okay, i'll go first.

i peeled off the tights in such a hurry. there were holes in the feet and my toes were poking through and i was embarrassed. so i got out of them, fast as could. no show of it, just off.

there was so much i didn't want you to see. because if you saw, well then you'd know everything. and i am nothing if not deeply prideful.

i dreamt a few nights back that i reached for you. we were sitting in a car. a car? headed somewhere. and i reached my arm out to cup the back of your neck--that sacred space between shoulders and tufts of hair. but i couldn't quite reach. you were just past arm's distance.

i did that. i get that. i kept you there. i reached but never let you get closer than the span of my wing. and i would turn over and roll away because i didn't want you to think i needed you. it was casual and i was cool and i was fine, so i responded to everything dismissively and carefully navigated your questions, revealing nothing, all the while keeping to my side of the bed.

because, well, to reveal reveal anything would be to reveal everything. and i was nothing if not afraid.

i know you saw how my cheeks flushed. and watched as i averted my eyes again and again--not wanting you to catch the half-glints of a secret shame. and there were all those terrible jokes i told just to keep the levity?


to imagine a world in which you might care for me was impossible. it had been so impossible for so long that it was simply a luxury i couldn't afford. the cost would be too much.

so instead i'd keep myself awake at night just to study the outline of your face, the curve of your back, the color of your skin, how you shifted and moved as light angled its way into the room.

the thing is... no one tells you about that moment--that moment well into the night when you get up to use the bathroom and you spend a minute in there--breathing, water on the face, studying yourself in his oversized, knit shirt and then you open the door to return to bed, and yes, he's still there and he's still asleep but his arm is reached out to the empty space where you were just minutes before. and you climb in--and he pulls you in. into him. all without ever really waking.

his awareness of your absence. no one prepares you for that.

there have been others, of course. other stories. other half-loves. triumphs and tragedies of this fragile heart. and it was early on that i came to accept i'd never tell you--you, the first man i ever loved, those three words: i. and love. and you. my love for you would simply be. it would shift and change and recede. and it would fill me up. and i'd move on. to the next. we all cope. we all adapt and adjust and accept.

but there was this sense, this desperate, ne'r talked of hope that we might cycle back and, then what?

i. and love. and you.

i. and love. and you.

i love the way the avett brothers put it. everything aspires to music, doesn't it? the ands there giving the words room to breath. so very shakespearean.