There’s a spot near my house, where you can park and see some of the valley lights, the night sky illuminated by traffic signals and streetlamps. Depending on which way you face, you can watch a string of airplanes, waiting to make their final descent into the city. I like to watch this, almost as much as I like to get on one of those planes.
D informed me just after I returned from my last trip that he would be boarding no more. He won’t be accompanying me to meet my new niece or nephew this summer. Nor will he join me for the family wedding I have to go to in September. He doesn’t want to travel anymore and he prefers to never get on a plane again.
I have wanderlust. The last few years, I’ve made more round trips to see my folks than anything else, but I was looking forward to traveling to any number of places. He’s not stopping me, I’m free to go alone, but this news hit me harder than I wanted it to.
I only think of what I miss. That my nephew and the baby still yet to arrive won’t know him at all. That he won’t hold my hand at my parents’ funerals. That there’s no grand vacation overseas.
I mourn so many things in my life, so many might have beens, and I suppose this is just another set.
He has me less than sure footed. Somehow, I get knocked off balance and overcorrect myself. When I need to be playful, I end up defensive. My attempt at trying not to sound vulnerable and dependent wounds with the kind of insult I couldn’t even dream of hurling in that direction. How could he think he was anything less? The person I want to hear from most. Then, when I hear from him, I can’t wait to hear from him again. I can’t wait to hear his voice, his laugh.
Trying to explain that I don’t need it made me sound like I don’t even want it. And I do, desperately.
I’m afraid I’m not as good as I used to be. I have forgotten how hard it is to want this badly. To deal with the consequences of my desire and my compulsive nature and my preference for playing it low key.
do you know that every time we hung up, I would almost whisper “I love you”, as if I couldn’t possibly keep it in any longer?
like I had been holding my breath
your laugh, or one of those sounds you make when incredulous, or aggravated; would raise something in me I struggled to keep down, to keep in place.
I have it under control now, but I pause to wonder if something would cause it to tip again
could the slightest provocation start me back?
Wandering my house, bare feet on the cold travertine floor of my kitchen; I could put on socks or slippers, I could turn up the heat, but the stinging cold of the stone on my soles dulls something more painful.
Everything seems too intense.
A particular song on repeat, melancholy; I can sing in a whisper or at full volume, depending on the where I am in the pendulum swing.
I answer the inquiry into how I am with the stale and canned response of “fine” when I feel anything but. There’s no quick and easy answer to give when stress and sadness and worry sit somewhere tight in your chest, just behind your heart.
I wish I had written the song. So many books of so many lyrics lost or burned or otherwise dead. Instead, I’ll listen until I’m too tired to stare at my phone or pace the room.
Laying on top of the covers naked, until my skin tingles from the cool air and I tuck inside the sheets to cry myself to sleep.
The impending disappointment is palpable in almost every one of our conversations.
Sometimes I want to push, and I usually regret it when I do. Other times, I can barely keep from shouting the words I keep pressed behind my lips. The moment the call is disconnected, I let them out, in a whispered kind of whimper.
Revealing yourself to someone is ridiculously hard. Vulnerabilities exposed like nerves beneath the skin. Do you risk putting it all out there, knowing they may reject you, they may retreat? If they do, you believe you were right all along. It reassures you that your walls are necessary; your protections wise.
Just as risky to open yourself to the lesser possibilities. Maybe their reaction isn’t immediate, but you will question a change in attitude once you’ve shared the pieces you’ve held back.
In this world where we filter our photos, crop our thoughts down to pithy little comments, it is remarkably difficult to show someone the whole thing; unedited, unpolished.
Like pulling your heart from inside your chest and packaging it up, you wait to see the look on their face as they unwrap it. Darkest corners illuminated. Demons unveiled. Flaws and cracks highlighted, as they’re all you can see.
You hope they see more.