The difference between falling in love and falling off a sixteen-storey building is that you only get road rash from one. You can tell everybody that you can still feel exactly where his lips last hit you and they will shrug their shoulders and say, “but where is the blood? Where is the scar? If he touched you that much, shouldn’t it have become part of who you are?”
You ask me to come over, and you tell me that nobody is home. I can’t tell which is worse: being with someone who does not love me or spending each night alone. When you touch me and I am closing my eyes, I can tell you think I am hiding the pleasure when I am doing all it takes just to not cry. You tell me about the girl you just met, and how heavy her number feels in your phone. I can’t tell which kills me more: being with someone who does not love me or spending each night alone. Your hands reach for my body, and your mouth is swallowing me whole. We are skin-on-skin, we are as close as possible, but you are nowhere near to my fucking soul. In the morning when I leave, you are sleeping, not feeling this ache I have in my bones. I can’t tell which will destroy me first: being with someone who does not love me or spending each night alone.
I have heard you cry until your lungs rattle like the snake announcing itself in the desert, I have listened to the sound your heart makes when it shatters at sunset and takes all night to stitch itself back together again with fraying string. No more.
I have sat where you now sit at the kitchen table, staring at the plate in front of you and wondering if this is how each man has seen you. Your mouth doesn’t water but your eyes begin to. I have crossed my legs tighter, as you do. You ask yourself what defines an animal - if meat is only meat when we say so. No more.
I have been with you as you walk down the street, the night announcing itself in the laughs and yells from the bars and the keys between your fingers. You tell yourself you would feel better with more protection, even though by now you have built up so many walls you can call yourself a mansion. No more.
I have waited for a call by my phone for hours, as you have. I have stared at the ceiling for one hour too long, paced the length of my house for two hours, wondering for three hours straight why I am not worth the ten seconds that it takes to send a message. No more.
You are not the dry-heaves from your stomach that beg you to pull yourself together. You are more. You are not the dessert or the dinner, you are not served on a silver platter, ordered from a menu. You are more. You are not street-candy, you are not “hey baby”. You are more. You are not an empty building, or darkened alley. You are more. You are not counted in the minutes he has chosen to care for you. You are more.
To the girl who swears she has never been enough,
You are more.
I am always terrified that nobody is feeling the way I am at any specific moment. There are weeks I am so exhausted to my core no matter how long I spend hiding inside of my bedroom; the weeks where I feel my body telling me to do something, anything, to stop feeling like this and I answer myself, “maybe tomorrow it will be better” and I can’t help but feel like I am pushing the truth. The problem with having an illness that nobody can see is that when somebody asked what hurts, you want to ask if they know how to bandage a beating heart. I used to be in love with somebody who would brush my hair for me when things got really bad, and he would come sit with me on the bathroom floor while “You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are” by Keaton Henson would be playing and for a few minutes I would be safe and there would be nothing in the world except the feeling that maybe this is what making progress feels like; that each knot pulled from my head means that finally I won’t be coming undone. But this isn’t the movies, this isn’t a book; you don’t magically get fixed because somebody is holding you together. Their arms will get tired. They won’t understand why it seems like nothing they do makes any difference. It is not their fault, and it is not your own either, but what is messy once will be messy again. I think about love so much I’m worried that one day it will consume me entirely, and that there is something so inherently unloveable about me that I can’t seem to scrub off no matter how many times I shower in a day. There are days where the dirt seems to live under your skin and you can stand under the hot water for hours but pieces of people that used to be a part of your life get stuck under your fingernails and you carry them with you wherever you go. Each time somebody gets close to me, I wonder what the tipping point for them will be. If they will be frustrated with me when I need the directions explained over and over again, because the thought of being lost is so much more than just not knowing with way to turn. If they will get angry when I can’t find it in me to take the few steps forward; because I have tried crossing oceans that look like puddles for some people and it seems that all they see is that both of our feet get wet. I wonder why people fall out of love, and if it’s always because there is that breaking point, that one extra knot you needed pulled from your hair that they just could not reach anymore. I see people kissing on the street corner and I wonder if she remembers what his favourite movie is, or who she aspired to be when she was young, or if he listens to each song that he gets sent, from beginning right until the very end. In the end, I think everything comes down to love. Because I see it in each businessman that empties his wallet into a barista’s tip jar, in each mother that’s ever sat through their daughters excruciatingly long ballet recitals, in each father that’s ever edited his sons essays and wrapped an arm around their shoulders as they sit beside each other, in each child that kisses each other messily on their cheeks, in the newly weds that just married their best friends and can’t stop feeling the weight on their ring finger, in the 90 year olds that still hold hands while they walk through the grocery stores, in the college girls who apply each other’s lipsticks in the bars and tell everybody in the washroom that they look beautiful, and in myself, when I brushed my own hair this morning, and told myself that maybe tomorrow will be easier than this.
“You seem like you’re the kind of person that picks off their scabs. You know you’re going to make it worse but you can’t seem to let yourself heal. You love in the same way you bleed, I think, in that life-threatening way of yours. Quickly, urgently, terrifyingly. You do it all at once or not at all.”
the night is young, the music’s begun, and i am dancing despite all the pain. this coke tastes like rum, these words aren’t getting sung, and the room is circling my brain. i am beautifully wistful, i am heartbreakingly blissful, i am realistically full of disdain. my lip’s swollen red, my hand’s around my head, and i am forgetting your name.
I want you to fall in love with me more than once. I want you to wake up next to me in twenty years and still be surprised by how pretty my eyes look when the sun comes up. I want you to see me walking across the street and have your heart skip a beat even though you know you’re coming home to me and we’ve been living together for the past thirty-five years. I want the excitement, the rush, the purity of falling in love and getting sweaty palms when you reach to touch my fingertips with yours. I want you to hear your heart beat a little bit louder for me every day that we’re together.
The poem goes like this.
He runs his thumb across your lips and makes you lose your breath.
You give him every inch of you until there is nothing left.
You wake up next to him with the sheets tangled in your legs.
He shows you his favourite music and it never leaves your head.
But soon his kisses are cold and his eyes don’t shine the same way.
And you eat dinner in silence because there’s nothing left to say.
He is the poem, and he goes like this:
Out through the front door,
without looking back.
Maybe it’s the time or the place or just us. The lack of communication or lack of trust. Maybe it’s just life throwing love under the bus. Maybe it’s just not now or not soon or not ever. Maybe two people aren’t meant to end up together. Maybe it’s not enough to just sleep with your sweater. Maybe it’s the distance or the longing or the lust. It could be anything but I think it’s just us.
MAYBE TWO PEOPLE AREN’T MEANT TO END UP TOGETHER (k.p.k)
You don’t know they exist. You are unaware that they are on this Earth. You wake up, you brush your teeth, you do whatever it takes to make it through the day, you lay in bed and play out fantasies of finally finding the right comeback when somebody is mean to you and the like, and then you sleep, and everything starts over again.
Then you meet them. You might know it right then, or you might not, but God, you are in love with them. It’s the little things. You keep checking your phone to see if they have messaged you. You find yourself having to read the same sentence three times because you were too busy wondering if they were thinking about you too. And when you do talk to them, it’s better than it even is in your head and the way they smile sticks your tongue to the top of your mouth. Maybe you’re too scared to hold eye contact for too long because they might see how you’re feeling, but looking away makes you feel weak and when the blush creeps up your neck onto your cheeks, it’s too warm and uncomfortable and you wish you had just kept looking at them instead.
You’re going to kiss them. The first kiss probably won’t be that good. You might both tilt your head to the right and then awkwardly both shift to the left to try to get the angle just perfect. There might be too much saliva involved and you quickly wipe your mouth against your sleeve the second they avert their eyes. Maybe your mouth will be too dry because you are nervous and all you can focus on is how quietly they kiss, like this moment between the two of you is a secret. Don’t worry. The first time will not be the best time, and even the best time will not be the best time, because each and every kiss will change as your feelings change. Love is a learning process, and you’re going to be fine.
This is how they’re going to go.
You’re going to open your eyes one day and your phone will have been silent since you plugged it in at night. You are going to roll over and realize that everywhere you are not laying feels like the cool side of the pillow. You’re going to shower alone for the first time in months. You forgot how much work it is to wash your hair. When you go on drives, you realize how bad you are at directions and finding where you are supposed to go. It’s the little things. Their laugh, that you thought was so funny and unique when you heard is, is suddenly the loudest noise at any crowded event you go to. It’s never going to be them, so stop straining your neck. You’re going to stop comparing their heart to the flowers you pass on your way to work in your head and you won’t even realize it. You are going stop waiting up until you are too tired to keep your eyes open. Love is a learning process. You’re going to be fine.
I miss who I was before I met you. Every time I napped in your arms I left a part of my heart next to your lips on the pillow. Every time I woke up next to you I gave a part of my soul to the sunshine across your cheeks. Trying to remember who I was before you ever came into my life is trying to crawl into the skin of a stranger on the street, is trying to break into a home that is not my own to steal their belongings, is trying to become best friends with a person I have long since stopped talking to. I miss the person I was before I ever held your hands against my throat. I miss the person I was before I ever let your pulse beat against the scars on my body. I miss the person who never met you - because they would never have to miss you like I do.
i know girls who can’t kiss with the lights on
and take cold showers in the dark
and who sit in their rolling cars instead
of putting them into park
and boys who bite their lovers necks
the same way they bite their nails
and only want to get aboard trains
they know that they can derail
and i know people who wear their veins like secrets
and who shiver when they sweat
and i am trying to get to know you but
we haven’t made eye contact yet.