I was so preoccupied with tragedies the day you came storming into my life, hand extended and a grin spread right across your face, that I hadn’t noticed anything different about the way you spoke. I had barely banished dreams of far-off worlds, of blankets and bugles in cold morning weather, and there you were, nervous and motor-mouthed, putting the world on pause so you could have a silence to fill. The only language I understood then was what I thought to be Love but the secondhand phrasebook was worn and torn and words like “Loneliness” appeared to be something they weren’t to fast eyes and I’ve cursed my sources so many times since. If only I knew that distance was synonymous with danger and disappointment, that Autumn in Spring was not something you should dare to dream of often. I didn’t know Love when I first met you, before I knew you as I know you now. We had met so many times and your name always translated to white noise and static when you were always roaring thunder.
“pipe dreams and well-wished deaths”, february 2012
I’ve been swimming through puddles just to make it to work and the papers pile up like mountains that I couldn’t burn if I wanted to. The teeth and spit catch in traps we set - but hoped would never really work - and these songs on this old radio sound so familiar, but I don’t quite remember who it was that had loved them so or why I know the words the same way I can recite our after-hours number or my twenty-six digit internet passcode without a moment’s hesitation. I answer the phone and offer them my name in hopes of establishing a connection, but no one writes it down or remembers long enough to last the conversation. There are worse things than to be forgotten, I tell myself. I could leave myself behind again.
The bathtub sits at home, unloved and abandoned, and I promise it each morning as I brush my teeth and put on my swimming cap: “hopefully this afternoon”, like I’ve had barely any time at all, but I’m only whispering niceties to an old friend I don’t care for anymore. I catch a glimpse of a kid who loves the songs I know in the mirror and I wonder where I went but I bury the thought under the cotton tips as I search for a bobby pin. My old shampoo reminds me of the things I never held in my hand, of fingers that never crossed through mine after drowning in oceans and climbing paper mountains barefoot for pipe dreams and well-wished deaths. The soap my sister stole, it smells like history lessons I missed for adventures climbing trees and cliffs and swearing off fears that still follow me everywhere. I excuse myself politely - “today’s a busy day” - and start running for the door. I leave them behind every morning, almost forgotten in cupboards and corners, waiting for a chance to be loved again. “Some things happen for a reason,” I think out loud, hoping they’ll believe it. I’ve got all the time in the world - I’m only nineteen years old after all - and the world has yet to bury me in its history, under mounds of statistics and handfuls of explanatory bar graphs. I’ve traveled so far already but I’m still stuck in a room full of pipes and drains, making excuses for what I haven’t done. Knowing this, I run from polite conversation just to dive into rush hour traffic and cross my fingers I won’t make it today, and cross my fingers they’ll be gone when I get back.
“pure and purely fucked”, july 2010
I don’t know how to speak love and so I carve the unspoken words into the walls of my bleak hollow jail cell heart, etch them deep until my fingernails bleed concrete and steel. Every last word remains from here til eternity, the same way the feelings I don’t know how to feel will too. I’m a prisoner to my own heart, to my disdain for all things pure and affinity for all things purely fucked. This is how it is, how I find myself trapped in a world I’ve barely had the chance to be a part of. I beat myself into a corner, hold my tongue tied with fraying heart strings and pray to gods I swear don’t exist for some kind of a miracle.
Sometimes sadness pulls at my hand in the middle of the night, when I can’t settle and something feels out of place, and I have to try to sing it back to sleep before I rush to put it somewhere safe and out of sight. Sometimes anger forgets to knock on my door, barging in unannounced, and it takes all the strength in the world not to force it out, to sit back and wait for it to leave the way it came. Sometimes loneliness beckons to call me home, like a sorry lover: “it won’t ever feel that way again” but I know all too well not to go wandering back, to an empty bed and covers that don’t need sharing, to well wishes and greetings that come twelve hours too early or too late, to possibilities that pass you by a million times a day. Sometimes I forget the importance of things, how I could truly be lost without them and how truly lost I used to be but all it takes is a forgotten favorite jumper to catch my eye, wrapped around a pole and drenched in the rain of two weeks gone by, and I remember not to take so many things for granted, to always count my steps, and hope that no one saw or even cared to look as I hid it in my purse and hurried along back down the street.
“the reflections on the bathtub walls”, march 2010
I want to say ‘fuck it’ and run from this mess, to back down and get out of this godforsaken town and run until my legs ache, and my feet bleed and then run some more. I want to feel the wind against my face and see the world rush past me in a blur. I need to get away, get to wherever you are and hold you, feel you cradle me as I sit there and cry for everything that never turned out right, and for every little bit of the nothing that I’ve had for so long. I need to hear you talk and laugh and see you smile and I need to feel your breath on the back of my neck, as my fingers thread through your fingers and our legs touch, and we rock slowly in time to the steady beating of our two hearts. I need you. I need all of you, always and forever, in the same way that I have to have somebody to love - because I have always wanted to love someone more than I have always wanted to be loved, and because I want you more than I’ve ever wanted anybody before. I have to have someone in my life because I can’t not have anybody any longer. I have to say ‘I love you’ and I have to have a hand to hold, a smile to see, a laugh to hear and legs to touch and breath to feel on the back of my neck because it’s been far too long and I’m forgetting how wonderful all these things - such simple fucking things that everybody else seems to have - can be. I’m forgetting what it’s like to be in love. I love; I love until my heart bursts - from the moment I wake until the moment my eyelids fall and I escape to worlds where you are so much closer. I loved the sky, and the ocean that I rarely ever see anymore, and the clouds and the rain that overstayed it’s welcome. I loved Autumn leaves that fell as the breeze blew and rustled branches of trees that grew in a city I left behind so long ago. I loved the water and the light and I loved how, when both met, the reflections on the bathtub walls danced around my skin. I loved the stinging sensation that spread up my legs like wildfire as the water ebbed and flowed and filled the space around me. I loved books, and sentences, and words and I loved pulling letters together to make words that could form sentences that might someday make a book. I loved the idea of you reading that book, or that I might read it to you, or that you could be the first, and maybe even the only, one who reads it. I loved so much, but I was never in love with any of it. I tried and I filled my heart with love for all these things and when my heart finally burst, it was just pink dust shimmering on the darkening horizon. I need more than pink dust. I need something with enough power to create a reaction as catatonic and as devastating as a star’s death with every time the simplest thought of it so much as passes my mind. Trees and water and autumn leaves were never things I was meant to fall for… but then there’s you. There’s you, your words, your smile, and your laugh. There are things you have that I’ve dreamed of loving, and I want to love it all, and I want to love it properly. I “a door” you and you “adirondack” me and we simply adore each other and I couldn’t think of a better person to learn to love than you. I wouldn’t want to either. So I feel for you and hold myself and I pretend that it’s you in my arms. I pray to things I don’t believe in, begging that they’ll help me so that, someday, I could hold you for real because it’s what I need, and it’s what I cannot help but want. I feel like I could hold onto this forever. I know I won’t let go of it so easily. I worry you might not feel the same; you tell me not to worry so much at all. I close my eyes, cross my fingers and wrap my arms around me each time you type those three letters I’ve learned to love so much and I wish that you can hold on too. I pray and wish and hope this doesn’t go to waste because I need you, and I want you, and I have to have you. I whisper the same thing every time; I’ll whisper it for seventeen-point-eleven years worth of our lives if you’ll give me the chance: “hold on, hold on, hold on”.
Sunlight still streaked my hair when I first spoke of love as if I knew what it was and how warm it felt. Diverging roads wound up towards my cheeks when I bared my soul and emptied my sorrows from my pockets and first thought “this must be how love is”. So many times, I have been wrong. I let my worries out in whispers and spun stories in shadowy corners to strangers who wanted a way in. By then, all ends scratched and clawed at my neck and out of fear and frustration, all I knew to give was a way out. I was empty, begging to be filled and then drowning under the weight of worrying for others when the opportunities passed. I would knock on a window late at night out of loneliness and run away before it opened, before I would be obliged to climb in and stay. I would promise that somewhere inside of me, a friend existed, but I would disappear within myself before I could prove my worth to anyone. I have often caught myself twisting memories around my fingers. When I do, I think of how I first learned to calm myself by concentrating on tightly wound curls that stained fingertips purple. And I had sat there, curling, long enough that I somehow saw the beauty of dark wooden door frames set against green walls and a paler green carpet and it is now what I remember best of trying to love someone and failing, and the way tears soaked into the carpet and left no traces, and how both whispering and pleading “I love you” felt so unwelcome as it came. And the sound of desperation falling on deaf ears, I have learned, is not an echo or the sound of the door unlocking, it is silence. And silence is what has followed since, and perhaps for too long, but these thoughts are ones I am still not fond of, so I curl and tuck them behind my ear where they won’t bother me until I am ready. And I will allow weeks to pass and my fringe to grow too long until all I see is a streetlight filtering in through blinds of a dark room. I had once shared it with a warm shadow, who laughed and whispered the funniest jokes and I recall the way my elbow shook so hard that night because expectations were still something I couldn’t handle. Some nights, these thoughts get to be too much and so I arm myself with scissors made for children’s arts and crafts and let in as much light as I can. Simple solutions are always regrettable the following day but I have learned to live with the consequences as they are always a week away from sitting right. For so long, I’d spoken as though I breathed Love, as though it pulsed through me. I spoke of it as if there was nothing else I knew well and yet I did not know love. I knew how it felt to love another within reason but I had never loved when I thought it was unreasonable. I knew how to consume myself with love but was never consumed by it. I did not breathe or feel it the way I have begun to in these past two years and I did not know how it swells and fills you always, how it is constantly expanding or how it slowly, but eventually, encompasses all that matters. Until recently, I knew nothing of love and since, I’ve spoken of nothing.