To me, love smells like sea salt and warm skin that's been caressed by the summer sun for days on end. Love tastes of vanilla, and whipped cream and cherry ice cream (and faintly, but undeniably of cigarettes).
Love will slow dance with me in my living room at midnight to Florence and Lana - drunk on wine and each other, because there's no more perfect a summer soundtrack.
My love will just throw his clothes on the floor before slipping into bed, but my love will never forget to kiss the nape of my neck before slipping into dream.
Wild and raw, but softer than melted butter in the depths of my heart that I only let show when the sun is sleeping soundly and that bottle of red is almost finished.
Do not confuse my resilience for an inability to break; do not confuse my desire to remain grounded for an inability to fall. Do not mistake my longing for connection for anything more or anything less.
Not your therapist, not your mother. I am not your solution, neither your problem.
My arms know how to cradle your head, but not as a child's. My lips know how to make you scream, but not out of pain. My words know how to make you
These loose threads I've been dragging behind me lead back years, countries, continents even. At night, I wish they'd tear for good, but in the daylight I keep willing them back to life - a cheap trick I play on myself, like circus magicians pulling quarters from behind little boys' ears.
My feet get tangled, my heart does too and it stumbles over itself, almost falling into those thorny rose bushes again.
Step after step, I find myself holding a fresh bundle of red flailing threads instead of roses.
The Universe twists and twirls in a dance only to its own accord and following a rhythm known to no one but itself. We’re yet to prove our worthiness of something more, is what I believe. The grand old Universe is under no obligation to make any sense to any of us, is the way Neil deGrasse Tyson phrased it, but that shouldn’t stop us from still trying to learn the steps – our steps – and join in the party as best as we can. Awkward, silly, broken and limping, shy and self-conscious. No matter, there’ll always be someone willing to dance along.
Call me a cynic if you will, but I’m so happy the Valentine’s (and Galentine’s and what not) madness is over, for the year at least.
There’s been so much talk about love these few days, and for those who’ve not reached a level of emotional maturity where celebrating the small and great alike has become part of everyday life, I can understand why having a pin in the calendar a few times a year can help with not getting completely buried under the mundane. But if we make an effort to look beyond the Pepto Bismol-colored clichés, it becomes clear that it all runs much deeper. The dance is much more sensual and much more filled with thoughtfulness than these little nothings let on.
What I’ve been noticing a lot around me (and Netflix has been brilliant at reinforcing for a few weeks now via mind-bending flicks like Russian Doll and The Umbrella Academy) is that trust is harder to come by than strawberries used to be in the winter. Understandably so – it’s one of the aspects of our day to day interactions we struggle with the most. The heartbreaks, the betrayals to a minute or a huge extent, the broken promises, the not showing ups, the always maybes and we’ll sees.
What we fail to grasp is that while connection might be instant, trust is something earned (and lost) in the tiniest of increments.
I’m lucky enough to have people around me that I’m still in awe of for their capacity to accept me as I am. Remembering how I came to meet some of them, a slight shiver goes down my spine at the thought that I might have decided against taking a leap of faith. It’s thanks to these moments of ‘weakness’, moments of ‘sure, let’s give this a try’, of ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ and moments of ‘daring to step off the sidewalk’ that I’ve managed to surround myself with people one can only dream of having as friends. Oh, the stories I could tell you of how it all started!
Little by little, we’ve shared laughs, concerts in the rain, road trips, movies, shots, tears, stories, glasses of wine, worries, fears and dreams. And we’ve danced like nobody was watching, all along knowing we had each other’s backs if ever life got to us.
In the back of my mind, along with the feeling of gratefulness, the inner critic hasn’t fallen asleep on the job. It’s relentless in asking why these amazing people stick around and what’s so great about me to deserve them and their trust. I answer it: “I don’t know, but I have to trust they do. Maybe they just like to dance.” So I say cheers and raise a glass to all of them, hoping they keep trusting me to not step on their feet while dancing to this wild and unpredictable music.
One was that love you dream about when you’re a naive teenager. A beautiful boy you never would have expected to look in your direction is suddenly smitten with you and you haven’t the faintest clue how to react. He’s gentle and makes you laugh and makes you feel like maybe this isn’t real, like you’re going to wake up from a blissful dream. He gives you butterflies and everything feels new and unique. There’s only the two of you in the world, everyone and everything else are just the background for your story. Every girl deserves a guy like this for a first boyfriend.
The other one was the love that saves you from yourself and makes you believe in loving again, in loving in a different way, but just as deep. Maybe deeper even. It was the kind that doesn’t give you butterflies like the first one, but does something much better – it makes you smile the whole day long knowing that there’s no doubt about where you stand with each other. It makes you want to not just dream, but also plan. This was the love that made me feel seen after I’d been invisible in much too long. This love was deep and enveloped me without realising this was happening. This love saved me when I needed it the most, when I was close to the precipice and about to lose myself.
I miss the age of innocence sometimes, when I still hadn’t been truly hurt yet. Could you walk into a relationship from a better position than not knowing the fear of the ending? This is how one should step into it, otherwise it’s like dooming it before it’s had the chance to become anything worth living.
Love is misunderstood nowadays. So many circumstances warrant the use of another word – infatuation, lust, desire, excitement, adrenaline rush – but love itself can be replaced most times by a more accurate synonym, kindness. It shouldn’t be called self-love, it should be kindness towards oneself. Kindness is the foundation of any loving endeavour or gesture, not anything else.
When stepping into a relationship, it should be falling in love like falling into kindness. Nothing is worth it without love – I say nothing is worth it without kindness.
31 now and true love to me isn’t butterflies that fly away, it’s the love that’s kind and keeps you true to yourself.
I have a very high tolerance threshold – for bullshit, for strange reactions, for harsh words, for forgetfulness, for the simple fact that we’re all a different shade of human, therefore have widely diverse interests, needs, desires and priorities. Everyone who knows me will know this truth about me. But even my tolerance and ability to understand and forgive have their limits.
I have too much hope in people’s potential, in their capability to grow beyond their limitations and to learn how to be better, how to do better, how to care and love better. Because at the end of decades upon decades, when you’re looking death in the eye, it’s what you’ll regret. That you didn’t care more, reach out more, speak more, hug more, love more. And you’ll think to yourself that while there’s no other way to fade away but alone, at least you could have avoided a lifetime of being alone, walled up in a fortress you built yourself. If only your ego, your bruises and scars could have let you lower the drawbridge.
I’m being nagged again by that horrid, self-deprecating question I so wish I could just forget. Why not me? Why am I not deserving of more, of that thing that others appear to be so deserving of just because they exist?
This much hope leads to disappointment. Expectations lead to disappointment. Event love leads to disappointment.
And that nagging question that keeps sneaking up on me just when I thought I’d stifled it for good.
It’s always easier to hit back harder, cut deeper, rather than put in the sometimes extraordinary effort to understand and empathise with why someone reacts the way they do. More often than not, the real reason is they’re hurt. They’re hurt to their core and possibly even reached a point of complete exasperation where retaliation seems like the only thing left they haven’t tried to express just how hurt they are.
Cut deep and draw blood. When words are no longer enough, when they’re the enemy instead of the band aid to help heal the wounds, when the walls that have been put in front of you have become terrifyingly high to climb, nobody can see the hurt. Nobody wants to. So you lash out and you kick and scream, and you hit where you know it hurts the most (even when they say it doesn’t hurt in the very least). Deep down you know it’s not the way to do things, not the solution you wanted for even a split second. But you’re so left without options, that you do it anyway. You hit back hard and with a precise target.
Because maybe then they’ll see you. Really see you. Maybe then they’ll hear what you’re saying and understand what you’re truly going through. Maybe they’ll even come to you and comfort you. You could even dare to imagine they might want to shield you from any hurt from now on and not allow anyone to cut into your soul ever again.
We hurt each other with such ease and refuse to admit it when we do get hurt. But then we strike back even worse. We stifle our words and shut down instead of reaching out and speaking out. Call me a naive idealist, call me a fool and call me a damned idiot, but I’m convinced that if we peel off the layers of hurt and resentment, the emotional and psychological baggage we’re lugging behind us, for years and even decades, what we all want – each and every one of us – is to be really seen, cared for, appreciated. And loved.
I had a dream that I was more than who I am right now, but somehow not as much as I used to be. I don’t quite know how that can be, but this is how it was and it felt odd and awkward, like a butterfly that turned back into a caterpillar instead of the other way round. You don’t get it? Yeah, neither do I.
It feels like summer hasn’t really happened yet. So how can it be that it’s almost gone already and I’ve managed to somehow miss it? Perhaps too preoccupied with things that in the grand scheme are utterly unimportant. But that’s how it is – while we’re busy planning it, life happens. And it passes us by, waving in desperation that we might look up from our drawing board and start living. We just love to tell ourselves we’re working on the next great masterpiece of humanity, don’t we? In reality, we’re just doodling most days, colouring between the lines and too afraid to leave our comfort zone or even switch up colours.
The days are getting shorter. It’s already dark outside, but thankfully the air is still balmy and sweet. Even sweeter when there’s that rare and special soul to share it with. Tell me, when was the last time you went out after a long day at the office and just wandered the streets in the warm evening air, hand in hand and heart next to heart? There’s no need for many words, but then again words can be a relief and a true treasure when coming from that right person. When did anyone get upset over receiving a compliment from someone they know cares about them? Blushed, possibly. Acted surprised, not impossible. Gotten upset, not a chance!
A quote circulating on all means of social media (with so far an unknown author to my knowledge): every summer has a story. Can it last longer? Please, pretty please? It seems too brief for my taste, like words and paragraphs were edited out to make it fit neatly in 3 short months and not a day more. Like experiences are few and far apart and shaped according to other people’s expectations and desires, while your own needs and wishes fall short. Tell me, did you travel enough? Did you take enough walks hand in hand? Did the sun see your face enough? Did you watch enough sunsets and share as many deep talks as you wanted about the universe and how love has transformative powers even when you hardly realise it? Did you make enough people smile? Did you speak enough kind words and comfort enough wounded souls? Did you read enough books? (I’m way behind on my reading list, that I have to admit)
Most importantly of all, did you love enough? Really, truly, immensely, selflessly love the one who’s waiting patiently for you to notice they’re still there, still trying to stretch out this summer’s story (as much as humanly possible to control the elements), with the sole purpose of potentially giving you a bit more time to see how much of the good you’re missing out on while busy drawing the plans for higher walls to build for that majestic work of art.
Buildings are worthless without people filling them up. It’s the people that make them beautiful and give them value, otherwise they’re just edifices that will crumble when someone with a plan for a bigger and more majestic work of art comes along. Don’t forget the people, don’t forget to make this summer’s story one worth remembering and telling. And don’t forget to love, with everything that entails.