As per usual, the themes of youth and aging and all of the gnarly thoughts that go along with them are weighing heavy on my shoulders. I can’t help it though – life seems to swirl me around to the same few historic spots, over and over again, and each time I visit I can put my fingers on the layers of time building up.
“This is where you clasped me close, and where we made our dreams.
This is where you said goodbye that first, hardest time.”
This is where I stood when you came back, present in the moment but also years away – superimposing the ghosts of other Yous and Mes on top of us. This is where I stood when you were here but desperate to leave again, and I am standing here again waiting for you to go back inside.
I have hardened myself against the knowledge that when you turn to go inside, I will not follow like the puppy-dog I was at 16. It’s the same house I slept in alongside your warmth, but we are not the same, and all of the complicated feelings that grow over years of love and leaving are hanging in this sticky summer air.
This time you are slow to go, and I lean against the hood of my car, the scarlet metal hot on my skin. It is late, past midnight, and I am in a limbo of waiting for you to go and be done with it but also soaking in each time you hug me goodbye just to start new conversation. You are spilling over with things to tell me and I want them all. I want your words and I want the implication of your words, that I am still someone your heart wishes to talk with. I am still important, and I am still someone you want to share with. It is a validation I needed.
Each goodbye hug is longer than the last, bringing us closer to the clasping point of so many years ago.
I have hardened myself against the departures of the ones I love, giving them a little of me to take with them for safekeeping... The only problem is each time you come back only to leave again I give you a little more, creating pock marks in my heart to add to the already dimpled and pitted surface, making my heart uneven.
Exposing the metronomic beating, ticking off the days with rhythmic pounding.
Listen: can you hear it? “Give… Give... Give... Give...”
Growing older means growing more holes, more chunks of my flesh taken by those to whom I happily give.
And give, and give again.
And I don’t mean “give” as in “all I do is give and give and give and everyone just wants to take.”
No, I do not mean that.
I mean “give” as in:
“I carefully prepared this delicious meal that I would like to give to you, so you know I love you.”
I mean “give” as in :
“Do you want this? Let me give it to you.”
I mean “give” as in:
“I am giving this piece of my heart to you so that you know that you always have a place here, no matter how long you are gone.”
I mean “give” as in:
“I am giving in to the forces that keep me apart from the many-splendored and disparate owners of Me.”
This is not a bitter giving – bittersweet, yes.
This is not a giving that I would take back, even though it forces drops of saline down my cheeks.
I will give, and give, and give until I bawl over the magnitude of all of the love I have, all of the loves I have.
In fact, even as these cheeks puff up from crying and tears track down my face, I find myself so full. The sadness is just a part of the love, and I’ll pay the price. Even in times when I feel so very hollow because of the people I love that are not close to me, when I find myself thinking of a particular far-away face or a particular far-away memory, I embrace this agony. Agony may seem harsh but it fits when I picture people that have left my daily sphere and entered the land of no communication – how do you speak to someone you can’t see? I am the type to lapse into silence when faced with distance because I can’t allow myself to be ok with giving less than 100%. I want to see you, and your face, and instead of listening now to context clues of how lonely you have been I would choose to cradle you to sleep when you are sad and push my fingers into the tense muscles of your face and shoulders. I want to take care of you. I can’t do that from here, and instead of still reaching out with the limited grasp I have, well… I shut down entirely until the blessed second I see you again.
Until the blessed second I can get my fix of you and give you another piece of me to take home.