Every event is a numerator of 1. The summation of everything you’ve lived through is the denominator.
The sight of you is a dead nerve,
No longer a jolt,
An fiberoptic memory bleaching the rest of my day.
You are an observation now—a flicker, a moment.
Your name no longer rushes to the surface of my tongue. Sometimes I forget us all together.
But never the feeling when my forehead pressed against yours. Fingers laced together, a gate to the universe between us. Those exhales made a whole language, a truth AJ don’t doubt even now. That gold you gave me never dulls.
I was a late bloomer
Lamented how unpickable I was,
How I had to dig myself from the dirt, be my own treasure when all I wanted was someone else’s hands to value me.
The early to be picked were lucky, I thought,
Until I met the chapters after the picking,
Until I learned that the price of early attention is often less solace with yourself.
A partner becomes an entire citizenship in your soul and alone feels like a foreign land you left a long time ago.
She was like that.
Not at first. Her first impression dazzles in charisma, dizzys you in spontaneity. She leads with the part of herself she first felt validated in.
The show of her is loud, sparkly, a chameleon to her lover’s liking.
And every time a lover opens their arms, she slices off all the pieces of herself so she fits. Her love life is a series of fables, her current one a fairy-tale until it isn’t anymore, until the shine fades and she seeks glittery illusions in someone else’s eyes. She feels safest behind a distraction. Beneath an insecure body. Someone grateful for her touch but buried beneath their own struggles.
I don’t think she knows who she is,
Just the shifting idea of who she thinks she should be. Her life is a costume show of personalities hoping one is the right one to be picked again and again and again after that.
I don’t know how you know love if you don’t know yourself, if you are putty in the hands of anyone who will touch you because there was a time when you were flesh and a forceful man made putty of you. And she is scared and scarred, craving safe havens in people’s chest cavities.
She’s homesick for a self she’s not brave enough to meet, a young woman already haunted by unrealized potential. Her pending choices distance those hopes further and further. But she can’t stop settling, making a discount bin of her choices, collateral damage of those in her path.
I’ve tasted her mouth, but I don’t know her life, cannot be trusted as an accurate cartographer mapping her choices and motives.
All I know is that when I see her, the lights are dim in her eyes. Like maybe someone is in there but I’m never sure. I don’t think she is either.
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The hardest part wasn’t surviving it, but convincing my brain that it’s over.
I ignored that loss, never grieved someone whose existence I never acknowledged.
I didn’t know it at the time.
That the pauses were teachers, too.
The delays were never denials, just deferrments,
A snooze button on my Veruka Salt screams, “I want it now”.
Even in the interim, the universe carries me somewhere.
I am a backseat driver while the universe is at the wheel, and I don’t know the terrain we’re traversing,
But she does. She hears my shouts for premature turns, unsuspecting pit stops.
“You are headed somewhere grand, sweet girl. Just give it time.”
I want the kind of love that feels like walking in my front door after a long flight, where delays and surprise layovers bungled it.
I want the kind of love that feels like a hot shower after coiling inside of airplanes.
I want love like water after running and running and running.
I don’t want that surge of adrenaline, anxiety pulsing, will-they-won’t-they affection like a ping-pong game.
I want love without agendas. The kind that marches across a crowded bar and my whole chest lights up as you come to kiss me hello.
I don’t want love feeling like ownership, it’s tight grasp around my life. I don’t need extreme jealousy to validate what I feel for you. You don’t need to be sickened by the thought of me in someone else’s arms because all that worry is just fiction. You feel where I find myself every night. You know the only arms I trust.
I don’t care who is the better person, who has the upper hand. Let’s be the best we can, acknowledging that we’re both human. We will bicker, differ, fall short, only to lift each other up.
I shouldn’t have to tell you you’re free to leave or beg you to stay. I no longer want to be a flight risk in my own relationship or build with a sworn nomad.
I don’t want a love that walks on egg shells.
I want to not feel like an inconvenience in some one else’s house.
I want a love that’s easy but not asleep.
I write about love prolifically, obsessively, trying to achieve a PhD in something people aren’t supposed to earn. Love is given not earned, but I’ve always had to earn it. I was never good enough, small enough, quiet enough, enough enough. There comes a point in the wake of poems, essays, swiping, pining, swerving when the efforting has to stop. When I accept that love was never a thing I needed to chase with a stick or beg for. I can only stand with hope and open arms, unready and yet willing to receive the love I want.
Robert Frost was right. An essay on disappointment, persistence, and why.