if you want to talk about stereotypes (a love letter)

The first time I can remember falling in love, I was sitting on the floor of my father’s office, pounding furiously on the keys of an old typewriter my mother had pulled from the basement. There was something so beautiful about the clicking and the fresh ink on the page. There was something so authentic about not being able to fix your mistakes. It was inexplicably human. I was only six years old at the time, but I can still remember the satisfaction I got from rambling on and on about whatever nonsense was in my head that day.

The funny thing is, I can remember being six and meeting a typewriter for the first time as if it was yesterday, but I cannot remember writing my first love letter. This is something I’ve always done – sometimes I send them, but most of the time I don’t. This first letter was addressed to my middle school best friend, after she stopped talking to me. I had moved across the country, and she seemed to have thrown in the towel on our friendship. I wrote about my grief, the things that happened when she left, and the person that I was because she had been in my life. I could still see the love in the situation. I have the letter, locked in a box in my parent’s house that I hardly open, but I cannot remember writing it.

In this box are dozens of unsent letters addressed to various people. Some of the people are still in my life, and others have left. This has become somewhat of a habit of mine. I’ve always had a tender soul, but this world is not accepting of this trait. I’ve had to lock so many feelings inside this box, some never to be seen by the eyes of another. I’d like to think of them all as love letters – regardless of the contents, each one is addressed to someone I have loved in some form.

The first time I wrote her a love letter, I hadn’t gotten any sleep. She has a way of keeping me up long after she has left, even in the early hours of the morning.

It’s 5:39. I’ve slept for an hour tonight. I’m lying in a new friend’s bed, waiting for the sun to rise so I can walk home. I remember everything, but a familiar haze is covering the edges and seams of everything that happened. I don’t remember how it started, but I remember regretting leaving you behind.

I walked home at 6:55. I remember the exact time – it was September and the sun was rising later than I would’ve liked it to. I left the building, feeling the judgmental stare from the man guarding the front desk. I would’ve liked to say, “it’s not what you think,” or “fuck off,” but I was too tired to do anything and instead, I walked right past the man, out the front door, and into the morning air.

Maybe I shouldn’t take this town for granted. The world looked so incredibly beautiful in my hazy state. I took pictures of everything that morning – the creek as I walked past it, the flowers blooming, and the leaves that were just beginning to turn from green to a shade of pale yellow.

When I finally reached my apartment, I fell straight into bed and fell asleep until two in the afternoon, when my sister came into my room to ask where I had been last night, who I had been with, where I had stayed. I told her I was at a party with Calvin and Sophie, and had stayed with Sophie. I didn’t mention her.

I can’t say I see a future with you, but I can see a present. I can see you waking up next to me, rubbing your ocean-blue eyes in the morning. I can imagine how it would feel to kiss the sides of your neck and run my fingers along the small of your back. I already know how it feels to kiss you, but I want to know how it feels to kiss you when the rest of the world is silent and I want to know what you’re thinking. I want to understand the way your beautiful mind works.

My mental state died right along with the yellow leaves in September, and I fell into a bout of seasonal depression unlike anything I had experienced. I spent days in bed, unable to cope with the outside world, and nights etching black charcoal across pristine white paper. I distanced myself from everyone around me, creating a wall between myself and anything that could hurt me. I wrote letters to the people I had met, but mostly I wrote them to myself. I told myself to remember to breathe, to go to my classes, and to try to keep people close. I kept my sister, Sophie, and Calvin, but I dared not keep her. The monsters had already taken my joy; I dared not let them take her too.

In the following months, I slowly emerged from the depression, forcing myself to interact with the world. I took up dancing again. I started using color in my art after the longest time of seeing things only in black and white. I started talking to her. We became close friends as soon as I could allow her into my life. Despite all of our differences, we got along as well as any two people could. Sometimes she would send me poetry in the late hours of the night. We talked about her friends, her ex, her difficult relationship with being in college.

I worked to plan a formal event, and had invited someone I had been seeing for a few weeks to be my date. As these things sometimes go, I was blown off and left dateless, but among friends. She was there, late, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, looking as nervous as anyone could in a room of strangers. She picked me up in her mother’s old car, moving a canteen and a softball mitt off the front seat. I told her that there wasn’t anything more stereotypical that she could’ve done. She just laughed.

That night, I brought her to my friend’s apartment, frequented by so many people. I can’t tell you exactly how it happened, but it was in the brush of my hand against hers, in the way that she danced with me. It was in her crooked smile and the way her eyes glinted as she spoke. We stayed up together until four, talking about everything that we could, until she fell asleep. Like I said, she has a way of keeping me up for hours on end. I didn’t sleep at all.

The morning was filled with our unwillingness to leave the comfort of the bed.

“Thank you for letting me stay,” she said, wrapping her arm around my waist and kissing my neck.

“Thank you for staying.”

It was the first time she had kissed me in the daylight, the first time we had touched since that first night. It was the first time that I had felt so at peace with another person in the better part of a year.

I think I fell a little in love with you last night. I know it’s too soon to be thinking like that, and I have no idea how you’re feeling of if you’ll ever feel the same way. I already know your kind heart, and the weight that you carry. I know that you talk in your sleep, and that you hadn’t ever had hot tea until you met me. Everything that you do seems beautiful to me, even the little things. The way that you hook your thumbs through your belt loops, the way that you brush your hair behind your ear. I’ve spent so long thinking that I could never connect with anyone. It’s like there’s a jar over my head like in “The Bell Jar,” and how’s that for stereotypes. But it disappears when I’m with you, so I know that because of this we can understand each other.

Remember the night that we met when we sat on the edge of that bathtub and talked? I remember you talking about engineering and math and thinking that we couldn’t be more different. I was wrong. We have so much in common that I don’t really know how to function when I’m around you, let alone tell you exactly how you make me feel, so I’m left to tell you all of the things you do that make me feel this way.­

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love was here

We fell in Love here

Beneath string-light stars and white drywall.

Cracked palms on smooth skin,

decaying kisses.

 

We fell in Love here

above grass as green as the sea.

Kisses in darkened closets,

Love on

living room floors.

 

We fell in Love here

within forts of crumpled sheets.

Quiet whistles,

guitar picks.

 

Love came

With short brown hair

and an easy smile.

With long legs,

pearlescent skin.

 

Love came

with desire,

hope.

 

Love came,

and Love left.

 

We fell in Love here,

and out of love,

in an 8 month

migration.

 

I fell in Love here,

and I watched you leave

like a housewife

in wartime.

 

For you have battles to fight

and I cannot fend off the monsters

for long.

 

Darkened closets

and forts of crumpled sheets

can only provide so much shelter.

 

For they will come,

baring teeth,

clenched palms,

and they will try to take you.

 

But dear,

if nothing else,

do not let them take

your tenderness.

 

Remember that it is a virtue,

Love on living room floors,

in darkened closets,

is a virtue.

 

Remember to find tenderness

in the darkest corners,

to climb the barbed wire

and stand with your face in the sunlight.

 

And when you find it

in the nape of another’s neck

remember me.

 

There was a time before,

And there will be a time after.

 

And when you think of this,

remember:

 

Love was here.

haikus for girls i’ve loved

Afternoons spent of dirty floors

stained carpets and rain on windshields

you pretended to cry

I pretended to love you

 

I was never told

you can’t make homes

out of people

 

You taught me

to climb barbed wire

without scratching my palms

 

You said you’d met god

at 3am

and he hated you

 

I could write novels

about each one

of your faces

 

How peculiar it is

to love nothing

and everything

all at once

 

How nice it is to be wanted

she thought

even at such a cost

 

 

 

pour croire a se; to accept oneself (ages 8-18)

18:

I am no longer afraid to touch her. Magnolias have sprouted from my chest as an atomic bomb; a mushroom cloud of my purest thoughts. I have always been this way. I have always been capable of this.

17:

He’ll grab your wrists and lay hand on your waist, spinning you madly about his shoulders and ridding you of any purity you once felt. But you will never hear him call you beautiful.

16:

Pecola Breedlove is the purest representation of your innermost thoughts. You are driven to mere insanity at the thought of who you are, of who you are becoming, and you will pace back and forth within the blackness of your own mind, wondering if it will always be this way. Remember that stars cannot shine without darkness. I could feel the chains of Cetus piercing my chest from millions of miles away.

15:

I think I look like a raccoon by 11:45. No dimly lit bathroom could make me shed this skin. I writhe like a snake, but I have never been able to rid myself of this veil over my eyes and body.

14:

At least he was honest. Could it be that this isn’t real, that this is something I’ve made up in my head; a result of external influence? Stifle it. I didn’t know it yet, but it would take me years to even say the word out loud.

13:

She said that friends don’t hold each other like that, and I guess she’s right. She looked at me, and I swear that I could feel elephants dancing inside my body.

12:

The man in the purple glasses said that there is nothing abnormal about me. I’m not sure that I believe him.

11:

The boys frighten me. They’re far too intense, too driven for this.

10:

I keep drawing ballerinas; elegant lines and arabesques gracing the shining white pages in front of me.

9:

I think I can tell by the heels of his shoes. I’d never met anyone else like me before.

8:

I’ve never felt so different.

18:

I posed an existential crisis at 17, and I let myself fade into black at a single tug of the chain. I am Andromeda, the lady in chains, and I lost myself between the can’s and the can’ts, the should’s and the shouldn’ts. I have written an epitaph to who I no longer am; I am no longer afraid to allow myself to breathe.

Qui vivra verra.

I am, I am.