Quit looking for excuses. Stop looking for an out, a reason to cancel, a watered down way of telling him that you don’t usually make it this far with anyone and you’re starting to get nervous. See, you are a master at building up walls and ducking behind bricks. But, not tonight. Tonight is not about building one more wall nor ducking behind one more brick. Tonight is not about throwing banter across your Twitter timeline during the latest episode of Love and Hip Hop Hollywood. You can catch the show on demand; if there’s anything 2016 has taught you it’s that true and lasting experiences happen outside of the comfort zone you’ve built in apartment 404.
When you wake up in the middle of the night approximately 16 hours before the open mic starts, stand firm in your decision to go to Busboys and Poets. Surrender the opportunity to go to yet another forgettable bar with overpriced drinks. Invite him to your turf. Show him how you soak up the world, how you “Yasss” and “Mmmm” at the lines that tug on you. Show him your idea of a good time and let go of all that trying-to-be-cool shit.
Toss all of the clothes around your room an hour before you head out as the cat watches you with her eyes half-shut. Try on four crop tops and decide you are way too bloated. Flip Mother Nature the bird. Throw on a pair of boyfriend jeans and a tank top that says “Don’t be basic.” Feel absolutely and utterly basic in a shirt instructing you not to be basic. Settle on your favorite black pants, a tank top, and your denim jacket. Throw on your fedora for good measure.
Step outside. Catch your breath. Graze your fingers across the brick wall when you stride down the sidewalk. Leave all of the nerves upstairs where they belong, sprinkled among the dresses and jeans you didn’t hang back up.
Blast the music on your way there, Joe Budden’s Touch & Go. Roll the windows down. Soak up one of the last summer sixteen nights.
Order the French fries. Forego the alcohol.
Do not glance over at him when the featured poet says “You’ve got lips and I’ve got lips…” Instead feel the temperature between you two rise 4.5 degrees. Then blink back tears when she says the line that stings and sucker punches you all at once: “We haven’t done all this surviving not to dance.”
You, my dear, have certainly not done all this surviving over the past few years not to at least tango a few times with him. If nothing else, you deserve this dance. You and your skeletons, your shadows, and your sins all deserve this dance.
So, let it feel good. Let it pick you up, twirl you around, and take you wherever you are meant to be. That narrative of resistance no longer serves you. There is not anything resilient or beautiful about a heart that stays tucked away in its cage.
Relinquish the grip you’ve had on that heart. Understand that when the Universe brings a certain alchemy of human connection into your life, it’s no longer your choice whether the guard stays up or not. The guard will crash and crumble; bid it adieu while you watch it burn in the blaze of every time you said love doesn’t live here anymore.
And when your fingers sting with the temptation to write about this unexpected unraveling of experiences, let them. Censorship and shields aren’t what make you a writer. People will try to piece you and the details of your life together whether you give them permission to or not, so write what you feel and say what you mean and do as you please. Let your fingers yield the stories your heart never knew it was ready to tell.