to love is to learn the art of loneliness, i discover. it is strange — my whole life has been spent being alone, but i never quite grasped the concept of the word lonely until i lost my heart. i think we all have a universe inside of us; i think loneliness is a black hole that slowly consumes us all. whenever you leave it knots an ache in the base of my throat, but nothing can quite compare to the times when you are neither here not there, your eyes as distant as the stars. to be a lover is to learn how to adapt to the changing seasons of you — the spring of your smile tempered into the summer sun of your laughter, the sharp freeze of your words in a winter nightmare. and if the scars of frostbite never quite fade away, i’d say that love is a war nobody comes out of without battle scars. you take my hand and run light fingers across the canvas of my skin (humerus, radius, ulna) and i don’t need an x-ray to know that your touch has sunken its way into my very bones. oh, but i am doing this all wrong. turn the lights off and you will see me light up from the inside, burnt to the quick from what i feel for you. too obvious, they say — give a man too much of yourself, and there will be nothing left to anchor him to your seas. i am weak, i will admit; you have always been my undoing. ancient legend speaks of a red thread connecting those who are destined to meet; a single pull from you and i unravel. to love is to offer yourself up to be destroyed.
When you first learn about the water cycle, they don’t tell you the important things, like how:
- Sometimes, the clouds of your eyes will fill up of their own accord, sending raindrops streaking across the windows of your cheeks, and
- You can clench your fists so tight your nails cut half-moons into your palm, but pure stubborn determination is not enough to ward off an oncoming storm, and
- It takes more than half-hearted, perfunctory apologies to clear the bruised sky beneath your eyelids.
this is what people say: that when you are young and giddy and naïve, you will think that you love someone when you don’t. teenage dreams have an uncanny ability to paint everything in technicolor shades, to make you drunk on love songs and fairytales and illusions. you will build a house of cards and call it a castle. you think that you love him, but you don’t, they tell you, patronizing, superior. you just wait and see.
but i do, but i do, but i do. i am not some dizzy, careless girl too caught up in a facade — i could not possibly have made this up on my own. when you’re in love you can feel it; it builds a home inside of you, swings from the bars of your ribs, climbs along the wall of your throat. it swims through your veins and lights you from the inside out. it changes you. did you know? the human body recreates itself every six months — nearly every cell and bone dies, and is replaced. you are not who you were last november. and this is what i will tell you: it is the same with love — once you fall in love, you are no longer who you used to be. when your whole universe is sliced into two neat sections of before and after, when the core of your gravity is now tied to one single person, when your heart is no longer yours to keep, really, how could you not know? how could you possibly carve this out of your imagination?
I have never been much of a fan of sceneries, to be honest, but the lack of patience I have for dormant volcanoes and too-tall trees is a problem I’ve never had with you. The tide always rises, the sun always sets, but you? There are few things I can say about you with absolute certainty. You have never been a constant; every time I think I’ve finally managed to pin you down - your little paradoxes, your endearing imperfections, your insecurities painted over by a coat of childish recklessness - you shift, catching me off-guard. And the world accelerates wildly on its axis as my vision blurs, and the knowledge vanishes, slipping out of my fingers like a sleek silver fish, darting off back into the realms of the unknown. You are one scenery I could watch forever, if only so I could chart the runaway corners of your smile, the heat of your gaze, the subtle nuances of your laughter.
There are few things I can say about you with absolute certainty, and that scares me more than you can imagine. I like fixed points and happy endings and constancy, I like being able to read books and read people and read thoughts, I like smooth-sailing journeys and calm seas. But you are a constant challenge, a rainstorm that I have never been able to dilute into words, and I can’t quite decide if I love you in spite of that, or because of that.
It is a curious thing to fall in love with someone you can never really seem to understand. Curiouser, really, when you discover that returning to a place with locked rooms full of mysteri es can still feel like going home.
that’s all it takes, really: one blinding, technicolour moment of epiphany for me to realize that a) not being able to put into words the reasons why i feel the way i do for you does not mean that these feelings do not exist b) how on earth could i possibly have thought anyone could replace you? (the hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. why would i want them to?) c) all this while i had been walking around with a missing piece and i never noticed until you smiled down at me and everything fell into place d) no matter how many miles i put between us and how much sand has tumbled through the hour-glasses i will always wind up coming full circle back to you e) if you close your eyes and silently call for me, i will run to you any time.
The hard part is falling out of love with the idea of someone, I’ve discovered. You can strip a list of faults out of a living, breathing, tangible human who makes mistakes and burns bridges and takes too long to call, but an idea? An idea is malleable. An idea can be shaped into the way you want to remember it (you don’t remember what happened - what you remember becomes what happened), diluted into bittersweet nostalgia that lingers on the tip of your tongue. An idea is what sets the hurdles for anyone who could possibly come after, what ruins you for anyone who could possibly come after. An idea is the ghost of a boy who stole your entire life and moulded it into an orbit around him, who held your hand under the open sky until his promises bled into your skin. An idea is indelible ink - impossible to forget, not once it’s sunk into the depths of your bones.
You always ask me the same questions and I always find myself evading them, handing out non-committal replies and swallowing back the truth; it is only when I am curled up next to nothing else but my own shadow and the quiet burn of my breathing that my throat unclogs itself and the words drain out of me, a jumbled telegram that has yet to find its way to its proper destination (the truth is stop how could i stop when all i do is stop notice all the ways stop they are not you?)
pause because this is how we have always functioned best (hovering in grey areas / navigating the sea of in-betweens / undefined) because i have learnt the hard way that anything at all is better than nothing, because (why do you have to hear me say it?) i missed you and i miss you even when i am right next to you and i have a feeling i will miss you every day for the rest of my life, because there are some people you can never shake, because you can haunt just as well as any ghost, because you have ruined me for anyone else anyway, because.