I see the way you look at me in the summer.
The January sun turns my pale skin brown, my hazel eyes green, and my hair a lighter shade of blonde. I look better in the summer than I do in the winter. In the winter, I have mousy grey hair and freckled, moonlit skin. I smile more, too, in the summer. It fills me with simmering warmth, makes me feel young — not in a way so trivially defined by numbers, but in that vivacious brimming-with-infinite-youth kind of way you sometimes see in the movies. It commands me to dance, to run, to laugh out loud, to love unreservedly without my usual inhibitions.
I don’t trust the way you look at me in the summer. You see, as with a seasonal tree or flower, I change as the mid-July clouds roll in. I’ll shrink, not in body but in mind. I’ll retreat, hibernate from the joy of it all, the willingness to be happy. The overcast skies allow it; actively encourage it — the surrender to aloneness.
I’d rather you looked at me then, in the winter: when my stomach grows soft from take-outs and lie-ins, when my laughter isn’t sparked quite so easily. When sadness trickles in, filling my every thought like rain would a long-parched dam.
I fear your loving me in the summer, because I know summer to be temporary, so fleeting in its beauty; and I fear that the way you look at me will be temporary, too — and I need you to look at me in a way that doesn’t end, in a way that flows just as steadily in autumn as it does in spring.
I need you to look at me then, in the winter. To see me bare and vulnerable, without the sparkling, sunset hue that summer so generously offers. I need you to see me then as you see me now.
So please, no matter what, do not love me for my skin, for it’s merely a soft outer-layer of vertebrates, prone to being shed, cut, and burnt. Please do not love me for my hair, impermanent biomaterial stemming from the follicles of my scalp. Do not love me for the color of my eyes, or the lines of my body or the rasp to my voice. These are things beyond my control — not who I am, not part of my being.
Look at me in the winter and love me for my mind, for my thoughts, for my words, for all my weakness — for these are the only parts of me for which I can control, the only parts of me I can promise will never change.
And I don’t want the way you look at me to ever change.