It was unlikely that he and I would kiss upside down, but we did. It was unlikely that we would kiss at all, but New York City after a nightcap is a perilous scene for whiskey-soiled lips.
Even upright, he made the blood rush to my head. Puzzled together, night after night, toe-to-toe, skin-to-skin, we unified the empty parts of our souls, exchanging adrenaline and admiration all while the autumn leaves turned cold. We had nothing to hide. Our pasts hung like a clothesline, we aired our sullied egos and old wounds and hoped to wash them clean. Unfortunately, passion is a dirty pursuit, one that ends in ruined expectations.
The storm passed like the roaring of an old furnace, silenced, leaving the static boom of my pulse and the last drops of rain from a sullen sky. A damp flower petal traveled through the open window and landed on the unused pillow beside my neck. My bedroom was a depot for fallen objects, broken bulbs and broken men, sojourners struggling to fight an inner battle of attrition.
Loneliness is a response to our own invention. We fall in love with the narrative that we build in our heads before we fall in love with the man. We fall in love with what could be, rather than what is. When lovers leave, we experience an earthquake to our egos, a plot twist in our story. We are mislayed and buried alive in the ashes of unwantedness. No one prepares you for the enmity that is neglect: to be unloved is to be undesired. To be unloved is to be alone.
My lover. I still see the imprint of your long limbs stamped in my mattress, your air filling mine, the perfumed richness of your French cologne in the thread of my cheap Egyptian cotton. Now I stare at the bones of untouched sheets.
I try to remember the anatomy of your countenance.
When we made love, your features softened in the shadows: your nose shrank, your eyelids inflated, your facial hair thinned, your virility vanished. Did you look younger when your flesh danced with mine?
Why does time dissect memories until love becomes nothing more than an experiment in repression?
Amnesia of the heart is a product of absence.
Our hearts forget moments and our heads forget reason. Lovers are transient, noncommittal notches on our bedpost who leave behind heedless souvenirs. When we are abandoned, we cling to the good parts of a stranger.
My lover. You are not my person. You are a distraction, an extension of my fears, the beginning of a storm, but never the rainbow at the end.
My person. I don’t think I’ve found you yet, but I know you. I know that when the edges of your fingers touch the sharpest parts of my skin, the fire in my blood will dive into a cool breeze. I know that even when our hearts are sideways and our kisses are crooked, that we will meet eye to eye. I know that when I’m with your family there will be tiny footsteps and stains and laughter and I will have a place in you, with you, I will always feel at home. I will never question who I am because I will be enough. The dent in my forehead, the incessant chatter about nothing and everything, the past, my past — it will all be enough.
Dear lover, you were not my person.