I’m coming to understand that some of these things that I thought could be massaged out of me like knotted muscles are not so easily untangled. They’re not errant feelings that require fixing, they are the essence of me. This is the way that I am. I see things in this complicated, thorough, melancholic, profound lens that can be so guttural, so jagged, I only assumed I shouldn’t be.
But I look at you; the back of your head, the tug of your shoulder muscles, the stride of your gait. And everything I see stacks in a million tiny layers; the painted desert of you. I see the way you want to be loved, the ache and longing of your past, the fear that laces like a defiant thread through the discourse of your days. In the millisecond it takes you to round the corner, I’ve recalled a dozen little pieces that make you what you are right now. And I feel your ache, and warmth, and pain.
I imagine your teenage awakening, the bleakness of your first heartbreak. The year before we met. The last time you laid like this. All the times you smiled at your phone. The moments before the fracturing began. All the things you gave that you’ll never get back. All the moments you acted before you were scared. All the things you confide in the dark. Conglomerations of moments I can never know that tease me from the periphery of their context. I feel pain, and joy, and hope, and unease just by sitting with you.
And I’d like to let it go. I would like to see less. I imagine for many, the world is a far less complicated place. Things become lore from the place in which they were left. The nuances of feelings that have long since not been felt never contemplated. The very specific way all these things fold around my place in the world. I know they’re neither here nor there. And for moments in time, I can smile at their significance without letting them visit. But more often, I look at you, and you’re not a man. You are a mosaic of all the things that broke and rebuilt you. You are a collage of all the things you gutturally strive for and endlessly fear. You are the experiences that humbled you and the jagged edges that sharpened you. You are the grace you were given and the carelessness you weathered. You are a thousand things that I don’t know how to hold in the palm of my hand, and I realize now that’s why I never feel like I’ve got a good grasp on you.
But I know from the classics that this isn’t so bad. These kinds of things can’t be owned; people. They are an installation of a thousand things that will never be yours, that will always be someone else’s, that were previously owned. They’re a constellation of north stars that don’t point to you. They are made of things that can never be taken or bestowed. Perhaps we should never feel like a person is ours, when so much of them can never be. Maybe there’s a freedom in holding only whatever pieces step forward to make you who you are right now. But I imagine it’s easier when your mind doesn’t break everything out into significant parts. I’d deign to guess that the fallacy of our ownership feels, at times, far nicer than this one of contemplation. But I am done assuming it’s a thing I can part with. This is how I see.