your life is your own
even when it’s hammered
into something else, something
you don’t recognize. there is
always a way, always a way out,
nothing is all darkness,
and not all sky is stars –
but each scrap of life
is important. you cannot just
get by, or get through,
you must wring it out,
every inch of it,
every last laughing moment.
when something is offered, take it.
when love is given, revel in it.
when truth is revealed, say thank you –
marvel at everything
and don’t look back.
out there, there is a tomorrow
with your name of it.
it may be a girl
who loves you
despite your fear, despite
the things you’ve hidden
from yourself. remember:
not everything is darkness,
not everything is light.
there is always a way in,
there is always a way out,
and all truth – all chances –
begin in the heart.
Today, the wind is blowing hard, hissing and wailing through all the walls. The world shakes. It is warm outside, but everything is grey. Right now, that feels right. That looks how I feel, except I’m quiet. All thoughts turned inward, churning and chewing themselves up. There are no answers, only feelings. Emotional debris upended like tilled earth.
I’ve been thinking about the idea of a right decision. The right choice. The right thing. There are things where I just don’t know what that is. Where things look great on paper, but they’re not actually great. Where things are complicated and sticky, and right has left the building. Because rarely are things as black and white as we pretend them to be.
If there’s a clear cut right and wrong, life is neater. Easier. Able to be hospital cornered and tidied into smooth creases. A perfectly made decision, sharply done. Easy to identify. No muss, no fuss.
But in all honesty, the important decisions are rarely that. They’re messy and layered; they wreck and raze things. They’re not clearly marked good and bad. Sometimes, there is no perfect answer, no right one.
At the end of the day, I believe in following your heart. Sure, it may take you straight off a cliff – into shark infested waters – but nothing in life worth having is EASY. Or safe. Or pristine. All of the good things are wonderfully, horribly messy. They’re chockfull of complications, missteps, saying too much, and loving harder and more fiercely than you ever imagined.
What, though, do you do when you love two things? You can’t drag out a scale and weigh one against the other. You can’t haul out a tape measure and find the tallest form of love. You cannot assess which matters more or most, or if the first somehow overshadows the second.
Make one choice – break one heart. Make a different one – and you break another. But broken hearts are funny things. They don’t shatter, like glass. They develop scar tissue. They are resilient. More resilient than we often dare to acknowledge, because it’s a nearly terrifying revelation. The possibility and potential might, then, be infinite. Bottomless. And then what?
I don’t know. I truly don’t. But I do know that one love does not negate another. Just as one choice does not make others vanish.
Life, at its best and worst, is chaotic and messy. It is what it is – but it is also whatever we dare to make it. Think about that for a minute, and it’s kind of amazing. We may get blown around by the wind, sometimes. It might get cold out there, and it might seem like winter is forever. But we all have an invincible summer within us (to paraphrase Camus). Reach in and find it — and there’s nothing you cannot do.
“Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~Anais Nin
“You have to believe. Otherwise, it will never happen.” ~Neil Gaiman
I struggle with logic, sometimes. I struggle with being reasonable. In my dealings with people, I strive to be calm and levelheaded (this, despite appearances, is not my default). It is important not to shut down or shut off and talk. Even when the world is spinning, even when my heart is trying to kill itself by bashing into my ribcage, and the words are all coming out wrong.
And then comes the cold, creeping knowledge that there are certain that even I can’t fix. That sometimes, maybe love isn’t enough. That maybe I’m not enough. That there are choices that are already made, before I even realize there is a question.
I am all heart. All of it. Down to the marrow of my bones, pulsing through every atom. I don’t love easily, but I love to the very ends of everything I am. I cannot turn it off. I don’t know – not really – how anyone possibly can. You can only push feelings aside for so long. They bubble up. They resurrect. They appear and insert themselves into thoughts and moments.
Here is what I know. Some feelings are so strong that they demand certain things. You have to confront them, deal with them, and come to terms with them. Shoving them under a rug will not work. It solves nothing, accomplishes nothing, and bottling them up almost always makes them worse. Like shaking a can of soda and popping the top off: it will probably explode. And so will you.
I think, in life, there are always three choices: accept, fight, or run. I’ve never been a runner, even when shit gets hard. I accept things when I can, even when it’s difficult. And if my heart is involved, fighting is a foregone conclusion. Except, sometimes, the question of how to fight arises. Because it isn’t enough to just start swinging. You have to know what you’re fighting. You have to know that you’re not just shadowboxing yourself. Everyone is always fighting their own battles. Some are situational. Some are internal. Every struggle is valid. But so is every feeling.
I woke up this morning with one single thing on my mind. I will go to bed tonight thinking of the same. Tomorrow will not be any different. I may be fragile, but I am not made of glass. I may be strong, but I am not made of walls. I may be brave, but I am not without fear.
I am doing the best I can, even if I don’t know what I’m doing. But I know this: things should be given freely, or they should not be given at all. You don’t ask for a heart. You don’t ask for love. But it happens, anyway, mostly when you aren’t looking.
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.” ~Neil Gaimn
I don’t believe in perfection. I believe in working very hard. I believe in kindness. I believe in the power of coffee, red lipstick, love, and laughter. I believe in people. I believe in risk. I believe in taking chances, being braver than you credit yourself with/for, and saying I love you when it’s meant. Not before. And not too late. When it’s true. The same goes for apologies.
I don’t believe in perfection.
I believe that sometimes you have to sing out loud no matter where you are. The car. The grocery store. The shower. Some moments must be sung. I believe that there are some days that can be turned around by baking cookies. Or having wine. Or curling up with a good book or a good hug. Do not underestimate the power of a good hug. Do not underestimate the power of a good kiss. Kiss well and kiss often. Always dance around the house. It makes life more fun.
I don’t believe in perfection.
I believe that love is bigger than we want to believe. Love can be scary, but it can fix the unfixable. So can friendship. These two things together? Unbeatable. It’s like Buttercup’s speech to Prince Humperdink in the Princess Bride. She was right. As you wish.
I don’t believe in perfection.
I believe in phone calls at 3 am. Or in the middle of the day. I believe in honesty. I believe in communication. I believe that things can change. That things should change. And that the easy things are easy for a reason: they’re entirely too safe. Safety is often mistaken for duty, comfort, and reason. There is nothing reasonable about stagnation.
I don’t believe in perfection.
I believe in dressing up for no reason. I believe in tequila. I believe in rum. I believe in lace underwear and cute bras. I believe in skirts and dresses and grace. I believe in raincoats, leather boots, and smiling. Never underestimate the power of a smile, or the way a man will brush your hair from your face. Love is more than just words. It’s the way someone looks at you. It’s the way someone holds you. It’s the way your voice turns soft when you say the other person’s name.
I don’t believe in perfection.
Tell me what you believe.
A prose poem. Because I don’t write enough of these.
I love you so much it scares me. There. I said it. And yet, even though it scares me – overwhelms and undoes me – I’m not looking to run. Unless running leads to you. I keep this quiet. I keep it to myself. There are days where I wonder if I am just too much. Too open. Too honest. Too much promise. Too much possibility. I am six cups of coffee when all you wanted is two.
I am not going anywhere. Well, neither am I.
There you are. Not flinching. Not fleeing. Not questioning the way that I question everything. The look on my face says too much, I know. I can’t help it. I can’t say that I’d want to, if I could. I’d rather love be too much than not enough. I’d rather be too full than half empty. I’d rather choose you than anyone else.
I don’t know if you know that. I don’t know how you could not.
Still, I try not to push you. I try not to ask for too much. And yet, I’m dangerously close to asking for everything. With you, I talk too much. I can’t stop. I can’t shut up. I am full to bursting, desire replacing all the blood in my veins. I close my eyes to find your smile. I curl my fingers and feel your hand. Yours is the breath that I exhale. The song in my lips. The lyrics are yours. The melody dances in the curve of my back. Together, we are a symphony.
I meant what I said to you, even if I haven’t said it again. I love you. I’m yours. There isn’t a thing I wouldn’t do for you.
My heart is tangled with yours. Given a choice, I will always choose you. There is no better way to know us than as two wolves come separately to a wood.** The cold doesn’t matter. I’d set fire to everything without concern for the match. Just say it. I’m listening.
I love you beyond words, in three different languages. No interpretation required. Even the stars keep their distance from this. Their light will fade in the day. Ours does not.
I am not really scared. This heated rush is not fear. I am just wanting. Needing. Breathing, and yet holding my breath. This is freefall. And I feel everything.
I would not change a thing.
*Reference to Daphne Gottlieb’s prose, found here.
**Ted Hughes wrote that, not me.
I cannot name this.
I thought it was love, and now
I wonder if there is something more than
love. I am uncertain of what to do,
or say, but the words
are in my fingertips –
can you feel them
and the prayer on my lips?
like kerosene, and I watch
the night burn into tomorrow,
for the space where
dawn meets possibility,
where I meet you,
and where we stop being
but equal, two countries
with a border that collides.
right here, right now.
don’t speak. don’t breathe.
don’t ask. don’t translate.
i want to lie down.
i do not want to sleep.
seven years, plus seven more –
this is our beginning.
this is our ending.
this is you and me
and us and we,
and we are here
we are what we are,
and it is what it is.
there is no naming it.
there are only the hours
in an afternoon
when we honor each other,
and this nameless heartbeat
that is both moth and flame –
i am tired of being without.
i want you within.
i carry the thought of your body
in my body; this
is no accident —
and neither am I.
do not ask what.
do not ask why.
heed your heart.
it is, and is not, fragile.
it loves. it loves. it loves.
it cannot lie,
and i am unable to rest; i am
there are no directions
for this, and this
desire is no small thing;
my kisses are lost without you –
let us fill the hours
with things other than questions,
let us exhaust
the idea of something
more than love.
To be accommodating is such a small, simple thing. It’s all too easy to get caught up in what we want, or need, or think something should be. It’s much harder to put someone else’s needs before your own, but that is, interestingly, what love is. Plain and simple. (That’s not to imply that anything about love is EVER simple. If it is, it’s probably not love. But I digress…) That’s caring about someone else.
I forget, sometimes, that not everyone is like that. I forget that what seems like such a small thing to me – may indeed be a big thing to someone else. Because so often, people forget to be kind. And it really matters. It can make the difference between a bad day and a good one, a fight and a discussion, and a stalemate and a compromise.
The funny (almost contrary) thing is that I love plans. I love knowing things. There are times where being flexible does not come naturally to me (do NOT say what you are thinking; that is not what I was referring to, you dirty birds). I know why this is. I like the security of knowing that x, y, and z is going to occur. I like knowing how to plan my day. I like to remove doubt. (The psychology of this can probably be traced back to my childhood.) Sometimes, I like to be able to look forward to a Thing. But being flexible is important. The truth is that when I venture outside of my comfort zone for someone/something else, it is always deliberate. It is never an accident or a mistake. It is always a choice. Even if it seems hasty, it isn’t. It’s something I’ve worked on and am still working on. And I suspect will forever be working on. That, though, matters – working on something. Trying to improve.
But improvement isn’t the point of this post. It’s that it costs nothing to be kind. It is a small gesture, a tiny offering, a little thing. And yet, it’s so much more than that. There are days where I forget that. There are days where I am stuck on things in my own head. My own wants, desires, and thoughts about how something [life, love, relationships, moments, opportunities] should be. But that is selfish and possibly very stupid. It is also unwise. Because no one is an island. And life can be complicated, sometimes in the very best way.
The little things matter. Especially to me. Grand gestures are, well, grand. But I don’t need someone to show up with a suit of armor, wielding a bouquet, to impress me. Someone once made my day by bringing me muffins. He probably won’t remember that, but I do. It mattered. It matters. It will always matter. Because those little things are what set us apart from everything else.