While washing dishes and letting my mind wander, I thought of you.
Alone in my house, I imagined you were sitting at my table behind me, keeping me company as I worked. I imagined the things you would say, the jokes you would crack. Memories of a few funny moments almost made me turn around and say, “Remember that time when…”
My chest began to ache. You were not here.
So, I decided to think of a happy time, something comforting.
My mind ran through a memory I’d thought of often before:
I was distraught. I needed to get out, needed a hiding place. I’d come to your parents’ house in the middle of the night…
I remember you were still up. I remember you comforting me. I remember leaving the lights off in the music room that was off of the back of the garage and trying to joke my sombre mood away. I remember genuinely laughing, and I’d been so miserable over the past few days that the sensation jarred me, and I was suddenly so grateful—so sincerely grateful—for the relief of laughter that I began to cry.
I tried so hard not to cry. But tears escaped and I couldn’t nonchalantly wipe them away. A deep breath or two and I stopped the tears and told you what was wrong and how exhausted I was, and you said you would let me sleep and wake me early enough to avoid having to see anyone in morning.
I laid down on the futon and closed my eyes almost immediately. The exhaustion was about to lay me out cold when you laid down next to me. The space between us was filled with quips, jabs, and giggles until I mumbled off to sleep.
I had no idea how long I’d been asleep before a nightmare threw a bucket of ice water down my insides. I sat bolt upright, panting in a cold sweat, choked with panic and disoriented, until I felt your hand on my back. “Gee, you okay?”
I came back to myself. I tried to slow my breathing. I was here. Here was the music room at your parents’ house. I was sitting on a futon. I was here with you. You were here with me. I was okay.
Until I wasn’t. Until I was bent over my kitchen sink with my elbows in dishwater. Tears were welling up. I had only just understood that that was the moment, the precise moment, I realized I was in love with you. My heart stopped wrestling with the Truth, and it finally laid down and surrendered. Why would my mind go to that when I’d told myself to remember a happy time, a comforting time? That memory was formed during a time of personal chaos and one of the lowest times of my life, yet I could honestly say I had often mentally revisited this memory in search of comfort. And I was finally able to grasp the meaning of that moment.
Back then, on that night, I allowed myself to feel what I knew to be true in spite of how hard I’d tried to ignore it, reason it away, out-and-out deny it. There was no right, there was no wrong, there was only truth. It was almost as if I was able to finally stop holding my breath. Relief, release, engulfed me. Breathe. It was just a dream. You were still there, making sure I got off to sleep. Breathe. You were there. You were with me. Tomorrow would be there and I would see it when I’d see it. Breathe. You were there and I could go back to sleep. I fell back against the throw pillow and could barely finish mumbling that it was just a dream before I dropped back off to sleep.
Because you were there.
Breathe. On the floor of my kitchen, my wet forearms and elbows dripping suds down my legs as a rested my hands on my propped up knees, I cried for just a moment. I reminded myself of the truth.
Love does not need to take action to exist. It doesn’t need to spin itself out to depletion. It can be a wellspring deep inside that does not need to be drank from as proof that it exists. The evidence is in the garden that has sprung up around it. Carrying my love for you has watered my soul, allowed it to blossom and nurture what needs to drink from it to flourish. Some love is kinetic, requiring action, feats of reassurance. Some love is magnetic, silent, forceful, and undeniable. Some love is seismic and levels walls with its scale and its shaking. But some love is a heavenly patch of spirit that one discovers when internally wandering about. It’s happening upon the source from which my flower-heart drinks and saying, “Ah. Of course.” My inside’s verdant scape is given origin. All the greenery inside gives off all the air I need to breathe.
While I appreciated the amazing luck it took in finding the place, I couldn’t stay. I’ve not built a house to settle there because it’s too pristine to disturb. Besides, it would be so very lonely, and such a sad waste, building a house for two and being the only one living in it.
I stood up, I stopped the tears, I took a deep breath. No, he’s not here. He doesn’t need to be.
I loved you even before I knew I loved you. I have loved you knowing you will never feel the same. But that doesn’t matter; it’s still beautiful to see. Just because you don’t know it’s there doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Even if you did, not everyone appreciates the same landscape. Not everyone breathes the same air.
- Francisco X. Alarcón