When I say ‘I love you’, I do not say it lightly. Those three words are heavy with the weight of all I feel for you. I have filled my heart to its breaking point, to where the seams are splitting in earnest, begging to let the affection pour from its boundaries. The cage of my ribs is too small to hold all the love I have for you. It beats against the door and picks the lock and sneaks out in those three words – those small words that possess an ocean of passion. I thought saying those words would make you run, would make you search for the shoreline in dismay. My brain insisted it was too early, while my heart pleaded with me to say the words before it was too late. I said them softly the first time, and they were past the barriers of my lips before I knew they had even been formed. Your eyes held mine, and I could see your soul smiling as those three words hung in the air. You tasted them, and found them pleasurable, and for the first time I heard those three words repeated back. And now I repeat them as often as I can, whispered to you in the queue for groceries, breathed out in a sigh as I lay by your side, murmured into the crook of your neck in the early mornings, mumbled as I wake from an afternoon nap, said without any hesitation as we dance around each other in the kitchen. When I say ‘I love you’, I say it again and again, not because I do not believe it, but because the words are so delightful to taste and their pleasure will never grow old or wither away. Saying ‘I love you’ has become the beautiful part of my day, a thrilling adventure wrapped up in three words, eight letters.
I think we all carry out own type of hell around with us. It isn’t a physical place we go, but a place within ourselves that threatens to overwhelm us. We don’t begin life with that corner of our minds. It appears one day when we are broken down for the very first time. That first harsh word, that first broken heart, that first cold shouldered friend. It appears and begins to grow in strength and power. That is the castle of demons, where the insecurities and lies we tell ourselves are housed. The abuse we suffer, the self inflicted scars, the painful days and tormenting nights–all live here. And sometimes, they take over. They worm their way into the good days and make you question where you’re going.
But then, one look, one word can silence them, and send them running back to their fortifications. Your bad days do not define you, and your good days should make you celebrate. Have that hour to panic and worry and then, fight back with all your strength. You are stronger than your demons, more powerful than your monsters. One day, you may even find that they have changed house, and no longer live in a castle–they now reside in a cell, locked away where they cannot hurt any longer.
Under the bright blue sky we stood above the entire world. Land stretched out on all sides and the horizon seemed to disappear into the azul mountains. Hawks and falcons danced around us, swooping into the sun with Icarus yet never losing flight. The dry air and warm breeze kissed around our bodies as we were sat on the summit admiring the view. The summer sun dazzled down onto the heat drenched land, warming the fields, the rocks, and our hearts. The summer sun freed us, and we fell into flight.
Clanging barbels and racing treadmills fill the heat soaked air inside the gym, where the broken air conditioner makes each step that much harder. I run facing the street, with windows twice my height mirroring back my image and giving me a view of the outside world. I count trains and cars and pedestrians to keep the time moving, trying to ignore the burning in my legs and chest. A car stops at the light, and now I’m distracted. The headlights are evenly placed to where they appear to shine out from the reflection of my own eyes. Is that what the philosophers meant when they told us that the soul of a person shines out of their eyes? Or the artists who say that the eyes are the window to the soul? I find I can hardly believe that remark. If it were true, there is no possible universe where my soul would be such a pure color. I have felt too much, seen too much, done too much for it to be simply white. No. I envision it to be a kaleidoscope of colors and hues, both darkness and light bound together in a triumphant dance. My passions and despairs, my aspirations and fears, the parts of me I gladly show the world and the pieces I hide away from view; all are too complex, too interdependent, too vast to be condensed to one single stream of light. Then I wonder what mine would look like to other people, would it be breathtaking and beautiful, heartbreaking and terrifying, or something completely different? And what then of the rest of the world? What if we knew the soul of a person by the lights in their eyes? What if les amoureux have discovered the secret, that they have discovered the ability to see past a person’s pupils and into their soul?
The gusting wind is snatching words from our mouths, a thief with skillful hands. I know the tempest is brewing, I can feel the energy crackling in the space between our thoughts. Before us stretches a pool of water we would call reflecting on any other day. Today, however, the currents of air are making the waves dance and ripple across the surface. You let go of everything and it was as if the words pouring out of your mouth could not keep up with the speed of the wheels in your mind. Your feelings and ideas and pain all tumbled out together, and I did my best to catch it fully, but the wind is strong and fighting back is hard. You were craving compassion and understanding and assistance and support, and I gave you all I could. Furious is the temper of the storm without, and even more so the gale within.
I stared just a second too long at you as we passed each other on the street. You walked past with your group of friends, all chatting and laughing and poking fun. But you looked over at me and would not release my gaze. Dark eyes rimmed with black and a fringe across your forehead, so easily brushed to the side, I wondered what you saw when you glanced at me. My book bag laden shoulders and my ears stuffed with music to block out the bedlam of the streets. You shocked me into a sudden daze, and I’m sure it must have shown, because you gave me this knowing look and disarming grin. I think I smiled back – forgive me if I didn’t. I was too astonished by the fact that someone like you turned your head to look at someone like me. If you knew me, would you smile then? Or would you fear the person I am become? I laid my eyes on you for no more than three seconds, but oh my dear, you were three seconds of opulence. Favored are those that know you best.
I looked out my window one night, wanting to wish among the stars, and found that they were hidden by a multitude of glowing lamps. I tried to remember where I had found my glittering friends before, squinting to just maybe find their shape in the heavens. Then I wondered if they had fallen, had tripped across the indigo blanket and landed softly on the earth, and where they might be walking, to find their way back home. Do the city streets confuse them, the strangely colored lights and unyielding bewilderment of being? Do they run into people, only to be brushed off with any attempted apologies? Can they see their home, their glorious nightly dance happening without them? And do they miss it? I wanted to wish upon a star, and when one fell I cried instead. I spoke many words, and aimed to connect the dots back to the stratosphere, but I lost myself and found a home in a forgotten wilderness instead. They who called those wilds their hearth brought me in to dwell, and gave me room to survey my new milieu. I asked them once, if they had seen that fallen star that I had been chasing since that fateful night. They turned to me and said:
“My dear, we are all fallen stars here, and you the brightest one in centuries.”