you were the year of the unexpected and the arrival, how i walked through your doors with fear and inexplicable conviction that the ending was not yet written and so i swam my way down to the shipwrecks and through the deep end, crashing up to the other side. “it’s like the only word i know for what you are describing is faith,” he said, as the three of us were sitting there having long dinners, waiting for outcomes and celebrating how the nights and days as they come and happen are all still somehow complete. “and i know it’s not religious, but what you speak of, what you are, is a kind of faith.” so yes, you were the year of faith.
the year of late nights on the fire escape, how she took the train out to be with me, and we lay there on the bed crying and whispering secrets into the dark, and there is always the smoke blown against brick and stairs crawling in both directions.
the year of remembering how to dance.
you were my exile and my welcoming.
you were my reckoning.
ache. bleed. love. repeat.
the year of a house in the middle of nowhere, and the snow, and how i didn’t know that was possible, until i knew her, and things would no longer fit inside old categories. walking outside and watching breath freeze in its exhale , understanding absolution and finding my way. the moment when head made its way to curve of shoulder, mouth close to neck, and how nothing could ever be the same again.
the year of cancer and of the burn. of round after round of doctor appointments, metal and white paper, soft cotton hospital gowns and the gray scratch of the chairs, and the blood that comes out with the needle and the taking of cells and the waiting and more waiting. the year of breaking. of fragmentation that is illness, parts of the body bargained with like pounds of flesh for payment, psyche thrashing and wings rising up. the year of walking through the fire.
when everything was cold, and the relief would not come. when we didn’t know how we would survive. when we ate strawberries by the basket full and i left secret messages on the steam in the bathroom while sitting in salt water baths. when i made dream maps on the floor underneath my bed, and wrote on my own skin, and protested in the streets, and made my life art and made art with my life.
when i knew it was all the way over, and i would never look back. and how i didn’t know how afraid i had been all the time, until that moment. how i didn’t understand how complicated it had been, to love what hurts.
the year of driving the pacific coast with the top down, alongside pounding ocean and into canyons. rhye singing open and moonshine and bare legs.
how you took so much, from my clamped hands and my restless release. how you left presents at my doorstep. how you don’t care the way we think you should, and how i somehow love you for this, for your willingness to be Life.
the year i inked wings and smoke onto my skin and ate watermelon while sitting on the kitchen late at night, free. the year new orleans said come home to me and i learned to read the bones. the year i wore whatever i wanted and said no a lot and started the second half. the year i came and left. the year i slept alone.
where nothing is forbidden and nothing left out. the year my life belonged to me.
you were the year of weeks at the lake and water words, of footnotes and the mystery and space between things and waking to the rushing sound and how i knew then i was going to be ok.
the year of understanding survival is not free. the nearly unbearable cost of it. the year of knowing it was worth it.
the year of honey comb and gold bracelets and walking back from the car to say please let me kiss you.
you were the year of falling in love.
you were the great taking and the reparation. you were the way i learned what it is to not leave myself. to simply stay. and how this is what i had, my whole life, wanted the most. you were late nights at the gym boxing and you were waking to the curve of her back and coffee in bed. you were work destroyed and art reborn. you were my path uncrossed and set clear, my devotion an offering at the alter of the living and dying. you were the year of wild horses running free.
and thank you. for all of this. for coming. for now leaving. for the ways you delivered completion and the way you broke the rules and brought me to here. thank you. the horses have pounded their way against salt water and sand, and they just dropped me off here in my apartment of antlers and wolves and wings, geranium and new notebooks and the truest loving. they told me that i’m good now, free to go live my life.
i love you too, i said.