There have always been
cuts and bruises in my skin, always
secrets carved into the insides of my bones.
The first time I stood here
in front of you, begging to be seen
was the scariest moment of my life. But you
saw me. Took me as I am, all scratches and
scars but no war stories to speak of just
fear mixed with hope
for something better than this constant
cutting myself down.
You took me in and helped me up
off the pavement. let me
crack open. You showed me what it meant
to love myself
like I am more than just a
lost cause more than helpless more than
war torn more than who I
spend my time with; more.
You opened my eyes.
I am a work in progress. The caution tape
still wraps my wrists and some days
my insides still
scream back but I would not be standing here
if it were not for you,
so thank you.
I want a tattoo. I want
a cat to take care of, one who thinks I am
an ocean, thinks
I am the one with all the cat food in all the world, thinks I
am special. I want my hot air balloon heart to float
away from this scared
helpless body. I want a place, a
home where I can be free, tie my
helium balloon heart around my wrist and dance
through the kitchen while coffee cake
bakes in the oven. I want
to be free.
The icy air conditioner air circulates around me like
it is being forced. I fidget in my
poorly padded metal seat and raise the blind
covering the tiny window in the wall. It looks out
at the wing. This is the moment when I should
pull out my phone, send my goodbye texts and I
love you’s, just
in case. And just because, I am alone
on a plane for the first time and I know
my mother will be worrying. Just because, this
for now. I will be back
probably. My mother told me jokingly that this
could be the last time I live in Boston. That maybe
I wouldn’t come back from California.
I didn’t believe her. But part of me
was dying to.
So as the nameless strangers filter past,
fidgeting with their suitcases, mumbling
about overhead space, I wonder how many people
are like me. How many people have just up-ended their lives
and left, turned off their phones,
cut ties from the only things they have known for years and
ran away for six weeks. How many people feel as lost
as I do. Does the urge to never return
tug on their veins like a 4 year old’s game of tug of war?
Today I had coffee with a friend
someone I had never assumed I would get
close with but she still
calls me to have coffee occasionally; we
still make jokes about how we are the only people
we like spending time with. We still
share intimate moments, share stories we are still
too cut open and bleeding to tell anyone
else but we always, keep a straight face. No
shaking voice, tears welling up, just
about the fucked up things our lives get tangled
in. so today
I told her about you. how
more than six years later
I didn’t think I loved you anymore. About my pragmatic
approach to not taking away your
whole life, but at the same time having to spend the next
few weeks wishing
your touch still made me feel safe
instead of feeling like my skin was on fire every time
you try to hold me. I told her all this
and shrugged, like I was telling her about a school paper
or getting the wrong sandwich in the coffee shop.
She sighed, and stared at me, eyes
full of apologies and bandages like I
was the one that was drowning. I did not tell her
I was numb today. I did not tell her, I
have been drowning for months now. I did not
tell her I was numb today and that meant
it was a good day. I just nodded and wished
she could help me stitch myself up, plaster
my pieces back together and figure out what
I need, but only I can fix this. I guess
I have to heal myself.
Today, there are trees
growing in her chest, taking
root in her tiny apartment but she
is out growing this place. The moment
she has grown enough to settle in
is the moment her leaves start
bursting through the windows, her trunk
too thick to fit through doorways.
She does not know
how to stay; how to grow and not
I am still learning
to take care of myself, to take
what I need
when I need it. To ask for
help. Some nights that means staying out late
with friends where casual conversations
keeps me safe from the tornadoes in my head. Some nights
it means sitting in the bath tub
reading, until I believe
he is asleep. Some nights it means
remembering to eat dinner,
opening a window
and listening to the birds lull
themselves to sleep.
I am sitting at a table and a girl
I know from middle school is telling a story
about people I do now know, I do not care about but
she says one of her friends was “trying being gay.”
I wonder what that feels like, to try on identity
like a suit, to become something else for a day, see
what happens. This is not about trying. This is about
finding ourselves, figuring out
who we are. We are not trying to become anything.
This is not something you can shed. This identity
this inner meaning this
life, this love. He did not
“used to be gay” just because he has a girlfriend,
I did not become straight when I got a boyfriend
you are not trying out being gay like it a pair of shoes
with a 30 day return policy. Stop
to label us all into a corner. Stop erasing
the past for what is right now. We do not need
to bend who to fit into the image of what other
see in us in this moment.
We all have identity. We all
have a past, a present and
a future here. Most of us
don’t know how to label ourselves anymore
so we resort to what feels concrete. This is only
going to hurt us, make people think they know us
from our dumbed down expressions of
who we are in this moment.
You can be a butterfly if you want to. You
can be straight or gay or bi or boy or girl or everything in between.
You can be everything. You can be the light
at the end of the tunnel, the first star we see at night, the
sunrise. You can be all of this. Or nothing at all. If you want
But stop telling me who I used to be
like it is not a part of who I am today.
It has been a long time since I needed your call, since
I stared at your knees instead of your face
because I was anxious of being
too intense or doing something wrong but today
every voice in the room sounded like yours,
Every time someone said something I spun around
to search the crowd for your face and
I wanted to call you. I wished you were there.
I probably won’t call because I know
you have better friends, people you spend
all of your time with, and I’ve stopped expecting
a return call, or plans to work out but
tonight the hoping came back.
I wished you were there.
I met a cat, whose cage was not label so I didn’t know his name but he was the sweetest. He lay close enough to the bars for your to reach in and pet his paws or scratch his cheek. He didn’t even sniff you first he just let it happen. I stood with him for ten minutes and rubbed his head as he pushed his head into my hands and started to fall asleep. Then a woman came over, pointed out his ear that was half missing and told me he was a stray. If I could I would have bought him right then and there but my apartment is being shown, I’m leaving for California for two months in a few weeks and I don’t have the money for it. But all I wanted was to take this cat home and be broken and loving and way too accepting together. I just want something to take care of, someone to love me unconditionally, not make me feel judged or ignored. I want someone to come home to, to know I can go to and not second guess. I wish I could adopt that cat so badly.