It’s different to the first time you fall in love.
The first time you fall in love, you don’t recognise the warning signals. I mean, why would you? – You’ve never been in love before. So you just dive right in and let it overrun you; you let yourself get swept up in the incredible high of feeling like your heart is going to hammer its way through your body ‘til it hits the ground and scampers off with you running after it. You wear it almost as a badge of honour: I (pause for effect) am in love. I have done this thing that so many adults are so afraid to do.
It’s not until later that you realise why they are afraid. It’s not until you yourself are an adult (even though you don’t feel like one), and you have had your heart broken (the sort of broken where it feels like if people aren’t careful with you, you might tear apart completely) that you realise all those people out there might have a point. It’s not until then that you realise you might not ever want to feel this way again, because of how it feels when it ends.
The second time is so much scarier, because you know what’s coming. You’re standing right on the edge of something and you want (so badly; with your whole being) to let go and dive in but you can’t because you know what it’s going to be like and you’re so scared for yourself (because this is forever –maybe-) and you’re thrilled at the same time but you don’t want to take the chance unless you’re sure.
But then you think about that person, the one person who makes your stomach dip and swoop as though your body can’t keep up with itself (the way it does when you drive down a big hill really fast) and your eyes crinkle at the corners like you’re looking into the sun (and, in a way, you are). A secret smile sleeps behind your lips when you think about the way they looked at you, and what about when they touched you, just once, in the square of your back for no particular reason?
You smile because you realise that it’s all for you, just for you, made from scratch out of what’s left in their heart and even though it seems like the most impossible thing (the most impossible thing), you bend down, legs stiff from disuse, and start to sift through the rubble. Slowly, gingerly, with grazed hands and knees, you start to put together something new. You get to play show-and-tell all over again (here, this is a thing about me that no-one else knows, and I am trusting you with it) and there is too much eye contact and your heart starts to hammer and you have to remind yourself that this new beat is just a rhythm you have to get used to.
Sometimes, at night mostly, you remember the things your mother said to you. She said that if you weren’t careful you’d keep giving bits of yourself away until there’s nothing left of you for you, (and there was never much of you to begin with) and something inside you is revolting at the thought of letting someone else in and there’s a voice somewhere saying, not yet, don’t give it all yet.
But then? Then you notice a hesitancy before they speak, and you see the way their mouth closes over half formed words, tongue clicking behind shut teeth falling just shy of saying what it wants to. There is reluctance in the way they let their arms fall to their side after holding you and there might be a touch of sadness in their voice when they say goodnight. You catch a glimpse of the slight tremble in their hands when they reach out to tuck your hair behind your ear, eyes not quite meeting yours and then there is that moment, the moment when everything clicks, and you see that they look exactly how you feel. Like a deer in the headlights.
You finally get it.
They’re scared too.
Like it? Vote for it!