I was always so scared of the pain of it all, the pain of getting close, the pain of the fall. Always pushing and drifting, keeping everyone at arms length. There was always a comfort in knowing everything is temporary and the only thing certain is death. Knowing that I could leave in the middle of the night and be alright on my own helped me sleep and being on the move was when I felt the most at home. Then you showed up and suddenly, I didn’t want the world to be temporary.
I am someone who always wants to be elsewhere. I live in the possibilities and uncertainties of tomorrow and ignore the present with thoughts of the past. But I’ve found myself tracing the names of cities I want to travel to on your back until you fall asleep because the only place I want to be in those moments is with you. I don’t think you understand how rare it is for me to feel content with where I am. I don’t think you understand how much that feeling terrifies me. For years I’ve talked myself into believing I ruin everything good and that I don’t deserve to be happy. I have perfected the art of distancing myself from people I grow to care about too much. So when I began searching for a name that could explain the feeling I got every time you kissed my head with such care, I slipped into old habits again. I held myself underwater until I remembered what it was like to drown and told myself I would pull you under if you kept me around and I grew cold to numb the pain of that truth.
Now you tell me you truly care for me and I respond by caring less and watch you start to freeze and I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry because these calloused words taste stale and tumble off my tongue out of habit, but they aren’t what I want to tell you. I want to tell you that I have never seen the stars as clearly as the night we sat by the fire when I told you thoughts and secrets that had collected dust for years. I want to tell you that the night you first kissed me I slept soundly and without a single dream because you had your arm wrapped around me and that was enough for me. I want to tell you how my throat burns with these poems I’ve written that all sound like your name and how I’m going insane not being able to say how I feel more than just the same. And yet, I stay silent. My mouth stays filled with emotions I have never practiced putting into words. You took my silence as emptiness and asked if I still wanted to be with you, if I wanted us to work. My heart has always been cautious and guarded-it had always felt right within the protected confinements of this rib cage-and I know you don’t like metaphors but I stumble with words and writing is the only way I can say:
the moment I met you, this wary heart went from one cage to another.