Life isn’t always about a love story.

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I watched myself lose you.

It’s like I sat in an empty theater and watched you walk off stage.

Scene by scene you’d inch closer and closer to the sides of the stage.
Holding her hand, you’d stroll a few feet;
Taking a solo cup out of his red-stained hands that had my blood on them, you’d plump down on his couch besides the thick velvet curtain of the theater house;
You puffed smoke into the air from the cigar he bought you, walked through the cloud that rose in the air, and came out unscathed, unaffected by my wheezing, disappearing.


Fall came, and I was watching.

I walked through college halls, kept my head low, smiled, participated. And watched. Watched you put on the most moving performance I’d ever seen.

And then a red-headed, freckle face sat down next to me in a night class.

With each step you took towards left stage, he took another step towards me from right stage.

He was loud, and his voice was there when I needed someone to tell me how love should work; he loved a woman with his whole heart, and knew how to love me, too; he made people laugh, and he listened. God, he listened.

So when he walked onto the balcony of the old library and smacked a bag of Twizzlers on to the ledge I was leaning on, I realized I wasn’t worrying about where you were standing on the stage anymore.

I didn’t want to hold on to the things you’d left me holding; I wanted to pick up everything he was waiting for someone to carry.


Sometimes, people show up and they aren’t meant to be some loud, deafening statement of love and passion you can write about; they’re not a hand you can hold or lips you can kiss or someone you can hold close on a couch during a scary movie.

Sometimes, people show up just so you know that there are people who know how to really show up; people who show up to constantly remind you how wrong you’ve been for settling; people who just show up.

And it’s these people we should hold out for.

Ribs.

My grandmother drives down the highway.

I lay my head on her shoulder, and she tells me of the earlier times when she was my age, times when her wedding band hadn’t yet left a soft spot on her finger from months of wear.
My grandfather has been gone fourteen years now. There’s been an entire piece of who she is missing for as long as I can remember, and I’ve heard her lonely heart tell stories of him so often that I’ve heard the same stories twice.
It’s like God decided to come along one day and steal one of her ribs away from her, but she’s had to go on living, breathing without it. And it’s been difficult, and the breathing has been wheezy, but she has done it.
This is the sort of love people should wait for.

Edge of Desire

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There, I just said it: I’m scared you’ll forget about me.”
– John Mayer. 

I wanted to swallow the words as soon as the first few started filling the space between us, but they just kept spilling out.

“I don’t want to get in the way of the life you have here.

As soon as I spoke the idea into existence, this notion that you would have two lives– a life at school and a life I existed in– I already knew how I wanted you to reply.
And God, I hated myself for it.
I hated myself for setting you up, for replaying your response in my head before you even opened your mouth, for wanting you to tell me what I wanted to hear: “You’re a part of both of my lives.”

But, “Don’t worry, you wont,” is what hovered in the air between you and I in the front seat of my car.


 

“Good night, lovely.”

I typed the words, and they appeared across the screen, overlapping the kiss face I was making in the ten second picture I was sending you.

You were spending Spring Break in Florida, and I was tucked in my bed praying that this time–this time we would move forward.
Because in eight years, you had swept in and swept out time and time again, and I had often times been the one to open the door and pat you on the back as you left.

This time, I would be different.
This time, I would stand in front of the doorway, grasping the silver nob even if my hands were sweating, and I wouldn’t let you leave until you knew.

So I sent “Goodnight, lovely,” and added a purple heart emoticon on the end.

There. You knew.
In just one little ad-on word in a snap chat picture that would flash across your phone screen and disappear forever, I had told you that you had held my heart firmly in your hands since fifth grade, and I wanted you to be the one I sat next to on a front porch doing whatever old people will be doing in another sixty years.

 

 

And  in three months, I forgot to call you “lovely”.

I forgot what it felt like to say the word and it sound like waves crashing, lighting clapping, jail bars slamming on a woman who had just stolen something.
I forgot what it felt like to say the word as though I wasn’t allowed to say it, as though you wouldn’t reply with “I love you.”
I forgot what it felt like to say the word and it sound like a secret.


 

When you start to feel like you’re going to miss someone more than they are going to miss you: miss them anyway. 

Do not deny yourself the simple pleasure of ferociously missing another person until it hurts just because you’re worried they’ll only think of you when they shut their eyes and wrap themselves up at night.

Because that’s when you’ve really lost. That’s when you’ve really missed out on loving them.


 

I started telling him how lovely he is again.

Maybe it’s because I don’t ever want him to forget it.

And maybe it’s also because I love the way getting to finally say it makes me feel.

Broken Town

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They say we should pray for serenity to accept the things in life that we can’t change.
Then they tell us we should also ask for courage. Courage to change what we may.

Well in 19 years I’ve learned one thing: we need a lot more serenity than we do courage.

So I’ll go to the same restaurants, eat the same food, hold on to the same people. This might make me a control freak, but I relish the fact that I have some sort of hand in making sure that some things don’t change.
Because life has made me listen; it has made me learn the lesson that we have plenty of opportunities to accept change, and very slim opportunities to bask in any form of consistency.


I couldn’t sleep. My chest burned. I could feel my heart beat in my throat, and it made me nauseous. My collar bones felt too heavy, my skin felt too tight and uncomfortable.

And I remembered long nights spent driving up and down back roads without any intention of actually going anywhere, talking about first kisses, college, and what kind of parents we hoped to be.

So this is what it felt like to be wrong.
This is what it felt like to have put trust in a clouded hope that it was all just a messy misunderstanding; to have believed you could just go right back to movie nights and late night drives in the middle of no where and empty gravel parking lots where you ate his favorite ice cream right from the tub and the only space there was between you two could easy be filled with cigar smoke.

Breathe in, Breathe out.

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When he asked me
if I’d been in love before,
I hesitated. 
I was, in that moment, having the most magical love
affair
with the city we were in. 
There was something about the way the white lights
tickled my skin while
the wind sucked the music
out from our radio and
into the streets;
I found so much
beauty
in the messy collisions I had
with strangers living their own stories,
becoming just a sentence in mine;
the strange, quiet heaviness of quirky
coffee shops filled with steam and lovers
enjoying each other’s company
aroused me more than the coffee ever could;
but my favorite places would always be
the gravel parking lots
tucked away from all of the noise,
raw but ready to be filled.

And you could say that he started
to make me feel the same way.

I could weave together layers of poetry
about the way his face smiles when
we’re in his room
and I’m scratching his back.

I lived for adventures,
so he thought of me in every sunrise.
He spent his days swimming,
so I thought of him in every breath.

Growing Pains

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I fell for you the way my blonde mane fell from my head that day in the salon:

highly anticipated,

so close to deciding against it,

as quickly as the collision of two silver blades,

without any option of returning to the way things were before,

and all that was left was a pile of dead weight on the floor.

But there’s this hope I hold that outweighs the golden strands on the ground: hair will always grow back.

So I might have done most of the fighting when it came to our dragons, but I still had the time of my life, and I still hope you tell them my name when they point to the pictures.

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We had planned it all out since freshman year. We’d all picked the song that would play through our pictures before Drew’s mom handed us our diplomas. That song changed a million times between freshman and sophomore year, but then Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” album was released. I played “Long Live” for everyone in October, a month before we would all sit in a room and tear each other apart.

But me, you, and Drew? We stuck it out after the dust settled.

Which I guess is why it came as such a surprise when I sat you both down and told you I was leaving.

Drew argued for months. We’d be carrying on a casual conversation about a new band he’d found, and then he’d ask, “So, why aren’t you graduating with us?” before he could even finish his original story. He promised that we would sing together, said it would be perfect, and I just promised to be in the crowd.

But when I told you, I knew in the bottom of my heart that I would’ve ordered a hunter green robe in my size if you had so much as asked me to stay.

“Good,” you said.

I told you I was leaving, and you said, “Good.”

Okay, so I had known it was going to be a fifty-fifty chance you’d be apathetic and a fifty-fifty chance you would react the way Drew had… But happy I wouldn’t be tossing my cap in the air with you?

“I don’t get why you would even want to graduate here.”

You looked at me from across my counter, and let me tell you that I’d never met another person until that point who had believed in me and that my heart was better than the things I’d been settling for.

—–

You were angry. You stood on that stage, and you were so angry. You couldn’t even look at your parents. The camera flashed, and you didn’t even smile. And I remember thinking the whole time that I just wanted to run up on stage and shake you, tell you I was proud.

But then you were walking down the aisle with your parents; your dad saw me beaming at you, and squeezed my shoulder when he passed; you saw me, threw me a wink, and just like that, you were happy. So happy.
I followed you out and wrapped my arms around your neck, and we breathed out a heavy, “We did it.”

Change your stars

Play the hand you’re dealt

I’m not going to give you that advice. Because I’ve seen life trap people; I’ve watched life deal a hand to someone before they even sat down at the table.

And you? You had a beautiful hand. But I also know that, if life was a game of black jack, you only needed one more card for a perfect “21,” but someone had the deck of cards fixed, and you lost everything.

So no, I won’t tell you to just try and play the hand you’ve been dealt.
I just think I know what the saying means now:

Your cards were already waiting for you when you sat down at the table, but God, you could’ve made the best out of the chips you won.

And I guess that’s how you play this game of life. You don’t get the cards you want cause you don’t get a say in what cards you’re dealt. But you do have a say in how you play the game and what you do when you walk away with your winnings.

All I know is, you changed our stars, and I looked at the cards you dealt me and knew I had no choice but to fold