On being lion-hearted

I am equal parts longing and relief, fright and ecstasy. I am never quite sure anymore what to say to answer anyone’s questions. We are tired in a way we’ve never been, and the ways we can become tied to something has never been more fragile, or fatal.  It is a very great thing to only ever have to explain yourself to the woman you’ll grow into. I eat oranges and sing along to songs too fast for my mouth to move to, and some days it feels like it has all turned out as well as it ever could. There is so much in this life to believe in, and most days, I am still happy that what I chose was you. For all the ways we let each other down, there is heart to loving like we were lions. There are greener places, and spaces where none of this will matter at all. One day we will sit on hardwood floors and laugh about the way it almost went and eat nothing but olives for days. My mother tells me all I have to look forward to makes it easier. It is true, and it is also true that nothing ever changes at all. We become who we are, and we have to live with it.

I oscillate between writing stories about colours and boys that are always blue, and poems about pinched skin and second, third, seventh chances. I forget to drink enough water and spend whole days choosing somewhere to stay based on the plants it can house. I own more dresses than I will ever have time to wear, and I cut my hair shorter and shorter until I do not recognize myself. I am in love with the idea of who I might still learn to be. There is a bottomless sorrow to knowing that that is not something I could give you. We can carry only ourselves, even in love. I have never been as sure of anything, and it is no less terrifying than knowing nothing at all.

I would like to pretend I am free of it, but even as I move away from this, somedays all I do is ache. It would only ever have taken a slight shift and I would still be learning ways to drink my coffee even stronger from you. It is strange to think there was once courage in what we had and that I might one day love someone in a way that does not make me sad. On days when the sun doesn’t come out, I feel the pull of this so strongly, and I cannot find words hard enough to describe the vice-grip in my chest. I worry about boiling potatoes and not sounding smart enough. Of forgetting to check the gate 3 times on my way out. I think often of the day the soup spilled all over the white supermarket floors and I did not know how to clean any of it up. I do not know now either. When I think of this, it feels like you’re screaming at me. It is better than not saying anything at all. It is a very difficult thing to argue with your ghost.

There is a life I am going towards that is citrus-coloured and feels warm and lush and the opposite of sitting on a couch with you. And yet, it is entirely possible to yearn for two opposing things at once. No one knows quite what I will do next. I do, and I don’t. I am worried that I will never fly far enough south to forget you. And yet, I am as worried that I will.

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