Love letter to the broken girl with the wounded warrior’s heart.
Love letter to my best friend,
In this world I dream of, our mother and my best friend’s mother stand side by side in a warm laundry room trading stories, bathed in soft clothes and their soft words in a softer life, a gentler world, one where they would not have become these scabs of themselves. One where it would have been safe to stay tender.
Love letter to my cousin,
In my dream you did not miss half a year of high school when you were 16 because you woke up one day and could not stop vomiting for 6 months. You did not lose a part of your adolescence to waiting rooms and a doctor did not finally tell our mother you were dying from anxiety and she did not respond to that by drugging you with psychiatric medication. A whole community of adults never failed you and saddled a child with the responsibility for his own life’s suffering. In my dream I don’t remember the smell of vomit as the smell of your high school room. You don’t remember the sterile scent of the visiting hall at the county mental hospital as the smell of mine, because our house was a place we didn’t have to escape, so I never had to trade my freedom for my safety. Our love is untainted by the weight of guilt because we were never the only allies in each other’s lives. Because we didn’t need allies. Because our world and its people were safe. Because our first worries when we woke up every day were our school grades and crushes and childhood dreams, not how not to drown today. Because we lived in safe bodies in a safe home.
In my world we get to keep all the best stuff. The singing Maggie May in the car together, wincing in unison right before the line where the CD skipped, singing in a car that would bring us home to a home it was always safe to come back to.
In my world you grew up knowing how to feel safe with women; me, knowing to expect my worth from men.
In my dream I still love you. You are still my first friend.
Love letter to that girl with the wounded warrior’s heart:
Look at her now.
19 and just escaped from her home, from the county mental hospital, from the residential program, from every cage she ever chose over her life because she never dared to dream she would make it here.
What an odd and new sensation it is. No steps to listen for, no facial muscles to track, no verdict of guilt to weigh down her name and when people call it, she does not have to be afraid.
(Still she is, though it will take years before she knows it).
Look at her now.
The boys watch her as she goes, the curve of her hips, walking like she is the only one on earth. The pieces in her broke just right to catch the light and make it look like something carefree; it is anything but.
She walks knowing she is the only one on earth. No one will catch her. No one will love her. No one will take her and speak to her in the soft words that let her know she is cherished. She knows this, knows she owns nothing and belongs to no one, knows she is still dying the same death inside she never thought she’d outrun, but she makes it look like confidence and thinks no one is the wiser.
Look at her now.
But I don’t want to look at her; I want to hold her.
I don’t want to watch her; I want to walk beside her. Accompany her. Let her know she is not alone. That she is loved. She is cherished. That she holds universes of tenderness and that the wounded love in her will unfold in the years to come like the warmest blanket, like the oldest wisdom, like fields of golden grain and the largest abundance. Enough for her to eat at the table with the whole world.
I want to be the mother to her that she never had.
I want to teach her to let her breath out, to feel her own heartbeat, I want to breathe with her and put her head on my chest, my hand on her back, let her young body feel the sensation of safety, of steadiness, of being embraced without fear of being enveloped. Of the way things always should have been. Could have been.
I want to be the father who would not leave.
The presence that would show her that masculinity can be stable, can be secure. Solid. Steady. Dependable. Not a placeholder, not an outline with nothing filled in, not scared, not fleeting, not the silence that takes up both too much and too little space. She would expect the best from men because I would show her the best of me. How easy she is to be good to. To love. She would not know the feeling of being a burden because I would hold her like she is the most precious weight. Like every ounce of her is gold, like however much of her there is is how rich her part of my life is.
With me she would know when love is good and when it is not, because it would or would not align with what I had taught her about how love feels. How it looks. How it both holds and releases you, with safety.
She would know the falseness of the divide between man and woman because we all have it all, all of it, because I would let myself be all of it, for her and with her. She could be whoever she is. Whoever she may find herself to be. She would discover herself with curiosity and excitement, because she would know only acceptance, only excitement from me, only the honor of having this person in my life and supporting her incredible, unique development.
With me she would know: she is no better nor worse than any other person and so she would want this same world for every other person.
With me. She would have a world she would want anyone to know. With me that broken girl with the wounded warrior’s heart could come and lay her head and cry out the last life she lived. The parts of her lost. The tenderness pierced through with pain and all she had to learn to become. With me her heart could empty itself of that river. Til there was nothing but the tenderness again. Nothing but her. Her and me. Our two hearts beating together, slowing together, our cheeks slick against one another. With me she would know, finally, that she was safe. That it was over. That she would never live it again. That she should never have had to. With me. She could sail into the midday sun of her life like the first part of it had been no more than a nightmare. Just a bad dream. Just bad luck. Just the bad architecture of a bad house she had the bad luck to be born into.
Just something that was never anything to do with me.