I hope you will love like weathervanes, spinning until you find True North in the middle of every storm; I hope you love like apocalypses, like the rain elopes with the ground.
I hope you will fall in love without mercy, without apologizing for the way love weakens your knees, fall in love without atonement, fall in love so deeply you won’t be able to tell the difference between your own skin and someone else’s. I hope you’ll fall in love in public, without being confined to only showing affection in private.
I hope you’ll fall in love with someone whose only crime is wanting to dust your entire body with their fingerprints like a suspect before being led into a jail cell, with someone who gives you not one chance, but all the chances you deserve. I hope you’ll fall in love with someone who makes your immune system pray for its own immune system just so it wouldn’t have to feel quite so lovesick.
I hope you will love like the moon: so full and wide that everything else seems small in comparison; I hope you love like wolves, hungry and snarling and howling for blood. I hope you love like witch’s brew, like a hurricane building in the southern-most corner of your tired, aching, beautiful body.
I hope you will fall in love feet-first, then follow up with the rest of your body, sliding slowly in until your heart comes to rest at some place it can finally call home. Home like a window without doors, home like a carousel where every stop contains another universe, home like a toothache in the gums.
I hope you’ll fall in love with someone who sobs tears that are more sugar than salt, so you’ll learn that love is supposed to be sweet and not bitter. I hope you’ll fall in love with someone who never wants to say anyone else’s name but yours. First, middle, last, and all. I hope you’ll fall in love with someone whose tongue is a sounding board for your echo, who kisses you like they think the wind is reflected in your sigh.
I hope you will love like tire tracks: fiercely and without stopping, with a trail to mark every new destination. I hope you will love like telephone wires spy on the conversations that cross their humming bodies, like forest fires and like moths sometimes burn themselves to death just to reach what they assume to be the saving sun.
I hope you will fall in love as many times as you need. I hope you will fall in love with the way your bones automatically align themselves to fit someone else’s spine, the way your wrist and elbow joints gradually curve to meet the parabolic shape of someone else’s body held inside your arms. I hope you fall in love with the way someone else can still love you with their back turned; I hope you fall in love the same way a car goes into reverse, with a brief moment of panic before the slow catch and release.
I hope you’ll fall in love with someone who would rather be alone with you than the alone kind of alone, with someone who won’t play toss with every volley of your heart, but instead catch and hold, hold, hold. With someone who whispers I love you like it’s a sin but enjoys every moment of potential hell, with someone who kisses the roof of your mouth like they’ll leave a secret inside the rafter of every tooth that will blow out when their mouth leaves a hurricane inside yours.
I hope you fall in love like there’s no other choice.
Listen, I know that every seven years our skin cells get replaced,
but there were still days when the men of your past begged you home
just so they could touch you again and make new memories
for the next seven to come. You can lose all the molecules
that someone else affected, but still be the same person
you were before they fled from your system.
After every equinox, when the coffee pots have been emptied
and the beds have been stripped clean, there’s still another month
waiting on the horizon to burn away the old one.
And look, I know most people will go their entire lives
without ever wondering how many wineglasses it would take
to drain the Pacific Ocean dry, but then there are others
who would rather replace every single drop of water with alcohol
and get drunk on a feeling shaped like wave caps.
What matters most is whether you keep drinking
till the waves close over your head, or stop when they lift you up
and toss you out to shore, dripping wet and gasping for air,
but still breathing.
You handle your body like a raincheck: useless now but maybe
you can save it for something better later.
You think of someone else, someone who used to love you, so often
that the phrase “jogging the memory” comes to mind;
wish your memory wouldn’t jog but run, run itself down into the ground
until it’s too exhausted to keep remembering.
And your heart is just a slot machine that dispenses love
at the price of losing all your hard-earned self-respect.
Kneecaps already creaking like an old attic floor
at the exact moment of getting up
which makes standing up for yourself that much harder.
Yet your body carried you here, like volcanoes bring fire down a mountain.
Cradled you inside its hammock of skin and bone;
its hands were the ones you held
when there were no one else’s to hold.
There are unlit matches in your throat that could burst into flame
at the sound of your beautiful voice.
And every tattoo traced into your skin, well,
tattoos remember when everyone else forgets.
They wanted to be there, a part of you,
because they heard something singing inside your skin
and knew it would be worthwhile
to listen a little longer.
okay so here’s a text post:
people do not care about you in the same way you care about them, because we are all different types of people. your level of investment in something will never be equally matched by another person, because you are invested in things in different ways. and your priorities WILL vary, no matter how closely you think they line up at one time. trying to force people to feel the same way about you that you do about them will only lead to conflict.
people change and grow. you will hurt people, people will hurt you, you will hurt each other. maybe you’ll over-rely on someone in a moment of great need and irrevocably sever a close bond. i’ve done it more than once, and i’ve been the one it’s been done to as well. both sides hurt.
in recent years i have renewed relationships with people on both sides of this experience because here’s the second caveat: give it time to settle. give yourself time to settle, give the other person time to settle. grow and find new people, make new priorities. if you come back around to each other, talk it out. you will probably find that your connections faded, because connections aren’t as sacred as we make them out to be. once you’ve done new things you will be new people, and maybe then you’ll realize you weren’t going down the same path to begin with. and that’s fine. life is taking us all to different destinations. old friends don’t have to be best friends for your whole life. old friends don’t have to be your friends at all.
I love in cursive-
in a way that’s practiced and precise but rarely of any use.
The apricot is still full even after it is emptied.
The mourning dove is already assumed to live a life of sorrow
long before it watches any of its relatives die.
In abandoned hotel rooms I pretend to be sleeping together with myself
so the rain will remind me of something other
than the way two people initially fall hard in love
then gradually stop falling until the only way down
is through the floor.
When the only man I ever saw beneath the exoskeleton,
(and by exoskeleton I mean clothes),
left with everything but his first name,
I gave up trying to learn to love in print.
There are just too many anomalies, cursive among them-
the skyscraper only pretends to scrape the sky
when in reality no one even knows where the sky ends
and the ground begins.
The one time you get struck by lightning
is also the one time you figured it wouldn’t be a problem.
Just like the one time I fell in love
was also the one time I figured
I would be able to fall back out.
When you think of windows as a collection of shards,
you finally understand why pain and pane are homophones.
You will want to jump through one, like circus animals do
with flaming hoops.
You will want to check on him so often that your heart
will start saying checkmate whenever it worries about the possibility
of his own heart being captured by the darkness.
The only agony worse than the suffering
the spine undergoes at not being able to witness its own beauty
is watching the one person you love give up in the middle of a storm,
hands up in surrender,
after spending months riding the currents with clenched fists.
But sometimes standing miles away, high up safe on the observation deck,
is the only option available:
do not blame yourself for being able to keep your head above water
while he can’t help but drown.
It is neither of your faults.
You do the best you can
and sometimes your best
is the only thing you can do.
There is a reason the seasons change-
so the people that experience the weather unique to each one
will understand that nothing, not even the long cold nights, will last forever.
One day, for him, it will no longer be winter.
In fact, maybe on some days, you are his only glimpse of spring.
Every fault line buried in the soft soil of the continents is a tattoo.
Every time it rains in spring the ground is toned anew,
just as every time lightning strikes a tree the bark is tattooed.
Even the earth shares an affinity for ink.
There are some people who spend their entire lives
searching for a way to find home, because the needle
of their internal compass has never spun in the desired direction,
and their one reminder is the dragon on their shoulder,
the arrow on their wrist, the constellation hidden on their lower back.
The colored map of their skin is the map of their origins.
They replace the faulty compass needle
with the working needle of the tattoo artist.
You would look for your home if you could, too.
And it is not the cheetah’s fault for the way its spots never slip from its coat
no matter how fast it runs,
just as is it never the fault of the people whose skin you shame
for wanting something on their body that will never leave
Even after everyone else in their life already has.
It is not your body- you have your own house to live in.
It is not your body that will one day grow wrinkled and loose with age,
and why should it matter if the tattoo falls and sags with that very body?
It is still such beautiful skin to grow with,
because the tattoo grows with it.
When we first meet, I introduce myself as the deer who will always
break your windshield but will never get run over.
You’ll always end up swerving for me, without fail.
I am a functioning alcoholic who only attends AA meetings for the free snacks.
Today the new group therapy leader serves small glasses of juice
flavored with absinthe without noticing,
and our eyes meet across the room. It feels inappropriate to laugh,
but I do so anyway. You follow.
Soon we are holding our sides with both hands, as if trying to keep
the seams from ripping and the cotton from flowing out.
The woman in the polka dot dress and black combat boots
with puffy purple hair scowls at us; the man rocking back and forth
in the chair next to yours suppresses a smile.
Soon we are all weeping, horribly, aimlessly, cupping our fingers
to our mouths, trying to gather our tears,
as if hoping, desperately, that they are made of alcohol.
The next day you call me at home and we set up a date
at Ford’s Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated,
for 3 pm on a Sunday to watch West Side Story.
You bring popcorn, even though it is a play, and so what the hell,
we eat it anyway.
After the play I paint myself with the colors of your love;
I stain myself with fuschia and indigo and deep crimson red.
Two days later I wake up after a bad dream:
I was present at Lincoln’s assassination
and you were the one holding the gun.
I agree to meet you one last time at the Washington Monument,
where you inform me that besides being a daily alcoholic,
you have also been diagnosed with OCD.
Then, tentatively, you kiss me seventy-eight times straight,
then redo one because “our mouths weren’t lined up quite right.”
You count; I keep time with my foot.
At the exact instant you were born, when you slid from the womb and arrived into the world like the most valuable piece of luggage from the conveyer belt at the airport, you were several months from death. And at the exact moment you were conceived, you were literally a split second away from death. Not metaphorically, as in literary terms, but literally. You had not existed previously, but then all of a sudden you did.
And every second you’re alive the same is true. Your entire body is a love letter to the world; your skin is a love letter to all the bones and muscles and streams of blood tunneling beneath it and forming the beautiful garden lattice that is your skeleton, the skeleton that grows and bends every year into the best kind of flower there is. Every second you’re alive, whether you realize it or not, you are writing a love letter to the universe for creating you.
No matter how badly you want to die, for every second you’re alive, that love letter will exist. That letter will continue being written and being read.
Every scientist knows that change can be gradual or it can be earth-shatteringly quick. Time-lapse cameras have caught the planting, growth, budding, and opening of a tulip in a painstaking number of shots. And lightning, well, lightning strikes pretty damn fast. For every second it takes for something to change, no matter how many of those seconds there are, there is a chance to start over and begin anew. If the tulip had decided its blossoming was taking far too long and wilted into rot and dead leaves among the ground, it would never have witnessed its own incredible birth. If the lightning had decided to remain behind the storm clouds, it would never have had a chance to touch the earth, the tops of trees, or be marveled at by all the passersby below who thought it breath-taking.
The seconds are what make the difference. Not only for that tulip and that bolt of lightning, but for you as well.
One second you can wish you’d never been born, or even wish you could do the reverse of being born and prevent yourself from continuing to live, but maybe the next second that feeling will just be a fleeting thought that you’ll be glad you had not acted upon. For every second of pain, there is another one filled with joy of equal intensity of feeling.
If you allow yourself to feel the bad seconds and get through them, whether you power through them like a jackhammer into cement or trudge through them like wading into a swamp, you can make it to all the good seconds that will follow.
If you only allow yourself to remain in the bad seconds and not wait for the good ones, always remember that you were once a split second between life and death at the moment of your conception. If you pull that trigger, jump off that bridge, swallow those pills, you’re again stepping into that tiny void that is the space between being alive and being dead, except this time you’re going to pass through that void and end up on the being dead side.
And you’ll never get to experience all the seconds that could have come after that second of feeling so horrible you wanted to die, all the seconds in which you could have been glad you’d stayed alive. All the seconds that made deciding not to die so very, very worth it.
Change can be gradual or it can be fast.
But no matter what pace it happens at, it’s all a matter of seconds. So stay. Stay for the second when the bulb becomes the tulip; stay for the second when the lightning strikes after being hidden behind the storm clouds; stay for the seconds when you’re happy you were born.
Because you never know- maybe all those seconds will stack on top of each other and turn into a lifetime, and for the rest of your life, you’ll be glad you stayed for the rest of your life.
Let that love letter continue being written.
Last night I discovered a birthmark on the back of my neck
in the shape of someone leaving.
Joy always abandons me like all the other men in my life do-
sweet release through the front door and back, vaulting over the railings,
even out the emergency exit at the side of the bar.
Men hang around my tailbone like chandeliers; they stay there
until my lights go out.
The trouble is, I’m almost always dark.
The worst and best pickup line I’ve ever heard went deep like an eye socket.
“Being with you never requires any effort because you’re so engulfed in sadness
that anything at all will appeal to you.”
The difference between almost and lost
is just two extra letters.
The difference between sadness and joy
is so many letters that the entire alphabet forgets its purpose.
All my birthmarks are shaped like something leaving
because they can never decide whether my skin
will last long enough
They ask me about him like questioning a spirit
called back from the dead at a séance.
Want to know if my eyeteeth fell for him first;
it’s long been rumored that the body knows best.
My grandmother used to catch the rain in an hourglass
instead of a gauge or metal pail.
Rain is life, she said. When it stops falling,
you know your time is out.
They wonder if the geography of my skin has changed
since meeting him, if my heart has opened into new continents
the same way Pangaea split apart amid a ring of seas,
if my spine has begun to crack at the mere mention of his name.
But they know nothing.
I could give them metaphors, figurative language
made beautiful merely through being spoken,
could say, I was a series of broken piano keys until he fixed all my strings,
and now, everything is no longer black and white.
But I know better, and so did my grandmother.
I know one day our rain will stop falling.
We are both thunderstorms
we will part ways into the sky from which we came.