Everything that’s not you has settled into the wreckage of my bones, living between the hairline cracks, sneaking into the marrow. There’s no exorcism for this. This is no ghost. Only wolves pacing inside my smile, all my love wondering – wandering – by moonlight obscured by clouds. This is how a wild thing learns to keep silent. This is how silence offers itself as an ally, only to offer a knife to my back.
Today, I am made of questions. Today, I am borne of the unknown. Today, I am missing you exquisitely, as if I’ve never known anything else. With you, I never know what will happen, only that something will. And everything becomes two hands made of lightning, and I’m lost in the dark without them. The wolves are pacing, love. Pacing like their very lives are on fire.
Don’t mistake me: I am not craving the past. I am not content with old memories, turned inside out. I want new earthquakes and blind destinies. I want to forget the ruin we’ve sometimes made of each other – all the hope bottled up as sudden grief, sudden separation. I want that gone. In its place, I want you.
Should is a word the betrays hope. Should is a coward’s refuge. Should looks like mercy, but it has vicious teeth. It always goes for the throat. It demands that you start a war with yourself, one you have no intention of winning. Is that what you want: to trap yourself with your own fractured reasoning? The world is prison enough. Don’t you dare thank your captor for the privilege.
If you listen carefully, you can eavesdrop on my heart. Hold your ear up to my chest, and a thousand wishes will pour out. One will be your name. Another will be our story. A third will be a dream I can’t give up – a voice I can’t shut out. Today, silence is my gift to you.
I have burned every bridge I’ve ever stood on. I’ve loved every shoreline as it turns to glass. This is my arson. I never said I was easy, never claimed I wasn’t dangerous. But I’m no longer interested in maybe and sad stories. If you want something, you have to take it. And you know exactly where I am.
I want every bit of war you ever allowed into your touch. I want fallen cities and brave mistakes. Because this is no dream, no fantasy. This is not pristine and perfect. This is a mess made of good intentions. These are flaws made of an open heart. And my reason has begun to lose its temper. Eventually, everything will out. Even the wolves are waiting for the forest to burn. I wonder:
How long has my body been made of gasoline? And how long have you been holding that match?
*title shamelessly stolen from Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin
In order to see the stars, you must first see the night. The sun overshadows starlight, and it’s only revealed after all the light is gone. Have you ever noticed that when everything is dark, stars arrive like magic, appearing one by one, too fast to count. Little bright bastions of silver, taming the wildness of an empty sky. For every point, there is a counterpoint. For every fear, there is a hope. For every weakness, there is a strength. Even nature holds a balance. This is something we forget when we start to take the sky for granted.
Some people are like that, too. Miracles borne of twilight – the bright hope that keeps you going when the sunlight has gone away. Do not take them for granted. Look for them when everything has gone to hell. Remember them, those who have touched you and kept you. Last week. A year ago. A breath ago. Or, perhaps, they are long dead – but like stars, the light still carries.
Hold to the things that chase away the dark. Fill your life with starlight. Gather love the way children gather constellations: with absolute certainty and delight. Map your world by what fills you with wonder. Live it by indrawn breaths and arresting surprises – that which stops you in your tracks. Don’t be content with what does not nurture you. Don’t curl your fingers around your pain or that which seeks to hold you in your place. Don’t merely count the hours until the sun comes back out. You cannot outpace the moon. You cannot conjure a sunrise.
Find the magic in everyday things. Resurrect your will to believe. Don’t chart your course with wasted words and rung out reasoning. Trace tomorrow by Orion, Draco, and Ursa Major. Live your life by starlight – that is how you find your way back home. No, that is how you find your way.
Home is a heart; the destination varies.
Yesterday, I had a revelation I didn’t expect. I suppose that no one expects a revelation. It’s like the Spanish Inquisition. It’s got SPAM in it. Wait, that’s not right. Let’s get back to the point: I’m not a perfect person. I don’t intend to be. Sure, I try to make the right choices, do the right things. But at the end of the day, I’m full of flaws. I’m insecure. I worry. I have a tendency to keep my mouth shut when things are bothering me. I’m more inclined to worry about you than I am to show that I’m having a bad day.
Honestly, the past month, I have been a total mess. I have been a mess for a specific reason – or, more accurately, a combination of reasons. I don’t really talk about it. Because I don’t want you (figuratively speaking) to know I’m hurting. I do this as a defense mechanism. I do this to put another person first. I’m trying to be the bigger person and hide everything, only that doesn’t do anyone any favors.
So, here’s the truth: I’m not talking to someone I really need to talk to. For a while, I blamed myself. For a while, I looked in the mirror and saw the carrier monkey. For weeks, I assumed that this is what I get, for being open and naïve. And then, yesterday, I realized: this is not my fault. Moreover: it’s unacceptable. I may be impulsive, impetuous, and impractical. I may do dumb things, take crazy risks, and dance in the middle of a parking lot. I have been nothing except honest, available, and loving. Despite the inherent insanity that may entail. I’m not one to shortchange anyone – and I know that I often go above and beyond for those I care about, happily.
A friend, a few weeks ago, asked me why I wasn’t taking care of myself. Why wasn’t I getting what I needed? Why was I always worried about someone else, not even considering myself? And the truth is that I don’t often take care of myself. I put others ahead of me, especially those I love. I make compromises. But the secret about that is that they only work when two people are compromises. If one person is doing all the bending, you’re nothing more than an emotional pretzel. Someone’s going to come along, sprinkle you with salt, and have you for a snack. And not in a sexy way.
After that email, that’s been swirling around in my brain like water circling a drain, I’ve been thinking about what I’m not getting – what is it that I need? There are relationships that I deeply cherish, but in order for them to truly work, changes need to be made. Because objectively looking at things as they are, this is not how I want things to be. This is not how they should be. There are at least two people in my life that this applies to, possibly three.
After a conversation with Suzanne Palmieri yesterday, I sat down and really gave everything some thought. Because lately, man, things have just been hard. Too hard. They don’t need to be this hard. Further still: they don’t need to be like this.
So, here is what I need: action and proof. Not words or even silence. Here is what I want: everything. Nothing short of a miracle. Nothing short of revolution. Here is what I deserve: just that. Exactly that. This is not unreasonable. This is not even asking a lot. This is how things need to evolve.
I may not be perfect. I may be outrageous at times. My behavior might surprise you. My heart may startle you. But no matter the relationship or situation, I give everything I’ve got. At the end of the day, that’s really all we have: our ability to invest ourselves in the pursuit of something or someone. To shape our lives, no matter how scary it is, for a purpose.
For perhaps the first time in my life, I’m giving myself permission to run. Well, not exactly run. Sometimes, doing nothing is the same thing. Sometimes, all you can do in a situation is…stop. It’s that easy and that hard. But it’s time for someone else to bend. It’s time for someone else to try. Show me what you’ve got. Show me what you’re willing to give. Show me what you’re willing to do. Or realize that if you don’t, then this is how things are. There are two questions, love, that you should be considering:
Do you really want to lose me? And is this really all you think there is?
The truth is that I will gladly fight every battle alongside those in my life. But I will not fight for you, if I also have to fight you and if you aren’t willing to fight for yourself. Sometimes, love is a battlefield. Pat Benatar had that right. But sometimes, love is also being willing to let go.
I can think of a thousand different ways to explain the way I miss you. It’s like the world is made of water, and all I have are lungs. It’s like the moon has forgotten its place in the sky, all but disappearing. The stars are a circus, and we are performing acrobats, flipping through emotions like wonderful experts. Only, there is no net. Only, there are lions. Only, we are the lions – and this is our cage.
I wonder if summer misses winter like this – like a season dancing out of turn, passions outstretched in a whirling dervish. I think we’re all missing something, someone. Absentmindedly, I wonder if I’ll be warm again. I wonder what it’s like to pull a feeling out by the roots. Does the heart grow emotions like weeds and wildflowers? Mine would never be roses, not even sunflowers. Mine spring up, resilient, defiant, a blossoming little promise. A petal of a dare. Mind the thorns, but breathe in the fragrance. They will arrive again, but it’s never the same bloom twice.
I can think of a thousand different ways to explain the way I miss you. And yet, I have no words to unlock this door. I have no words to call you back. They have all gone, swift as any thief. I am a magician without weapons, a conjurer without panache. I am broken mirrors and trap doors that won’t open. I am drowning in an ocean made of the word absence. I am lost, even knowing exactly where I am. This maze I built is mine, mine, mine. And I am afraid that I am the monster at the heart of it. Now, there is the truth: I am afraid.
And it’s fear that keeps me silent, here.
*from Silent All These Years by Tori Amos
There are lies I could tell you. Lies that would seem reasonable, easy to consume. Call it emotional fast food – empty calories that leave you crashing later on. Empty promises that are a cold comfort. Temporary fixes for ever-present things. These lies would patch you up, not heal you. The bullet hole covered by a band-aid. The hurt smothered by rum. The love shoved under the rug, in the corner – down, down, down until you swear you don’t need it.
How many years have you been longing, wanting, feeling empty? How many years have you been unsmiling, absent, and feeling like there’s nothing left? Worse: you’ve lived through it standing still. Your courage is an in-drawn breath. You’ve got to exhale to make it matter. You’ve got to let go to make it count. You’ve got to drag out the truth as dirty as you know it. Pretty truths, darling, are nothing more than fancy lies. Singular dimensions that cast long shadows.
There are lies I could tell you – things I know you’d want to hear. Things that would release you under the illusion that this is nothing more than a fleeting heartbeat. Oh, yes, I’ll be alright. No, I’m not crying. No, I’m not breaking apart. No, I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. This is just what I look like when I’m smiling – don’t mind the unmet eyes and shaky hands. Don’t mind the lack of sleep. Don’t mind the fact that I can’t make it through a minute without missing you.
The truth is, no matter what happens, I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew what I wanted when I looked at you. I knew what I was facing, knew the consequences from the marrow of my bones. No one tastes fruit by accident. Forbidden is just another word for untouched. And I want to be touched. I want to feel your hands.
My secret is this: when we are apart, my heart is in winter. There’s no summer in the sky for me. I am borne of waiting, counting the days until I’m back where I’ve chosen to be. My obligations elsewhere are only that: debts. A thing owed and owing. Nothing more, nothing less.
I have given no fire to man, yet I suffer. Instead of my liver, my heart is torn out – and torn out and torn out. Have you ever seen me flinch? Have I ever worried when I’ve seen your face? Have I not given you every possibility I could offer? And all I ask of you is this: wait. Wait for me. I will come back. You’ll see.
My love, I am no small girl. There is no weakness in me, only love. I will not tell you lies. I will not tell you to let me go. Instead, I will remind you that my heart is like a pomegranate. It will feed you. It will keep you. It does not matter if you are far or near. Love is not simple, not easily explained. But, my darling, you must trust it. There is no love that can live in the shadow of fear. Leave the dark to underworld. Do not look back toward what might disappear.
Tomorrow is ours.
My heart says: Call.
My brain says: Don’t.
My fear elbows in with:
You aren’t worth it. Nobody’s going
to fight for you. Forget it.
My courage shouts:
Fight for yourself.
My insecurity muses:
How? The situation is impossible,
because you are impossible.
My pride rebels:
Fuck impossible. Impossible
is just an excuse to quit.
My lesser self reminds:
You control nothing. This is not
your choice. You’re nobody’s choice.
You’re just a fool.
Then, last, like a lunatic –
love sticks its neck out,
love steps onto the train tracks,
love stands out in the rain,
love takes a bullet,
love opens its arms,
love stops pretending it doesn’t exist:
be furious in what you pursue,
don’t leave yourself resolved to less,
and let everything break
if it must –
there’s nothing beautiful about regret.
I love you.
What will you say next?