Love Letters to the World We Made (IX)

Previous: VIII


I can’t promise that I won’t give up on you.

I can’t promise that I won’t give up on you, because sometimes, staying with you means giving up on myself. But until I reach that critical endpoint at which these two things become mutually exclusionary, I will keep trying. I will keep living. I will keep loving. I told you in my letter that in the end, I’m okay, but that statement still holds space for the fact that sometimes I don’t feel okay. Sometimes, I struggle with you. Talking with you, living with you, loving with you – because we both carry emotional baggage and individual problems that will always get in the way, and you’ve taught me that loving another human being, for all our preaching about love and peace and justice, can be surprisingly hard. But like I told you, even if there are momentary problems, even if sometimes I think I can’t continue on, in the end I’ll be okay. And as long as I’m okay, I will do my best for you.

I still remember… that day I turned and saw you in the doorway, that day I jumped up and hugged you even though we were strangers then, even though in many ways we are still strangers now. From that day on you began to teach me more about myself. We joked and played and I learned how to laugh. We lay in bed and you gave back to me the meanings of happiness that I’d lost long ago. You invited me to your breakfast and when I came back I crashed on the sheets and cried, and I knew from then on that loving you would be hard, that the weather would change, the seasons would turn, time would keep flowing and cycling without me and I would not always be happy.

But the moments of happiness are worth it. You taught me that, too.

You chase me across the sand and the strange heartache I’ve come to know, just like the molten-glass waves at our feet, rises up abruptly to simultaneously choke and drown, to replace what’s in my lungs with water, what’s in my heart with ash, and when I collapse to my knees under the weight of this sudden burden, you stop playing and stare at me. But you don’t ask what’s wrong. I told you that in the end, I’ll be okay. I close my eyes and transport myself even for a single moment to a world where life does not have to hurt, where love does not have to hurt, and I’m taunted by its existence but I know I cannot stay. I have never been allowed to stay.

I’ll do my best to stay with you.

Together we drown in the tears and silence and loneliness of people who love. We rip open each other’s birthday presents with excitement, and then we turn our backs and wish to die. We struggle to go to sleep at night, to wake up in the morning, to pull ourselves out of bed and live. We put our heads down on the table to cry, alone across from each other, refusing to allow our hands to touch, to make ourselves vulnerable in that way because we think we are not lovable but we are desperate for love. Sometimes, you hurt and I cannot promise I will not give up on you. Sometimes, I hurt and I can’t even promise that I won’t give up on myself.

But somehow, we will find a way. We will do our best, because it is all we can ever do. We will walk forward and keep on living because it is all we can ever do. We try to love because it is all we can ever do –

And what else is left, after love?


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