if you were here
when i ask you
'what would you do if i was there?'
i’m not asking you
where you’d touch me
or which clothes you’d take off first
i’m asking you
how’d you hold me
what your kisses would feel like
and how many manys you’d show me that you love me
sitting on the fence isn’t as fun as you think it is
when each side is pulling on your leg
yelling at you
trying to convince you that
you’re not butch enough
but you’re not feminine enough
you’ve kissed enough girls
but you’ve kissed boys in earnest too
but you’re lying
(the funny thing about is that you’re telling the truth
but you’re too scared to say
that they’re the ones lying to themselves)
Let me tell you about my tattoos.
Here is the one on my elbow, from when I was fourteen and reckless. In my haste to prove myself to friends I didn’t even like, I tripped and fell and now there is a gash on my elbow, a patch of skin whiter than the rest of my arm. I remember the day I got it and the blood that trickled down my forearm as I examined it. For months it was ugly and scabbed over and picked at it and picked at it and picked it. I went to my 15th birthday party with a bandage over it and I was with the same friends. Eventually the scab healed over and the patch of skin was paler than my tanned skin and I wasn’t friends with those people anymore.
Here are the ones on my hips and my breasts, angry red veins on otherwise perfect skin. In my younger years, when I first found these tattoos, I was ready to cry. My hips had widened and my breasts were bigger, but at what cost? I was now riddled with obvious imperfections, a sure sign that getting older was not a gift for me, but rather a condemnation for a life where I would no longer be perfect in the eyes of anyone.
And here is the one that you placed on me, when you carved out my heart. It is right in the middle of my chest, gnarled and ugly. You sliced with such care in the beginning, the blade of the scalpel clean and me lying on the operating table, too drugged and too trusting to remind me that no one is infallible, that if there is one thing on this earth that all humans do is that humans hurt other humans. You reached inside me and I let you in, because if there was anyone to fix the brokenness inside of me, I thought it would be you. But it only made things worse. When you were finished, you left my heart shattered and what else could I do but bleed out onto the table as you sloppily placed stiches into my chest, the anesthesia wearing off with breath that I took. I trace this tattoo as I look myself in the mirror every day, the raised skin a reminder that love is not always beautiful but it will always change us.
reality & fiction
you walked me to my door, our arms brushing. i wanted to say something, anything, but the words wouldn’t come. you were so painfully silent as i unlocked the door to my room that i wanted to scream to you—the building—the city—the country—the world that i wanted you, that i wanted you to kiss me, that i wanted you to come inside, that i wanted you to love me. but your meek smile and your warm hug was all i received and i had to pretend to be content. so i appreciated your arms around me and took what i got. when the door shut behind me and you were gone, i slid to the floor and threw my phone across the room, the smell of your shampoo swimming in my head.
as we walked down the street, your hand wrapped around mine. i could tell that you weren’t okay with the causality of the action, so i carefully intertwined our fingers, as if you would break if i squeezed too tight. your lips pressed together to suppress the smile and you swung our hands between us. in that moment, i didn’t care about the cold night air or the fact that i should be looking for my keys or how about rent was due or that i was only a small, insignificant member of the universe. the universe didn’t care that your hand was warm as it held mine or that as we reached my door, you cupped my cheek and kissed me. but i didn’t care that the universe didn’t care because it felt like cosmos were bursting in my chest and a supernova was going off in my stomach and that my mind was filled with the light of the brightest star in all the galaxies.
the way you look at her is going to kill me. the way you smile at her is slowly pulling my guts from my belly button. your laugh when you talk to her is ripping my lungs right from my chest, my rib cage opened and exposed. when you consciously or unconsciously (it doesn’t matter or maybe it does) stand close to her, my throat constricts around the words i want to say. the way you look at her is going to break my heart because i keep wishing it’s me you look at, it’s me you smile at, it’s me you laugh with, it’s me you stand next to. but here i sit, my bleeding heart in my hands, ready to give, but for no one to take, as i watch you watch her like she is the world and i am nothing.
i catch you watching me at the oddest moments. when i am reading, when i am writing, when i am making coffee, when i organize my desk, when i am daydreaming. you do this unapologetically and i cannot bring myself to stop you. you always seem so fascinated, like i am some odd riddle you are attempting to figure out but are content to always be confused by. i ask you why you stare at me and you simply say “i am in awe of you”. i rolled my eyes at the time, thought you ridiculous, and cast aside the comment. but when i found myself staring at you in our bed, the moonlight spilling in through the window, your face only an outline in the nightlight, you said to me, “i can feel you looking at me” and i replied “i am in awe of you”.
you have ruined me. i see you and i see the only thing i want in this world. i am like the ruins of pompeii, preserved perfectly after experiencing the intense heat of lava rushing down so fast that they were stuck where they were, sitting at the kitchen table or in the middle of the road or in the dorm room of a mutual friend at college. even if it was only for a moment, surely they felt the scorching, searing pain as over 1000 degrees of hot volcanic rock poured over their skin. but in the next moment they were numb but forever caught in the same position as they were doomed to be for the rest of their life. i cannot move on. i cannot grow. i am the ruins of pompeii.
it was off-handed, the way you said. if i didn’t know you so well, i would’ve thought nothing of it. but i know you, i know every crevice of your soul. i know what you look like when you get up in the morning and what you look like when you’re sad. i know which shoes are your favorites and which shirts you hate. i know how you take your tea and what type of yogurt you like. i know you well enough to know that when you said “we’ll have so many books by the time we’re in our 80’s” that you thought this was for forever too. i know that we both thought we were classics, like the browning pages of Shakespeare’s plays and the musty, dusty smell of a Fitzgerald novel. we were stronger than the shelves that held our hundreds of books and more beautiful than the ornate case that they resided in. we were only so lucky to have a happy ending.
i want you
I want you on a Monday in the early morning. I want you to attempt to pull me out of bed with words of love and gentle kisses. When that doesn’t work, you’re going to yank the covers off the bed and try to shove me off the side. You’ll be laughing and I’ll feign angry and frustration, but I can’t help the smile that spreads across my face.
I want you on a Tuesday morning and you’re rushing around, trying to do five things at once. I’ll be sipping my coffee at our small table, watching you mutter to yourself the checklist for the day over and over again, stuffing things into your purse. You’ll be panicking, looking for the house keys, at which point I press them into your hand and kiss you until you’re calm again.
I want you on a Wednesday at noon at a small café that we like to go to when we have the means and the want to treat ourselves. You’ll stretch your arm across the table and take my hand in yours. I’ll roll my eyes but squeeze your hand and tuck a piece of hair behind your ear. You smile at me bashfully like we’re still in the beginnings of dating but in reality we’re in it forever.
I want you on a Thursday afternoon and I bluster into our home, soaked to the bone by the surprise storm that the news hadn’t warned me about. You’ll say it did. I’ll say it didn’t. And, before we both know it, we’re fighting with each other about god knows what. You’re crying and I’m shouting and suddenly a clap of thunder will ring out. We’ll both look at each other and apologize profusely, holding each other so that we don’t fall apart.
I want you on a Friday evening and we’ve decided to have a night-in, just for the two of us. We sit in our pajamas on our ratty couch and cover ourselves with enough blankets to cover a continent. There’s a bowl of popcorn between us and we’re vying for different movies on Netflix. Eventually, the movie is forgotten all together and I’m straddling you lap as I kiss down your neck and you sigh helplessly as you run your hands down my back.
I want you on a Saturday late at night and we’re stumbling in the streets. Well, I’m stumbling and you’re trying to keep me upright. I’m giggling and I have my arm looped through yours. I’m pressing sloppy, wet kisses on the side of your face, reaching my hand across your lower abdomen. You had decided to let me drink and stay sober because all you want in this world is to be there and make sure I’m safe.
I want you on a Sunday midnight in bed, exhausted to your bones. You had a terrible day at work since you weren’t even supposed to. You’re too tired to even speak but you silently convey to me as you touch me that you love me. I whisper into the silence that I love you too and you kiss me like you are trying to promise me a lifetime together. I will always accept.
people like you, people like me
You told me you had feelings for me on a cold December night. It was said so softly, so suddenly, so beautifully that I hadn’t known what to do at first. People like you do not have feelings for people like me, I thought, but those words caught in my throat. They formed a lump there and I opened my mouth to say something, anything, but nothing came. My toes curled and my hands clenched and, for the first time in my life, I was terrified.
You told me that you would be with me on an April midnight. I could hear the smile in your voice, the soft breath with a simple ‘yes’, and I hadn’t known what to say. People like you do not want to be with people like me, I thought, but my voice was lost. You were always so full of surprises; you were always so capable of shocking me, placing me in a state of awe. I laughed nervously against my pillow and I squeezed the sheets and, for the first time in my life, I was so happy I almost cried.
I told you that I loved you on a May afternoon and you said you loved me too. Your voice cracked and you began to laugh and cry. I did too and I whispered ‘thank god’ even if I didn’t even believe in Him. But someone must’ve sent you to me because people like you don’t happen to people to me. People like you do not love people like me, I thought, but you do. You love me and I love you. I pressed my forehead against the steering wheel of my car and I listened to you cry and giggle and, for the first time in my life, I knew what ecstasy felt like.
Some days, I will not be forthcoming and open. I will refuse to share and refuse to communicate and refuse to be a proactive part of us. I will shut down, become intolerable and irritable. I will make you worry about what you have done, make you question your every move. Passive aggression will be the only communication you receive.
Other days, I will kiss you and tell you that you are beautiful. I will sit and talk to you in bed for hours on end and still not be done when you are. I will want to open myself and encompass you inside of me. I will insist on making dinner and massaging your back. I will buy you roses and lilies and daises and lilacs and carnations with words of love written on a note.
And on rare days I will cry and startle you. I will refuse to let you go, refuse to let you leave, even if you truly must. I will sob and tell you how I worry that we are not working, that our life is not right, that you do not love me at all. I will ask again and again and again and again if you love me because I will not believe you, even if you say millions, billions, trillions of times.
But every day of my life, I will love you, even on some days, other days, and rare days.
I have never wanted
a house in the ‘burbs
and a child with my hair
and someone else’s eyes.
I have never wanted
to wear someone else’s
ring on my finger
and for someone to wear mine.
I have never wanted
to kiss in the rain
and not care
about how ridiculous it is
Until I found
i wish i were not a writer
Sometimes I wish I were not a writer.
If I were an artist, I could illustrate your hands, the slope of your neck, your long eyelashes. I could capture moments; I could preserve them into something tangible, a physical manifestation of my feelings for you. Your graphite lips forever curved into a beautiful smile, sent off to dazzle the world for others to admire and fall in love as easily as I have.
If I were a musician, I could play the melody of your voice in a few simple chords or perhaps a complicated composition that can make feet dance and legs leap. It would be loud and soft and slow and fast, just like my heart whenever I am with you. The song would ring in people’s ears and settle in people’s hearts and they wouldn’t forget it as long as I would never forget you.
If I were a scientist, I would measure our love in beakers and Erlenmeyer flasks and graduated cylinders. I would create a formula to calculate the levels of chemicals in my head (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, norepinephrine, adrenaline) and how it all connects me to you and you to me. I would conduct experiments to quantify the instances of love I feel for you and the improbability and inevitability of us.
But I am a writer. I can only write about how I feel. I can only describe about the softness of your skin and the sound of your laughter and the rush of emotions I feel around you. I can only put down words, but words are so helplessly insufficient. For you are much bigger than the words I attempt to use to enumerate the ways you are imperfectly perfect, how unflawed your flaws are, how delicately strong you are.
Words will never be good enough to fully realize you and how much I love you.
i love you in three parts
There are 1,922 miles—10,148,160 feet—12,777,920 inches separating us. For each mile, every foot, every inch we are apart, I sometimes wonder if the distance between us far outweighs the benefits of us being together. But between us, there are 119 days—171,360 minutes—10,281,600 seconds—2,056,558 breaths—12,704,000 heartbeats—infinite amounts of love, all still growing as days go by. And I know that being together will always tip the scale in our favor.
I want to feel the softness of your thighs, to hear the sighs you make when you say my name, to taste you in my mouth, to smell the sweat between us, and to see your mouth try to form words that are lost upon your tongue. And I want to know what it is to become one with another person.
It’s silly to think that a person can find someone that can complete them. It’s a lie told by fairytales in storybooks that our mothers and fathers used to read to us every night before bed. Life offers no happily ever afters. People can live out entire lives finding dozens of people with whom they feel a connection to. But I hadn’t known I was incomplete at all until I had fallen in love with you.