I have recently discovered that the way a person treats your art is a direct reflection of how much they care for you.
I remember the day that I called to read aloud a poem that I had written for you, while you were sleeping. What you didn’t know, was that I had already practiced reciting it to my bedroom wall at least a dozen times before I finally found the courage to call and tell you that I had written something about you. I remember reading it over the phone. Oh, how my voice was trembling as I struggled to catch my breath between words of raw honesty. I remember how reading this poem aloud to you was one of the bravest things that I had ever done.
You see, you were the first time I had ever read my work straight to the muse. I remember wanting to cry mid-sentence. I remember how the poem came from the most sincere, vulnerable part of me. I remember how proud I was of myself for reading it aloud to you. The poem was about you sleeping, and all of the thoughts that ran through my head as I had watched you doing so. The last line of the poem was about how you were in such a beautiful, graceful state when unconscious, and I could only hope that against all odds, just maybe you were dreaming of me.
I remember after reciting the poem to you on the phone, there was this overwhelming silence as you searched for the words you were going to use to break my heart. The ones you chose were, “Well, that was pretentious.”
I remember the way I cried after we hung up. I remember knowing, right at that moment, that you weren’t for me. You took my poems for granted, as something to be expected while dating a writer, rather than seeing them as the gifts that they were.
A year later, I remember writing a four-line verse of poetry for a coworker on a scrap of receipt paper. I remember how he read it and smiled, then absentmindedly tore it up and threw it in the trash, in the same way that he would with a customer’s receipt. I remember how he realized what he had done, panicked, and dug the pieces of my poem out of the garbage can. I remember how he apologized, and actually took the time to tape my poem back together. I remember how he took that ridiculous little poem with him. I remember the feeling of realizing that he cared more about a silly little four-line poem, that I had written as a joke, than ever you did about one of my favorite, most sincere pieces that I had ever created.
I remember the overwhelmingly vast difference between yours and his reactions to my poetry. I remember how thankful I was that you were no longer the one I was writing poetry for.
You see, he cared.
That’s the difference.