Monday, March 3, 2014

On the jurisdiction of ghosts.

When you meet a boy that's too good to be true,
run fast and hard
in the other direction--
things that are too good to be true
are not telling you the truth about their goodness.

When he tells you he loves you,
do not say it back.
Do not be enthralled by the way he is best friends with Death.
Death was never supposed to be a wing-man,
first encounters should not be held in graveyards,
and first kisses seen only by cinema psychopaths
are a terrible omen, indeed.

When he is drunk and afraid, he will tell you
that parts of him belongs to you, that you hold his heart in your hands.
Tell him no.
Give that part back.
Reject the very notion that you are anything but you,
in all your naivety and youth.
Don't let him under your skin,
like a news story of a drunken car-crash
that he could have been a part of.

When you drive in his car,
and he tells you, I loved you in a past life,
I know it,
tell him to fuck off--
that you do not owe him the smiles,
the kisses, or the love that you are giving him
just because some woman in the past loved someone else.
Tell him
that you are not a reincarnation, a rerun already known by heart. Tell him
that you are an unfinished novel
he has not yet bothered to read.

When you leave that boy who's too good to be true,
do not hold on to him.
He is too much to carry to a new place.
Do not let him hold on to you.
Sometimes goodbyes are for-nows and see-you-laters,
and sometimes they are just goodbyes.

When he tells you that he misses you,
do not say it back.
When he calls you on Skype at two in the morning
to tell you that he wants to die,
tell him, This is not my problem. I
am not your solution.
Hang up on him. Do not
call him back.

Three years later, when you meet a boy
who is too true to be good,
examine that thought. Ask yourself
why honesty is inherently aromantic.
Ask yourself why I love you means less than I can't promise,
in case I am wrong. Ask yourself
if you are going to let a ghost of a man
who never bothered to read your story
write the next page.

Tell yourself no. Tell the honest man that you are trying,
because you are.
Tell him that you love him,
because you love him.
Do not ask him to trust you, or to love you back.
Let him do both things by himself.
Do not think to yourself, he is too good to be true.
Love him, instead, without pedestals and judgement, without
expectations that make you both afraid.

Because when you meet a man that is true
and is good,
do not push him away.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spike Jonze has got nothing on us.

I am watching surrealist romance movies and thinking that almost every lovestruck person in the world tries to make their story big. They want it splashed on a silver screen in indie music and vintage, oversaturated/strategically faded colorings and they want it to touch people's hearts the ways theirs have been touched. They want to fill them like ink in water, swirling, sloshing, touching the edges, leaving stains in hues that mix as they move. They want these feelings, deep like the drop-off in a lake you weren't expecting, to make your emotions shift places in order to make room.

But love doesn't have to be big. It doesn't have to wait for a hundred years for a spell to break. It doesn't have to be crossed fate-lines and tragedy.

This is how I love you at 2:53 in the morning on a Sunday-Monday night:

I am thinking of your smile, and the way it makes me see joyful tears etching riverbeds into human faces. I am thinking of doing dishes in your House's kitchen, and how much I hate doing dishes, but how I never thought twice about it when I did it two-dozen times the last time I was close enough to see your eyes. I'm missing your snore--uneven, resonant, reassuring, telling me in my insomnia that you are there and alive.

Once upon a time I drove to nowhere with a man who told me I had pieces of him in my heart. We thought that maybe we had been in love in a past life, always destined to come back to each other. To a seventeen year old girl about to leave the only town she really ever knew, it felt like the truth. What I didn't think about then was that past lives are not this life. What I didn't think about then was that "destined to find" did not mean "destined to stay."

Your kisses never tasted like jade-and-lilac destiny. They never whispered tangled promises torn from the pages of tortured coming-of-age tales. You have never once felt like a fairytale, a myth, or something too good to be true. The first time I kissed that man, on a ratty basement sofa, I knew it was going to happen. But the first time I kissed you, I was tied to a fence post in the middle of the night, and when I leaned forward, at first you darted away. When you finally kissed me, there were no cosmic fireworks. The planets did not realign. My mind did not freeze time. We moved on, in the dark, in that strange place with all its strange circumstances. It was, as kisses go, utterly unremarkable.

Except for the fact that it was you and I, and that I remember it.

Once upon a time I told a girl I was in love with her. She told me, "You don't know what it means to be in love. You can't be in love unless the other person loves you back." And she didn't know it, but with those words she changed my heart, and my head. Years later, when that boy on the ratty old couch stopped loving me and started using me, I said, "I'm in love with you," but in the back of my head a voice chanted can't-be-can't-be-can't-be. To this day, I am convinced I will never be in love. There is no cynicism tying this to my heart with rough ropes and I am not the cracked stone of a jilted twenty-something. I am only certain that, however much I love someone, they cannot love me back.

But the other day I drew an apartment with a dreamcatcher in the window and sex toys on the bookshelf. I sketched your posters onto the walls under my banners and left my journal on the graphite bed that I thought, if I could just sit on it, just for a second, would smell like you. I thought I heard cars on the street that existed somewhere behind and below the copy paper. I thought maybe, for a second, I could hear a key--your key--in the front door.

In my room that is not an apartment drawn on paper, where you are not going to come through the door and the sheets don't smell like you, I say to myself, "I think maybe I'm in love with you." My mind shuffles memories like cards. There's a wooden floor lit by flickering flashlights and an apartment filled with books looking out onto Central Park and a basement full of cheering people and your hand in mine. There are tears and there is laughter and there's a dozen stupid inside jokes that can still make us double over, gasping for breath. You are hugging me goodbye on a New York street corner, a gravel parking lot, a dormitory lounge, a public library. I say again to myself, "I am in love with you." This time there are no can't-be's.

Instead, I am thinking of your smile.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Someone gave me a jigsaw puzzle and no picture to match it to.

At 2:45 AM on February 7th, there is dissonance.

There is a red door I have never seen that screams life and pain at equal levels. There is a feeling like the ones wind chimes give me--deep, resonant, and hollow.

I am not inside my body. I am on a front porch with a girl whom I love more than anyone I have ever met, and I cannot explain why. I am telling her that when she laughs at me, it hurts my feelings, and she laughs again, and I love her more. God help us both, I love her more.

I am not inside my body. I am standing in front of that red door, with its broken telephone dangling from a stretched cord, waiting for my best friend to come back. She won't. She has fallen in love and in need with the people inside that house. I can't even say I blame her.

I am not inside my body. I am watching my loved ones cry. I watch my brother as he watches the world end and inscribes it in ink in his sketchbook. I can't say that I've ever seen an apocalypse myself, but it doesn't matter--he has. And that dread is more real than any life I will ever try to lead.

I am not inside my body. I am not outside of it, either. I am barely a soul, existing on simple, failed dreams and a desperate love so strong it rips me to shreds every time I dare to probe it. I want to be a lighthouse, even after all these years. I want to be a harbor. I want to be the shore. I want the hurricane inside a five-year-old girl to pass above me over and over and overandoverandover until it stops. Until the clouds clear and maybe she can do better than me.

I am not inside my body and I wonder if that means there is space for someone else's fears to nest in the bowl of my pelvis, or roost on my sloping shoulders. Can the people I've met with no voice borrow my vocal cords? Can they find peace in the newfound silence of my inner ears?

I am barefoot on the porch with the girl whom I love more than anyone, and when I watch her reach for my hand I am filled with vehement passion. I am filled with poison. I am filled with the question of existence--hers and mine, here. Someone loved someone else, and neither person was us, and now here we are, the Big Dipper shining pin-point bright over our heads, and we are here. We are here because someone else decided we should be, with not a single thought spared to what that means.

I watch the hurricane-girl spin and spin and spin and I am filled with anger. Because here she is, volatile and beautiful, and no one ever thought about what that would mean for her. Only for themselves. Only in her creation. But she's the one who will deal with the storm inside her small and hurting head every moment from now until her world ends. Until she is not inside her body.

I love them. With the atoms in my blood, I love them. With the neurons in my head, I hate that they are here. That I am here. That someone else pulled us all from the void and said, it is your job to exist.

There is dissonance.
I am not in my body.
There is dissonance.
I am in one someone decided should be mine.
There is dissonance.

There is love.

Even here, where there is no choice, there is love.