He was six feet of godliness and danger. When we met, my fingertips begged me to write about him. They already knew how neatly he would fit into my lines, how seamlessly I could string him into my sentences. Entire patches of my skin stood at attention and sang symphonies any time he smiled. I wanted to hear about his past, listen as he dissected his childhood wounds and offered them to me gratuitously. He was the kind of man I could get tangled up in, the kind of hurricane I so foolishly thought could be my refuge from the storm.
I have written this story before. At least that is what my heart told me the day we walked away from the coffee shop and I still couldn’t summon the chills to back down from my spine. I have written this story before. That is what I reminded myself the night I got home and glanced at my phone every so often, wishing on shooting stars for a “Had a great time today, do it again soon?” text message. I have written this story before. This was the truth that tugged at me that afternoon when I put too much faith in the spark of the moment and not quite enough in the reality of the situation.
See, I have written this story before. And on that particular March afternoon, as wind ripped and roared through the sky, I told myself I wouldn’t write that story anymore. I’d put a period on that page and move on to the next chapter, one where I didn’t barter my sanity for the high of the spark.
I spent the greater balance of my late adolescence and early twenties living off of the high of the spark. Seeking the spark. Fighting to sustain the spark. Letting the spark light me on fire and leave me in a pile of ashes. Chaos was normal; sleepless nights and I were well-acquainted. Because somewhere along the line someone taught me to believe in the instant chemistry that bubbles over in the laboratory flask, even when it means all of the buildings are burning and hell has broken loose. It’s the kind of chemistry that leaves your pupils dilated and your heart zooming and your mess of a self returning to Dante’s Inferno for one more round of whatever’s being served. It’s also the kind of chemistry that, when misunderstood or mishandled, can burn you alive.
That was the spark. Red hot and addictive, irrefutable and fatal. I didn’t want to live, and surely didn’t want to love, without it. At least not back then. And maybe not even right now.
But now my burns have sharpened me. They’ve forced me to wisen up. Those burns have taught me to believe in things other than the spark. They have taught me to believe in things like a man’s kindness, his heart, how he treats his mother, and how he speaks about his sister. Those burns have made me crave more than ruffled sheets and hollow pillow talk. Those burns have required me ask myself whether or not I want to sit in bed with a man on a Sunday morning with our fingers wrapped around warm coffee mugs and our eyes scanning whatever we’re both reading. Those burns have made me believe that there is someone out there in the cosmos who will match my spark, whose connection will not come attached with terms of agreement and expiration dates. And because of those burns I now know that the spark is not the only compass in love, nor does it always signal “go.” In fact, sometimes that very spark tells us to stop. Falling rocks ahead.
This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a 10-day writing challenge to create your most naked, brave, and no holds barred writing. Learn about the challenge here and share your work on social media using the hashtag #WYAOApril.