This love is silent, like the quiet shifts in the snow before the avalanche. This love is powerful, like riptides that suck and pull and ruin those unsuspecting swimmers who get caught in the currents.
I’m caught in your currents.
This love has torn me to pieces and stitched me back together with a careful, steady hand. You’re in me, your hair holds my jagged edges closed. You let me bleed, because you know it’s necessary. This red, red love does not mean keeping me from pain, but letting me experience all the things I need to give myself space to grow.
I look into the sky, into your eyes, and I know that wherever I go, you will be there. I may not feel you, taste you, touch you, but there you are. As unshakeable as a mountain. As fragile as fall’s final leaves.
We are vast.
We contain multitudes.
This love is sangria on hot summer nights, my stomach sticky with sweat. This love is bonfires in the wilderness, oases in the desert, fingernails in my skin.
I will leave. Again. And again. And again.
This love will not.
Guarantees are made for appliances, not relationships. Not me, or you, or us.
I will soak up this love with every last scrap of cloth I can find, tie it around my neck, let the sodden ends rest above my heart. I am greedy for this love.
This love is grand. Unbelievable. A story or a poem or a song. A painting crafted from spit and tears and teeth. Beautiful and holy in its wickedness.
This love will pull me back, but will never make me stay.
I’m making myself a promise, here and now: the next time I return to the United States from a trip, I will not do it in January.
I repeat: I will not come back in January.
You’d think I might have learned the first time around, returning to the gray, wet winter of the Pacific Northwest after five months in India, the last month of which was spent on the steamy beaches of Goa. But, no, some lessons bear repeating.
I am back on United States soil, in Colorado, for the snowiest time of the year. Not the coldest, thank goodness, but when you’re comparing -6 Fahrenheit to 16 Fahrenheit, cold becomes varying degrees of oh-my-god-my-face-hurts.
There seems to be a purpose to the timing, though. I’ve been running away from home for years, as my mother pointed out to me recently. It started as a kid, 11, 12 years old, I think, when I first packed my bags and wandered into the wild blue yonder. I embarked on that expedition with three other girls my age whom, as I look back, I realize were integral in my development. We all had our troubles, which at that age we thought we could fix by completely avoiding. Something I think we all fall prey to, sometimes more often than not.
Needless to say, that foray ended quickly, and I was back home before the end of the day. I have this vision of me being let out of the cop car (sorry mom; sorry, papa) and crying as I ran to my parents. It wasn’t a comfortable, relieved kind of cry. More a panicked, what-the-fuck-have-I-done kind of cry. Regardless, I was home, and that was that for a few years.
Then came my turn to run away with the older boy. Also integral to my development, in different ways. Not nearly as short lived, and a whole lot more interesting.
You know, I sit here thinking about all the times I really have run away from home, and it makes me not want to think about it anymore. Or, at least not admit all those times to you. To myself. I kept leaving, over and over, trying to escape…what? Colorado, certainly. The dry air, the cold winters, the restrictive politics. The memories. The connections. The complications.
One can only run for so long, before they find themselves exhausted and, often, lost.
A lot has happened since I left Colorado for what I swore would be the last time. Marriage. Polyamory. Divorce. Mushrooms. God. Love. India. Love. Peru. Love. It’s a lot to process.
So, I return to Colorado. To the house, and the room, and the family I have spent so much time away from. Now, in the middle of winter, that time of inwardness and reflection. I have practical reasons for being here, but they aren’t the reason I’m here.
Maybe it’s time for me to figure out how to leave, without running away.
And until then, I’ll just figure out how to stay warm.