When I can’t sleep, which is often, I try to bring back all the colors and shapes of loving you, back into my bones and breath, and hands. Back to my mouth, open, to my chest, open, to the curve of my shoulders, the slope. I try to soften. So I can find you…back when my body moved like this, and so did yours, and in this space we’d say the words, where you built a whole world for me.
The first time I love you tumbled out of your mouth, your words felt like they were tumbling down the stairs. I love you, you said. I love you. I love you. My response was to hold my breath, as the rest of the words tumbled down to the landing, gathered at the bottom. Like you do when you are a family, and someone is missing is now home at the front door. Because loving you back was coming home. And loving you back was knowing you were the family I was waiting for, and I wanted to open every front door to pull you in at the hips, to draw you in, like water, to say to you, my mouth close to yours that I love you too, that I had been missing you for so long.
And now. I have been missing you for so long.
We were both so brave then.
When I cant sleep. As was last night, and the night before, and the night before then. I think of that night, when absolutely all the stars covered the sky, as if the stars themselves brought friends, and took the stars by the shoulders and said here stand here, and here do this, and yes, you’re doing great. Perfect even. And so the stars covered the sky, and a blanket covered me, and then you came, to cover me too.
We were night 8 in Mexico, our trip was over, and we were just beginning.
It had been so long since I laid next to anyone, and I didn’t know where to put my hands. So I rested them on my belly, the softness from which all things are known, and you spoke to me on this clear night, your lips right by my ear, and it wasn’t long before you fell asleep.
And in my loneliest hours I will gaze into that blue twilight space that is indescribably night and I will make out the shape of you, as you were then. Safe enough to fall asleep next to me right in the middle of telling me some story, and long enough to dream.
I didn’t dare move. Something in me understood you needed to rest. And something in me understood that I needed to remember, I was worthy of falling asleep next to. That I was worth staying for.
I remember most everything about that night, but I wish I could remember so much more. Because so far in all my nights, that was the best one of my whole life.
It was before anything became important enough, or our hurt became deep enough, and how it would come to be that on some of our nights together you’d wake up suddenly, and it’d take me a moment to adjust but I could feel you in that foggy place trying desperately to move from the nightmare that shook you awake.
Now that I was worth losing, all your thoughts moved towards the moment I would.
You’d turn away from me, shrug your shoulder away from my hand, meet all my words with ‘no’ and fall back into a fitful sleep.
I’d lie onto my back and place my hands on my belly, the softness from which all things are known, and know I was losing you.
We’d call each other back into this vision of a life we were building, we tried desperately and frantically to call each other back home. A back-deck with views of trees. Mexican blankets, cool temps, bare-feet, messy little bed-heads, with little scratchy morning voices that called us both, mama. We’d call each other back home in moments of utter courage, grounded in love, airplanes, midddle-seats, face-time, and playlists. You’d tell me I didn’t have to work so hard, that when you are two people, then there’s two of everything. You told me to go back to school, that you knew I loved to learn. You told me I didn’t have to do everything on my own all the time. I told you, crying and tired, it was all I had ever known. That I wanted to believe you, but could not.
I felt you everywhere, always, but you were always wondering if I did.
And anyway, we were losing each other.
We were the confusion of daylight saving time, times 3, only every day, 3000-miles too many. You, always available, something so foundational to who you are. And me, wishing for solitude, and space, and complete hours with no dings, or rings, or anything, it’s foundational to who I am. And compromise here felt more like battle-lines, and right/wrong, and we’d retreat further away.
The vision of us kept feeling like something that happened once, instead of something we were. And you no longer felt like moving here to California was something you could do. We would say that in x more months, than maybe. Or that I could come. Or that we could choose a spot in the middle. I still pictured where we would be when I would ask you to marry me, no matter how much we kept hurting each other, it remained what I wanted more than anything.
Your fear: people leave. Is all you could see and create.
My fear: I don’t belong. Is all I could see and create.
And we. We became two people who were so rarely bringing out the best in one another, anymore.
I miss you so much. I miss you everywhere and all the time. And the relief I had when I found you, is many times not worth the pain of now having lost you, but I know that given the chance I would have never said no to trying. I would have never not wanted to know you and love you.
I know now from you what I have never known, that we are absolutely not meant to go it alone. That no life, and no one, and no set of circumstances is ever one where alone is the best. You know more about me than anyone on the planet. There are things I have said to you, I have never said to anyone. You are the keeper of so many moments where I have felt deep shame, and you are the hand that has fit most with mine, and of all things I miss about you, I miss holding your hand the most.
I wish I could right to the center of your fear, the place in which you were certain that in this big life I live that there’s no way that I would choose you, that you couldn’t be it, and you’d ask me out of curiosity first, which grew to urgency, and then finally accusation ‘how could I love you?’ — what you don’t know yet about yourself is how could I not…or anyone. Anyone who has known you for even a moment. I wish you could stop creating chaos, it’s not at all what you want. I wish you could be calm inside, and stare out on so many more horizons, and never once have to ask why someone loves you, and never once wonder how the horizon line goes on forever and ever.
I wish I could have found so many softer words to love you with, even when they didn’t work, even when you shook your head no, and held your hands up, no. And hung up the phone, no. And told me to leave, no. I slipped from water to fire, and I wanted you to be hurt too. There was no air left, just the elements in which things burn away.
I wish you would have let me love you as big as that giant night that held us that first night. I know I was ready to. And what I wish you for you, and us, now is that you hold no blame for how we fell. No wish for it to be different. To know, ‘this is the only way it could have gone.’
I wish I could find you again. I wish I could hold your hand. I wish we’d heal. I wish we’d make each other better, we weren’t. It got to be where we were out for blood, my pain, your pain, and who’s was worse. I wish I’d open the front door and you’d be there. You were supposed to be here by now, living here. We should be making dinner right now, you should be singing your favorite songs, I should be loving you from across the room setting the table, Moose should be at your feet waiting for food to drop, you should be here. You were supposed to be here by now.
I wish you’d know how truly sorry I am for leaving. But how I had to go.
It was never a lack of love.
Over dinner last night my friend tells me that if it is sent from God there is no way it could ever be missed. Her ‘how we met’ story as she’s backing out her car, and he’s pulling in his car, and her windows open just enough for him to say something about the cross-fit class. But isn’t it funny how we know we’re falling in love and we’ll say anything, because it’s a god like force that nudges us to say something about what’s in front of us, the sound of our own voice, it’s like were practicing. Were practicing being brave, were practicing talking into 2-inches of an open window, were practicing because something inside of us knows what we don’t yet know yet, that in saying hello now, one day we will be saying I love you. And isn’t that something. And isn’t that God.
And so, we were given one another, I truly believe from a force so large. In the years that led to us speaking into our 2-inches of space of being brave, of being the most single person in the history of single…I would often close my eyes and wonder everything about you. I would know that the person I would love was living on the planet now, and I wondered all about what you were seeing, and what you were doing, and how you were. I would wonder how I would find you.
And then I found you. In Mexico of all freaking places. And turns out that what you were looking at in all the moments I wondered about you, were places I knew so well, we are from the same hometown. And you knew what I meant when I started talking about breakfast at Jines, and Cobbs Hill in the Fall, and Rochester Winters, and Wegmans. There is knowing someone, and then there is knowing someone and all the places in which they came to know themselves. There is no way to explain the years of growing up.
And it was worth every moment that you weren’t ever mine. Because no one I had ever met before was worth not knowing you. I have been making space for you, forever.
And in this god-space where you were that I now know to be a loneliness deeper than I have known before, which means though that I know myself deeper than I’ve ever known myself before. And no, I don’t want to feel like this always, or even much longer, but to know ourselves truly comes with the complexity of seeing that we are not who we thought we were.
Love is startling like that. Love will shake you awake like that. And love will show you who you are, and ask you if you’d like to stay. Love will insist that we are honest, and will shine a light on the places we are not. Love will ask you how and why, and if how you are living, is working.
You are everywhere. Because I am everywhere. I cannot seem to feel anything, but everything, and the belief that you should be here when I get home later is one I cannot yet lift the sadness from.
We receive what we are asking for, always.
And so, I do not regret the bravery it took not just to not be alone, cause that’s not so special, but to not be alone, with you. To fall in love with you. To speak into the inches of space and ask to be loved, with you. In my extraordinary life, this is the most extraordinary thing I have ever done. You, are the most extraordinary human I have ever known. I know you. I have known you forever.
I must have been asking to God to show me just how brave I am. I must have been asking God to show me that I could feel at home with someone. I must have been asking God for a horizon line that did not end.
One of my favorite authors Danielle LaPorte she’s got this line….’only and ever grateful’ — my dear friend said it to me the other day, and now I say it all the time. Out loud because I like the way it feels when I say it, out loud because our thoughts become things.
Only and ever grateful.
To everything, to all of it, to the whole horizon line: grateful.