things i wish someone had told me a really long while ago


1. on that moment someone says to you it'll come when you least expect it:

(or, another favorite, when you stop looking).

these expressions are the equivalent of someone saying it'll be in the last place you look, when you've lost something.

which is to say, correct. but also asinine.

of course it's the last place you look. which might also be the first, and how can both those things be true? it might also be the second place you look or the four-hundred-and-sixty-third place. there's no telling.

2. when someone asks why you didn't like a particular man who had great affection for you, your response need be nothing more than a simple because.  

because. period.

one word.

that response is wholly enough. affection given freely (which is the only way it can be given) does not mean you must reward it or reciprocate it. hell, you don't even have to be flattered by it.

but if that word alone does not suffice, how about this: because i didn't. 

because because.

because i didn't like his laugh and i didn't like his smell. because at the end of our third date my only thought was please don't let this man kiss me, please don't let him touch me.  the body knows. it always knows. and it'll tell you. but you have to listen.

a man's affection (or rather, any romantic partner's affection) is a starting point. a fork in the road. the absolute minimum of what must be expected. and if you choose to walk in the other direction, so be it. a man's affection is not a life raft, nor is it a fainting couch on which to collapse. to accept or not is your choice. and you need not explain that to anyone.

3. sometimes you just need someone to pass the lonely with.

and that is okay.

affection can be real and true and good and going absolutely nowhere.

some men will highlight your loneliness. draw attention to it, make it worse. their hand on your knee a distancing thing. and some men will raze that loneliness with a single glance. these are the men who will reveal themselves as home in the span of a night--in the length of time it takes to drink a glass of wine. these are the men who you will move mountains for--they are rare and remarkable and between the two of you a sort of alchemy takes flight.

and then there are the men who you want to kiss--the men you want to adore, but will never fall in love with. so kiss them. and go to breakfast with them. let them buy you dinner. take them to the movies and ruin summers with them.

people speak in directives about love. love entirely or not at all. take the whole of it or none of it. nothing in between.

but the thing is, sometimes the in-between is really good. it  is something-else-entirely and sometimes something-else-entirely is entirely right. for a time, it is entirely right. rich and fertile practice ground. a meaningful passing of the time.

sometimes something-else is the comfort of a man’s arm wrapped around you—the immediacy of its warmth and touch, but nothing else. it is not home and it is not the promise of home. but it is nonetheless healing and restorative. and it is your choice.

and that's okay.

man, i wish someone had told me it was okay a good long while ago.

you do not have to live your life according to the prevailing opinions about love and making a life. you have only to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what it is you want and what it is you'll accept one-day-at-a-time.


photo by the divinely talented(and dear friend) emma hartvig