I’m in love with your kiss
Though I’ve never felt it’s touch.
I taste your words on my tongue
As I read them from screens
And my senses want to get drunk
On the bitterness washing you down.
When I’m wasted with laughing
I’ll run my fingers through your hair
Spilt on the couch from clumsy hands,
Dripping down my neck like sticky tears.
We’ll dance on times tables
Calculating the distance between us
Until I have the courage to divide you.
And if I’m hungover by morning
It will be the moon hanging over us
Waiting for a kiss.
I am that place right before the road forks. Not between, just before. I’m the silence before a yes or no, not a maybe.
You were mine for a while. We had endless summer days on beaches of smooth glass while you read Bradbury and refused to swim. I slept in but it was okay because you bought me coffee and wrote Latin on my skin to bind us in the most ancient of ways. And I spent the afternoons watching you slide your knife down the length of an apple, avoiding delicate skin on your arms for the sake of friendship, and family, and finally being yourself. As much as I wanted to arrange your limbs in sleep to keep safe on my couch, forever my object of beauty and peace, you would not be tamed. Summer ended and I didn’t get to keep you.
It is often believed that the people who understand you best are those that you can talk to. I suppose that is true to a certain extent, but talking is easy. We think conversations are hard because people do not know the right thing to say or say the wrong thing. You are thinking about it all wrong. Talking is easy. We do it all the time; we do it to avoid silence. It is not the words of a conversation that worry us, but the silence they fill. Talking is easy because the alternative is stilted pauses and tense breaks. Those are the parts of a conversation we all dread the most, and we would rather talk about things that don’t matter than be faced with the heaviness of words that go unspoken.
The best people are those that understand my silence. Some days, the words are too heavy and my tongue can’t lift them. The silence stretches around me like a wall and most people are scared and confused. But those precious few who understand me best know that the silence is every bit as much of a part of me as the words. They know the silence will end when I am ready, and they will be patiently waiting with nothing but love.
When I was little, I thought about my future a lot. Like most kids, I imagined the perfect love and the perfect job and the perfect life. And I wanted it with all my heart. I knew how I would live and I was excited for it to begin.
I have not experienced earth shattering love. I do not have an amazing job – in fact, it involves quite a lot of photocopying. I certainly have not sailed through life with tons of friends, good fashion sense, or straight A’s. What I do have is anxiety. I have more curves than I would like. I have frizzy hair and no impulse control. Perhaps ten years ago I would have been devastated.
But, you know what? I also have a large collection of books. I have a family that would conquer the world for me. I have some pretty cool tattoos and good quality rum in the pantry. I’ve watched waves crash against a Greek beach at midnight and held hands with a beautiful woman.
It is not revolutionary that life has not turned out how I planned. I make no claim to some world-changing revelation about such discoveries. I am not the first person who has learned lessons about the way plans and desires change. That does not make it any less life-changing for me.
I do not know what the next ten years will hold, or the ten after that. It might not be what I plan, it might not make sense. And it doesn’t have to. But I do know this: it’s going to be a fucking amazing ride.
My theory buys me my favorite coffee order, and it makes the whole day brighter. When there’s a bad time, my theory sits outside and talks about life, shapes it into something I can handle again, even when being eaten alive my mosquitos. My theory texts me from right across the table, because some things are better shared as secrets. I watch movies with my theory, even when we can’t be together. We share a screen and a story and for a moment we are together again. My theory sends me used books, little pieces of her soul scribed on the title page, mingling new words with old.
My theory gives me reasons to wake up in the morning and feelings to stir my numb heart and ideas to cherish.
My theory is kindness. Faith. Love.
The sky had long since turned silky black, stars blinking in and out behind the rising fog, when she found the little booth. It was nothing more than a wooden stand, deep purple tapestries flowing down from the trellis hiding most of the structure. When she stood right in front of it, a gap in the cloth revealed a little ticket window lit up with soft orange light. The sign over the window read:
She moved closer, peering into the curtains. Inside, perched on a stool, was a young man reading by candlelight. He wore a white button up shirt and jeans; the only strange thing about him was the old fashioned, woven vest that draped loosely over his shoulders and the bright shock of blue hair that tumbled over his eyes. As she moved closer, he shifted, setting the book on a little shelf to his right and stretching his long arms in the air. She glanced at the book, reading the title – Fortune Telling for Dummies – with a cocked eyebrow. Lowering his arms from his stretch, the man shook his bright curls off his face and spotted her with a smirk. She came fully up to the window and he smiled even wider as they stared at each other. After a moment, he stood and looked down at her through the window, eyes shining orange and yellow in the candlelight as he spoke.
“Not to be cliché, love, but I’ve been waiting for you.”
If the road to Hell is a highway, it’s like I-90 into Chicago on a Friday night in July. Everyone and their mother is heading into the city while 24/7 construction means constant merging and cursing other drivers. Not to mention, you are now thirty minutes late to dinner with your soon-to-be ex-wife and it’s not like she needs any more ammunition after she caught you in the pool house with the maid. Yup, it’s a lot like that.
How do I know this? I work in a toll booth on the way to the gates. You thought working in a toll booth was the worst conceivable job in the world? Try doing it in Hell. It’s a whole bunch of “Where am I?” and “Where are we going” and “Hey babe, want to let me see what’s under that vest?” As you would imagine, we get tons of assholes through here.
They tell you the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. A paradox, in it’s own way, that good intentions somehow end up in disaster. It makes you wonder if bad intentions can have good outcomes, or if we’re all fucked from the beginning. Well, let me be the first to tell you it’s not paved with any kind of intentions. It’s just cracked concrete. There aren’t even nice grass meridians or anything. Just a whole lot of grey, chopped up with dotted yellow lines.
The truth is, I don’t know what led these people here. Lines and lines of cars filled with sinners and evil-doers – whatever you want to call them – but they’re still just people. I couldn’t tell you what paved their paths to this wasteland. I sit here and watch thousands of dead eyes stare, terrified, at the blackness at the end of road, unable to stop themselves from moving forward. I get a lot of question, but most often I just hear “What did I do to deserve this?” I don’t know the answer. Was it good intentions? Were you an asshole who cheated on your wife with the maid? How should I know? It’s above my pay grade.
I kind of hate when books or movies have a character (usually some sheltered teenage girl who’s never bothered to make her own decisions in life) that does something stupid – you know, like jump out of a plane or kiss a stranger – and says “I’ve never been so alive” in a breathy exhale. Well, what the fuck were you before now? Have you been in a coma for twenty years? Did you just miraculously get cured from a zombie apocalypse? This is a fact: you are alive. You are alive and you will always be as alive as you are right now. Then one day, you won’t be. As crazy or wild or fun as some experiences may be, they are just moments in one (hopefully) long life, not a singular climax in a drab encyclopedia of ordinary moments. The universe formed, and species evolved, and your parents met, and DNA combined, all to result in you being here in this life. Those moments all mattered, so why shouldn’t all of yours?
It’s so easy to think about the bad things in life. When you’re standing in the rain and you’ve forgotten your presentation at home and there’s no way you can afford to take your mother out for her birthday this week, it’s hard to think about anything good. It’s a lot like trust. You trust someone because of all the times they stood by you, but one little screw up and you can’t imagine ever trusting them again. Joy is taken for granted, then one day the sadness comes and it’s like you’ll never know happiness, or laughter, or love ever again.
It’s a cruel reality, isn’t it? Why can I remember standing beside my grandmother’s open grave but not what it felt like to hug her? Why can I recall with perfect clarity the fear in my best friend’s voice when her parents were in a car crash, but not what it sounded like the first time I made her laugh? I don’t know the answer. I wish I did, as there are so many things I have lost to time and fear.
What I do know though, is that happiness will come again. I will see my best friend and the rain will leave and one day I will take my mom to the best restaurant in town and tell her “thank you.”Because this has shown me what I take for granted, and now I know to bring my umbrella.