This is what love looks like: a pretty girl with gold-flecked eyes repeatedly poking me in the side while a superhero movie plays on the TV. I don’t know it yet, but the whole night was a test for her to decide if I liked her or not. I’m not entirely sure which was passing or failing at the time, but I know that I was falling. I kissed her in the soft glow of Christmas lights in September, automatically. No conscious decision was made to kiss her; it just happened. Beautiful magnetism.
We didn’t like to admit the truth; we hid it beneath our tongues. Nights of drunken texts and rendezvous en route to soccer fields we spent smiling and kissing without our hearts. No emotions, no feelings. Stupid. Every time our skin grazed we reneged on that deal. It was like shooting an arrow at an apple atop a person’s head. Only, we were both shooting at each other’s heads, neither completely sure of the other. This sort of blind trust born from liquor and sadness.
October brought out a courage in me. There was a diving board above a 4 ft by 4 ft puddle, but my gut told me it was leagues deep, and I jumped. I jumped with the risk of breaking my neck and my heart, and it felt as if I were in the air for centuries. When November began, my fingertips touched the surface of the sea, and a hand reached up and pulled me through. Together we then began to explore uncharted waters; a treasure hunt for true love between true people.
We both had scars; Horcruxes for the bits of our souls claimed by the Nothingness which coursed through our veins with the blood. Each kiss was a firing squad to the darkness within me. I held her hand through the dark times the same way I held my mother’s when a younger, better version
of myself would get a shot.
A month apart felt like a prison sentence. Pixelated pictures weren’t enough to make the heart stop hurting. Late night exchanges of words that should have been whispered as we laid, warm and united, in your bed. I started to lose myself, punching walls and breaking skin again. I longed for you to save me.
An unfair wish.
New Year’s Eve is never easy. I drank it down, for I knew that with the new year came consequences. I talked you down on the phone, in your own liquor-induced torment. The past worked its way to the surface and threatened to pull you down to join it in its ghostliness. The way your voice cracked from the tears still breaks my heart. As much as I wanted it to, my voice could not travel the miles between us and embrace you, and warm you as you drifted off to sleep.I got caught in quicksand, the past. Phantom hands on my back and the top of my head. I didn’t even know it was happening. I slowly was dragged down, and upon realizing my apparent fate, I tried to throw myself into it. You pulled me back.
You saved me.
You once asked me how I would describe love in the five senses. Speechless, I could not find an appropriate response. “Love is love, you know?” I said, or some other bullshit answer.
This is what love looks like, darling: vomiting into a toilet 5 times a day because I got lost and fucked up and you’re considering leaving. I’m hoping my heart comes up so I can cut the darkness out of it once and for all.
This is what love sounds like: a sob-ridden prayer to the ignored God that I may have the strength to change and better myself.
This is what love smells like: the air freshener of the high school bathroom I collapsed on with my arms spread wide like the repentant sinner who died with Christ.
This is what love tastes like: bitter bile that rises to my mouth when I feel the wrongness of my actions and the darkness in me.
Love is forgiveness, I’ve heard. But love is not wanting forgiveness for wrongdoings.
Love is missing you and the way your skin brushes mine the way Cezanne painted so many Mt. Algiers, different every time but with the passion of the first. It’s feeling incomplete without you.
This is what love feels like: pain, sweet pain.