I like dates.
I know there was a time when the the only dates that meant anything to me were the birthdays of everyone I loved, but then I was a twelve year old girl listening to a doctor out in Las Vegas tell me that I had to stop living the life I had thought was mine when I walked through the hospital doors on September 29, 2007.
September 28, 2007, I was just a girl who just had a pain in my chest.
September 29, 2007, I was the girl who brought needles to the dinner table and had to count the carbs in my food.
So dates started meaning something to me.
April 8, 2014:
We were at the Brave’s Home Opener. My mother had gotten me two tickets for my nineteenth birthday because for some odd reason it was on my bucket list to go to a Braves Home Opener. No, I don’t know a single thing about a single player on the team. I have no emotional ties to the game of baseball itself, and I don’t keep up with how the team is playing unless I’m physically at a game. But a Brave’s Home Opener was on my bucket list. Go figure.
It was the third inning and we were waiting in line for hot dogs. It was crowded, and the line was too long, and guys who smelt like beer kept stepping on me. I felt small for once in my life.
That’s when you pulled my left side into you. You started to brush your free hand along my right arm, the simple fact that you already had your arm around me not being enough for you. I felt big again, and was people watching when I felt your hand stop, your thumb starting to mechanically rub the soft part of my forearm.
That was when I caught you staring, studying the symbols, the most precious curiosity in your golden-green eyes.
You, the man who didn’t like tattoos, looked at that part of me and caressed it, treasured it, was gentle with it.
April 8, 2014. That’s the day I knew I was in love with you. You had your left arm wrapped tight around me like I was a secret you would never be able to tell, and you were watching your finger trace the symbols of my tattoo.
It was then that my heart told me it was okay to not be afraid of losing you,
even though I felt like–for the first time–
I had something to lose.
Everything was still. It was one of those days when the clouds kept playing a hide and seek game with the sun, those days when you have to dress like you’re prepared for that sticky Georgia heat and the cold rain that could fall at any second, even if the sun was out.
I was sitting on my grandmother’s back porch, staring at her pool.
He likes pools, I thought, and I could almost feel the water slapping against my skin, swallowing me, hiding me beneath the surface.
The grey clouds made it look so still, and I just couldn’t bare to sit there and not ease into that pool, not understanding the division of air and water, loving the feeling anyways, and jumping in whole-heartedly.
And then the sun peeked around the corner of my grandmother’s house.
It lit up dimensions I hadn’t seen before from where I sat on the steps. The waves were golden, and suddenly the water looked heavy, like I could reach out and touch it, grab it.
I wanted to grab the water.
I wanted to grab the water like I wanted to grab love. I wanted to make love tangible.
I wanted to be bigger than all of the things that didn’t make sense about love, and I wanted to be brighter than the dark clouds that made love look still and safe and like there wasn’t a possibility it could drown me.
And then he smiled at me and just that smile made me think I could I really do it. I really thought that I could finally shrink love up until it fit in my hand when he laced his fingers with mine; I thought that I could laugh in the face of love when I kissed his lips and sprawled out next to him in the grass and say, “Look at you, you little love: I am stronger than you are.” Because the way his arm could brush against mine made me need to reach out and feel love exploding beneath my fingers, to feel all of it’s static that sparked fires burning beneath my nails. And I really thought that I could reach out and feel it and nothing hurt.
So he made me feel like magic, and I never wanted to let go of him.
Because I had figured out how to hold him.
Then the sun started hiding again, and the shiny slivers of gold that made me want to get up and walk across the pool all disappeared.
And just like that, I was drowning.
Pretty things are scattered across my bed. Pretty, little things that I’ve kept hidden between the two favorite pages of my favorite book. Someone once said that if you fall in love with a writer, you can never die? All I know is that there’s already this burning in my chest to form words around him to trap him in this pain of mine just so that he can finally understand the things I’ve been trying to say. And so much of me wants to clean up all of these words I’ve already bled out across this screen, because I hate the thought of them being wasted. But I’ve also heard it said that we are all afraid to say the things worth saying.
I always thought that if I continued to be wrong about people, there would be a point in my life where I would get to write about the hardened heart, my ridiculous infatuation with love finally being ruined.
Let me tell you, it’s hard to breathe sometimes, but I am not hardened.
Even though I swore he was the one to save me, I am still craning my neck to see all of the golden people I can bump shoulders with.
Love is not as skinny as I thought. It’s not so skinny that we might crush it in a hug.
Hands to hold and lips to kiss aren’t what save us; it’s your sisters letter slid under your door and nights in friends’ beds. That’s how we know that love doesn’t just know how to hurt.