Category: relationships

love is a quiet soldier

I’m ready to end this honeymoon.

Most people struggle to find ways to keep the flame burning. But I look forward to the day I’m in your arms basking beneath the final flicker. I want to revel in the darkness of domestication, the white noise of your snore, the look of your bedhead, the taste of your unwashed mouth.

Passion is perfect but finding love in the little things is where the real light shines through. It’s the way you stir your coffee, the littlest laughs at a television show you’ve seen a hundred times before. It’s the way you cradle the dog, the carefree way you carry yourself in public. You order so I don’t have to. You ask so I don’t need to. It’s how you know when to be distant without dislocating, to be close without being clingy.

As the temperature taxis into temperament, I realize it’s the nuances that narrate our love. We can take our heads off on a Sunday afternoon and lie in bed for hours, talking or silent, slowly slipping into a space of dreams and deep relaxation. Your warm body pressed against mine is all I need.

It’s a hug over the morning’s hash, a kiss over the night’s coffee. Your symphony voice. Your amusement park mind. The strength of your conviction. The bite of your humor. Shakespeare and slashers, French bistros and seedy dive bars, romance and rope bound tight. Multi-faceted, fantastic, and free.

Love is a quiet soldier, marching with a steadfast hope that it will protect the good and transform the wicked. It does not fight with slander but penetrates with protection. It marches, treads, crawls and wades to get to the heart of those it has chosen. It eventually pours over everything, purifying and perfecting in its own way. It does not punish but praises. It does not attack but encourages. It only fights to free us from our own demons. It encompasses each one of us then sets out to find another unsettled soul. We are the vehicles that carry it across sea and sky.

You carried this soldier to me. You convinced me to open my door and let it inside, to unlace its boots and lay down its weapon. It came a long way to find me and now it’s able to settle, to rest, to make a home here. And it allowed me to find rest myself.

Don’t be mistaken that our hearts are ever halved. We are whole and love comes to remind us that we’ve always been fully formed. It uses others to empower us to feel it for ourselves. You tell me with your hands and mouth, with your gestures of kindness, of care, of consultation. You push me to be better, encourage me to be bolder, and love me for all that I am and in spite of all that I have yet to achieve. I feel safer when you’re near, marching along in life with you as my armor, plated with protection, satisfaction, and the security I am no longer lost in this world.

When the decoration of honors and medals melt away, when the soldier leaves for the next assignment, it’s just us in the quiet morning light. We are left to breathe on our own, to soak in the safety of knowing the other will not leave this bed, that years degrade skin and mind but not heart. For love takes the lead and propels us forward through the sadness and sickness. It’s there with a hand to hold, a mouth to kiss, an ear to listen, each part perfected for its partner. It’s presence. It’s practice. It’s a feeling, an emotion, a compulsion that will not wither and die but will soldier on, endlessly.

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night falls down

All I’ve ever wanted was a warm mouth on a cool night, us wrapped together in fleece and flannel, feeling the unfurling gusts of wind whipping up whisps of hair across our faces. The smell of your lips turns sweet smiles into delectable dishes. Your hand rests on my chest, softening the harried heartbeat, calming the catastrophe of current events.

I always stepped into the day, downtrodden among the atrocities, reaching out in hopes of one day finding your fingers ready to soothe the ache of destruction. Facing each empty slot of time, relenting to the entropy when you stepped in as if on cue, ready to remedy the rust that had settled into my bones.

You lead me to the ground and embrace me as the night falls down around us, splitting at the seams and seeping out a serenade for you and me alone. All the bugs and blades of grass bend toward you to bask in your glow. But your focus stays on me, fumbling and funny, flirty and fortunate enough to fall into your line of sight, springing up with newfound spirit, safe enough to scream, to laugh, to share these blankets with you. Crickets sing, the air dances, and the light grows dimmer, hazy shades of green and black, plaid and pristine wrists, blue branches leading to your chest and lips and eyes. Your delicate cheek on mine shines against the light of the moon, piercing through the dark clouds carrying a rain that runs past us.

My head winds down, drained of dismay then fueled with a thousand fantasies swirling like so many leaves in the wind. A warm drink and skin and smile. Lips pressing into the flesh of forever. A lifetime encapsulated into a late night with you, my heart a steady drum, my blood a slow stream. Fluid dreams and concrete connections. Pulling me out of a ribcage coma and shielding me from the sun’s rays, random bursts of violence, and the gravitational pull of disappointment. It’s the clarity of breath, the breadth of belonging, a kiss so pure it hurts as much as it heals.

Let us not linger in the brightness that breaks through the webs of bark, illuminating the trauma of the world. Kiss me until the light leaks out once more, covered in the safety of this dark. Run with me through the black fields before resting again in the shadows. I listen as your heart slows. You wrap your arms around me and I am wiped clean, a blank slate without shame. You invite me to draw closer. I sink into you, close my eyes, and wish for the stars to burn bright forever.

uninvited skin

“Again I belong to the night
I’m a mess Pull me over
I can’t forget her name
Slow me down
It’s like you’ve stolen my soul
So far from heaven now…”
-Issues, Slow Me Down

“I was your prized possession and who was your exorcist?
Thought you was heaven-sent
You left for the hell of it…”
-Banks, Judas

The mind spins at the thought of affection. A desire brought forth those bright blue eyes from behind your fringe. Parting it back and basking in the realization of prayer, God-sent and God-fearing. But mostly fearing your own wants, needs, desires that deviate from the established word. You kept that hidden between kindness and kisses and a fringe of fellowship fell over my own eyes. I wanted to be your back rub. I wanted to taste your laughter. I wanted to get closer to the one who wanted me.

But not that close.

A firm grip on my fledgling innocence, milking it away from me with no choice, no exception, and no time to process the pumping. Building up and blowing out, rinsed in instant regret, falling farther away from the fantasy and crashing into a cascade of concern.

The brain braids together bonds of mutual fondness to detract from this indiscretion, forgetting the words that fell off a cliff, the kisses that cushioned before cutting, the tongue that lied before licking it all up in selfish starvation. Overloaded, overboard, and boring a hole into my chest with your iron-hot hands, singeing all the hair and stealing all the hope from within my heart with your uninvited skin.

A first crush. A last time. A lost signal sped up then jammed in the dark. Mixing chemicals, trusting words, crossing lines, lying in your bed and lying about your intentions. Red lips and nipples and hands, tensed from tugging, a tale tired from being told.

Rise and fall. Rise and fall. Singular in sensation, suffocation, and suffering. Alone in this affliction you thrust upon me.

Carefully selective only to be stolen in sweat and promises of partnership. Three decades dashed as you went down, determined to conquer this basketcase. Cold. Callous. Inconsequential.

An AWOL angel. An MIA messiah. Death waiting above to witness the final climax before climbing down to peel back the chambers of my chest. Thick down your throat, coating you in my trust. A simple spasm of the body. A complex thrashing of the mind. Attempting to reconcile the religion and the regret in the midst of two bodies melding. Had my savior sanctioned this person of faith to flay all my fantasies or was this just a disciple of the devil, deposed in prayer before prying the life from my lips, lungs, and limbs?

No ring, knock, or other notice of entrance. Barged in and banged down my door. Death of dignity followed close behind. A pale horse come to trample my misconceptions of your intentions. Naivety and hope hauled away in the revelation of identity. Ghosted, roasted, and toasted, burned down to the backbone, easily cracked in half under the ramifications of rejection, of need, of confirmation of humanity.

But the only true confirmation was that the devil teases while God taunts. In the face of lethargy and loneliness, when temptation chides chastity, when worship won’t wash away desire, when sigils, sermons, and sacrifices can’t cut through a calloused brain, we knew we had both failed our father. And that neither one of us were leading by example.

You know, Biblically-speaking.

black and gray

“Because it’s a great big white world
and we are drained of our colors
we used to love ourselves
we used to love one another…”
-Marilyn Manson, Great Big White World

“It seems like every day’s the same
and I’m left to discover on my own
It seems like everything is gray and there’s no color to behold
They say it’s over and I’m fine again, yeah
Try to stay sober feels like I’m dying here…”
-Seether, Fine Again

When I was a young artist, I saw the world in vivid color. Everything I knew, everything I enjoyed was found in the contents of a Crayola box. I played in innocent sand and ate laughter for lunch. It was action and adventure, Super Soaker summers and a spinning imagination. I opened up a hole in my head where I used to step in and float in a world of fantastic creatures and confident superheroes.

Play time was the best time. And I always played best on my own. But when people came into my picture, they muddled my colors. They stepped into that hole in my head and saw fit to trample through my fantasies and tear down my constructed view of the world. War went from being a Saturday morning cartoon to a Wednesday night news headline. The bright blue hues hewed into red chunks of violence. Green grass grew into a greed for money. Yellow corner suns stretched into police tape. Purple popsicles transformed from treats to treating the sting of bruises. All my colors had to conform to the world outside of my imagination, a world I could no longer avoid or ignore.

The art in me dried up. People came into my life to pick my brain, break my heart, and claim another color. I looked up from my canvas and saw the landscape of the earth, the willingness of man to crush anything for cash, character, or clout. People on one side of the world hungry for food, people on the other side starving for power. Killing animals, shitting into the ocean, blowing up everything we are scared of in an orange ball of flame, flaming the fires of an orange man’s ignorance, insecurity, and fear.

My world, my life, my existence was devalued, limited to black and white. It came from near and far, outside the scope of my vision all the way to my front yard. A rotating glass door of people pulled the brown from my hair and stole the pink from my flesh, all leading up to him swallowing up my warm white essence before breaking me in half. All that was left was black and a few shades of gray.

Each day grows dimmer. Black oil bubbles beneath our feet and gray smog fill our skies. We can’t see past the hazy hatred that we type up at our computers and send off like missiles. We praise corrupt politicians and cage innocent children. Death, disease, pollution, and politics come barreling at us like a train and even if we wanted to stop it, what more could we do but put up our hands and brace ourselves for impact?

A man who sits and smirks on top of a floating father and child. A cop who kills without consequence. A woman stripped of her clothing, consent, and clinic. A man beaten to death for being gay. Celebrity justifies insanity. God justifies guns. Power justifies the poor. We use any excuse we can to segregate and spit on those we consider less than human. But when did we get so arrogant to think we could ever make such classifications? And when did we get so stupid not to realize skin, culture, and orientation are all shades of the same color?

Life lights us up. Hatred, ignorance, and intolerance work its way into our lives to dim our shine. But we are too busy trying to fit in, too concerned with climbing to the top that we either don’t see the absurdity around us, or even worse, we turn a blind eye to those with white privilege or black water.

Deep inside the shriveled heart, a time or two I feel a twinge, an awakening of defiance, a simple brilliance of clarity that people will understand the error of the world if only they could listen to reason. But reason is the first thing to go in religion, political parties, and powerful people. Still, it comes alive in hopes it might impress or press down on the doubters, reach deep inside to resonate within the souls of those who might still stir toward a solution. If you can see it, you might care enough to change it. It might be too late for some, even for myself, but I look to those who still maintain their colors. The artist is on his way out but maybe the art can live on and help others do the same.

mental (st)illness

We preach about weight loss and disease prevention and other aspects of physical health but we rarely talk about taking care of our mental health.

While it’s generally accepted that we all struggle from time to time, very few like to admit they might struggle more often or to a greater degree than what might be considered the norm. But if no one talks about their struggles, how can we even define a norm?

I’ve always tried to be transparent with my struggles with depression, disordered eating, body dysmorphia, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. It’s because I want others to know they aren’t going through it alone. One of the worst parts of mental illness is how isolating it can be. I’ve often felt that no one could possibly understand my loneliness, fear of people, the compulsion to binge eat, or my deep-seated self-hatred. But I’m not the only one. So many people deal with it every day. And knowing that doesn’t fix the problem but it does take some of the pressure off it. And it makes you feel a little less alone and a little more understood.

And because we don’t like to talk about it, you never know who’s going through something difficult. Money, class, and religious affiliation does not exclude you from depression. Just think of celebrities like Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, and Robin Williams. They have access to the best psychiatric care possible and it didn’t help them (assuming they sought treatment). And through the years I’ve learned the people from high school who I thought had it all were in actuality suffering greatly. One classmate killed himself about a year ago and another, arguably one of the most popular girls in my grade, is currently in treatment for severe anorexia. I’ve even talked to people who said they thought I had it together but I’ve always felt like a huge mess.

You just never know what someone is going through in secret. So why do we make it so hard to tell each other? Why do we make it so difficult on ourselves to reach out, to give a helping hand or to ask for one?

I got to a point where I knew something had to change in my life or I just wasn’t going to have one. So I sought counseling. I’ve been in therapy for about a year now and while none of my problems have been magically erased, I do believe it has helped.

One of the best things about it is just knowing I have a safe zone where I can rant, cry, and ask questions without the fear of being judged or shamed. But really that’s something anyone with a good friend can do. And let me tell you, therapy ain’t cheap. So if you do have a good friend with a willing ear, use it. If you’re in a position to go to therapy, use it. If neither of those are an option, research online resources.

I don’t have as many destructive thoughts anymore. I don’t automatically tear myself down when I make a mistake. I’m insecure and I want positive attention and reassurance and companionship. I want to make a difference, feel like my life has meaning. I’m also scared of being left behind, scared I’m not good enough for people, scared to stand up for myself. I can be aloof or distant because I don’t want to be abandoned again. I let others reach out first because I don’t think anyone wants to talk to me and I don’t wanna be a burden. I have high standards and low self-esteem. I love giving advice but can’t take criticism. I’m hard on others and extremely hard on myself. But it’s only because I know we can all do better.

And all those good intentions and bad habits make me human. And I realized there’s a difference between wanting to be better and beating myself up for not being perfect. I’m never going to get it right every time, whether that comes to people, work, or art. But that doesn’t mean I’m not worthy of the good things life and people have to offer.

One of the things I’ve learned in therapy is to love myself, something I’m not sure I’ve ever done, something I never even thought I should or could do. But it makes sense. When you don’t love yourself, you allow other people to dictate your actions, your mood, and even your self-worth. But the more you love yourself, the less others have control over you and the more you get to have a say in how you live your life.

We make the easiest things in the world so hard for others. And ourselves. We keep affection at a distance because we don’t want to feel vulnerable. We attack others’ choices because it makes us feel superior. Pain begets pain and, well, that’s just not cool. But I get it. I want to lash out at people sometimes too. Not because I want them to hurt like I’m hurting but because a lot of the time I don’t think people realize how badly I am hurting.

But I guess that’s when we need to take a step back from our own pain to recognize other people’s paths. If only we could use our experiences to help guide instead of gun down the hard times of others. Pain isn’t a pissing contest. We all have it crappy in one way or another. And as long as we can keep our crap and everyone else’s crap in some kind of perspective, it might make things easier on all of us.

something blue

”Something’s missing in me
I felt it deep within me
As lovers left me to bleed alone
Down here, love wasn’t meant to be
It wasn’t meant to be for me”

-Flyleaf, Missing

”When you close your eyes even then your eyelids are beautiful
for so long there have been traces of you in blood vessels inside my skull”

-Showbread, I Want to get Married

A couple of Saturdays ago, I went to a wedding with an old friend. I didn’t know the married couple and all the attendants were new to me but the friend needed a plus one and borrowed me for the occasion. You see where this is going. I just needed to find something blue.

Despite my anxiety around crowds, especially crowds of strangers, I figured it would be a change of pace. A chance to do something different, to ask off work, and dress up a bit. I just hoped I’d be able to squeeze my binge-eating butt into my old slacks. I did…but barely.

The ceremony itself was fine. It was simple, inside a simple church with simple decoration. No blue sashes or neckties. No blue in the flowers. Just a red-faced toddler sitting in front of me and a bellowing baby sitting behind me and they both screamed in unison just as the ceremony began and continued their commentary throughout because my life.

Despite my current situation, I didn’t feel too bitter or sad about seeing two flesh become one. I was pretty unaffected witnessing the standard union of two people, in love and full of life. It happens every day. Life goes on. Good for them. The only discomfort came from those slacks. But one moment did stick out to me. The pastor read a quote from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 that goes:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Having never been in a relationship, I wondered why I’d never been able to find my own plus one. How had I made it 32 years while God made sure I remained lonely? If He had allowed such a declaration to be included in the good book, why have I always been denied the privilege?

While the ceremony was about 30 minutes, the reception went on for three and a half hours. And it was mostly held outside. No blueberries in the fruit plate while the newlyweds went off to be photographed with family. No blue ribbons adorning the arches. Why do people in the south insist on having outside weddings in the middle of summer? I was drenched in sweat and wanted to leave but the girl I went with wanted to stay for the cake cutting and to try to catch the bouquet. Don’t get me wrong, the cake was one thing this big boy was looking forward to but in this case, I’d rather have air conditioning than confections. I was a good sport, however, and smiled and blotted my face and tried to inconspicuously unstick my bat-winged balls.

And when it was cake time, I eagerly got in line. No blue fondant. The lady serving the cake cut off the smallest piece possible for me. Oh, sorry ma’am, I thought I was gonna be able to get more than a few crumbs that fell off your knife. I looked at her, thinking she would realize the error of her ways and cut off a little more for me but she just stood there so I quickly dipped out and ate the slice in three bites.

It was a little dry.

Turns out, the bride wanted to wait until it got dark outside so she and her husband could walk out under sparklers. Which meant more waiting, more forehead blotting and being the iPhone photographer for everyone else who knew each other and wanted to blow up Instagram with high school friends in rolled hair and pretty dresses.

Even the girl I attended with drifted away for a while to take pictures with former work friends she hadn’t seen in a while. I looked around me and saw everyone with someone else. Girlfriends. Boyfriends. Wives and husbands. Best friends. The caterers and photographers doing their jobs. Everyone with a purpose. I stood by the wall, unsure of what to do with myself. And I felt like there should have been someone next to me. Someone to help me up, to keep me warm, to defend me against my own self-destructive thoughts. Someone to make me feel like I also had a purpose. But the only thing that ever stands next to me is an empty void and that void only reminds me that I don’t have a purpose.

Night fell but the heat did not wane. It penetrated through the dark and doled out more sweat for me. All the single ladies gathered around the bride. As she flung the bouquet into the arms of an overzealous 20-something in a billowy yellow dress, I realized I had found my something blue. It was me.

God knows my heart, knows I have a lot of love to give, and yet I always stand alone. Sometimes I think I’m getting close and despite my hesitations to let anyone near, I do because there’s always the faintest hope that maybe my person has finally come, that this could be the one to turn it all around. But they only turn me in the direction I’ve already traced too many times. And I wonder why God would tease and punish me in this way. Denying me is one thing. This just feels deceitful.

I’m not saying I’m more deserving of love than anyone else but I do think I need it more than most. I can’t do life by myself. I can’t conquer my demons all alone like this.

The ache never really goes away. Sometimes it gets easier to deal with but it’s never defeated. Do you know what it’s like to see the world through glass, to feel others through gloves? To live life for bitter and worse, to endure sickness and hell, to forever be separating until death does me apart?

To be one strand already broken?

I do.

dogged self-deprecation

I get very confused about people and how to relate to them. What’s the difference between flirting and just being nice? What’s the difference between standing up for myself and just being a jerk? I haven’t always been so out of sorts. I used to be well-liked. And I used to think I had a grasp on grafting myself onto others. Then depression settled in and I withdrew my social self from the world. And instead of experiencing people, I just observed them. And by the time I wanted to step back into human relations, it seemed too late.

I think the best way to understand humanity is through both research and relation. I only achieved half of that. And that’s why I think I have some knowledge of correct and appropriate behavior but not enough to be successful in having fulfilling relationships with others. It’s that experience I lack, the on-the-ground research of getting to know and love and trust other people.

It’s hard to put myself out there because I’m insecure. I’m 32 with not much to show for it. I know we all have our own timeline for achieving goals in life but I have more potential than what I’ve produced. And this feeling of knowing I’m better, more capable, than what I’ve accomplished makes me very hard on myself.

It’s true that I hate who I am but unfortunately, it’s not self-contained. It seeps into conversations I have with other people. Long-term acquaintances are familiar with the inner insults I hurl at myself. I don’t even think about it. I’m so used to putting myself down as a self-defense mechanism and form of humor that it comes naturally to me. In my fear of being judged, I try to beat others to the judgment, pointing out my flaws in a funny way so we can all relax around my receding hairline or chuckle at my chunky body.

It’s usually when I meet new people that I become aware of how easily, how quickly, and how viciously I tear myself apart. When new acquaintances ask me to tell him about myself, the flogging floodgates open right up. It’s only after the conversation is over and I can reflect on the car ride home or before I go to bed at night the ramifications of my self-flagellation.

I want to be accepted but I also know I have several mental and emotional issues that could be off-putting. So I always have this need to explain away my crazy. But I over explain and end up making things worse. Instead of staying, people scatter and I’m left confused and lonely. I have to wonder if I should start keeping more things to myself. I always find it refreshing when people are open and honest. And so I try to be open and honest as well. And I never realized that other people could find that unattractive.

Should I change who I am and how much I share in order to keep people around? Or should I stay the same and hope that someone accepting will eventually find their way to me? It feels like a balance because you want to better yourself but you also don’t want to bend over for anyone else. How much change is too much? When do you go from improving your relations with others to compromising your personality for them?

I just wonder how I can be charming without charring my character. How can I make jokes without making myself the punchline? I’m sure it would be easier if I liked myself more but how am I supposed to do that? From the outside, it might seem like I’m well-adjusted and have a lot going for me. In some ways, that’s true. But only I can see the real me, the small squishy parts on the inside, the place where all the self-doubt and anger and despondency live and flourish. And it’s hard to like the person those qualities belong to, even when it’s yourself.

But I do understand that doesn’t have to be the case. And I suppose that’s at least one step in the right direction. And maybe one day, if I can get myself aligned with love instead of lashing, I might actually make a friend who will want to stick around.

melatonin mouth

That melatonin mouth, those sleepy slits for eyes, the way your drowsy digits distract from the divots in daydreams. Running from cheek to chest in figure eights. Seeping into couch cushions, a frail mixture of suspension by fear and being grounded by the contentment of forever.

Cocooned in a warm satisfaction of touch, of breath, of bone and heart. Grasping at shirts and scents. I close my eyes as your words pour over my head, making way toward the inside of my shirt. I clutch at them, hold them aside, afraid of what they mean for me. They sound so familiar, a clone of compliments, a ghost of past gratitude. But the words always fell out and then fell flat. Semantics never solidified into serious sentiments. It was all a study, a well-worn phrase meant to subdue or temporarily satisfy. The lips they came from left so soon afterward.

And here I lay, those same sounds sliding toward me. The fear bubbles up, the familiar foul temperament of mistrust. Yet the words flow, so sleepy, so sweet. Hands guide them to my chest, massaging away the meanness, the masochistic monster inside. Gently pulling him aside, making way for the words that lost meaning, the syllables and sentence structure that no longer sway me, that always skimmed the surface but never settled. But this is a different mouth, a different hand, a different body holding me for the first time with an intimidating ease.

Slowly filing away a lifetime of fastidious downfalls, excavating a heart once buried in stone. The newness of calm, the excitement of eliciting emotion, winding down the days with someone who cares to know about mine. How do humans have the capacity to bend and mend each other, to crack some and caress others, to be chosen to be fixed, to abandon when bored, to want to stay despite the struggles?

Pain stretched as long as the days I lived, an oasis of degradation. I never knew how far down it dwelled, how unreachable I was until now. Because now I have been touched, a hand grasping for me, words ushering in a blinding possibility to be a person. To feel lifted, light as air, no longer burdened by the weight of my own head, my own soul, my own desires to destroy myself.

I just don’t know what this means. And I don’t know what this feeling is. I guess it should be transformational.

Your hand grows tired as your body shuts down. It finds its way wrapped around me before settling, a warm heat on my stomach. Should I loosen my grip on this group of words, to allow them to join you in nuzzling up next to me? What if it’s time to let them go, to allow them to resonate again? Can it really be true this time?

Can we ever really know?

I feel you fading beneath me. Your breath hitches, the familiar jostling of your heart signifying sleep. One last exhalation precluding a final thought before bed.

“I could get used to this.”

I’m taken aback, struggle to understand, gutted yet guarded. I want to believe you. God, I really do.

‘Cause I think I could too.

smokescreen

You blow your smoke in my direction, a dragon’s fire giggle that seeps into my shirt. Stray smiles set against a backdrop of binge-watching wizards and warlords. Analyzing and summarizing relationships, reactions, and reclusiveness. Discussing the dance of desire and apprehension, digging deeper into each other’s motivations for laced fingers and fast heartbeats.

Smoke blooms around our heads, mandarin and mango, long lashes and laced fingers. Hypothesis preludes playfulness. Setting faraway thoughts into action, making moves to make myself human. A robot racing to become a real boy.

And with your head in my lap, you break through years of isolation and deprivation. To feel the weight of your body is to feel the gravity of humanity, to tap into the basic needs of every person: safety, security, stability. I hold your head in my hands but you hold my very being up and pull me from the dregs of depression, if only for as long as each episode runs concurrently. Falling away from the stressors of jobs and jabs, bosses and bullies, we are willingly secluded together, embraced and braced for impact.

Using hands to separate strands of hair. Using words to parse past regressions. Using hearts to find each other in a world of obstacles, disappointments, and decay of all hope. But that hope still shines like light through a pinhole, tiny dots of fitful faith in the face of years of erosion.

Awkward and hesitant, comfortable and confident, settling onto your chest, hearing the pump of blood, feeling the cymbal crash of your heart, curious to decode its contents. Time transposes reality, shifting from minutes to hours in the time it takes to exhale. And trepidation turns to tranquility, dreams from the past pivoting into a pleasant surprise.

Bodies begin to relax as awkwardness drains away and is replaced with a safe sleepiness. Your breath trips, deepens, then deposits itself into the air like so much smoke. I catch you crossing over, falling into a haunt of dreams. And I, for the first time in my life, catch a glimmer of how things could be. How I thought it would never be.

It’s not a fantasy of falling in love. It’s the privilege of falling asleep in someone’s arms, to have someone willing and wanting to fall asleep in mine. To be allowed the simplicity of touching skin. To feel secure in my own. To be intimate in a way that few people are. To be emotionally tied while loosening the binds of sadness. To feel real and solid instead of vapor that dissipates. To open up to others and to myself.

Are you still watching?

I’m no longer occupied by the television screen prompting us to carry on. I’m much more focused on the smokescreen between us, hoping this might last more than one season.

Ensured that you’re stable in your slumber, I slip away to my own bed. And when I slip off my shirt, I catch the last fume of your smoke. The aroma brings you back to me, just for a moment.

As if you were watching me fall, too.

first touch

You take me by the wrist to pull me alongside you. I follow blindly, gratefully. Next to you, I feel like we are all threads waiting to be woven together. You’ve taken my heart with an innocent greed, given yourself over to me as if I were deserving of your body and all the mechanisms below. You drink my words, eat my anger, and bathe in all that I believe. And I am devout, desperate, and delicate under your fingerprints.

I sink into the layers of skin and meat and blood and bone. Then you pull away and pull me apart, an ache as palpable as a severed limb. Eyes transfixed on the specter of your form, filling you out in a revelation of being irrevocably pierced, bleeding out in the best way possible.

Pondering your profile, examining how I could be so drawn to you among an exponential pool of prospects. Billions of people pass by and you pause in my path, enhancing my existence just by breathing.

It must be something higher than us, an orchestration conducted in the clouds. All the cosmic wonders crop up and cry out to me, revealing the curious playfulness of cupids as they see fit to magnetize and harmonize two souls. Waking up chambers of the heart and ushering in the pain of longing, the elegant agony of a space between two pairs of lips, the sweet cut of curiosity of the soul, of wanting to be reassured regarding mutual fondness.

Time has no effect on affection. In dealing with day one or one hundred, the feelings manifest all the same. It’s a realization of an awakening, a clarity of sight and sound, a sharpening of focus. Feeling full and empty at the same time. Dizzy and sober simultaneously. Out of sync with the rest of the world while fully in step with you. Love measured in months or years or weeks or minutes. None of it matters when you just know, when the mask of solitude finally falls away.

Clinging to a chance of redemption, grasping for another day of nirvana. Yearning for the imperceivable perfection of your hand, the jewels of your knuckles, the exquisite glass of your nails. The simple act of slipping your hand into mine, of dipping into a purifying warmth, watching as parallel lifelines run concurrently.

And to bask in the feeling of all the universe shrinking and pulsating between two palms.