I learned that a 6 hour time difference can create a disconnect
woven out of sunbeams and that
I feel farther away from you at 2 in the morning because I may have the moon
but you’ve got the sun and neither of us have each other.
I learned that Theodore Roosevelt
must have felt
like a broken statue when the light went from his life and that
Aristotle had a wife who loved him for his heart, not his brain,
and I realized that if you find
someone who cherishes your mind,
hold on tight and kiss them lots.
I learned that beaches in India are perfect places for castles.
And the sand is so hot, a fire-breathing dragon isn’t even needed
to guard the princess.
Sometimes having less is okay because three t-shirts and clean socks is really all you need
to watch the sunrise in Nepal.
I learned that caves of ice are waiting and perhaps
cabbages and kings are only important to people
who have read the same books.
I learned that love is defined best at night under a shared blanket
and that 11 months is a long time to go without a cup of darjeeling tea.
I learned that someone else’s bedroom walls can feel more like home
than my blankets and sheets and missing people doesn’t get any better
if they miss you too. I learned that it’s easier to say important things with a pen
and if you love someone correctly you will never be able to tell them
how important they are to you,
but that won’t stop you from trying
for the next 11 months
In third grade
a boy once told me
that my hair was ugly
and my eyes resembled mud.
I went home that day
with tears in my eyes
and told my mother,
to which she chuckled, assuring me
that he simply liked me.
When i gave her an incredulous look
she explained that boys showed their feelings
differently than “us girls” did.
That new knowledge
followed me to middle school
when none of the boys would dance
with me at the sixth grade social
because I wasn’t pretty enough.
I told myself with a sly smile that
they probably secretly liked me,
but inside my heart sunk
at the sight of all my friends
intertwined with their easily acquired dance partners.
When my best friend
showed me a bruise-scattered arm
during our first year of high school
I praised her, expressing
just how lucky she was.
Looking puzzled she pulled
her sleeve back down,
to which I recited the words
my mom had given me years before:
“Guys show their feelings differently than we do”
and claimed that if he hurt her that badly
then he must really like her.
For some reason she didn’t seem quite convinced.
When I got my first real boyfriend
that same year he told me to change
and I happily obliged,
cutting off my hair and all my friends.
But when it wasn’t enough
he pushed me down the stairs,
giving me a set of bruises
that would match my old best friend’s.
Still through swollen lips I whispered
that I loved him, telling myself
this was his way of showing me he cared.
The following year I witnessed
my dad hit my mom four times
when she got laid off from work.
I observed from the side of the room,
watching the way my mom shrunk
in fear, tears staining her cheeks.
I told myself that he was simply
expressing his love, but secretly wondered
why (if that was true) my mom looked so sad.
In that moment
I wondered if what she told me
at eight years old was ever even true
and finally questioned the silly excuse
that I had been giving to boys for years.
Sure, they show their love differently.
But that doesn’t give them justification
to inflict pain upon the ones they care about.
Real love isn’t supposed to hurt.
Why do we allow it to?