When you face a maelstrom in life, it’s easy to look for signs of safety and reach out in an attempt to find an anchor. The winds die down. The torrential rains are reduced to water dripping from branches and leaves. Trees have gathered what they could, and what remains will trickle down to enrich the soil at thirsty roots. Plants are so self serving. Birds chirp in triumph over the nests that weathered the storm and pigeons coo over their eggs that survived the onslaught in motherese sounds of comfort. The clouds lose their gray anger and lift into fluffier whites that couldn’t possibly release another onslaught. At least until they lower and darken, covering the land in shadow once more. So begins a new flood on dry land not ready to take what the heavens choose to give. But in the eye of the storm it is calm enough to see the other side coming, and calm enough to brace for what you know you can still make it through because you’ve been there and will find yourself there again.
If I look hard enough, I can see the same in my emotional life. I’m looking for an anchor and it’s wrapped in the covering of a heartbroken past that keeps throwing old flames at me. I understand it. The pain of a broken heart is the same, no matter who does the breaking, it’s my heart and I have to do the mending. This would be the main reason I’m not yet dating. I’m not a problem to fix and I’m not ready to publish another issue when this one has yet to be edited. And yes, at times I say it just to convince myself.
It’s funny how the universe decides to contribute. My youngest has a sweatshirt with diamonds that reminds me of one special guy. The very next week he tells me the he has a new after school teacher with the same first name as another man I loved. I’ll see the name of a studio that reminds me of a name I’ve been trying to forget or in the course of my last job, I’d see lots of names that reminded me of this feeling that I’ve been walking through. I’d be in full focus of my task at hand, and suddenly get sucker punched by a name with significance and pain. Or worse, it’ll remind me of a secret rendezvous that was so sweet the longing is worse. I love the random bumper stickers from home towns not my own that put me in the place I was driving to escape from. I hear so much about the benefits of gratitude, I thought it might be worth a few words in redirecting my thought patterns.
Thank you for opening doors for me. Clearly I’m capable, but it was still nice and appreciated.
Thank you for noticing my hair cut. It’s not a huge deal that I cut it, but it’s huge that you would notice.
Thank you for noticing that I like my coffee creamy and sweet and that my tea depends on my mood entirely.
Thank you for listening to my drama and not trying to fix it, nudging me and guiding me until my lightbulb flashes in understanding and not taking the credit we both know you deserved.
Thank you for dropping your defenses long enough to let me see how badly you wanted more and then putting them back up so it wasn’t uncomfortable.
Thank you for picking up after a party and taking the trash out for me. Hosting in my youth makes me hate doing it now, so thanks for being okay with me coming to you instead and letting me help where I can.
Thank you for surprising me with a dress that was a little too tight. It told me you thought of me as smaller than I am, and I loved your sense of style.
Thank you for surprising me with jewelry. I didn’t always wear it, but I always loved it.
Thank you for offering to whisk me away to a place I’ve never been to make new memories to crowd out the old ones.
Thank you for listening to me sing without making it a performance, and joining in because you saw how happy I was and you wanted to be part of that.
Thank you for not being threatened by the thoughts I needed to bounce off of you.
Thank you for letting me run my fingers through your hair even if it looked messy afterward. I have a thing for really large brains with lots of wrinkles of knowledge. I’m only part zombie after a long night and it soothes me. (I needed the laugh and something I could read aloud to the kid next to me doing homework.) Honestly, there’s something soothing about soft hair and the trust given when touching it.
Thank you for wanting constant contact, whether holding hands or an open palm on my lower back or holding onto my hip so I’m that much closer to you. It might make walking awkward, but I loved it.
Thank you for insisting I lay with my head on your lap while you watched t.v. and I dozed off with you stroking my hair.
Thank you for not laughing when I eat Cheetos with chopsticks so I can avoid cheesy fingers.
Thank you for respecting my answer when I say I’m not ready to date. I appreciate that you understand I might change my mind and are willing to wait for what you want to hear. When that hunger is awakened, I assure you, my impulse control will go for a walk, and you will know in the looks I steal because your body will understand the hunger in my gaze. And I’m sure you can understand that you may never be the one.
Thank you for buying gifts even when I say it’s not necessary, and even if it’s a chocolate bar because you understand that eating chocolate gives me food joy, and you want to see my joy and hear the silly and sometimes sexual sounds that come with it.
Thank you for understanding that my “no” means I’m withholding from myself too and not giving me a hard time about rubbing one out on your own. I appreciate that one more than I can explain.
Thank you for the calf rub that didn’t come with a price or expectation.
Thank you for running a bath, then insisting I step into it.
Thank you for the moments we had, and not making promises you never intended to keep.
Thank you for that random post it note in my textbook. I saw it right when my high started falling and I wondered if the night before was real. It was real and it is still an awesome memory.
Thank you for cooking for me and inviting me to give you a hand. I loved bumping into you and our messy hands and washing them together. To this day, I find something so luxurious about washing hands in warm water. Thank you for that.
Thank you for seeing me as I am, and not as you thought I should be.
Thank you for letting me be in the moment where everything so beautiful around me put a pause in your day long enough for me to get a fix that would last as long as I can remember it.
Thank you for sharing my first with me. What ever firsts they were and as slowly as they needed to happen.
Thank you for letting me trust you with the restaurant and letting me be picky about what was on my plate.
Thank you for making things a game, and rewarding me in your silly laughter.
Thank you for driving so I could watch you in my creeptackular way, leaving indelible memories long after our goodbyes. I’ll never forget the sun hitting your hair and filtering the brown into spun gold. I was so excited that my first gray hair looked like yours did that day.
Thank you for believing in me when I couldn’t see past my immediate failures.
Thank you for taking care of me when I was drunk and giving me your self control when I couldn’t find mine.
Thank you for the flowers and that each arrangement was unique and worth drying. Thank you for remembering I don’t like baby’s breath and that they were for monthly anniversaries, holidays, and just because and never as an apology.
Thank you for never buying forgiveness from me.
Thank you for your gentle leadership and being amazing to children.
Thank you for your protective nature, even if I don’t need it. I like it.
Thank you for being the man I needed you to be.