I really thought it would break my heart every time I heard it. I truly believed that every time the beat dropped and Sam Smith sang, “Now I’ve got you in my space, I won’t let go of you” I’d see his face looking over at me from the other side of the couch while he wrapped his arms around my calves and danced with his shoulders the way he always did. It was one of the many times in my life I wanted to jump outside of myself because I felt too good, as if my body was conditioned to contain only so much joy. The Chicago winter kept it cold outside, but there was warmth in that song, in the hope that he’d latch on to me. It started to play at SoulCycle so I closed my eyes as I expected my heart to pull me from the bike. But it’s not cold here in New York, not right now. And it surely wasn’t cold in that room, and Halle told the class it was okay, that it would be okay, and that sometimes that’s all we needed to hear to push through. My head started swaying, my heart started pounding, my lips turned up – finally, I lost myself in the beat rather than in him. I opened my eyes to see Halle whipping her head back and forth, hair flailing in every direction, hands pounding the handlebars. The sweat on her body glistened in the low-light and her energy filled the entire room; it filled all of the empty spots inside of me. Her movement said she loved the song, herself, that moment, this life and that whatever it may bring she was ready for it. And I figured if she could be brave enough to let life happen to her, I could be bold enough to forget you happened to me.
I want you to remember that your definition of happiness is not universal. That skies are not always blue, but gray can be just as beautiful. That you can never miss something you never had and to find comfort in knowing you were not, and will not always be, alone. That no taste, no smell, no sound is the same to you as it is to others and that in itself is a beautiful thing. I need you to remember how small you are, but how big your voice is. Remember that a passion burns inside of you for a handful of different things and with that you can blaze a path to a life you love waking up to. Burn, baby, burn.
You believed in the way he made you feel, addicted to how good it felt to have pieces of him running through your veins. You were caught in the thrill, in the adrenaline. The way people get excited for roller coasters to drop so that they can climb their way to the top of a big scary hill again, you were like that when your heart dropped out of your chest; looking forward to the part where he put it back where it belonged. You picked up the pieces of the things he broke while he told you how good you were at it, and you swam in that back-handed compliment. You broke yourself down to the point you believed there was art in the way you tirelessly put your relationship back together. You loved the way his love made your taste buds tingle, so much he was all you consumed. You got high on how summer smelt when it was laced with him. And here you are, an addict, addicted to a love you always hoped he might share with you but never actually got a hit of.
I’ll love you through the ups and downs, the in-between, and you know that. I’ll be your light in the dark shielding you from the shadows. I’ll keep you warm and comfortable and kiss your flaws until you admire them as much as I do. I’ll talk about your shortcomings as if they give you character and I will do it so often you will start to believe me. You’ll start to see yourself as the man I know you can be and once I’ve given you everything I have and taught you everything I’ve ever learned you’ll leave. You’ll leave me with nothing but the memory of the boy you once were, teaching me the difference between a boy and a man and which ones are worth falling in love with.
I think the hardest part is accepting that he’d never love me the way I needed him to. He’d never understand my definition of loyalty. He wouldn’t ever identify with the way I feel when I hear Manchester Orchestra or Kate Nash or Sarah Kay poems. If I offered him a threesome he’d glow at the thought. He wouldn’t turn it down because I alone was enough for him. I’ve never been enough for him. He’d admit, “Your words, not mine.” He wouldn’t push on the rare occasion I needed to pull because what is he if not in control? He’d drool with his friends over body types exact opposite of mine but swear I was all he wanted. I’ve never been what he wanted. He’d say I love you and he’d convince himself he meant it but only because this was the first time he felt something. And when you go from feeling nothing to feeling something you want that something to have a name, but love isn’t something. Love is everything. I gave him everything. He gave me something.