He’s Counting Down From 21, And By The Time He Reaches 15, My Stomach Is In Knots
There is a deck on an empty townhouse in Belle Plaine where you can see Cassiopeia at the beginning of August. In the basement there is a bathroom with a door that sticks and somewhere down the street there is a cemetery awash in the glow of suburban streetlights where I never looked at any of the names on the headstones.
There is a series of bright green post-it notes on a desk in New York City and there is more love in those lines of ballpoint pen than in all the books stacked wall-to-wall around the windows that look over Central Park. There is a four-poster bed with a white comforter and unspoken goodbyes still caught in the sheets.
The campsite in the woods is easy to find. The secrets etched into the wood grain are not written in a language anyone is ever meant to read. The answer is in the smell of the ferns at night.
The bricks of dorm rooms hold souls that grew up and out, but never quite faded from the chipped paint.
In every room you’ve ever stood in, someone fell in love. In every house you’ve never lived in, there is a whisper of everything someone hopes to be.
Home is built with the memories of other people’s hands.
"She loved him and never told him… but I love him unconditionally."
When you meet a boy that’s too good to be true,
run fast and hard
in the other direction—
things that are too good to be true
are not telling you the truth about their goodness.
When he tells you he loves you,
do not say it back.
Do not be enthralled by the way he is best friends with Death.
Death was never supposed to be a wing-man,
first encounters should not be held in graveyards,
and first kisses seen only by cinema psychopaths
are a terrible omen, indeed.
When he is drunk and afraid, he will tell you
that parts of him belongs to you, that you hold his heart in your hands.
Tell him no.
Give that part back.
Reject the very notion that you are anything but you,
in all your naivety and youth.
Don’t let him under your skin,
like a news story of a drunken car-crash
that he could have been a part of.
When you drive in his car,
and he tells you, I loved you in a past life,
I know it,
tell him to fuck off—
that you do not owe him the smiles,
the kisses, or the love that you are giving him
just because some woman in the past loved someone else.
that you are not a reincarnation, a rerun already known by heart. Tell him
that you are an unfinished novel
he has not yet bothered to read.
When you leave that boy who’s too good to be true,
do not hold on to him.
He is too much to carry to a new place.
Do not let him hold on to you.
Sometimes goodbyes are for-nows and see-you-laters,
and sometimes they are just goodbyes.
When he tells you that he misses you,
do not say it back.
When he calls you on Skype at two in the morning
to tell you that he wants to die,
tell him, This is not my problem. I
am not your solution.
Hang up on him. Do not
call him back.
Three years later, when you meet a boy
who is too true to be good,
examine that thought. Ask yourself
why honesty is inherently aromantic.
Ask yourself why I love you means less than I can’t promise,
in case I am wrong. Ask yourself
if you are going to let a ghost of a man
who never bothered to read your story
write the next page.
Tell yourself no. Tell the honest man that you are trying,
because you are.
Tell him that you love him,
because you love him.
Do not ask him to trust you, or to love you back.
Let him do both things by himself.
Do not think to yourself, he is too good to be true.
Love him, instead, without pedestals and judgement, without
expectations that make you both afraid.
Because when you meet a man that is true
and is good,
do not push him away.
I once told a joke about a straight person.
They came after me in droves.
Each one singing the same:
Don’t fight fire with fire.
What they mean is: Don’t fight fire with anything.
Do not fight fire with water.
Do not fight fire with foam.
Do not evacuate the people.
Do not sound the alarms.
Do not crawl coughing and choking and spluttering to safety.
Do not barricade the door with damp towels.
Do not wave a white flag out of the window.
Do not take the plunge from several storeys up.
Do not shed a tear for your lover trapped behind a wall of flame.
Do not curse the combination of fuel, heat, and oxygen.
Do not ask why the fire fighters are not coming.
When they say: Don’t fight fire with fire.
What they mean is: Stand and burn.