It’s a country in the car kind of afternoon, all sidewalk chalk and loose change and banjo lyrics about blue jean nights. The kind of afternoon sandwiched between blurry evenings and creaky mornings, steeped in sun, speed, and faded stop signs. It’s strawberries and chocolate melting on your tongue, it’s nose in book and toes in grass, it’s rolling the sunroof down and belting out songs until your mouth runs dry and you pull in home.
I started journaling again when the autumn days grew long and the snow settled in to stay. I started journaling again on your birthday because I felt deep in my bones that you were someone worth remembering. Now I’ve preserved the afternoon we swirled Slurpee flavors together and wrapped ourselves up with feather boas between craft store aisles, the afternoon I skipped English to listen to your family stories, the night we spent hours looking for a Lego piece that didn’t exist. There are pages about you that can’t compare in volume to the space you take up in my heart.
A year ago I made a batch of Nutella cupcakes to sweeten the bad news that I had to wrap up, another birthday surprise for a boy of mine. “Look, we screwed up big time.” How do you say that? How do you stutter that out without crying? Do rainbow sprinkles and chocolate frosting smooth over the irreparable damage we incurred on frosty nights?
You didn’t touch the cupcakes that evening and I didn’t touch food for weeks but the fact that our hearts didn’t stop when I locked the door on your back for the final time isn’t a miracle. The miracle is that here we are, a year later, living in the same city and never speaking. The miracle is that we are here, a year later, and I don’t have to see your face everyday. I don’t have to bend to your whims; I don’t have to weather your wrath. The miracle is that here I am, a year later, healthy and happy and free.
I’m 45% sure love is being able to hike with someone and not care whether they’re gross or sweaty or whether they still have morning caked on their face. Love is taking a sip out of a water bottle on the trail that definitely doesn’t belong to you and it’s hearing your laughter dance off the canyon walls. It’s knowing that if you got lost in the wilderness and were never able to return home, there’s no one else you’d rather get lost with.
How do you tell someone what they mean to you? Do you measure their fingerprints on your shoulders, on your fingertips, and then pick them the same number of sunflowers with a crayon-scrawled note saying “thank you for touching my life”? Do you wash their sheets after smearing blurry-eyed, sleepy-smiled future plans across the quilt in the pre-dawn haze and hope they realize you’re trying to wash those promises off the blanket and into reality? Do you give them the last fruit snack in a Costco pack because you hope you’ll be the last person they kiss?
i tried to tell someone all of this and more but the words tangled between our tongues and morphed into something much simpler: “you make me smile.”
I like your fingers wrapped around my waist, propping me up after late night droughts of strawberry lemonade and hushed candlelight and smudged lipstick prints on fast food napkins. I like your fingernails mapping futures, filled with blue eyed redhead kids of ours running around the Redwoods, from the safety of your car on the canvas of my back. I like your fingertips weaving promises and whisper kisses through my hair in time to your breathing. I like your hands caressing my shoulders and circling my stomach and resting by mine.
Perhaps all I want is to be able to save you like a draft, admire your beauty and tuck you away for another day so I can pull you out when I want to, when I need something pretty to brighten my day and kiss my bruised knuckles. It’s a pity I can’t press save instead of publish and hoard your boundless love away until I need it.
Talks too much,
Talks too little,
Too scared to talk at all.
Irrationally insecure and perpetually self-conscious and occasionally afraid of letting go.
Second date breaker and first rate faker, making Holden Caulfield proud.
Hungry for thin wrists and jutting hips and pale rose lips.
A perfectionist who can’t find happiness in white picket fences and evenly trimmed lawns.
A small summer girl who should smell sunscreen and soda instead of still tasting your whiskey-soaked breath on her tongue.
An honors student who fails to grasp one simple lesson: do not fall in love with first conversations or shared sunset sips of lemonade or hushed whispers on midnight drives.
Paralyzed by goodbyes,
Paralyzed by hellos,
Paralyzed by everything and anything at all.
If you are looking for love, find it in the mirror before you seek it elsewhere.
If you are hungry for happiness, watch Scooby Doo.
If you feel weathered and withered and too old too soon, jump in a city fountain when it gets too hot to stand on the sidewalk. Do not stand on the sidewalk.
Strip off your shirt and a thousand years, leap into the water and splash until your freckles and frowns wash away in the flood.
Sing Marina and the Diamonds very loudly, very terribly, and know that you are beautiful because you understand the value of imperfection.
Let your summer sunburns sting, and paper cuts fade,
and cherry-flavored kisses linger in your mouth.
My teeth are still stained with Disneyland. I hate sunscreen and I hate conflict and today was a mixture of both. There is melted ice cream in my hair and lemonade splashed down my blouse and a pair of crumpled felt mouse ears dangling from a string in my hand. Broken camera, broken promise- what difference does it make? Both destroy picture-perfect days.