Category Archives: Girl meets Boy

Step One: You tell her.

j + r, these words are for you. i carry both of you in my heart.

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“I have feelings for her,” he said. “They’re real.”

The smoke from the bonfire hissed and tangled with my hair as I watched him wring his hands in circular motion, as if his mama had just told him to wash them good. Soap. Water. No skimping. Germs, they be a killer.

The flames cackled. We sat face to face. The pockets of people around us all cloaked in heavy conversation. Laughter. Their voices buzzed and wheeling from the concoctions of vodka & rum & fruity summer cocktails.

“So what do I do?”

It occurs to me that this feeling doesn’t overwhelm him so often. That it is not every day when he lets the good girl in to take up cushion space in his heart. He’s nervous for the first time in a very long time. His steps have become more careful. His heart takes to guarding. His speech turns to stumbling. Ah, the seeds of someone who might just be madly in love by morning if only they’d let themselves go.

“You tell her,” I say back.

 

You tell her.

Not in a text. Not even on the phone. You tell her when, and only when, you can see the green in her pupils. The birthmark on her neck. You tell her when your palms are sweaty and your words don’t feel like they hold an ounce of eloquence. You tell her, even when the whole thing could collapse at any moment, on any one of your syllables. She might reject you. She might turn away. But you need to say it all the same.

You don’t go back.

To being just friends. To holding it inside. A smart girl will know that a friendship doesn’t work when one of the two is willing to give up worlds & go extra miles & endure sleepless nights for the other. That’s not friendship. That’s blaring, stupid love and it is completely & utterly worth it when two walk towards it with open hands. So even if she turns you down, you don’t sink back into “friendship.” You know those feelings ain’t packing bags. Ain’t hitchhiking to Nebraska. You tell her and risk the whole of it all.  & if it isn’t her, some good girl is gonna love you better. But if it isn’t her you cannot sink back into being “just friends.”

You hold her.

Her hand. The small of her back when Michael Buble is on and she’s dancing on the toes of your dress shoes in the middle of the living room. You get all wrapped in the scent of her hair. You hold that same hair back on those rare but wild nights when there’s too much tequila and banter by the bar side. You hold her. All the parts of her. The secrets she has saved for you. The dreams. The fears. The Gold & the Glue to a story that becomes glittered with Us & We. Never again just you & her.

You challenge her.

Everyday. With every step. You don’t supply the easy ways out. You guide her the best you can. But you understand, you understand well, that you cannot move her nor can you make her. You see your limits. You push her to find her own.

You stay.

When dishes break. When snot is on the sofa. When the honeymoon period ends. The finances grow frail. When Life gets unruly, as she always often does, you suck in, breathe deep, and you work it out. You man up & work it out.

You believe in her.

You make up your mind right here and right now to be her biggest fan. Her sidekick. Her cheerleader. You get on your strong snow boots and you help her shovel out the doubt like the icy kind of snow that always made havoc for the driveway. And when she decides to curl up & collapse on the floor, you head back to square one. You hold her. But eventually you make her get up & walk. You know just how strong she is.

You let her go.

If she needs it. If it is necessary. Imperfect, yes, but sometimes necessary. You let her go. If her mind is wandering & her shoes don’t fit. And she needs to head away from home & the lights she has always known. You support her in that. You recognize, straight from the formations of a Once Upon a Time that life isn’t perfect & people don’t always stay. But if she loves you, if her heart is sweet for you, then she will come back. She will find her way back to you.

You recognize.

That what you feel is very good. That we– the fleshy messes that we are– were made for these kinds of feelings. The Overwhelming. The Anxiety. The Goodness of Falling in Love. In Finding a Someone Who Soon Becomes Your Only One. You let the feelings own you for a little while, break you down to dust for a girl who weakens your knees in the very best way. You recognize, not everyone has this but most people want this. They might be lying if they tell you different. You recognize that it is good, very good. The Best Stuff in Life.

You be good to her.

That’s it. That’s all. If ever you need a starting point, a middle grounds, a point of punctuation, it. is. this: You be good to her. Always & always.

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There will be no rose ceremony tonight.

Bouquet of Red Roses

I’m single.

Yes, single. And that’s probably the most miserable thing about my life that I can admit. Not because I am pining to meet you, that’s not it. You can take your time. Really. I am taking mine. But it’s miserable because being single has made me feel wrong to be waiting for you.

I’m the girl who people want to push into relationships. They want to set me up on countless dates. They want to survey me from every angle and determine what exactly is going wrong with this situation because I am pretty, and I am successful, and I should have no problem meeting someone already.

I get slotted into a pile of girls who are waiting on their rose ceremonies. They are already wondering if he will open every door and call instead of text. And I don’t care about any of that. Really. Your face at my door will be enough after all of this.

I’ve had to back out carefully from these boxes of what people think it means to be “single and somehow waiting” because they will suffocate me and I won’t remember how to want you any longer.

 

 

I’m caught in a world that tells me never to settle and then double backs to tell me that I shouldn’t have too high of expectations. That people are imperfect. And fairy tales aren’t reality. I know that. I have been perfectly in love with people who never gave me a fairy tale but I would still be coming back to the blue in their eyes if they gave me the option to stay.

Darling, I’m not looking for no Cinderella story. Jeepers, I will go barefoot if you wanna roll that way. I’m not looking for you to call me instead of text me. I am not going to chastise for you for improper grammar (though words spelt out fully in text messages are SO much sexier). I haven’t married you in my mind already (don’t worry) simply because I don’t even know if you like peanut butter and I think I have to know that first. And let’s just be honest, I would be content with a pixie stick and a ring made out of a straw wrapper if it meant we could focus on faithfulness instead of fluff.

I want to eat breakfast at my wedding. I want to laugh from my belly. I want to celebrate the people who brought you to me at long last. I could care less about how we decorate the room. Let’s just throw toilet paper up into the rafters. A pair of Nikes instead of heels would fit me just fine. I just want to be with you forever. And maybe dance that entire night. And I just want to never stand at a crossroads that makes us both wonder if someone already walked away without telling the other person honestly.

 

I’ve been stuck in the middle of unfaithful things before and it is truly the most sunken feeling in the world. To learn your own body is a wrecking ball and that your worth can rest in the hands of someone who never valued what it took for you to build into the person standing before them that day. It’s like two bodies clinging to each other, hoping they can keep one another from walking out the door but unable to open their eyes to see that Trust broke all the windows, and kicked down all the doors, when she broke loose and left them.

Once Trust walks away, and secrets build up in her absence, you’re rarely getting back to a place where Commitment is the centerpiece on a table first set by Love.

That’s my worry. Beyond where I will meet you or how you will think to hold my hand, my worry comes from living in a world where infidelity is a light and laughable thing. Where people call into the radio to debate on whether they should have sex with strangers when their husband won’t touch them any longer. And cheating is expected if your spouse turns out to be boring or bitchy or imperfect in a way that doesn’t serve you.

My worry comes from living in a world where “goodbye” is rarely ever meant because technology has made it easier for us to hold on to old flames just a little longer. And we make movies out of unresolved love stories that leave other girls and guys standing like fools at the altars, left not chosen because their partner’s heart never found the endurance it would take to let an old love die. And so they stopped being honest. And they let it get too far. My worry comes from knowing we still get weak in the knees and we wonder “what if” because it excites us and it gives us adventure. But it breaks our hearts all over again. All at the same time.

 

 

I’m not asking for a fairy tale.

Not the pumpkin. Not the dress. But I expect that both of us are going to show up to this thing like gladiators. With shields. And swords. And cool armor. And all the things it would take to fight for one another, over & over & over again.  You, my dear, are already my favorite thing to fight for. Did you know that? I don’t even need to know the color of your eyes or the quirk in your laugh to know I’m going to fight for you like crazy.

And every single day I grow stronger as a woman, and a leader, and future Someone to you someday but everyday until then I am reminded of just how fragile you already are to me. Just because the human heart is resilient and pumped full with fighter’s blood doesn’t mean it was stitched to handle the tumble dry setting of someone who stumbles over when it means to be faithful. I don’t want to put you through that. I can’t bear to put you through that.

I can’t bear to see your back sunken over and tears running down your face on the day I betray you with flesh. And so I’d rather wait here, not giving trial runs and free subscriptions to my heart out up until the day you come around. I’d rather stay here and learn the crooks and corners of this heart of mine for myself before I ever think you could attempt to understand it too. I don’t need to know your every footstep. I don’t care all the places you’ve been. I just want a loyalty that this world won’t give us.

That’s worth waiting for. It’s worth sacrificing everything for it.

I might be the ogre of singledom. I might be the girl who owns the #foreveralone hash tag and gets it screen printed on tees to sell in the heart of New York City. I might never get the rose from another guy for as long as it takes for you to get here. I. Don’t. Care. Because if and when I find you, that is it.

You get all my human affections. You get all of me. A deal is a deal is a deal. I’m yours.

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And cardboard cut-outs melt in the rain.

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We’ll stop purposely leaving high heels on subways with our name & number tucked into the bottom, stitched in our best cursive, hoping that someone will find us in a fairy tale fashion.

We’ll stop nodding our heads in agreement over conversations caked with heavy laughter and future plans when we hear our girlfriends say with confidence, “They aren’t out there.”

We’ll refuse to be another lamp switched off in a town already grown too dark. We’ll wrap our hair in buns, wrap our hands around warm mugs, and wrap our prayers around a God who simply wants to whisper, “They are out there.”

 

The good guys.

A rarity, so we’ve been told. Sitting alongside fossils in the “Museum of Things We’re on the Brink of Losing for Good.” Pinned somewhere between the ones who don’t know how to value what they have in their arms and the ones who balance several tiny waists at one time.

The good guys. They are noble. Honest. True. They don’t lust over our legs before looking into our eyes and seeing Hints of Hazel and Gold say, “We are looking for so much more. We came here looking for so much more.”

They are out there. And they get it: There are Things to Chase in this Lifetime.

The Affection of a Good Girl. The Heart and Trust of a Mama that used to sew that Girl’s dresses. The Approval of a Daddy that once lifted that Girl up to the ceiling, up to the solar system.

They are kind. Loyal. They wring passion from the dreams that once hung on their Little Boy walls. They harness morals and values, roping them into their dreams for a family that still believes in dinners at 6pm and king-sized beds with two tousled heads of hair and five huddled bodies when the lightning and thunder roll through.

They are out there and they far outstretch the expectations we’ve pent up for them in beauty magazines and chic-lit rule books: Hold the door open. Bring her flowers. Tell her she is beautiful even with no makeup on. Never, never, NEVER tell her she looks fat in that.  They take our chivalrous boxes and break right out. They transform the term Gentleman as if they’ve been asked to recreate the Classic Mona Lisa Smile.

They are the ones who ask about the longer days or know when not to bring it up; they treat us as we are: beautiful girls who only want one set of eyes upon us. One stubbled cheek to kiss. One pair of arms to fold us in when Tragedy comes to Huff & Puff & Blow our Hearts Down. Beautiful girls unafraid to say that if there be lipstick on his collar, we want it to be ours. Only, only the burlesque shades of a woman that adores that man too deeply to declare it with silly, stuffy, dictionary vocabulary.

They are out there and they’ll say it straight to us, “I’m far from perfect. I’ve got this going on, and this happened last month. I am dealing with this… and that stemmed from this.” Because we were never looking for perfect. And cardboard cut-outs melt in the rain. But they’ll wrap us up in blankets, our legs slung over their lap, and they’ll tell us they need a partner, a halfway, a commitment. A Thick & Thin Kind of Deal.

They are out there. Growing the bones of one-day fathers, harvesting the strength it takes to be a provider, learning what it means to Hold a Girl’s Hand Down an Earthly Wedding Aisle and far Into an “Earth”less Forever that we only close our eyes to imagine on days when the Metro runs late. They are out there, coming to their knees for a Maker who still craves to do so much more than a good work in them. A stunning work. An unspeakable, sacred work in his Good, Good Men.  Making them ready for the day when paths take to crossing and life takes to shifting us from the things we learned of fairytale love when we first cracked open books that taught us how to lose shoes and find princes.

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For the win: I want to love your face off.

To my one day, some day husband–

We are bound to look absolutely homeless for that first glorious year of marriage. In the skinny of February and the bulk of April, we’ll parade proudly in half-ironed clothing in search of sushi palaces on the days when frying pans just won’t do. And we’ll learn the art of waking up to one another. And morning sounds. And food that spreads beyond pancakes and grilled cheeses (because yes, that is all I can offer you right now).

And we’ll learn & relearn & rerelearn what it means to love one another unconditionally, even when we break each other.

I come with that promise:

that I will never try to, nor will I mean to, but I promise that I will break you at some point. Without planning. Without intention. Because that is what human beings do. As solidly as we eat & pray & worry & swallow, we break each other with things we don’t mean to do. It comes with flesh. It comes with humanness. We hurt feelings. We get real snarky. We find just how the guts seep out when we tell the whole truth to the someone who holds us for all the fragile we are beneath thicker skin.

But back to us… and that glorious stage of homeless chic.

Post me saying I will never get out of my wedding dress. Post you telling me that I am going to get cluttered in the Crazy Pile for traipsing around town in white & lace & cowboy boots. Post me yelling, I DON’T CARE. Post you telling me that you refuse to have our very first “married” fight over whether I will or will not turn my wedding dress into a school uniform.

All to say this: I’ve never been so good at ironing.

My clothes tend to clump instead of fold. I live in a world where Tide To Go pens are as essential as ice scrapers in the grey of a New England Winter. And not a single one of these things–the ironing, the folding, the bleaching or lack of it– will make me any ounce better for you. Not so much, not even close, to the ways in which I am training my heart to devour you whole when you come.

Plain truth. Square point. For the win: I want to love your face off.

I want to love you so hard that your eyes & your nose & your mouth wonder what it will be like when they fall on the floor and break from exhaustion. I want no boundaries when it comes to loving you. I want your choices from me for the morning to be a) a lot of love b) a ton of love c) so much love you barely stinking stand it d) all of the above. I promise to stick to those options– even on the days when my pants don’t fit right & I am feeling quite like Lindsay Lohan when she stands in McDonald’s lines and harasses the workers with the big yellow arches on their visors.

And I expect the same out of you.

Yes, I come with expectations.

That you will honor me. That you will cherish me. That you will understand my worth. That you will challenge me. That you won’t treat me as the lesser of you. Because it has taken me a slew of Longer Years to learn all this for myself– that I am worthy , that I am cherished, that I am not the lesser of anyone– and I am never getting back together with the parts of me who once thought I didn’t deserve these things. Never, ever, ever.

& as long as you love me, we could be starving, we could be homeless, we could be broke. As long as you love me, I’ll be your platinum, I’ll be your silver, I’ll be your gold (actually… Justin Bieber wrote that line but I got his permission to borrow it for the sake of this letter… If you play that chorus backwards it actually translates as Dear Hannah’s Husband, you got a good one. A great one.)

I’ve put away the map.

I’ve stopped charting the destinations where you & I might meet. I don’t stalk the coffee shops. I don’t pray for your lattes. & every day without you is another day to practice. Practice & practice & practice. So that when you meet me your heart will speak the truth, “She is a good human being.  She honors people. She values life. She is the companion you’ve looked for all this while.” 

Every day until you is another day to learn patience. Kindness. Goodness. Grace when I am feeling graceless. Compassion when I am feeling torn. Giving when I want to take & loving when I only ache. Because I think that is what you really need, what we all really need before finding the “good woman” or the “good man”: The exceptional human being. The partner to us. The better part on our worst days, the one who demands & deserves the brightness out of us on their weaker days. 

The one who understands that when they get you, they get all the parts of you.

And when you get me, you get all the parts of me:

The girl with the heart the size of Czechoslovakia before the tumultuous split.

The girl who has been purged of fairy tales & whim that was never real, knowing that her time with you won’t be easy, nor honeymoonish all the time, but it will be entirely worth it.

The girl who is a recovering, raging Marxist Feminist who once boycotted engagements in protest of blood diamonds. (We’ll chat that one over someday. I promise.)

The girl who can barely bake cookies, never mind a Thanksgiving feast, but she is willing to buy a cookbook if it means you’ll feel more full than yesterday.

The girl who is learning to love the snot out of this world so that when you come & find her she’ll be absolutely ready for a sweet face like yours.

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Hi, my name is Guard Your Heart. Wanna date?

I’ve been the other girl before.

Yea, I know, it ain’t the kind of news you bring with you to Thanksgiving dinner:

“Hey Aunt K… everything is going great… oh, that noise? That’s just the phone beeping. I’ve got a text message… It’s from a guy… No, he isn’t my boyfriend… No, he actually has a girlfriend already… Yea…So…Righttt….Pass the butter? “

I’ve been the other girl before and I learned (quickly, might I add) how very un-endearing the whole mess of it is. To your friends. To your family. To your own self when you finally shut off the phone at night and curl up beside the fact that he isn’t yours… Really… He. Isn’t. Yours. And out there, somewhere, is a girl you’ve never met before but you’ve managed to wreck her heart without her even knowing it yet.

Cue the point in this post where I squirm and say that I am not a bit proud of this story but I feel it needs to be told.

No matter how you stared at the thing, it was a blaring train wreck. He lied. He cheated. I welcomed the lies. I welcomed the cheating. I thought, with almost every brain cell that was in attendance during those long rationalization sessions, that he would leave her. He would choose me. He would see that it was me who he actually wanted all along, come to his senses and find a way to break up with her. And this would simply be a rocky Chapter One of a book that would hold dozens & dozens of sentences where his name met mine.

It didn’t unravel that way. Quite the opposite.

He never chose me. He never looked back. He never offered explanation. To this day, I don’t know if the girl even knows my name.

The boy once said that he wanted to know me from start to finish.

He wanted to know all the crooks & curves of my childhood. He wondered how I was as a teenager. What kept me up at night. I, being the faithful, drooling tour guide that I was at the time, led him showroom by showroom into the depths of a heart that should have never been his for the examination.

I unlocked doors for him that I swore could never be opened.

I cleared out cluttered rooms.

I laid insecurities down like playing cards.

I let him know the parts of me that were made to be saved & savored by someone who didn’t view me as the Other Girl, rather as the Only Girl. My heart broke in the simple of the simple truths: he never guarded the secrets. He never buried the stories like pumpkins seeds in the soil of his own heart. He is still walking around, holding the hand of another, with all my deepest fears & greatest hopes rattling around inside of him. And they, the most treasured spots of me, have become pocket change.

That’s what hurt the most. Not the Rejection. Not the Goodbye. The fact that I treated my own heart like it was worthless, slung it like a slingshot over to his side of the fence.

Hi,

my name is Guard Your Heart, the Most Overly Fluffed Life Lesson of the 21st Century.

Cue frumpy Christian women wearing pastel skirt suits & donning slower southern drawl.

That is what I heard, over & over & over again, anytime I tried to come to grips with the broken shards of me that clumped like puddles of table sugar at my feet wherever I was standing.  Guard your heart. You have to learn to guard your heart. And there, in the middle of my own conviction, I would move from foot to foot until the Cliche Police came to haul the whole “Guard Your Heart” rhetoric off in cliche-y handcuffs.

Guarding your heart (whatever the heck that means) might really mean nothing until you realize how it feels to leave your heart unguarded. & suddenly it hurts like hell. & you feel pretty cheap. & branded on the forehead with some blaring label that reads: LESS WORTHY OF LOVE.

Guarding your heart feels like nothing until you slip into the hands of Another that Never Deserved You. Until you are barren & broken before someone who cannot handle your junk, doesn’t want your issues, and is more than comfortable texting four different numbers and calling each one, “Baby.” Baby. Baby. Baby. Baby.

Guarding your heart is just a verse from the Proverbs your mama used to tell you until you get left. & he doesn’t come back. & you decide that this is what you deserve–the mess, the strangeness, the absence–you had it coming for you. Really, girl, you had it coming straight for you.

And guarding your heart is a fairy tale concept all smothered in pixie snot until you see for yourself that God even finds the messes you make to be beautiful. Grace makes sure of that. You’ll be stand in layers & layers of junk and He’ll reveal the gold & copper sitting all around you, waiting for love and just a smidge of polish.

Guarding your heart, it sounds like languages gone extinct from unuse until God speaks. Until Hesays something to blow your little face off:

I want you to know, need  you to know, that your heart is big & beautiful thing–far more precious than you will ever understand. Don’t even try to fathom the weight of it. Just know this– I cannot stand to see it thrown, tousled, trapped in the hands of a Someone who was never made to hold it.

Heed the whisper that I am planting in your spirit: Every. Bit. Of. You. Is. Precious. Cargo. Your heart, your dreams, your hurts, your pains– they never belonged buried in the hands of a Someone who doesn’t fully understand you. They never belonged buried in the hands of a Someone who doesn’t fully understand what it took to make you.

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Step One: You tell her.

“I have feelings for her,” he said. “They’re real.”

The smoke from the bonfire hissed and tangled with my hair as I watched him wring his hands in circular motion, as if his mama had just told him to wash them good. Soap. Water. No skimping. Germs, they be a killer.

The flames cackled. We sat face to face. The pockets of people around us all cloaked in heavy conversation. Laughter. Their voices buzzed by concoctions of vodka & rum & fruity summer cocktails.

“So what do I do?”

It occurs to me that this feeling doesn’t overwhelm him so often. That it is not every day that he lets the good girl in to take up cushion space in his heart. He’s nervous for the first time in a very long time. His steps have become more careful. His heart takes to guarding. His speech turns to stumbling. Ah, the seeds of someone who might just be madly in love by morning if only they’d let themselves go.

“You tell her,” I say back.

You tell her.

Not in a text. Not even on the phone. You tell her when, and only when, you can see the green in her pupils. The birthmark on her neck. You tell her when your palms are sweaty and your words don’t feel like they hold an ounce of eloquence. You tell her, even when the whole thing could collapse at any moment on any one of your syllables. She might reject you. She might turn away. But you need to say it all the same.

You don’t go back.

To being just friends. To holding it inside. A smart girl will know that a friendship doesn’t work when one of the two is willing to give up worlds & go extra miles & endure sleepless nights for the other. That’s not friendship. That’s blaring, stupid love and it is completely & utterly worth it when two walk towards it with open hands. So even if she turns you down, you don’t sink back into “friendship.” You know those feelings ain’t packing bags. Ain’t hitchhiking to Nebraska. You tell her and risk the whole of it all.  & if it isn’t her, some good girl is gonna love you better.

You hold her.

Her hand. The small of the back when Michael Buble is on and she’s dancing on the toes of your dress shoes in the middle of the living room. You get all wrapped in the scent of her hair. You hold that same hair back on those rare but wild nights. You already know the kind. Yes, you do, because you were crazy to think there wouldn’t be a night with too much tequila and banter. You hold her. All the parts of her. The secrets she has saved for you. The dreams. The fears. The Gold & the Glue to a story that becomes glittered with Us & We. Never again just you & her.

You challenge her.

Everyday. With every step. You don’t supply the easy ways out. You guide her the best you can. But you understand, you understand well, that you cannot move her nor can you make her. You see your limits. You push her to find her own.

You stay.

When dishes break. When snot is on the sofa. When the honeymoon period ends. The finances grow frail. When Life gets unruly, as she always often does, you suck in, breathe deep and you work it out. You man up & work it out.

You believe in her.

You make up your mind right here and right now to be her biggest fan. Her sidekick. Her cheerleader. You get on your strong snow boots and you help her shovel out the doubt like the icy kind of snow that always made havoc for the driveway. And when she decides to curl up & collapse on the floor, you head back to square one. You hold her. But eventually you make her get up & walk. You know just how strong she is.

You let her go.

If she needs it. If it is necessary. Imperfect, yes, but sometimes necessary. You let her go. If her mind is wandering & her shoes don’t fit. And she needs to head away from home & the lights she has always known. You support her in that. You recognize, straight from the formations of a Once Upon a Time that life isn’t perfect & people don’t always stay. But if she loves you, if her heart is sweet for you, then she will come back. She will find her way back to you.

You recognize.

That what you feel is very good. That we– the fleshy messes that we are– were made for these kinds of feelings. The Overwhelming. The Anxiety. The Goodness of Falling in Love. In Finding a Someone Who Soon Becomes Your Only One. You let the feelings own you for a little while, break you down to dust for a girl who weakens your knees in the very best way. You recognize. Not everyone has this. Most people want this. They might be lying if they tell you different. You recognize that it is good, very good. The Best Stuff in Life.

You be good to her.

That’s it. That’s all. If ever you need a starting point, a middle grounds, a point of punctuation, it. is. this: You be good to her. Always & always.

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Coming home to your shoes.

Your shoes are by the door and I know I’ve done it again.

Only a lone pair of sneakers this time, it can’t be so bad. The last time this happened I unlocked the door and pushed it in to find hiking boots, dress shoes, sandals and a pair of slippers. All Size 11. Craterly & Mammoth to my Size 7 feet.

“I’m sorry,” I yell into the dark apartment. “I know why you’re here.”

“Do you really? And are you really sorry? I guess those are the questions on my mind,” you respond from the kitchen—a small space of pots & pans tucked tight and out of sight to the left of the apartment.

“I didn’t mean to bring you up…”

“But you did.” I wait for you to come into view. Wait to see your tousled hair. Your black ankle socks. Your casual, boyish attire.  “I’m worried because you did.” You don’t show.

“But…”

“Go ahead, explain it to me.”

“Alex was having a hard time. I brought you up. I told her about us. Our story.”

“Babe, how many times do I have to tell you that…”

“ I know, I know. We don’t have a story… or at least not one that I need to keep telling over & over & over again.” I walk past the kitchen, throwing my coat on the sofa and heading for the bathroom.

I play with the sink knobs. The water gushes out quickly. Soon enough, the hear pours out, collapsing and cloaking my tired hands.

“I only say it for your good. You know that, right?” Stop whispering, please stop whispering to me.

The tears stay pent inside the crooks of my eyelids where the gold shimmer faded nearly two hours ago. Not looking up. Not letting my eyes drift back to the sneakers at the door of the apartment.

“I only ever say it for your good because you and I both know that…”

“That I’ve got to move on. That I’m wasting time. That every time I bring your name into a coffee date then I am only hurting myself,” I steady my hands. I try to keep them from shaking.

You stay talking. On & On & On. As if you were the damn genius who invented conversation. And it does no good because I cannot see you and I cannot feel you the way I used to.

I abandon the towel and the light switch. I stay in the dark and crawl my way to the floor where the sofa’s legs kiss carpet and crook me into cushioned safety.

“You don’t get it… it’s not this hard for you,” I say into the darkness. “You are the not the one who has to live without me. I am the one who does that, every single day. In the best and only way that I know how.

And don’t you know that you are everywhere? You are in the trees. In the leftover slices of pizza that you should’ve ate in the middle of the night. In the side of the bed that makes me want to stay filthy forever if it means I’ll never have to lose your scent on the sheets. You don’t have to go through any of that…I do. I do. And I know, I know that every time I bring you up in conversation that I am going to come home to your shoes & nothing else, just the memory of you that doesn’t hold me right.”

I don’t hear you anymore. Nothing but the clicking of the clock all the way in the bedroom.

My hands are wet and down on the floor beside me. Clawing in the darkness at what I know is a shade of maroon that you picked out back when Carpet mattered & Salad mattered & Sunday Football mattered.

I put my head down on the floor and imagined what you’d do next. I know if you were here right now you’d pull me into your lap and you’d change my mind. You always did that. And not because I always seemed to melt into a pile of bones when I your arms wrapped me in, but because you were just one of those people who could explain the world for me. You plugged in lamps where I could not find light. You strung Christmas lights in the darkest of places throughout your whole fight. And so you say I’ve got to be stronger because you refused to leave me sitting in the dark. But it feels like dark. It feels like dark without you.

“Sometimes I hate you,” I whisper through clenched teeth. You know I am lying, right? “I hate that you left me here to do this without you. I hate that I couldn’t fix you. I hate that I’ve become some town tragedy where people treat me like a fogged up window that they can look through, apologize for the loss, watch me sway back & forth a bit and then head back to their own lit home. That I feel pathetic without you. That so much of this doesn’t matter without you.

I hate that I couldn’t go with you. That you left me standing here with all these secrets & things we told one another when the rest of the world fell asleep, things I was supposed to whisper back on a day when I wore white just for you. And now I’ve got to let it all go… I don’t want to let you go…. I don’t know how… I don’t want to learn.

I cry. For your arms. For a blanket you’d place over me. For the hairs on my head I know you’d stroke. For the tears you’d wipe. The things you’d say. For the thought of you, up in the clouds, hanging your head over an image of me rendered Helpless & Heartbroken.

“Come home… Just come home again…I cant feel you anymore…” Your shoes are already by the door. I can leave the light on. “I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’ll try again tomorrow.”

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Filed under Girl meets Boy, The Tough Stuff, Tragedy

Things That Change.

“Clothes,” I say.

“Plans,” he rattles back.

“Sheets.”

“Lady Gaga’s hairdos.”

“And you know that how?” I laugh.

“MTV… They showed a documentary on her. It was actually good.”

“Surreee…. Ok. The weather.”

“Your father… when he is trying to figure out where he wants to get his coffee in the morning.”

“How did you know that one?”

“I pay attention. I remember more than you think.”

I push off what he’s getting at. We’re not touching it today. I’m not the kind of girl who can sit beside a boy who remembers her favorite color and the way her hands shake when she’s trying to button her coat. I’d rather he turn and say semi-politely, I’m sorry, what did you say again?  That was the last one. The Boy Who Forgot Birthdays & Flowers & all the things a girl will claim she doesn’t want nor need until the day he forgets. Those kinds of boys are easier to walk away from.

“Directions.”

“That’s deep,” he pauses. “Real deep.”

“I meant north and south kind of things… Keep going.”

 

We go back and forth, ricocheting off one another with only the roaring of the washer and patches of unclaimed air between us.

 

“Fine. Batteries.”

“College majors.”

“Shoes.”

“Shoes fall under clothes. I win.”

“Not true,” he rebuts. “Changing your shoes is completely different than changing your clothes. Next…”

“Profile pictures.”

“Good one,” he says, pulling me in with a smile that took us to this battle from the beginning. This playful banter that would keep us going for days, as long as we never approached Us. And how often we fit into the category at hand: Things that Change.

 

We were changing.

Even in that very moment.

Dancing around the growing bonfire lit with the Woods of the Things We Didn’t Want to Talk About, shrouding the conversations with trivialities that wouldn’t hold. Term Papers. Things on the To-Do List. All the things you never force into the Talk of Two when there is still so much to say about the Eyes of One Another and How They Swear They’d Been Searching for Years.

 

“Seasons,” I double back into the game.

“Kind of like the weather but I’ll give it to you,” he softens.  “Your coffee order. Will it be a skim latte today or will you go for pumpkin?

“Life,” I cut him off.

The room goes quiet. Just the washer. Just the air. Just the curtains hushing the window panes. Just the end tables clamping shut the mouths of the wood floors. Just the clock. Ticking.. Ticking..

“You win,” he whispers, sliding his hand over mine. He doesn’t turn his head- he knows he’ll find the tears burning on my cheeks. Knowing I’d be gone tomorrow, with a suitcase in my hand. My life in its tender suede belly, zipped full.

“I should have said that one first,” I swallow.

He squeezes, harder than I hope for. “There would have never been a game then.”

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Tales of a God Who Knit Her So That She’d Never Need to Knit a Cape.

“You aren’t a superhero,” he said, and lingered in the doorframe for a moment just to see what she would do.

To see if she might find the courage, within a chest pumped full with pride, to admit she knew it too.

For she really was no superhero and her heart did far more breaking than her arms ever did holding. She scaled the sides of conversations that never invited her in but she could not scale a building.

She, well, she was a girl who got all tied up in the saving—tightly wound like the cop that meets the robber in the old cartoon shows—too tied up to remember she was really just a human being.

A human being. How peculiar. So small. So fragile.

No Superman. No Batman. No Wonder Woman, just a Woman prone to Wander.

Just a girl left to find out, after all the wreckage had fallen from her shoulders, that even heroes need something far more super than them. Something greater to hitch prayers to at night. Someone far greater than a silly man in lycra pants to handle the swinging and swaying of the Milky Way, as it has no choice but to rock the world’s sorrow to and fro. Back & forth.

And the hurt was in her hair that day. All up in her hair like yarn strung into braids. The hurt was on her face. It lived in her toes. It paid rent to her elbows and made roommates with her kneecaps.

The boy could trace the hurt in every crook of longitude and latitude of the girl he’d known since the days when chocolate milk and grape Pop Rocks could heal her.

He turned—foot to foot—and found solace in a space where the girl wouldn’t find him. He closed the door and uncovered his knees. His prayerful knees that were made to kiss the floors on days where girls take off their Heavy Superhero Capes.

“Papa, Papa,” he cried to the sky. To a God who thought that ceilings that concealed Him were nonsense. “Help her to discover her hands. Her terrible, unreliable hands. The ones that want to hold so bad, even when they know they must be held for a time.”

Hold & Be Held.

Hold & Be Held.

“One requires more surrender than the other, Papa.”

Hold & Be Held.

One asks Control to curtsie at the door.

“Let her hands Be Held so that she might Behold someone as wonderful as You, someone who stretches far beyond the reach of her Tiny Little Hands.”

The boy believed in a God who kissed frostbitten fingertips. Who whispered in the morning while his children still pulled sleep in with both arms. A God who wept to see his children struggle and ached to say, “That world on your shoulders does not fit you. Let me take it. Here, let me take it.”

The boy believed in a God who hated to see His children in capes. For children in capes forget the ones who made the capes for them, the ones who knit them before the cape and packed a heart tight so carefully with all the ways they would learn to soar one day.

One day. One day.

The girl knew the boy. Though not all the longitude and latitude of him. She never knew the way he crept into closets and found ways to place her at the front of his prayers. Because she was worth it. She had always been worth it. 

The girl did not know the God who kissed the frostbitten fingertips, who took worlds off of shoulders and hated to see His children in capes. But she wanted to. She wanted to.

And so how does the story begin? How then, oh, how does the story begin?

The girl waited for the boy who had known since the ways when chocolate milk and grape Pop Rocks could heal her. She found him lingering in the doorway. She patted the ground beside her and motioned him to join.

He did, for he loved her so. He loved her so.

And together they began—with trembling fingers—to unknot the cape tied so tightly round her neck. And let the heaviness fall down. Let the heaviness fall down all around them.

And all the while, through every knot and tremble, the boy whispered tales into the ear of the girl. Tales of a God Who Knit Her so that She’d Never Need to Knit a Cape. 

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Filed under Girl meets Boy, God

The Good Guys: They are out there.

I wrote this post several months back, inspired by the brilliant Cory Copeland and his post “The Good Girls.” Somehow buried in trails of email drafts and word documents, I can finally pin this piece to a home.

We’ll stop purposely leaving high heels on subways with name & number tucked into the bottom in our best cursive, hoping that someone will find us in a fairy tale fashion.

We’ll stop nodding our heads in agreement over the conversations caked with heavy laughter and future plans when we hear our girlfriends say with confidence, “They aren’t out there.”

We’ll refuse to be another light switch turned off in a town that has already grown too dark.

We’ll wrap our hair in buns, wrap our hands around warm mugs, and wrap our prayers around a God who wants to let his best girls know, “They are out there.”

The good guys. A rarity, so we’ve been told. Sitting alongside fossils in the “Museum of Things We’re on the Brink of Losing for Good.” Pinned somewhere between the ones who don’t know how to value what they have in their arms and the ones who balance several tiny waists at one time.

They are noble. Honest. True. They don’t lust over our legs before looking into our eyes and seeing something more.  A vulnerable stare. Eyes that say, in Hints of Hazel and Gold, “We are looking for so much more. We came here looking for so much more.”

They are out there. And they get it: There are Things to Chase in this Lifetime.

The Affection of a Good Girl. The Heart and Trust of a Mama that used to sew that Good Girl’s dresses. The Approval of a Daddy that once lifted that Good Girl up to the ceiling, up to the solar system.

They are kind. Loyal. They wring passion from the dreams that once hung on their Little Boy walls. They harness morals and values, roping them into their dreams for a family that still believes in dinners at 6pm and king-sized beds with two tousled heads of hair but also the possibility of five bodies when the lightning and thunder roll through.

They are out there and they far outstretch the expectations we’ve pent up for them in beauty magazines and chic-lit rule books: Hold the door open. Bring her flowers. Tell her she is beautiful even with no makeup on. Never, never, NEVER tell her she looks fat in that.  

They take our chivalrous boxes and break right out. They transform the term Gentleman as if they’ve been asked to recreate the Classic Mona Lisa Smile.

They are the ones who ask about the longer days or know when not to bring it up; they treat us as we are: beautiful girls who only want one set of eyes upon us. One stubbled cheek to kiss. One pair of arms to fold us in when Tragedy comes to Huff & Puff & Blow our Hearts Down.

Beautiful girls unafraid to say that if there is lipstick on his collar, we want it to be ours. Only, only the burlesque shades of a woman that adores that man too deeply to declare it with silly, stuffy, dictionary vocabulary. 

They are out there and they’ll say it straight to us, “I’m far from perfect. I’ve got this going on, and this happened last month. I am dealing with this… and that stemmed from this.” Because we were never looking for perfect and cardboard cut outs melt in the rain. But they’ll wrap us up in blankets, our legs slung over their lap, and tell us they need a partner, a halfway, a commitment. A Thick & Thin Kind of Deal.

They are out there. Growing the bones of one-day fathers, harvesting the strength it takes to be a provider, learning what it means to Hold a Girl’s Hand Down an Earthly Wedding Aisle and far Into an “Earth”less Forever that we only close our eyes to imagine on days when the Metro runs late.

They are out there, coming to their knees for a Maker who still craves to do so much more than a good work in them. A stunning work. An unspeakable, sacred work in his Good, Good Men.  Making them ready for the day when paths take to crossing and life takes to shifting us from the things we learned of fairytale love when we first cracked open books that taught us how to lose shoes and find princes.

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