I decided to be honest.

barren burned landscape unsplash
via Dikaseva at Unsplash

You’re gone again, just like the last time, and the time before that.

Over and over again, there you went.

The spaces between our visits varied: first came big gaps, then smaller.

Then when you really left, it was a leap across our country, then into another.

I know how it feels to want to go.

The last time I saw you, you said “I’ll see you soon” with such clarity that it jolted me into the realization that it must be a lie.

It was so easy for you to say the opposite of what was really going to happen. A part of me wishes that it were that easy for me too.

I should probably get better at faking it–and by “it” I don’t mean orgasms, I mean any little moment that requires a lie to hurt less.

Life might feel like less of a fight if lies could just flow. Mostly I mean those little white lies that benefit everyone and harm no one.

Mostly.

(Kind of like how when I was honest with the doctor—that backfired too.)

How is it that a person can feel like such a big part of your life, yet you were and are so small to them?

Why do I always feel like the small one?

I’d like to be all shiny and rosy about it, but what I’ve learned from love is that there’s more to life than honesty and authenticity: we have to choose where to be the most transparent. We have to choose who we’re honest with, what we say, when it comes to our bodies, souls, hearts. Not to build completely impermeable barriers, but maybe semi-permeable.

I’m talking about a balancing act: Bleeding open-hearted everywhere is not always the best bet

I played the fool, over and over again, in the name of authenticity. Left bereft, belittled, graceless and strange. Solution-less. There was no answer behind that coming in and shuffling out.

I asked, you delivered. You got me high, then hit me right where I needed it most.

It was exciting and refreshing.

Even the aftercare—being with me moments and day(s) after. That was what I needed most, and also what was the most misleading.

But it’s not fair to pretend that you care like that. It doesn’t matter that you are “supposed” to do. It would be better to just not stay. Staying for longer than a day, a week, a year, when you don’t really want to—lying like that is more hurtful than just leaving.

I eventually figured out when to believe you and not, but by then it was too late—ergo, I’m the fool.

I always felt empowered as I would walk out your door, confident that there was no more to go back to, because I knew I’d always be in the background, not the foreground. We got close enough so that I’d see just enough into your life to let me know that I’d never be enough.

So when I left, it was okay.

For you there was and will always have to be something new—curvy and colorful, pristine, ready to delight you.

I know, I know your heart was in there, with mine, for just a minute. But it came and went so fast that now I barely even believe myself that that was true.

It’s been two years since you mostly left, and six months since the last time. I lie here and my thoughts turn to that time when I was somehow at my most beautiful, beaming through the bullshit.

It’s exhausting, lying here wondering why mostly people from my past seem to find it easy to see me as a mere acquaintance now, no matter what kind of relationship we had. Maybe we lived together, maybe we shared the deepest intimacy. Maybe the drugs inflated things somewhat—but it still meant something.

I can’t help but wonder what you thought of me after the sex haze drifted away. I was just another one of those girls on your list. I was more than that, but also less.

Too emotional. Too into sex. Not firm enough. Too open.

Too much of this and never enough of that.

I’m tired of playing small.

I know for a fact that you don’t think about me anymore because I never get that pang. I used to get a pang now and then where I just knew I was on your mind.

I do miss you, that feeling, and I hate it. You missed me once a little too.

But not now.

We’ve faded and it’s better this way—my world is a little dull. You are still playing and doing all the things you want, life is exactly where you want it. You have all the choice in the world: a steady job, lots of money, at least one woman who loves you wholeheartedly.

You can have anything you want, and even if you dont’ know what you want, you have everything you think you want. And will have more of that.

That’s what counts, really, doesn’t it? That we work to attain what we think we want? We like to ramble on about how money is not important, but really money is key to attaining what is both important and not important.

Money means the freedom and space to figure it out. And if at the end of the day we don’t have it figured out, then money at least allowed us the freedom to try to find that.

So now it’s just smoother, easier. The photos are prettier, and easier to explain, more exciting to show off. Right?

It’s comfortable for me to stay alone and for you to stay with her (them).

Easy.

I went to New Orleans, you know. Did you know how much I love live music? We never really went to see the kinds of shows that I love. I think that kind of jazz is too lowbrow for you.

I decided to be honest and that got me exactly nowhere, save a few good times and a semi-feigned feeling of love that I am terrified I will never find again.

Noone understands it, either. They saw through you, and so they clapped when I said I deleted your number.

They applauded that finality, but it’s not something I celebrate, because it reminds me of the terror of never knowing that feeling again.

It all still hangs at the back of my heart as a missing piece, and probably always will.

 

 

 

A Certain (a-) Symmetry

abstract forest art stephen hall flickr
“Pass in Time” via Stephen Hall at Flickr 

Something about the way I learned to lean backwards

cross-sectional on the sofa
obliterated
Composed well, but weirdly—
almost deconstructed
to the core
point of reference,
maybe.

Laughing and loopy
A bent and staggering mess
holding steady (ish)
enough to scrape by
on today.

You’d hold me up now and then,
taught me how to stay
despite my starry criss-crossed gaze,
my lopsided stance.

Our circus show balancing act:
survival.

I couldn’t lean there forever
so I think of you as I teach myself
to stay steady yet
delightfully crooked.

For this I am
unequivocally grateful.

Our messes are forever misaligned
juxtaposed, mismatched, scattered.
Each day a lone paint splat
ungracefully bland in its seclusion,
necessarily uneven and unique.

When I step back a little, holding my gaze,
I know that beauty,
I feel its worth.

Art, love, life.

Such as it is.

when i was new

 

marionette girl

when i was new

 

you would want to read me

to watch and investigate   

to play with me.

 

i was shiny, then:  

fresh-out-of-the-box

and sweet-smelling

like that slightly perfumey plastic

the kind that signaled something good

when we were young

and didn’t know the difference.  

 

(i used to think that the plastic bottoms of my

cheap chinatown shoes

were chocolate and try to eat them)

 

now you put me away again

you’ll share a little bit but you don’t really want

to give your toys away.

 

no.

 

so i’m shoved back up in the closet,  

stuck collecting dust

an empty glass-eyed stare 

waiting to be pulled back down

at your leisure.

 

you almost forget—

but suddenly i

light up your eyes again.

and it’s

almost as exciting as

the first time

you held me like that

your skilled grip a perfect balance of

firm and gentle

bending my small pieces around

guiding my limbs with such skill and grace:

i fold, hang and glide,

a marionette surrendered deeply in a dance

of pleasure.

 

for a moment you are captivated

watching as

we move in synch.  

 

then i’m away again.

each time you tug my box down from the shelf

i’m a little more used up

and you are a little less thrilled.

with each reach i’m closer to shelf life,

 you’re a little more bored.

 

(mommy! I want a new one.

this one doesn’t work anymore.)

 

i work, though—

i work better than before.

you’ve warmly worn me into

shape.

 

but you can’t see it.

you are blinded  

by the shimmery show

of new distractions

 

(mommy! i need a new toy to bring to class.  

show and tell is tomorrow!)

 

the thing that you bring out

to tell stories of—

that has to be pretty.

 

it has to always be better than

the last.

 

this could never stay enough.

 

 

{Image: Send me adrift at Flickr}