“How are you?”
“I’m doing… (I don’t think I can answer that question right now. I could lie and tell you I’m doing well in a cheerful tone and my kindest, bravest smile. I could stick with the “pretty good” that I learned from my dad, with all its ambiguity. If I told you I was doing well, it wouldn’t completely be a lie. There are so many things I find to be thankful for, things that help me fully embrace being and becoming.
My mornings begin so painfully, with an aching consciousness and the sense that my insides are being slowly shredded into mulch. I miss you, my lover, one of my best friends—the kind that makes me a better person. I miss your body next to mine, even if we aren’t touching; your presence fills an entire room. I miss your voice, the promise of adventure, my deep, deep sense of belonging. I rarely feel like I belong, but I did with you, and that absence is felt at almost every moment, even as I meet men who flirt in the office or at parties, even when I’m laughing at the formation of a new inside joke, even as I dare greatly; I know the daring would be sweeter with you by my side. But you don’t love me. You don’t want to love me, I guess, and this is my ache. This is why I have been sorrow’s companion.
And in this multifaceted, complex, dualistic state of being, I wish to say, “I understand.” I come up with reasons why it would have been broken one way or another. I tell myself your shoes are stupid and your jeans unflattering. I try to convince myself again that your chin is too small and that you slouch too much. I whisper that you’d never give up anything for me or be able to support my dreams, because you don’t understand them. I tell myself you’d rather be comfortable than love.
But these are mere topical ointments. They are not heartbalms. They help me believe less in your glorious, stumbling, faltering, redeemed humanity. They allow me to flatten you into the paper-doll version, where your actions are the puppets of my own pain.
In all of this, I know that I am already alive. I will keep being already alive, keep writing, keep learning, keep crying, keep smiling, keep singing. I will find belonging in the stars and the moon. I will learn that my heart has many rooms, and there is space enough in it for grief and for joy, space enough for every one of life’s adventures, space enough to fall in love again without souring my other loves, space enough for eternity where we will always have life, life more abundantly.)…pretty good.”