The only thing I know for sure is that the day ends, and the stars will come out and darkness is temporary. But don’t the lights in the sky look so beautiful?
It was only one night, but his hands running down her back and his lips on her neck seem to be a broken record in her head. It’s not that she misses his smell or the spark of his skin on hers; she craves touch. Any touch. She craves the touch of his arm on hers or their fingers laced. She misses the touch of his breath on her ear as he whispers sweet nothings. But a “he” is just that, and any he will do, and it’s one thing to be alone but another to be lonely. It’s 1:05 in the morning and she’s drunk but he’s the only one on her mind. And him, and him too. Her head spins and her ears are ringing with the words she should have screamed aloud a long time ago, but the worst thing about falling to pieces is that humans do it so quietly. No one hears her heart crack or the soft patter of dripping blood on new, white sheets, and no one can hear her mismatched breaths as she tries to find someone a little better than him. She’s lying in her bed, in her house, and all she wants to do is go home.
I’ve spent most of my life chasing the person I want to be. Because 20-year-old me will have better friends, and 25-year-old me will land a killer job, and 30-year-old me will be madly in love. And me 6 months from now will be skinnier, and me a year from now will be more confident, and me some time from now will be better somehow. So much better. For years, this is what I thought. That if I could just wait it out, everything would get better.
It took me a long time to realize that life doesn’t work that way. Older doesn’t mean happier or easier, and it certainly doesn’t mean better; it just means older. Life isn’t a well plotted screen play, or a checklist, or, God forbid, some waiting room. We need to stop waiting. Life isn’t about growing up to be all that we’ve ever wanted; it’s just about growing.
It’s about love, and change, and crying yourself to sleep when it’s all too much; working at a burger joint, and kissing your best friend even though he might not like you back, and calling your mom every Sunday because you miss her like hell. It’s the puffs of cigarettes even though you hate them. It’s kissing random strangers on the side of a bar, even though you already kissed your best friend. It’s fights, and promotions, and hospital visits. Trips to no where and discovering new hiding spots. And then it’s this: another wedding of another one of your high school or college friends, the third one this year, but this time you meet a groomsman who’s just as down on love as you and you dance all night. And this: he cries when you say “I do.” And this: a kid with your eyes and his dorky ears.
Or maybe not. Maybe it’s this: you write everything, everywhere, all the time, even when the prettier kids make fun of you, and the short teacher with the big nose tells you it’s good. Really good. And this: you’re living in a shoebox, by the skin of your teeth, but there’s a bar across the street that lets you read your poetry, and every time you do, someone in the crowd finally knows what it feels like to be understood. Maybe they even throw you five dollars, just because. And this: your words being published. Your words. Your honest, horrifyingly truthful words. Being bought by people who could be spending their money on anything at all. And you sit in your twin bed where you’ve written your entire novel, a dozen empty coffee mugs still dirty on the nightstand, and you scream until your lungs burn because you can, and because you have a voice that needs to be heard. It’s all of these things, and bad things, and good things, and the raw realization that it doesn’t get better or worse, it just gets different. We grow. And change. Always, always changing. And somehow that makes it more wonderful. Because future you may have the friends, and the boy, and the job, but she didn’t get it by waiting around. She is a product of you. Right now, tomorrow, changing and growing every moment that follows. Day by day, nothing seems to change, but when we look back everything is different. She is kind, and breathing, and beautiful. But she waits for the day she doesn’t have to worry about paying a mortgage bill, and she worries too often about what people think of her. She still doesn’t have it together. And maybe that’s what I’ve learned after all this time. Nobody has it together.
We’re all just here, floundering around in pursuit of being something more. Broken, thoughtful creatures with too much time on our hands, desperate for the companionship of someone who reminds us that we are not alone. We don’t have much of anything figured out. Maybe we never will. But more importantly, I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.
And with those eyes, you could have set the sky on fire, but you chose to burn me instead; together we burned.
I was seated in coach on a flight home. It was a full flight and I was placed in the aisle, grateful that I was not cramped against the window with my knees in my chest. A young woman, about ten years younger than me, with long, brown gold hair and bright green eyes, exchanged a hello with me and sat down to my left. I caught my breath in my throat; she was stunning. Her bright green eyes were rimmed with something more, however; she was tired. She was beaten down, exhausted from holding the world on her shoulders. Maybe it was a long day of travel for herself, or maybe it was something more. Soon after take-off, she had fallen asleep. Her head rested against my shoulder, her hand on my arm. It was the slightest touch I have ever felt, but never shall I forget the way her finger tips felt on the back of my hand: soft and delicate. I never moved or bothered to wake her. When the attendant stopped by, she asked if my wife or I would like anything. I said, “no, we’re good.” The woman lifted her head slightly off my arm, looked into my eyes, and smiled. Maybe she liked the way I looked at her, or maybe she liked how my front teeth aren’t perfectly aligned, or maybe, just maybe, she fell in love for a second. Soon after, she fell asleep just a little closer; just a little closer than before. The plane landed, not a word or a stare from her. Leaving the jetway, she turned, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “I enjoyed our honeymoon.” She walked away, recharged. She no longer looked beaten or weary. She was gorgeous in every way. Her hair grazed the top of her back as she spun on her heels and strutted away. I never saw her again. We left that night not as lovers, but just as brave strangers, looking for a little more.
I have been told that when you are hurt in multiple places, the injury that is most life threatening is the pain you feel the strongest; your flood gates only let you feel one pain at a time.
I lay on the blood covered pavement, and my vision slowly goes black around the edges. The blue sky is staring straight at me, the clouds mocking my gaze. I have been hit by a car, and in my last breath, lying on the black and red asphalt, gasping for air, the only pain I felt was in my heart, for I would never get to see you again.
Text Messages I Never Sent
My eyes are burning with tears but I wish my throat was burning with the taste of cheap liquor. Maybe it would hurt less than this. 2.21.16 01:16
I had such a bad dream last night and I wish that you were here there to help me. 2.26.16 07:13
I’m crying and freaking out and all I ever wanted was you. I only want you. I hope you’re doing okay. 2.29.16 22:47
It’s snowing really hard right now and I keep looking at it and thinking that it’s beautiful just like you, and it shines like your smile and I guess I’m just seeing you in everything because there is always something that reminds me of you. 3.1.16 13:23
I love you. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. 3.4.16 00:31
I wish you still loved me. 3.20.16 19:55
I fucked up, I fucked up. You’re gone, you’re gone, you’re gone. 4.18.16 13:26
God I hate you. 4.24.16 20:24
No, I don’t. 4.24.16 20:32
I’m craving your every touch. Please come back to me. 5.1.16 15:55
You don’t say I love you anymore. It’s not okay, but it’s fine. I’m not okay, but I’m fine. I’m not okay. I need you. I don’t need you. I need you. I’m leaving, I’m staying, I’m leaving, I need you. Please don’t go, please don’t push me away. I want you forever; I want to marry you. Please just leave me alone, don’t go. I want to rip my skin apart but you say it doesn’t solve anything but trying to talk to you doesn’t solve anything either because you’re so sick of me. I’m sick of me. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Please don’t go. I’m surrounded by people, but God I’m so alone. 5.3.16 23:09
At times I thought I would die because I missed you so much. 5.6.16 19:21
I feel like I’m drowning. I’m drowning. I want to drown. 5.6.16 23:09
I saw you in my sleep and I kissed you and kissed you like I couldn’t fucking breathe. I woke up alone, and you weren’t mine to keep. 5.13.16 05:46
I think I’m okay. 5.26.16 23:27
No I’m not. 5.26.16 23:32
I know I need to move on but you’re the only person I want right now and that doesn’t help me at all. 6.10.16 01:33
My heart still aches for you but I know it shouldn’t. 6.23.16 07:14
I spent so much time with you loving me that I never learned how to love myself. Fuck you for that. 6.27.16 00:30
I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. 6.27.16 00:42
I never knew what people meant by saying home is where your heart is, but I haven’t held you for months and I’m homesick. 6.28.16 01:18
I just got home and I’m no longer thinking of you. I’m a hypocrite. 7.15.16 03:58
He’s super nice to me. You never were. 7.22.16 21:48
I have another boyfriend. It hurts because I feel like I can’t give him my all. Because you took it away. It sucks because no matter what I do I always compare him to you, and he always wins. And all he wants to do is make me happy. You never did. I still want to make you happy. 8.9.16 09:13
I just left his house and he said he would love me forever and I tried remembering when you said that to me but I can no longer remember the sound of your voice or the smell of your skin and I can’t tell if I am nostalgic or just damn straight miss you. I hope it’s the former. Fuck you. 9.5.16 01:14
It’s almost your birthday. I miss your mom, I miss the s’mores. I miss putting post-it notes around your room. I don’t miss you. 9.28.16 21:50
You never annoyed me like he did. I could listen to you talk forever. 10.11.16 22:52
Part of me wishes that someday you’ll come around. I know you never will. Maybe 5 or 10 years from now we will run into each other. Maybe right now just wasn’t the right time. Maybe we can start somewhere new. Maybe. I hope not. 10.20.16 00:29