i miss you in parts of me you’ve never seen, in situations i wouldn’t recognize you in, during times of day we always fantasized about spending together; watercolors in our mind of what could be, might have been, might be worth being patient for.
If I could, I’d tell you how I drink wine in the dark in hopes to drown you out, but I see you in the shadows and streetlights and so you fill my mind and the room regardless. I’d tell you there’s a word for the way you make me feel, it’s just so rare and felt by so few we haven’t heard it yet. I’d say “come closer”, “hold me tighter”, “don’t leave”. I’d thank you; with words, with warm silence, with my body. I’d take shelter in your arms and stay for as long as you’d let me. I’d tell you how every time I see you my whole body smiles, how you make my every nerve buzz like bass coming through a speaker. I’d tell you I’ve never felt more seen, more acknowledged, more decrypted. I’d say “i missed you”, “color me in”, “fill me up”.
I can feel it when I kiss him – the love, the last 4 years, me in Astoria holding on to a pillow that smelt like him and thanking the universe for his existence. And then I think about all the things that happened between then and this empty cup we hope refills itself. In love with each other for all the same reasons that keep us at arms length. And of all the things I’ve made sense of in my life, this is not one of them: how two people can love each other so deeply and still not know how to connect the dots; intimacy, to communication, to finances, to dirty dishes. Love alone does not sustain a life together. When I say left he says he prefers right and we go in circles around one another, reaching and retracting on a mood leftover from the argument before this one. Dizzy, drained, disillusioned.
I can feel him in a room before I see him. But once I do, once our eyes find one another’s, I swear there’s an electric current jumpstarting every nerve in my body. We don’t make sense, but we make fire, and electricity, and all other things that light up the dark, that take you from simmering to boiling over.
I haven’t been that close, physically or emotionally, in years. A decade in comparison. You forget the way your mind goes blank, the way – nose to nose and smile to smile – the world disappears around you. You forget how it feels to be wanted, to be met with “show me more” instead of “be less”. So you wring yourself out thinking you can extract wanting to be wanted drip by drip, hang drying until you crack, sure that if you could drown once more that’d be enough. But they leave their taste in your mouth, the shape of their body imprinted in your memory, the smell of their hair coming back to you on every humid day since and that part of yourself that you kept hidden for the last 10 years starts clawing at the surface begging to be seen, be heard, be healed.
I remember how you used to kiss me, the way every part of you melted in my mouth, the way you stayed close in open spaces, the time you said you’d marry me that very day if it was what I wanted and then held me instead. 2016 archives that I haven’t forgotten.
I remember being backed into a corner and my sharpest claws coming out and how ashamed I was that you had seen my ugly, my darkness, my worst. We were never the same after that and it took years to admit aloud. Maybe it was over before you weren’t sure, before you shut the door on me and started opening windows in search of fresh air. I can still remember how you kissed me when I finally came back home because you haven’t kissed me that way since. A search history I can’t quite clear.
I remember never wanting to leave our apartment and hating you when you did, how I’d curl up in a dry bath tub fully clothed to mourn my losses, the look in your eyes when we got that puppy we didn’t need – like she could fill the emptiness we’d carved out in one another. Empty in ways we don’t even acknowledge, likely in fear we might realize what’s missing, what fits, what feels better than this.
if i look at him straight on i can feel you in the room and if i catch him from behind i can see you face down on gold street hiding your face in a pillow so i couldn’t see you letting go. pushing away. the universe has me looking at a similar face while hearing all the things i needed to hear you say and never did. this is the right place at the wrong time. we were always right time, wrong place. too much space to lose sight, too many winters, too much time for the heavy fog our bodies made to lift. it’s funny how no closure has left me so open. he looks at me the way you did. i lived on that look for years and starved when the electricity shorted. when he laughs i can see you on grove street, i can feel you wanting to love me and not knowing how, i can taste how desperately i thought i needed you to do so.
thank you for giving me life, love, and the tools to survive both. thank you for spending the majority of your existence in the shadow of mine, casting light on all of my bouts of darkness.
i’ve spent the past 28 years in awe of you, wondering how you do it all and hoping to one day get there myself. you are selfless and strong and i’ve yet to figure out how to be one or the other, much less both. for you, survival seems second nature; effortless and expected. you are a survivor, and for that, i am both proud and sorry. i’d like to see you be able to enjoy a little more and endure a little less. my wish for you is that in the years to come the universe will repay you in full for all the good you’ve done, for opening your heart to everyone and anyone that needed it, for showing me the kind of woman i don’t want to be and for being the perfect example of the kind of woman i can only dream of becoming.
Sometimes you have to take that 40 minute walk to work to remember why the fuck you do this shit – pay dumb expensive rent and race around this city with all the other rats looking for a crumb of success, fame, or just a smile from a passer-by. You just have to turn that new Chance the Rapper all the way up in your headphones and walk down 5th Avenue mouthing “fuck you, fuuuuck you, fuck, fuck you,” with a swag in your step and looking up. Because you haven’t done that since you moved here – looked up – both physically and emotionally. People will stare and you’ll get handed a million tour bus brochures, but you smile and you keep moving because that’s what you do. That’s what New Yorkers do. That’s what healthy, happy, people do. They keep fucking moving.
I wake up every day where I always said I wanted to be and still I wonder if he’ll ever love me like I think I need him to or if I’ll ever again feel as proud as I did telling people I was moving to New York.
He cooks and cleans and walks our dogs in the morning so that I can get that extra 15 minutes of sleep I swear I need to be happy and I spend my time talking myself out of doing what I love most for the fear of finding out that I could get everything I’ve ever wanted out of life and still not be happy; terrified to find out with certainty what I’ve always known to be true: I don’t know how to be happy.
So I am starting my 28th year of life trying to be positive, reminding myself daily how lucky I am just to be breathing, no matter how shallow the breath. I am starting my 28th year by climbing out of a big, dark, freezing, pool of depression and I’m sitting here, clothes still drenched in sadness, and I am trying. I’m walking on sunny sides of streets, I’m drinking more water, I’m brushing my hair at least half of the week and I’m crying during the second to last song at Soulcycle because it’s the only healthy release I know.
I am trying – to kick, push, or even doggy-paddle my way to the other side of this.