8

She could taste the ocean on his lips. His sun baked skin, warm to the touch. His dark brown hair, wet, turned light brown as the sun shined down on them. And for a moment, time stood still. He smiled at her as he pushed the hair out of her face behind her right ear. She felt chills running down her back as the tide pulled away from beneath her feet, she was afraid. Afraid to lose him. He pulled her closer. And she reached for his hand as she dove into his arms, they tumbled into the sand, holding him tighter and tighter as she buried her face into his 7-cut flannel shirt. He laughed quietly, raising her chin up until her gaze met his. Don’t be afraid of losing me, he said, I’m not going anywhere. Remember, it’s you and me against the world, babe. Be afraid of losing yourself. Don’t lose yourself to the world trying to please everyone else in it. She looked at him, surprised, unsure how he knew what was on her mind. She rested her head on his chest, full of relief as he ran his fingers through her hair. He always knew what to say. The sun was setting on the horizon. They sat there like nothing else mattered. And suddenly, she wasn’t afraid anymore. She had the only hand she wanted to hold and nothing to lose. You and me against the world she thought to herself, smiling. You and me. She brushed the sand off his cheek, the taste of the ocean still on her lips.

7

“I love you” he said as he reached for her hand. She pulled her hand away and smiled, “Prove it, shout it out to the world!” He reached for her hand, as their fingers intertwined, he whispered in her ear “I love you.” She smiled at him, confused, “Why just a whisper?” she asked. He looked into her eyes and smiled, “Because, you are my world,” he said as he kissed her on the forehead.

6

He saw her across the room, sipping on her latté, picking at what looked like the remains of an almond croissant. He walked up to her and asked if he could join her. She said sorry, as she stared across the room hopelessly. She said she couldn’t, she said she had her eyes on someone else. Someone else also who wasn’t interested.

5

Baby hairs were always outside of your control, and so was your obsession with cheap lip gloss. Camel crush cigarettes were your weakness, so was the vodka in your Simply Orange juice that you would sip on each morning through a straw before homeroom, lipstick stains and all. You had stick and pokes that no one knew about and you always went to shows alone on the outskirts of town. Your clothes never seemed to fit, always too small or too big and I could never quite figure out where all the tears and rips came from. You could hear your Ford pickup from a mile away, and parking between the lines was never really your thing. Your Chucks could never stay tied, and your jeans were always cut crooked. It’s like you could never find the perfect length, or maybe you just didn’t care. You always had a pop-tart in your tote that always smelled like the color orange from the melted tic-tac’s at the bottom of your bag, and you always kept receipt’s in the small pocket of your blue denim jeans to wrap your gum in. You were always looking off into space like there was something we were all missing and the music from your earphones in your ear hidden behind your long brown hair was always just loud enough to make out some words or a melody. No one quite understood you, because unlike them, the world was yours to take, and you were mine, you were my world, but never to take. Only to hold.

4

Little did you know, she had cried the night before. She screamed, pulling out the hair tie stuck in her undone bun, frustrated as her hair fell to her shoulders. She threw an old t-shirt across the room as she fell to the floor sobbing. She buried her face into a pile of old clothes. Screaming into her old denim jacket, it smelled like you. She wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. She clenched her jaw, scrunching her eyebrows, nothing. She picked her head up slowly as she stared across the room. Fuck you, she thought. Fuck you, because little did you know that she had cried the night before. She screamed, pulled out the hair tie stuck in her undone bun, frustrated, as her hair fell to her shoulders. She threw an old t-shirt across the room, and she fell to the floor sobbing. She buried her face into a pile of old clothes and screamed into her old denim jacket, it smelled like you. She screamed some more. She wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. She clenched her jaw, scrunching her eyebrows, nothing. She picked her head up slowly as she stared across the room. Fuck you, she thought. Fuck you.

3

I’ve come to terms that I’ll never entirely have a grasp of it. With an infinite amount of unpredictable variables, life is just something you can’t control. No matter how you want to approach it, it’ll continue to take its course. Because life is precisely what you make of it. Like that test, you neglected and had to cram for the night before. Or your stomach ache from that questionable Mediterranean takeout you found in your fridge the week before. Or that time you forgot to take Akira out and came home to guilty puppy eyes and a wet mess on your newly reclaimed Milo Baughman daybed. Life will never just hand you lemons. It’s something you need to invest in, something you work for, something you make for yourself, for the people you love, your dreams and aspirations. I know it’s just a saying but let’s be realistic here, there’s a lot more to lemonade than lemons. Lemonade needs that “something sweet” with three cubes of ice. And sometimes it requires that “something more” because it’s been a long day and you’re trying to feel some type of way. Or maybe some lime or rosemary or a maraschino cherry with a mini tropical umbrella and a fun straw, color of your choice. I guess what I’m getting at here is that it takes a lot of love to make a freshly squeezed glass of lemonade because there’s nothing like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day.

2

You accept it when they hurt you. You endure behaviors that you would never otherwise endure. You are willing to sacrifice indefinitely. Your dignity. Pride. Goodwill. Sanity. Patience. Heart. Unconditionally. 

And consequently, through it all, you forget. You forget yourself. You forget that love should be reciprocated. You forget that love has no compromise. No contingencies. That it should be a choice. 

You choose to love someone. To be your someone, your person. It’s not supposed to be easy. 

While it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes it’s rain. Sometimes its a storm. And sometimes, it’s watching the very person you would do anything for, love someone else and love them anyway. 

I’m not sure that any one person is worth your dignity in such a way. While you hurt and love, convinced that only they are capable of making you feel the way you feel, you ought to believe that there’s someone else out there who will evoke the same kind of love without eliciting pain. 

Maybe I’ve lost my natural sense to self-preserve, unable to distinguish what’s harmful and what’s worth protecting. Or maybe its self-healing, the kind of broken that never fully heals.