What This Life Could Be

A woman wearing a red and black plaid jacket during golden hour in Cianorte
Allef Vinicius / Unsplash

Sometimes I can see it so clearly, it scares me. Like it’s already happened, and I’m looking back upon it, and it’s too late to change any of it.

Like I married the man with the waterfall eyes and the patient hands who never asked too much of me. Who always asked for just a little bit less than the full stretch of me.


Like I spent my whole life at a job that paid the bills and set me up for a comfortable retirement and never required any input from my heart. Kept my brain occupied, left my heart alone.


Sometimes I can see it so clearly, I want to claw the images from where they live on the insides of my eyelids and not let them haunt me, taunt me, warn me of what this could be.

What this life could, so easily, be.

I once loved a boy who asked me questions I rarely had the answers to, or at least where I could see them, where I could reach them without diving. He threw them at me like jabs, like punches, from point-blank range, with war-torn fists, until I was on my knees until I was furious with him for asking and myself for not having the answers.

It wasn’t until he left and I stood up that I realized I did have the answers. That they were raw, and sharp at the edges, and not anywhere close to shiny, but within me. I realized I was glad he pushed me, glad he didn’t stop, glad he didn’t let me stop. I’m the one who did the work, but I’m glad that he asked me to do it.

Because I have those answers now even though I no longer have him, and if it’s a consolation prize, it’s a good one. A life-altering one. A necessary one.

If I had found the man with the waterfall eyes before I found the boy with the questions, maybe it would all be different. Maybe I wouldn’t know what I know now about myself because I would never have been asked to dig. Maybe I wouldn’t know to want a full stretch of a love.

But I can’t change the order of things, the way my life has folded and been unfolded. Raveled and been unraveled. Threads were pulled, the image was changed, and I don’t want safe. I don’t want practiced smiles and careful words. I want tumbling, fiery, full-tilt love.

And I want to devote my life to words.

I don’t want to play it safe there, either. I don’t want to sit at my desk every day with open spreadsheets and work that must be done because it must be done, entering numbers the way I learned in school, black and white without even a hint of grey, and watch time run out. I don’t want to sigh from my deathbed and lament the books I didn’t finish, the words I didn’t write.

I want to chase that dream in as tumbling a way, as fiery a way, as full-tilt a way as I want to chase the love that pushes.

I want to travel, I want to breathe, I want to fly.

I want to do the things that people tell me I can’t do, the things a voice in my own head may tell me I can’t do.

I want to get to the end of my life and know that I found the edges of what I could be and expanded it into more. Even the most stubborn of walls within me, I want to move. An inch, a centimeter. I want to find out exactly what I’m made of, or if not exactly, then as much of it as I can find.

Because I think that whenever I think I’ve found them all, all of the pieces that make me, I will soon find that there are more.

And more.

And more. TC mark


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