Taking Shelter


“How odd, I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.” – David Foster Wallace

It’s been another year. Let me pull you gently now and take one good look. You are vibrant and gorgeous, and your mind is insanely cool. But you say, ‘I am trying to be you, but I am not you,’ and your hands are cold and don’t remember how to rub together, and your legs are restless and follow imaginary circles on the kitchen floor. I swear I don’t know what to say. The right thing would be, ‘But you are me,’ but I know that you wouldn’t believe it. Not now, after the year you’ve had. You think you’re light years away from what you’ve dreamed of becoming by now. I get it. You need more time to come back to yourself. You need more time to come back to me. I’ll wait.

You stayed kind, smart, loving and badass. Your writing is like candy floss for the brain. Your words are magical and meaningful, but they are not everybody. But they are for me – and don’t you always write for me?’ is another thing I want to use on you already. But that wand wouldn’t work either. When your cup is empty, it’s really empty. And right now, all you have is these handfuls of moments, like pebbles that stayed when the rest of your world slipped through your fingers.

You hid them all in a box, away from my eyes. You are ashamed, but I see it. Of course that I see it, for it’s my box too, you silly. The paint peeling off it makes it look like a metal band logo, faded and stretched out. You didn’t bother with somewhere beautiful, because you think they are ugly now. But you are wrong. They deserve to be somewhere beautiful. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of that later, when integrating them won’t hurt you so much. I won’t insist for now, because I know.

You want everything to be more than just an instant; of everything. You don’t want to make any more memories you’ll soon be trying hard to forget. You stand in the shadows of their hearts and tell them you’re not afraid of the dark, even when you can’t see a damn thing. You follow what you confuse for intuition like a compass, even if it doesn’t always point North, and look at where you are now. I know, I know, I know.

I’d love to tell you that those pebbles aren’t all made of darkness, that they are memories of you facing fear after fear after freedom, and adrenaline slowly creeping into your bones, and moments marked ‘I’ve never told anyone that before,’ or ‘I never thought I’d be able to do this,’ or ‘I think I may yell back now,’ or ‘Here I am. Here I stay.’ I’d love to, because you would glow. But – how do I say this? – I love you but I’m trying to force breath into a dead thing’s mouth.

I told you that locking away the pain will also lock away your capacity for love and aliveness. I told you that there are others messy hearted like you in this world. I told you, you feel like sunshine after rain. I told you, you look like a piece of magic. I told you about calmer, softer times. I told you, ‘Listen, I love you, joy is coming.’ I told you, ‘I believe in you. Go.’ But you are here, looking back at me as if you haven’t heard a thing, dead eyes and a heart falling out of your chest. I can’t speak to you when you don’t believe in yourself. You don’t hear a thing.

They say that people with the biggest hearts have the worst tempers, because they are passionate about every aspect in life. But what happened to you? With your arms wrapped around your knees like that, how many times can you rekindle? Despite the certain dark and romantic glamour you still have, where there used to be fires now there’s only ash. I recognise this look. We’re not alive, not anymore. I would be talking to myself, and you wouldn’t listen. Try again tomorrow.

I climb the porch steps, sit down and wait. The night is over for us. Even the stars burnt out, look. I shake my head, for I know you can’t see me. You can’t see what you’ve done. But don’t worry. If we have one thing in common still is that we are never afraid of the dark for long. Our heart fireworks over and over, until we catch fire once again. I picture adding a cigarette to my free hand and how perfect the scene would be, even when half of me think she’s done and the other half is picking up the pieces. I will always pick up the pieces.

with love, the girl you almost are

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