something, or someone, is a hell of a battle. It’s a dragon. It’s a curse. It’s a villain without a face.
But is, as is often pointed out, the most powerful magic of all. And, in some ways, the very best madness. Because love that isn’t a little bit wild? I’m not sure it’s love. I’m not talking just about passion. I’m talking about love that reflects us like a mirror. Love that conjures a smile in our absolute worst moments. Love that shows up. That makes time – because time, darlings, IS love. We don’t make time for things or people that don’t matter.
It’s no secret that I’m totally excited for the new season of Once. It’s everything I love about life, with a little pixie dust thrown in. It’s secret looks and coffee shops. It’s promises and hope. It’s rising to the occasion, even when we want to run. It is believing.
There’s nothing more perfect than believing. Sometimes, people lose the ability to believe – to take risks and to fight. To bite the apple, or climb out on a limb that we’re not entirely sure will hold. But not me. I can honestly say that will never be me. When I decide to fight for something, there’s no giving up or backing down. While I don’t have to battle any actual dragons, life can sometimes feel like one big, fire-breathing monster. But if it weren’t? If wonderful things and people just fell into our laps, all gift-wrapped and easily obtained? It would have less value. Because nothing worth having ever arrives like that. And if it does, maybe we’d be more inclined to overlook it.
But during hard times, moments of confusion or transition, it’s the little things that make us lighter. It’s the gestures. It’s those things that make hope swell. It reminds me that love is a magic that does not fade. It doesn’t go away. And it always says yes. And once upon a time, in a land not so far away, Snow White wakes up. Prince Charming shows up. We remember who we are.
The other day, someone made an observation about me that I scoffed at. I believe my eloquent response was, “What? Naaaah.” Later, I thought about it and realized: it was accurate. Then, I sat down and thought about the reason behind it. And you know, I was grateful. Not many people are that kind of honest. Not many people see us as we are (warts and all), and fewer still talk about those flaws.
Here’s the thing: I talk a lot sometimes. Not to everyone. Not indiscriminately. Granted, I can be a clown sometimes – I like to make people laugh. But when I start to let the walls down, ask your advice, and babble about silly things? Well, it means that I like you AND I trust you. In short: it’s a big deal. Because I can count on one hand the number of people who I let in like that.
Part of a good, healthy relationship is forgetting the kittens and rainbows – and being real. Being real isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, it’s messy. Sometimes, it’s morning breath and bad hair. Sometimes, it’s forgetting to take the trash out or saying something stupid (mmm, my foot does NOT taste good). Sometimes, it’s “What am I doing?” or “I feel so much that I can’t breathe.” Being real means telling the truth, even if it isn’t sugarcoated and covered in glitter. There is, of course, a difference between being helpful and honest – and being critical and mean. HUGE difference. Annnnnway….
I appreciate those moments, those things I might not notice about myself, because you can only see your own reflection so clearly. I like to learn. I like to figure out the reasons and the root cause when I can. I love to know what makes other people tick, but it’s nice to understand why *I* do the things I do. Or say the things I say.
The truth is that very few people are brave enough to be that honest. Whenever someone is, it’s like gold. And I cherish it. Because it’s these things that make us BETTER people. It’s those moments that keep us honest.
So, I want to ask you: when’s the last time this happened to you? Has someone made an observation about you that you found enlightening? What was it?
Your fingers are hungry. Your kiss shakes springtime loose from the trees. Your body is a season that undoes me. I love you perfectly, between darkness and soul. It is a fire that moves and burns, breathes and dreams beyond all moments. I want to wander through all the flowers with you, knowing where and when and why. Pressed together, I know all the languages ever spoken, all words turned to passion. Desire as ripe as that is how we are lost and found. I hunger for the song in your bones. Come closer, and I will sing it back to you.
(bonus points to the person who gets all the Neruda references.)
The world burned
in the dark, the light held back
by closed eyes
and excuses – but
I went looking
for you anyway.
Someone, somewhere, smiled –
eyes dull, hands closed, mouth
tight and unforgiving,
a woman caught
in a cage, yelling at her
jailer, her own reflection staring back
at her. I shut her out. I forgot her
with blind purpose.
I went looking
for you anyway.
The world drowned
one drop at a time, one
small sacrifice of clarity
and certainty, a swelling tide
of ignorance and shit,
lies living between the reasons
given and received, a bitter sacrament
that you took without question – but
I went looking
for you anyway.
The cup spilled over, the wine
gone dry. There’s nothing left
to drink but me; with one swallow
the world will comes to rights,
with one kiss, the world will stop
and start again, with one wild
bit of love
you will be alright.
Because knowing what I know,
and all the things I’ve seen, darling –
I went looking for you, anyway.
*this is a line from Frost’s Fire and Ice.