Old Habits

 "I could love you so easily."

Words spoken by someone who represented humble beginnings-the initial peeling of my layers to let in love, taste the most forbidden fruit and ultimately choke on it. His flavour was sweet, too sweet most of the time. He had the kindest heart of anyone who'd ever touched me. A heart like that, though, was so big and overflowing of love that he drowned himself in it. Lost in his raging sea of good intentions were the bodies of those he tried to save, out of love. The sting of his obligations cut through his supple skin because of his frustration: the way he was lost in his own identity, the way he resented the mother of his child but was fascinated by and loved her, still, and the way his son was his entire world but he prematurely mourned the missing parts to himself. That sea, that constant storm was too much for me. It threatened to put out my fire completely and I couldn't afford that, not yet, not by him. At the time I figured if someone was going to put me out they had to be built from my same embers. I wasn't about to be drowned by love and kindness; I wanted to burn, burn so brightly next to someone else's fire we could scorch an entire continent. I did get that love, or so I thought it was love... I learned what it was like to burn when I, myself, am made of fire. It wasn't majestic or wondrous... I felt like I lost everything. I learned it was better to stoke my own fire. To chop my own wood. To control my own burn.

"I could love you so easily."

That thought makes me bite my lip, the realization consuming me. Yes, I could love you. Perhaps I knew that the second I saw you and you reminded me of the men I loved. Somewhere between my long-forgotten warning of "don't make it weird" and when I was walking back into your bedroom, tipsy and naked, to the days since when I thought you were merely unraveling my buried sighs. My disappointment and loneliness, the stress of transition, I thought that was all this is. It makes for a ripe opportunity to fall for you, to want to slowly unbutton your plaid shirt and rest, then gently rub my face into your chest. The way I crave kissing you sober. Fucking you sober. Watching a movie, cozying up, waking up between your grubby sheets in the morning to breakfast so colourfully well-plated you could charge for it. I want this for free. Easy. Simple. The kind of love that is not love yet. The kind of love that demands nothing but proximity. Closeness. Time is handed over without argument. Dates are not planned-they don't exist, even. Trust cultivated in conversations, long ones, repeated ones, continued conversations and shared breath. Slow, long breath. My hand on your chest to feel your heartbeat. Your arm around my shoulders. Your hand on the back of my neck. I need a massage and I want to ask you for one, without words. I need what men like you have always been able to give me. Comfort. Warmth. The illusion of security. You remind me of my past before I became scared to touch it and you excite me for my future, even the parts I fear. You bridge my love for white men in the mountains with my belonging to true family out on the Shield. You are bedsheets and a hypothetical front car seat. You are your dreams and goals and grit, you are the stubbornness that we both share, you are the sensitivity people don't expect. Somewhere, between my demand for you not to make it weird, and my cramping right hand, I want to feel my warm, naked skin against yours and come closer, should you ever say to me again, "come here, I want to cuddle with you, you're fucking beautiful." Sober.

I could love you so easily.  But I shouldn't.  I can't. My old habits are not what I came here to do.

© Mary dela Torre, 2016

poetryMary