I tend to bend toward ambivalence. Romance is a whirl I can withstand; romance does not quite uproot me. It is the man who makes me question why I have come, who leaves the silence draped around us in an open room, who is kind but, in every way that matters, begrudging. He is the leveler.
For him, I will be all three rings of circus: here, the contortionist, pretzeling with anticipation, folding in and unfurling when it doesn’t seem to bore him; here, the fire breather, holding for far too long in my chest whatever ignited my ardor in the first place; here, the tightroper. (I will spare you suspense: I fall.)
Even as the tents collapse, I am cycling, juggling, looking for signs other than exits.
It is curious, how rejection becomes an intoxicant, how similar being slighted can feel to being loved, how easily a shrug can absolve a lover.
Because I am as often a pusher-away as I am the pushed, I understand the value and artifice of open ends. I respect the intentional blur. Like breath wiped from glass, I can see the hint of a message, an illegible trail left by fingers whose nimble urgency once beckoned me near. It is still there, beneath the smear. With love, there can be no clean erasure, and as it wanes, I will always, always cling to the streaks left behind. Are they kitschy nostalgia or coded promise?
Here is where I will linger, on a sidewalk outside the glass. I will come here to hope long after I’ve trained myself not to expect, to continue questioning silently what my pride has stopped me from pressing aloud, to venture sentiments into the silence, bracing for nothing but echoes.
Beyond the smudges, I can see him moving on. There is no greater delusion than believing I can slow or reverse this and no greater hubris than wondering how my every movement may have impacted his choice.
But these are the possibilities that surface so simply in fog. This is where imagination breaks free and runs.
I want to hit the glass, or better, to break it as though this were an emergency. Instead I wipe the pane, collect the smudges somewhere along my sleeve, and accept for fact the sight I’d always second-guessed.
When he spots me, I will mouth: This is how far apart we’ve grown. This may well be as close as we’ve ever been. Let us light upon each other and not look away. We will never be so clear again.