on tenderness and living on love and fresh water
8 de junho de 2022.
I am not sure why ten days feel like years. Ten months ago, I only believed in fiction, a notebook bursting with… I would share what I wrote but those pages belong to me and me only.
His hair is much longer. In the home I created, tiles floors of white, maroon, and gold diamonds, our dogs surround him, tails wagging. My dog throws herself into his lap, both paws in the air, turning to show me her goofiest grin. And his smile is expansive, brown eyes brimming with joy and affection. There is happiness bouncing from the floor. In minutes, the dogs are exhausted from play, tile floor befriending dog hair.
I cannot find the courage to sit beside him.
You see, it has taken me years to unravel my heart, to crumble a napkin and try again.
On this warm summer night, there are French kisses on his face. On my face. He is unashamed, at home in his laughter. And suddenly, I am a guest, I am outside, distant, self-conscious, looking into pained windows. On the delicate matter of tenderness, I wonder if I’d forgotten, yet question if I once knew how.
It takes me days to realize that I’ve never witnessed a man express such strong affection and bold emotion.
And why is that?
So, I find the courage, tucked behind purple blossoms overflowing from my garden. Later, in the neighborhood we call home, I share my thoughts over white wine. You see–behind my glasses are a few insecurities, tucked away in ancient boxes, cobwebbed years of coping mechanisms to keep myself safe. He senses I am cold and hands me his jacket.
“That’s just who I am,” he answers. “I didn’t hesitate and that is because I feel comfortable with you.”
On my tongue there is a request, will you teach me, please, to display emotion, with such gentleness, confidence, and compassion? Yet, I hesitate– is this too much to ask?
But why is that?
I am learning tenderness.
On my tongue there are generations of tough love and intimate experiences with hypervigilance and hyper-independence and lessons and bruised knees and twisted ankles and words twisted into a ridiculous code of riddles and rhymes just to say that my country doesn’t offer softness to little girls and boys that look like me.
I am rigid I am independent I am strong
If you asked me to teach you something new, I would never think of compassion and empathy.
And why is that?
I am relearning tenderness.
I am unclenching my jaw and learning how to ask for help and support and care and tenderness. I am learning to voice my needs and take up space and choose the right people to love me to see me to hold me to show up… for me.
Scared to admit that I am enamored with commitment, vulnerability, and all the pieces of me I was told I should leave behind.
No longer proving my worth my intelligence myself
I want honey I want joy I want sunrises of freedom to love myself on all seven continents and even on the moon
You can see the ocean from my living room window. The inside of my home smells like love and fresh water. Dare I draw my heart on a crumbled-up napkin? A note that reads–
“Do you think you could teach me? I’d like to learn.”