I’m turning 21 on Thursday, and there are some bad habits I’d like to let go of before then.

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It’s there– faint, fuzzy movements in your memory, a feeling you can recall just enough to remember feeling stupid for it.
You can still make out the images: it wasn’t even that you had trust issues or even that you built high walls and someone finally made it over in this big, breathless, unforgettable moment– maybe it’d be easier now if that had been the case, if you had just turned around and built higher walls and grown gun shy.

No, it was subtle. So you shut it all off instead of restoring your defenses, and you condition yourself to forget so much that it’s still static when you reach back into the far corners of your mind, searching for that soft moment— the moment without the fireworks, where the world didn’t stop spinning, the one that was so insignificant that you can’t pinpoint when it happened– because it happened so naturally, so mindlessly, like your heart beating without you having to consciously tell it to: that was the moment you just believed someone would stay, without a doubt or a question.

And then you were wrong.

There’s just got to be this balance of not orbiting around another human being and yet, not getting too lost in your own head trying to figure out how to care less, to match their pace, just to blink back into the reality that you lost them in the midst of trying to keep them.

Well I know one thing is true about my frantic, misguided, neglected memory: I’ve made sure to take hammer and nail to the forefront, plastering a list of the names of every person that couldn’t stay.

But did I ever make a list of the people who didn’t leave?

These nerves detach, uproot from the happenings around you. So that when you sit across from a boy who looks at you like you’re home, the sound of your own mental repetition of “He could stay, you can trust the process,” makes you nauseous, and you yell at people when they ask you how you feel.

The truth is, I met a boy who makes me nervous, and no one has ever made me nervous. He’s the boy who everyone adores, and I swear he’s another reminder from God that it’s okay to be kind, to care, to get back to the girl who was soft.

He makes me tacos for dinner, and I want to kiss the mess out of him.

Instead I sit and smile and say, “Thank you,” and I make keeping him something I have to figure out.

Because it’s been two years, and I still can’t shake the feeling of loosing someone I made the conscious decision to believe.

Because the first time someone leaves, you’re surprised.
You go on, light-hearted and wide-eyed, believing out of nature, not habit.
The second time someone leaves, you start to wonder.

Then you’re eighteen, and you’ve had to make belief a habit.
Now you coax yourself into trusting.
You spend too much time remembering the names of every person who didn’t stay and forgetting about the people who haven’t left. 

I wonder what my life would look like now if I spent less time making a habit out of trying to believe that people will stay and spent more time being thankful for the people who have stuck with me.

So here it is:
I like a boy. Very much.
And that’s hard to say.
And saying that it’s hard to say is hard to admit.
But I want to be bold, and say the things that I’d rather clutch close, if only for the people who have been bold enough to not stop loving me.

Twenty-one.
I want to step into twenty-one reconditioned; I want to scrape the names of the leavers off of the inside of me, and thank the stayers more often; I want to believe that people are good the way my heart beats and lungs pump– effortlessly, mindlessly.

Because people aren’t mindlessly good– that’s something we have to try at.
I want twenty-one to teach me how to clap louder for all the good.

 

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