When It's a Traffic Light Kind of Love
This life is the green glow from the clock illuminating your face at 2:37. "We should do this always," you say.
Together we're experts at intertwining feet and slaying sleep. Lying beside you feels like escaping an endless winter on a southern beach. Or like marveling at rain from under a canopy after fleeing a ground shaking thundershower in just the right instant. With you, it's all easy.
When your eyes decide it's time for rest, you can only do so on your back and I can only try with my head on your shoulder. Your body warms me, but I grow bored as your breath slows, so I prod your ribs. It doesn't count as cruel when there's love involved.
Your eyelids rise gradually, like grass reclaiming its color.
"What... what time is it?"
"It's 6," I lie. "You'll be late if you don't hurry."
I should feel badly for waking you, but you look so cute when you furrow your brow. You start slipping out of the sheets; I grasp your bare shoulder.
"No no, I'm kidding. I'm just crazy and missed you. I'm sorry."
"Come here," you say, puckering your lips.
I lean in and kiss you slow as an August day.
"Mmm, that's better."
Then you're off again, and I'm left to admire your freckles.
This life is introducing our favorite shows, and you watching mine and me watching yours even though we don't love them.
We love our legs curled under blankets and I love your laugh as I spill popcorn for the second time. There's no need for figures on a screen to make me feel like I know you.
This life is strolling in unison across the bridge on Cambridge Street.
How we can smell and feel and nearly taste this autumn crispness and how it hugs us like we're a couple built of 3. I pinch your hand as we reach the middle -- this is it.
I run my fingers over the wall's pimply concrete and you wrap your arm around my shoulders. Wind rushes off the Charles and blows our hair up straight and messy.
"This is the best view of the city," I say, and I'm not sure if I mean the buildings or you. God, that's the cheesiest thing I've ever thought. It's awful. It's also true.
You're right there, mere inches to my left, and I don't know how you could come closer but I wish you would. That's a stupid thing to say, so I'll just ask if you think this view is lovely too.
This life is your head resting on my pillow when I feel like I'm drowning in slow motion.
"It's okay," you whisper over and over. "It's okay. I'm here."
I've drenched your chest in mascara tears and sob "I'm sorry" for the thousandth time.
You lift my chin, smile, and say, "never apologize. We all have bad days. It's okay and you're beautiful."
This life is you behind the wheel and humid breeze tickling into our t-shirts.
"Great news," I say. "I made us a playlist! It's amazing. You're gonna love it."
"Let me guess! Just Taylor Swift?"
"No... don't be ridiculous. I like other things too."
You chuckle. "Do you though?"
I shuffle through to appease you -- perfect. "Here, is this better? It's some really high class shit. AIN'T NO LIE, BABY, BYE BYE BYE--"
"You are such a dork."
Excuse me. NSYNC is the highest art form, how dare you say -- you're sliding your fingers through mine and kissing the back of my hand. You're gazing at me like I'm your first sunrise. I don't know how home could be anyplace else.
This life is how you pull me out of my chair to dance in the grocery store light when I say I'm tired.
How you talk with your hands and how you ignore your phone when I'm beside you. We're uncoordinated airplanes in every sense except for when it comes to choosing us.
This life is teaching each other "I love you" 1,400 times a day. It's you and me, and our web of beautiful moments.
This life is finding the yellow sponge at the bottom of the sink again.
Seriously? I've asked you at least 10 times to please leave it anywhere else. Now it's sopping from last night's wine and this morning's cereal, and I think I'm going to vomit from all those germs.
I can't do the dishes with this. It's disgusting. It's beyond disgusting. And you know that. You know that because I've told you multiple times how much it bothers me. Are you not listening? Do you not care? I can't keep having the same conversations over and over.
This life is you perched on a stool in the living room entranced by some show.
I don't know which one, because you're wearing headphones and said "it's okay" when I offered to join.
This life is me stomping up the stairs at 7:00. All I want is silence after this awful day.
The sound of the television echoes through the door. Great. You're home and not busy. I could leave. Say I'm at a coffee shop. No, that's mean. I should just go in. It'll be fine.
"Hi! How was your day?" You don't move from the couch but outstretch your arms for a hug.
"Hang on. Let me put my stuff down at least."
There's a dirty plate and glass stacked on the side table. You wouldn't, would you?
"Did you eat already?" I ask.
"Oh, yeah. I wasn't sure when you'd be home and I was starving so I went ahead. Sorry."
"It's fine." It wouldn't have taken much to text and ask or even add a little extra for me, but it's fine. It's fine.
You start to kiss me all sloppy. Please, leave me alone.
I'm too tired to fight so I say "nothing" and shuffle into the kitchen to find some food.
This life is typing how I don't need perfect. I just need you here.
You don't show anyway. It's exactly what I expect.
This life is me behind the wheel and humid breeze tickling into our t-shirts.
"Guess who's in the stereo..."
"Taylor Swift. It's always Taylor Swift."
"Yeah, because she's the best!"
I tap your arm, expecting you to quip about how she sucks. But you're flipping through Facebook on your phone.
3 years in, you still don't understand that I love her Red album so much because it's what I jammed to on my way home from our first date.
This life is me bouncing around the dance floor at weddings while you sit on the sidelines.
It's ignoring your text to instead enjoy beers with friends after class, and it's mumbling "goodnight" to your photo because you're on another trip without me. We're uncoordinated airplanes in every sense.
This life is teaching each other "I love you" when it's convenient. It's a you and a me, and a web of beautiful moments buried under dust.
This life is splitting a bottle of red with my good friend.
"I think you know what to do," he says.
He's right, but I wish he wasn't.
This life is waking up to the truth -- I've been holding you.
I should be supporting you. Showing up for you. Not holding you like an object.
I can't contain breathing bones.
Yet I've been trying for quite some time. Clinging because I'm not sure I can handle alone.
I don't even think it's to you, the boy who visits every other weekend. It's to an idea of you, an easy going and funny creature who maybe roamed the earth years ago.
I'm fairly certain he was who hugged me hello at the restaurant in Porter Square. Or maybe he was never there and it's my fault for falling with fiction. Either way, we haven't laughed in what feels like a version of forever.
This life is me not wanting to lie.
I used to listen to the Billy Joel song "You're My Home" and think how your heartbeat is better than any brick or roof, but that stopped long before today. I invented excuse after excuse as to why -- we're busier, we're settling in, we just need to reconnect.
Maybe there's some truth there. Or maybe, more likely, you're midnight and I keep trying to transform you into fireworks.
This life is your key turning in the lock.
Part of me hoped you wouldn't show. That you'd reread my straight-to-business text at the rest stop, sense I was going to end it, and turn back onto I-84.
The truth is I had to text you "we should talk" last night. If I didn't, if I didn't anchor myself to a no-turning-back-now note, I may never do it. And I needed to do it. We're missing even when we're together.
This life is you saying "I'm here" in a voice that screams emptiness.
Like if you drape it in happiness, I'll shackle it 6 feet under and you'll never own it again. So you tighten it around yourself like a cloak of armor. I can't blame you.
You're carrying a plastic bag with a change of clothes. Once upon a time I would have kissed you and joked, "you own suitcases! I've seen them!" Today I suggest you sit down.
We settle into opposite ends of the couch.
"You've been such a gift to my life." I run my fingers over the blanket. "I'm just not happy anymore."
"Okay," you say.
That's it. Okay.