My best friend leans across the center console of her car, pretending to search for a pack of gum. She avoids my eyes, though she knows I’m staring at her, waiting for a response.
“I don’t mean it in a negative way,” she says, “It’s not bad that you really like him.”
She pauses, and I look out the car window at the sun barely peeking over the tops of the houses on the hill. “I just think you need to be careful. Sometimes you fall too hard.”
I nod. Because that’s what I’m supposed to do. Because I know she’s just trying to help, to keep me from getting wrapped up in a boy, in a man who won’t love with the same tenacity I do. I know she’s just being a friend, trying to support, to care, to guide.
But I don’t care.
I don’t care if I fall too hard, too fast. I don’t care if I make a mess of myself. If I give the wrong person a chance. If I step forward into something, believing in its goodness, and end up with nothing at all. I don’t care if I’m let down or bruised. I don’t care if I get my heart broken in the end.
What matters to me is that I live fearlessly, is that I love boldly, is that I look back and know I gave this life and the people in it everything I had.
What matters to me is that I invest in relationships I believe in, is that I try instead of walk away, is that I take chances instead of wondering ‘what if,’ is that I let my heart lead me to beautiful places, even if they don’t end up as forever places.
She pulls the car in reverse and I watch the sun dip even lower in the clouds. The day is almost ending, bringing out the streetlights and warm sweaters of a West coast autumn. We sit in silence for a moment, the radio turned down low. I listen to the hum of the wheels on the pavement, the muffled voices from strangers milling about on the street.
“I just don’t want to see you get hurt again.”
I close my eyes at the sound of her voice, immediately thinking back to relationships of my past. To the man I loved with everything I had, but lost to distance. To the boy I was too busy trying to fix to see neither of us were ready. To the guy who left me with nothing but a bitter taste in my mouth when we parted ways. To others in-between, but just as painful.
Because every single one of those relationships were real to me.
And I had given them my all.
I take a deep breath. In the back of my mind, I know she’s right, to an extent. Maybe I should try to be a little less loud, a little more careful. Maybe I should slow down and let love come naturally instead of diving headfirst into it. Maybe I should hold back, be a little more guarded as to not get shattered if things don’t go my way.
But I can’t help the way my heart loves.
I can’t help the way I imagine myself with a person, the way I intertwine our worlds at our first touch. I can’t help that I write poetry when I kiss, or break down the walls when I meet someone new. I can’t help that I let go of the past when I fall into another person, pretending that I’ve never been hurt before and trusting in the potential of what we could be.
I can’t help that I ignore the warning signs.
I can’t help that I love to love.
We turn the corner, stop at a red light. I watch a couple cross the street, hand-in-hand. And I think about all the memories of my past—the time I shared with the people I love and how, no matter the outcome, I could never regret it, never see it as a loss. I could never look back and want to change my relationships, forget the people I once saw as my everything.
I don’t care that I still haven’t found the one, that I’ve been hurt, that I’ve lost everything. I don’t care that I’ve been confused or mislead, cheated on or left. I don’t care that I’ve given feelings that we’re reciprocated.
I don’t care about heartbreak—I just want to fall madly.
I want to fall deeply. I want to fall passionately. I want to fall with every bone and muscle and cell in my body, willingly and beautifully. I want to fall crazily. I want to fall fully. I want to fall with grace and messiness, for someone whom I will only know is right for me in time.
I just want to fall.
The light turns green and we shift into gear. The sun has set; pitch black draws across the sky, beckoning the night owls, loud crowded bars and wild waves of high tide. I am silent for a moment, separated from the rush. Acknowledging my space in this car, in this universe.
I look at the stars, take in their brilliance. The night seems full of possibility, and as I step out of the passenger door, I let her words roll off my shoulders. The night welcomes a new day, a new start, a new chance to fall.
And I will always always choose to fall.