To the Woman I'll (One Day) Marry
This halfway point is hard to handle
I’ve been avoiding it like poison, this something I need to tell you. I’ve stuck it in a coat pocket only to discover it, ages later, on my way out the door.
I can feel with my fingers. I can taste it on the broadside of my tongue.
I can recognize it, like a portrait through a window. Walking closer, it blinds me with patterns covered by the glare of the midday sun.
There is only a harshness to this new reality, a coldness.
The prospect of spending more than half my life without you has, inevitably, arrived.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way, but it is. Years ago, not even the most dedicated scientist could have placed it in his charts.
Growing up was so effortless, so easy to embrace. Now, I will myself out of bed each morning and discover standing is the accomplishment of the day.
Back then, as a child, I played out my dreams as tiny, fantastical notes. Each one after the other. Each string a vibration, an entire world I could sit with, stir and put upon my shoulder.
Now, I don’t know who I am in the world. I’m confused, I’ve stopped playing. I am just trying to get by.
There are reasons for this I’m still uncovering. For my lack of faith. Just know that I’m aware.
It’s no one’s fault of course and most certainly not yours. I let myself become it. I painted myself dry and boarded up the entire house.
Somehow, my worldly rejection became a human one. I sprinkled in a dose, a dash of never finding you. Next, I drank it cold on a deserted, endless beach.
When waves of heartbreak came, I stood among them. I felt their icy breath like daggers lunging at my skin. This, the place I built for myself without ever constructing shelter. The rain turned to ice and back to water. The curse of feeling no elements. The sun melting slowly against my bones.
And what of you — do you tire easily? Are you broken? Do you wake and feel around for what is still not there?
I’m sure you must; you’re only human. Some of us take longer to wake than be woken. A little more time to gather strength.
In Sunday school, they put a phrase to us. It is not good for man to be alone, and it makes me think of you. If alone for man is not good, then the same for women could fill even more ancient texts. Are you doing okay in all this? How’s your heart? Is it still beating somewhere? Somewhere, beating slowly below your chest?
I’ve been trying to live without you, and I’m not sure that I’m up for the job. Instead of living, I replace the word with others: Surviving. Moving. Unshakably dreaming in the direction I can’t untravel.
Not without you, at least. Life is speeding up, and I’d rather it slows down to wait for you. To give you time. Time is a crossed-out word on my aforementioned list.
I think, if I have any grip on the life we’re leading, it’s that even distance runners tire. Even charmers lose their charm like checked baggage. There’s no shame in it, says the ultimate bachelor. I open my favorite novel and lead a quiet life once the party’s over and my youth has exited.
I have become quite reflective at the precipice of forty. I have you to thank for that. You are changing me without me knowing.
When I do shut the door and open the book, the pages are all filled with the same question: Where are you? Who are you? It seems to me you’re anywhere but here.
Are you in Europe? Are you in my hometown? Are you on a train headed North, and it’s my job to jump the platform?
Are you even thinking of me? Does this matter? Have you given up on me and are now joined with someone else?
This is my nightmare, my brutal cold and sweating. This is when I wake up buried in shame crying out, “I’ve missed her! I knew it!” and I go down, down again to replay the movie of my mind.
If you’re there, why not send a signal? I’ll take a plane to see you, I promise. A one-way ticket over an ocean of memory, but never to return.
What I want to tell you is I’m sorry. For showing up flustered like this. For meeting you here, now, when I could have met you years ago.
I’m sorry for wasting my time, your time, our time. For giving up on myself before I even gave myself a chance.
If I had taken care of myself, I wouldn’t have delayed our story. If I had loved myself well, I could have loved you far sooner.
This is all I want to tell you. We don’t have much time, but we do have some.
This makes me exquisitely and inexplicably afraid. Perhaps, simply, because it’s not enough.
In spite of everything, I hope you’re well. I hope this life isn’t too much for you and that you’re rising, walking, still moving straight ahead.
If you do turn, look for me. I’ll be the one flying kites in the desert, attached to one thing, one day, the one I don't let go.
I can’t turn back now if I try. Something tells me you would not want me to.
I am forever in your debt.
I remain, undeniably yours.