When I’m restless at night, sometimes I dream up worlds where you and I got it right.
I paint our house, a little Victorian with a wrap around porch and a widow’s walk, a slate blue. It’s almost grey. The shutters and the pillars white. There’s a mat on our doorway that’s so us, it reads “the neighbors have better stuff.” Our front door is a lilac purple. You didn’t want the color, but when I pouted and told you I had to have it, that the color purple would invite all kinds of opportunity, inspiration and magic into our lives, you couldn’t resist saying yes. Not because you believed in its power, but because I did. There’s a wreath hanging on it, made of lavender, roses, thistle, Queen Anne’s lace, and feverfew. A sprig of sage and a witch’s bell tied around the knob. The Lilies of the Valley are my favorite thing in the garden. The bright light my favorite thing in the kitchen. There’s a hematite in every room and a clear crystal quartz on every windowsill.
On rainy days, when the wind’s just right, we sit out on the porch, rocking back and forth in blissful comfort. Sometimes we sit in silence. Sometimes we trade in our rocking chairs for the loveseat out there and get lost in each other. We go out there with hot tea some evenings. When the mood is right, with a bottle or two of wine. Some nights, I read you my poetry, the wind chimes singing lightly in the background. I ask about your day, and tell you about all the new things I wrote in the hours we were apart from each other.
I hang on to this fictitious scene like a euphoric reality. I hold it close to my chest like it was some beloved memory. It puts me to sleep, the way things we love and bring us comfort do.
Sometimes, I almost convince myself to hell with my pride, to hell with what’s right, to hell with it all. My thumb hovers over your name in my contact list. I convince myself that I wouldn’t mind taking steps back if it meant I could hear your voice on the other end of the line. I think about what you would say and I can almost hear the blood rushing behind my ears. I swear you can smell it from wherever you are.
I’m burning here. I swear you can see the smoke from your street.
Can you feel it? The same little kindlings all over your skin? The electricity humming just right beneath your fingertips, thinking, imagining what we would talk about if you were right here in this bed with me. If you and I would have gotten it right.
I used to.
I would imagine little conversations with you. All the banter. All the jokes that would simultaneously make me laugh and make me want to slap you. All the things we wouldn’t dare tell anyone else. All the words that can only be spoken in shadows, with no one but the moonlight as witness.
I’d settle with just knowing you were still just a text away.
I’m lonely as hell. The dark thing has found its way back. I want someone to hold my hand until I can feel my pulse again.
It makes me miss you.
I can almost hear your voice telling me that my pain is only temporary. That I’ll be okay. You’d make me feel like I wouldn’t always feel two centimeters away from drowning, like every hurricane has to pass, even the one inside my chest. You’d tell me not give in to the intrusive thoughts that betray me. I can hear you telling me how I am capable of so much, how I can do anything, and one of those things is being happy.
I believed you every single time.
Just how I believed you when you said that no matter what, if I needed you, you’d always be there. But one of the things keeping me from reaching out is the fear that just like everything else between us, your promise wasn’t real. I don’t think I can handle knowing you never really cared for me.
My reasons for wanting to reach out to you haven’t just been selfish. Sometimes it’s not my pain or my loneliness that I want to run to you with, but my love. I mean love in the chastest of ways.
I am alone. I am hurting. But on a day like today, when all I want to do is walk into the ocean, I want to reach out to you, not for a life raft, but to tell you the things I haven’t in all the poems.
That I miss you for the greatest thing you ever were to me. My friend. I’m aching for you in the most platonic of ways. You hurt me only because I let you, and you may have been a lot of things, but never a bad friend. I hope you’re thriving, healthy and happy. I could never hate you, even if the poetry says otherwise. I’m sorry for all of the metaphors about about your hands, about your mouth, about this love. I’m sorry I shouted them from every roof and out every window in every room I ever walked through. I’m sorry they were the only goodbye I ever gave to you.
It would be so easy to just press my thumb down over your name, to send you a text, to tell you these things. It would be even easier to let you come back in and comfort me. But I’d rather live with the doubt that you know I could never hate you, I’d rather hurt alone, I’d rather have no one to talk to, than to fall back into old habits; than to fall back into bad habits.
I’d rather go through this alone, than to fall back into someone not meant for me.
The truth is, you and I, we were never meant for each other. We weren’t even star-crossed lovers. We just moved each other in ways other people never had. We just knew the right way and the right places to touch each other.
I’m painting that little slate blue Victorian again tonight. I’m painting it so vividly in my mind, I can almost feel myself there when I close my eyes. But each time I do, I find it harder and harder to see you there.
Tonight, you’re not at all there. I don’t think I’ll ever see you there again.
I can hear the wind chimes singing along with my poetry. I can feel the wind on my face. I can feel someone’s fingers in my hair. But that someone isn’t you. I got the whole scene wrong from the start, because the poems I write and read out loud on that porch I love so much are happy and painted in every bright color. You have only ever brought out metaphors that hurt.
When I close my eyes now, I’m reading it to someone else. It’s someone else’s fingers in my hair, someone else holding my hand, someone else pouring me my favorite wine.
Tonight, the thought of someone else is bringing me comfort, and I don’t know if it’s him on that wrap around porch, I just know that I’m hurting and all I want in this moment is to be in his arms. I haven’t reached out to him the way I once could reach out to you, but I woke up in the middle of the night reaching out for him. In a way I once did for you. With a yearning, with a passion, with a desire so big it eclipsed everything.
I don’t know if it’s him listening to the rain in blissful comfort on those rocking chairs with me, but it could be. All I know is that I think of him and it makes me afraid because I want to tell him all my secrets. I want to tell him everything, even all the things I never told you.
I just know that tonight, through the tears, just thinking of him is bringing me a calm, a comfort I haven’t felt in so long.
I just know that I want someone to talk to, and tonight, for once, that someone isn’t you.