I scooped you up in a mythical fit. The wars I fought got me sick.
I wish I could write something to make you stay, a ransom note to keep you for just a little longer. In the moments that I am not sure, I look up at you and realize I still love you more than life itself. And in those moments I think about you alone and think of you in the mornings and think of the corner of your mouth and the creases in your hands and how I hope they would always be mine. I feel you then, I feel you so deeply.
I know life without you would be fine and much simpler, but I keep choosing you. I choose you over and over again. I’m a creature who was meant to be alone and then you came in with your eyes and your voice and I’ve chosen you over my solitude ever since. I think that speaks volumes for how important this is. I’m not ready to put an ocean between us yet.
I had just said goodbye to Jon, we sat on the bridge till it rained and then returned to Kenny’s grandmom’s house on Tyler St. I started to like beer that summer so we drank. They made me promise to drive safely and go straight home, but I was warm and buzzed and damp from rain, so I texted you. It was late, but I was leaving in a week, and you obliged. Recycled Air played on the drive over and I was shaking. You answered the door and put your finger to your lips as you stepped aside to let me in. We stepped out back in silence under the awning, which protected us from the rain. You lit a citronella candle and I saw the gap between your teeth as you smiled. You looked so tanned in that light and I promised myself, in that moment, that you were the most beautiful person I had ever known. My ribcage felt compression, it was getting squished, smaller and smaller, but beating faster and faster; my hummingbird heart. I wanted to beg you, and I did in my own way. I wanted to say, “wait, I’ll stay, we can do this. We can do this here.” But I didn’t, my younger, more ideal self was a lot more veracious like that. That summer was a spiral that started with baby birds and your basement couch and lead to something I couldn’t imagine. And there, the wood grain beneath our feet, was the last time I saw you that way. It was so easy to understand love when I was little like that. It was so easy to ascribe some type of word or lyric to it, because it was new, because it was exciting, because I had this fresh, clean slate to do it on. It will never be new like that again, it will never be so fresh and unblemished and so innocently frightening the way it was, that summer with you.
In the early mornings, I find myself remembering. I think back to just how unhappy I was, because I thought that’s how it was supposed to be. I’d get home late and sit on the linoleum and cry, while you would be asleep upstairs. I should’ve known, back that May at Joe Jeffer’s house by the fire. Brandon picked me up and I remember being out there, the grass was scraping our ankles as we all trekked to the fire. It began to blaze and illuminate everyone around me. Pat and Brandy had just found each other again and Maddy had her head in Joe’s lap. Everyone was beautifully silhouetted by the blaze, amplifying the love around me in its pervasive light. And I thought of you, back at home. And something inside me broke; it just kind of gave up and resigned itself to living in your darkness. I asked Brandon to take me home because I was tired. But I wasn’t tired, I just couldn’t be around new love. It reminded me of what I wanted, what I deserved, and what I was missing out on for you.
Remember that time in the bar side where I accidentally touched your butt in front of your parents? Well, I didn’t even remember your name. You had these dimples and I sat crossed legged on the wooden booth across from you. My car tires would scratch against the curb in front of your parents house and my heart would creep up my throat as you walked out of their front door toward me. The click of the door handle, your sweet, soft cologne smell slipping into the car. We lived at the bottom of a bottle, trying our best not to look the gift horse in the mouth. For those months I was the happiest. For those months I wore masks and talked out of both sides of my mouth until my tongue went dry. For those months I was dousing myself in gasoline. I spent an entire summer with my pants on fire.
We’d drink out of red cups and dance to Time To Say Goodbye in the living room of Gateway with the boys and I’d clean your kitchen. You were the glue that held me together that winter and I remember talking in hushed voices to Tony in your bedroom about it. It was three years of friendship and emptiness and that time we played kings, or the bum Molly we took. But I never told you, I never told anyone. As far as the world is concerned, no one will ever or has ever suspected you were the one. And I’ll keep it that way forever.
Your mother was regal and wooden, but she was kind. I found it in the look you gave me at the red light and I knew I was yours. It happened swiftly on a mountain top, when I moved my chair to touch yours. It was pouring rain in the middle of the night and I was eighteen while you were bronzed and slender and beautiful. The power was out and it smelled like citronella and you kissed me first. Somewhere deep within the secret of it all, I found parts of myself, dug up from shallow graves.
How can I ever explain this? You were born from the anxiety deep within your mother’s womb from some spun lies and I had to untangle it inside of you. It took me a long time to unweave that and find you down there, and it was a treacherous road for me. I barely survived it. But now we watch the days sprawled lazily in front of us and pretend the wind outside is waves and with every moment I love you more. And I lie next to you and you roll over in the early mornings, while the grey light slinks in. My heart explodes. Your baby hairs tremble.
Its been five years since I crawled into bed with you while my boyfriend was alone in the ‘Nuts and it kick started the worst February of my life. But the taste of soco still to this day reminds me of you in your gallant valor and of your syrupy eyes and how you truly loved me. You picked me up from the bus station on valentines day and I HATED sitting in the front seat of your Lincoln next to you. I loved you very much but I blamed you very much. And when the police stripped searched me in the lobby of my dorm building and I was crying, I thought of the tulips and roses you bought me, which were dying upstairs on my desk, and I blamed you even more.
Summer in Massachusetts smelled like likable lemon kissed blades of grass and citric sunshine and we’d go to Trav’s pool and my heart would be water logged and swelling with this weight that I couldn’t understand. And the grass was made of emeralds and you’d hold me and we’d spin around in childish love and I felt like I was teetering on the edge of a cliff and I was exploding and (by the hum of your refrigerator) I was safe.