loving better

“loving you doesn’t hurt”

For Vanessa Mártir’s January 1st Writing Our Lives prompt, [1 of] 3 stories that haunt you.

Of the four years we spent together, there are many moments I look back at tenderly; and many more where I was vulnerable, broken apart, and you carefully held me. You’re a Cancer, so you were unafraid of swimming in the sea of tears my body exuded. But this moment, something about it remains clear to me, even if I don’t know exactly why.

It was in the dark warmth of my bedroom I was my most honest and confessed I loved you.

It wasn’t the first time I’d told you I loved you, but the flavor of this particular one, I knew it was something different, something I had to tell you.

I remember thinking, it doesn’t hurt to love him, and then, I should tell him. Because my old coach had always emphasized how important it was to tell people all the nice things you said or thought about them.

And I come from a line of women where to love is to hurt, where quiet sufferance is the ultimate expression of love, a love language unto itself that could also be named misery. So when I realized this – that not only was I capable of loving you, but that I loved you in a way that was new and tender like a rainbow baby.

Yes, it was something amazing. And I choose to believe my ancestors congratulated themselves when I realized it.

So when you were in my bedroom, shoes toed off, laid out beside me in bed, I said, “Can I ask you something?”

What I meant was, can I get into deep shit with you? like Miel had asked me before. I come from a lineage of women after all, even if we are not related by biology.

(This is why you were so unexpected. You, a soulmate in the sense of fated meetings, not in forever. You, a Two-Spirit boy, the midwife to my second life.)

I looked to the ceiling, avoiding looking at yo, because watching people’s faces, even a treasured one like yours, sent my mind whirling into countless dystopian futures. I gazed at the still fan, the satchel with incense and crystals hanging from it, the cream paint, the shadows. And although I had said the words in my head over and over, even written it in my diary, making it true. When faced with you, the words locked themselves in my stomach, the way I’d learned to as a girl, choking with desperation.

I know what I need to say, the words stacking up on each other, but nothing leaves my mouth.

The weight shifted in the bed, my body caving towards you. You reached up and turned out the light.

How did you know this was what I needed as I gasped for words like air underwater?

(Thinking back on this, all these years later, it still touches my heart.)

In the darkness, it was easier to feel you. The scratch of your shirt against my bare arms. The press of my shoulders into your body heat. I couldn’t read your face, couldn’t overthink it, all I had to do was trust the safe quietness you made for me.


Dark, like when when I was younger and my easiest reprieve was sleep. Like all the hours you’d slept by my side, the press of your skin, the memory of southern sun burning just under your it, filling me up with something new.

It was dark, it felt safe. My bed has always been safe, home base. You felt safe too.

(Did you touch me? I’d have to look back at my diary to know if you did, but knowing you, you did. When you were in sync with me, you were perfectly so. Or maybe, I’m easier to read than I think.)

“Loving you doesn’t hurt.”

I don’t remember what you said in return. Probably something like, mm, thank you for telling me, and you would’ve let the silence spread like slow night sky, like a weighted blanket, the press of your body on mine, waiting me out, keeping me close.

And maybe this is reflective of our relationship. Because I remember how I felt.

No loud trumpets, or sweeping orchestras or panoramic views. Just me, knowing with each breath I was getting free.

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