To me, you are the buzz on the back of the neck and the Cheshire Cat-smile after two generous glasses of wine. You are the brush of fingers against each other, if only for a moment, as I’m handed the glass. You are the flutter of the heart when the soft, dewy skin touches skin for just a millisecond too long.
You are the swell of my chest when, at all of eight years old, I look across the playground and see the best swing–the one I’m sure will send me over the bar and turn me inside-out forever–completely open. You are the pebbles scattering under my tennis shoes as I race past the monkey bars and under the slide. You are that first big swing forward when my legs stretch out in front of me and I can see over the roof of the next house over.
You are the warm, happy din that settles over those perfect house parties–the ones where all the friends you haven’t seen in a while are all back together in one place. You are the clink of glasses against each other as we toast to something absurd and obscure. You are the arms around shoulders as inside jokes are laughed over, as people pass around nostalgia like a peace pipe in the kitchen of a friend’s house.
You are the wind blowing gently over the beach, that thin layer of traveling sand that brushes against me as I fall asleep to the sound of the waves. You are the ice cubes in the lemonade, the condensation, the little breath I take in when I press the cold glass against my neck to fight the heat. You are the suntan lines I wake up with, the freckles that show up on my shoulders as I go to sleep. You are summer vacation.
You are the heady rush I get when, lying on the floor surrounded by torn-apart wrapping paper on my 10th Christmas morning, my parents tell me there’s one more present behind the couch. You are the delirious, happy coma I fall into as I agonize over which toy to play with first. You are the shiny, light brown glaze on the ham as my father carves the first slice. You are A Christmas Story on a 24-hour loop.
You are the first day of school, when all of my pens and notebooks are perfectly organized and even the little dividers are labeled with the little pieces of paper in their colored slots. You are the promise of a pencil case filled with fresh ink and unused erasers. You are the satisfying snap of a three-ring binder as you place your first papers neatly inside.
You are laughing, laughing so hard I can’t see through my tears, laughing so hard I need to sit down for a moment. You are the happy ache in my side from laughter that comes in gales and waves and only gets worse as you try to stop it. You are that moment when I’m being held down and tickled and legitimately wondering if anyone has ever died from being tickled too hard. You are the cries of “Stop it!” that can barely be understood through the squeals of open laughter.
You are all of these things, you see. But I’ll be polite; I’ll resist the urge to grab you and shake you until you see yourself the way I do. I want to show you the Polaroids and postcards of images you embody, the snapshots of our lives we want to save in a shoebox and pass down to our grandchildren–but I won’t. I won’t. I’ll let you go on thinking you’re just some ordinary human, if you want to. I understand, it must be easier that way.