Longing. I swear I long for longing itself. Much the way I’ve been so adept at falling in love with the ideas of things, I hunger for the ache and the want, for the beginnings based on everything we bring to them. I’m infatuation-centric, which explains my highs, even the height of my lows. It means I still long for the giddiness, the sexy surprises, the can’t think straight without you motions. In so many ways, ways that reveal my naiveté, I still believe one of my deepest loves was one of my first loves. It was like walking in the dark, with the obvious obstacles of being teens living in your parents home. We’d speak on the phone for hours, and then there were letters. Little folded nuggets of gold, unfolded and inflated, as real as the chambers of a heart. Although I was young—fourteen-years-old, I was in what felt, what still feels, like the deepest love of my life. I don’t know if I’ve ever come as close. I know, usually we chalk early love up to innocence, to a time when big life events don’t lean on you, when really, you’re more in love with what the other sees in you than in what you see in them.
My earliest relationships were intimate, not in the physical exploration of our bodies as much as in exposing our current emotions, laying our feelings out raw, like a bouquet of wildflowers, picked fresh, still sticky and damp, loosened from a fist, splayed across a table. There was an intimacy of confession, of how we really feel about our parents or our uncles, people and thoughts we pretty much keep to ourselves when we’re “fully grown” adults ourselves, when the top-of-mind parents and uncles cats & cradle their way toward the back of the line. We fall asleep in a web of thought and song lyrics, mixed tapes, where theirs is the voice you want to hear most. Where their’s is the first call when you have news. And at such a young age, it’s all shared in the living of it, not in the retelling. “You grow up together, then you grow apart.” Or, at least that’s what I was told. He just “grew apart. Changed, wanted different.” “Wanted different” would lodge itself into my female book of male wisdom pages, marked beside the page on “wanting the chase more than the woman.” “Make yourself unavailable, and he’ll want you all the more.” I wrote it with bubble dotted i’s in my high school journal. People underestimate teens. I don’t know, truly, how much I’ve changed since those early years. It’s the same me in there, fascinated by what motivates people to behave as they do, still seduced by mixed tapes, lyrics and acoustic guitars.
I wonder what wisdom I know now, the way I did then, without directly expressing it. Wonder what I’d long for in us, the us we are today. I wonder how the coffee clutch conversations of girls would change, what I’d long for privately when falling asleep at night. If I’d think of you when I’d hear some passerby chirp about “living life. It’s so short, and you only have one, so make it count.” I’d wonder if I should’ve held onto us longer, learned to have longing without losing, or if I should’ve been long gone, making up for a life that hasn’t really been lived yet. I wonder how I’d wear that retrospect.
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