Mirrors

“I want you here”
✓ Read 11:52

“So badly”
✓ Read 11:52

“Let’s sing”
✓ Read 11:53

Nearly-midnight texts like these can only mean one thing: trying to show someone your heart and blaming it on being drunk. We’ve all done it.

I received these on a Saturday in October. They were from a completely lovely boy with whom I was having a very modern, very college fling. The sort of thing that’s all fun and games until someone falls in love.

As a seasoned veteran of love (lol)—or at least the absence of it—I’ve pretty much decided that relationships are all about navigating the exposure of vulnerability. For me, this is very difficult, but I’m sure it is for plenty of people; it’s essentially giving someone the ability to destroy you and just hoping that they won’t.

I want to control my leaving, my giving and taking. So I am hyper-vigilant about what passes through my teeth whenever people try to ask me about myself. I notice immediately when it’s easy for me to open up to someone, and that someone immediately becomes special.

This boy in particular was quite a disturbance for me and my poetry. I had all but sworn off anything resembling a “relationship,” but he was nice and soft and I liked his smile. He asked me if he could keep visiting, so I said yes. Sometimes he was like morning light and sometimes he was like sky colours at dusk and always I was absorbing his freckled kisses, asking them to be careful with me.

We spend so much of our time on this earth trying to figure out how to hide what is deemed weird or abnormal—often by middle school bullies, might I add—that the revelation of someone we can be ourselves around is now a tired trope.

There is a weariness that comes from telling secrets. Since I have let other boys carve hallucinations into my skin and demand unreasonable devotion from me, I am particularly careful to tiptoe around it. I haven’t decided if that’s something to be proud of.

On one hand, I have learned that I am not anybody else’s and I am not what devours me. I belong only to the blue and the strangeness and the handfuls of earth.

On the other, I have trouble telling the difference between “brave” and “scared.”

But one thing that I have decided: you can never assume that you are the only one hiding. You can never assume that you’ve got somebody all figured out. The very same aforementioned boy told me once that he doesn’t believe we can ever truly know anyone.

“I don’t mind that though. In fact, I like it. It makes every day exciting; a mystery. It makes getting to know you a process that is infinite.”

He was a very idealistic person, very romantic about his notions of Other People, which was one of the things I liked most about him (and one of the things I had the hardest time relating to).

Ironically, the thing I liked least about him was that he fell into the trap. He was romantic in the spontaneous, sentimental, cute-texts-at-midnight kind of way, but he was also romantic in the Gatsby, Romeo, tableaux vivante kind of way.

“Don’t look at me like that,” I once said to him. “Don’t idolize me, I’ll let you down.”

Later that night, I wrote: “nobody makes me cry anymore. No velvet night can make my rib edges blunt.”

He used to actually tell me to ask him “deep questions.” He loved when I went under the currents, beneath the small talk. I knew about his parents, his childhood, his favourite moments in movies and his lucky flannel trousers. But not once did he say, “what about you?”

This might sound familiar. Maybe your mcm doesn't say "hbu" when you ask how his day is going because he just doesn't care and men are useless. Or maybe he doesn't think about you as often as he thinks about you thinking about him. And maybe you do the same. Two people using each other to imagine themselves. 

With each shiver and sigh, with each baptism in a sea of limbs and sheets, we ought to take responsibility to see the other person as a whole, just how we see ourselves.  

Idealizing and romanticizing a person is to turn them into a portrait: a medium for your own inner psyche. When we appraise great paintings, very rarely do we consider the complex inner lives of the subjects. Rather, we consider those of the artists. We have debates about, write essays about, create dialogues about the painters’ intentions. 

All sorts of things in this world behave like mirrors. People are no exception.

Maybe I’m no authority on sane living; I have whispered maroon to the wrong people; I have put my ghost heart in the wrong hands. But here are my thoughts and here is the void. There are growing pains in any relationship, no matter how seasoned the participants are.