I hardly ever write when I’m happy.

So this is your fault.

It’s times like now that make me wonder how it is that sadness ever finds me.

I love you,
that’s all.

I’m not naïve enough to think I’ll be with you forever—
I love you now.

I’m not cold enough to push away the fantasies entirely, either.
I love you.

That’s all.

I climbed up onto the top of a shelter at Highbanks and shortly thereafter realized I was terrified at the prospect of getting back down. You offered to catch me, but I couldn’t get where I needed to be for you to try. So, you guided me down, telling me where to place each foot and hand, and I found my way down.

I don’t know if it hit me then, or if it took some time. I realized that I really only didn’t take the route of you catching me because I physically didn’t feel I could get to the edge or that it would support me. But I trusted you to catch me, just as I trusted you to direct me down.

It may seem small. Trusting you not to hurt me physically may seem simple. It may seem like a rule, a prerequisite you’d need for me to be okay spending all my time with you. I don’t mean hurting me on purpose. I don’t know exactly what I mean. But I’ve been playfully picked up and spun around before, and I’ve never felt safe. Again, that seems small, but it’s true and somehow significant to me.

I feel safe with you, physically. I know you won’t drop me, or let me fall, or let a branch hit my face. These are things I don’t think about. I feel safe lying next to you, and I don’t immediately feel the need to cover up, if I feel the need at all. I enjoy sharing my body with you, and I trust you with it.

I hadn’t realized trust was something missing until I found it with you. I trust that you are who you are presenting yourself to be. I trust that you mean what you say. Again, they’re things I don’t really give much thought. I trust you. I trust you with my body, and I trust you with my heart. And this is something I haven’t felt before.

Today is Sunday, but just barely. It is two o’clock in the morning, so it has been almost exactly eighty-four hours since I watched my puppy die in the arms of a veterinarian. I watched him fall asleep and I watched the frothy pink mess make its way from a syringe into the IV on his arm, the second in two weeks. I saw the doctor place her hand under his chest and I heard her say, “His heart has stopped beating.” And I looked one last time, for one last second, at what was suddenly somehow a dead animal.

I know it was what needed to be done, and I find peace in that. Why it needed to be done is something with which I will never be okay. He was a puppy— eight months old— with the body of a diseased and dying senior. His kidneys didn’t work like they should have and his own brain made him a dizzy, wobbly fool. But he was just a puppy. He hadn’t grown into his feet yet, if he ever would have. Even without the episodes, his walk was that of an awkward creature still figuring out how to maneuver itself sufficiently. He still had an unwavering obsession with toys and things that weren’t meant to be toys being toys anyway. And it’s an unopened bag of Puppy Chow I now have sitting in a basket with two bowls, a little sweater, a brush… He was a puppy, and now he’s not. Now he is ashes.

I miss having him around, yes, but it’s not him not being with me that hurts. It’s him not being anywhere. It’s him no longer being alive. It’s reliving the moment the vet stood up carrying his body and what was once my puppy’s foot brushed against my knee. It’s hearing her tell me, “His eyes will not close,” and watching her trying to let them do so anyway, and watching her fail. It’s seeing what could just be a happy, sleeping puppy, and knowing that it’s not. I miss his pitter-patters and his scratching at the door to be let into the bathroom while I’m showering, and I miss the little extra warmth he supplied during cold nights. But mostly I just miss him having a chance, and that’s not something fond memories can help soothe at the moment.

But the loud lady in the waiting room said dogs have no concept of time, so I’m letting myself believe that. I’m letting myself believe that, to him, it didn’t matter that he was only with me a couple months. To him, he was just with me, right up to when he fell asleep.

Eighty-four hours ago, I cried. I cried into the chest of my best friend, also crying. I cried with my cousin and my aunt. I cried and then I stopped crying. We all stopped crying, and life paraded onward as normalcy took its place back in line. I ate, I cleaned myself, I watched television. I spoke, I sang, and I laughed. Seventy-two hours ago I was on top of the world.

It was my weekend, and it was only a stroke of misfortune (though I suppose I’m thankful it happened how it did) that it started off with having to put my pup down. The rest of my weekend, and the couple days since, I have felt mostly elated, tinged with the shades of whatever this feeling is to imagine how truncated my morning routine has become, no longer having to care for a sick animal. Loss? Elation tinged with shades of loss.

My elation comes from a reliable source, though there is a slight unease in letting myself feel so happy even hours after having a hand in ending a life. While I do miss having a puppy to supply some warmth, it should be common knowledge that not much else comes close to sleeping next to someone you care about and who cares for you in return. And that’s what I did.

We work together, which I almost don’t feel like mentioning because it’s not worth the stigma. We work nearly opposite schedules, anyway, so I’m only opening with the fact because it happens to be how we met. We started as coworkers and then became friends and somewhere in the mix we realized we cared for each other much more deeply.

That’s what feels so great, by the way, is that it’s not just an inherent desire that brings me to him. That’s not even a big part of what does. I care about him and how his days go and what he was like as a child and seeing him smile, and being the one who makes him smile is just luck; an added bonus.

I care about him and he cares about me, and I can really feel that he cares about me. He wants to know who I am and how I got that way and I can almost hear it in his voice, the reassurance that letting him in isn’t synonymous with scaring him away. I don’t know how long I’ll have with him, but I suppose while I’m doing this I’d like to do it right. He makes me want to do it right.

At times, I am unsure that I’m ready for the love that seems to be brewing. Love is in fact a huge responsibility, I’ve come to learn, and I’ve only felt the joy of these weightless shoulders for a couple months. At times it seems daft to subject myself to it all over again, so soon even, and I begin to sort of lose track of my breath and I spiral and then there are a few onomatopaeias tracking through my head (namely whooshes and thuds) and then it stops.

Because it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really matter if there are parts of me that aren’t entirely prepared for love, because I believe it’s coming anyway. And besides, this isn’t the kind of love I’ve known in the past, I can already tell. I can already see how good of a man he is, and how greatly we fit together. I can already feel the effortlessness that comes with getting to know someone and feeling as though you’ve known them much, much longer. I can already feel the joy of gaining a lover and a best friend at the same time, in the same person.

It’s happening, and I’m not necessarily armed and at the ready, but I feel there’s no need to be. My defenses aren’t weak, they’re just not needed. Not for him. Not for whatever this may become. I don’t need to guard my happiness because my happiness is stronger than it was before. I don’t need to guard myself because somehow I’m ready to be vulnerable, especially if it means finding myself feeling closer to him.

Because it’s not about feeling close to someone this time, it’s about feeling close to him. It’s about finding the little things that make him smile and learning around what time his body usually wakes up on its own. It’s about knowing what his favorite candies are and what movies he can watch over and over and over again. It’s about putting his picture together, because I want the whole image. I want him, in his entirety.

I wasn’t looking for it, for the first time. I wasn’t looking for a relationship or for the potential of love. It came and it found me, and I’m happy letting it take me where it wants me. I’m happy knowing that I have this chance now. I’m happy with my confidence that he’s happy too. I’m even okay with knowing that this all sounds the way it should coming from someone falling. I’ve probably thought and thought I felt this way before, but I’m going to say this feels differently anyway. It feels better. And I wasn’t searching for it, no, but if I’m going to love, I’m going to love big. That’s how Sampson would’ve done it.

There’s so much classic music I don’t know and so many cult movies I haven’t seen. I don’t have one true passion in life, and I take everything day by day, which sounds potentially alluring but it has its allowance and it uses it up from time to time.

I am always confused, and when I’m not, it’s only because my mind is vacant. I find it hard to make my words sound genuine, which surely must call attention to how forced they truly are. It seems too generic to say I’m awkward and I feel awkward calling myself generic, but it’s what I think I am.

People find me so captivating because I have a solemn expression when I think no one’s looking and a smile when I know they are. I have scars on my arms from twisted coping methods, but I laugh. I’m not always putting up a front, though. My smile is very often sincere. There’s nothing so enigmatic about it.

I don’t mean to be a downer, it’s just that I don’t believe there’s much inherently intriguing about me. And as long as I’m mentioning the scars, I may as well pick at them a bit and mention that my relationship history certainly has validated that belief for me over the years.

They lose interest, is all.

I think I’d still like to give you a shot. I’m scared, but not scared enough. It’s uncomfortable to think about starting fresh with someone new at times, but you make me happy.

It just makes me nervous that you’re digging around for something because maybe someday you’ll realize there’s really not anything worth digging for.

It happens.

But maybe you won’t.

Who knows.

Stay positive. 

So often, the only reminder that you were there and that I left and that we shared anything at all before I did is the sinister frustration that I feel brewing beneath my eyebrows when I mentally revisit arguments’ irksome qualities I at the time overlooked or wrote off as bad judgment when I gave up and gave you the benefit of the doubt (the most endearing quality of our partnership, I gather) while telling myself you were only getting defensive because of your own insecurities. But, shit, you know what? That’s not good enough, and I don’t think it ever was.

You were wrong. So much of the time. Wrong wrong wrong. It wasn’t me making stupid points or antagonizing— no. You were wrong each and every time you shut down and shut me out.

You were wrong when you completely just changed your argument from statement to statement. You were wrong every time you slammed a door or let me walk past.

You were wrong for running away and you were wrong for coming home to find me gone (because I was outside trying to find you) and going to bed instead of trying to find me.

You were wrong for lying there when I tried to have sex with you, and you couldn’t have been more wrong when you got mad at me for ever having problems feeling sexy and desirable.

You were wrong when your first response was “do I need to kick somebody’s ass?”

You were wrong when you said “I hate myself” instead of “I love you” or “I fucking suck” instead of “I’m sorry.”

You were wrong when you kept using the words “bitchy” and “stupid” when I tried censoring out the word “mean.”

You were wrong when you got angry and said “just be happy.”

You were wrong when you said you would leave if I ever slipped up and you were still wrong when you tried to make what you said better.

You were wrong when you quit your job and you were wrong for berating me for not spending my money wisely.

You were wrong when you wouldn’t let me apologize for inadvertently hurting your feelings. 

You were wrong when you thought we’d get married, and, fuck, were you ever wrong when you asked your damn parents for an engagement ring. Third time’s the charm, because you were especially wrong for giving it to me in defeat when we first spoke of breaking up. Oh, and you were wrong for telling me you wanted me to have it.

You were wrong when you said what you said about my brother and I was wrong to not be so astronomically bothered by it at the time but you were wrong because you had already lost me by then.

You were wrong all the times you told me you were thinking about whether or not you were going to try winning me back, as if you telling me you were in fact going to try was all it was going to take to do so.

You were wrong when you called me sweet and said “I know you don’t think you deserve anything” because I do.

And you were wrong when you told me I was being selfish when I broke up with you, because all I was doing was what you did months prior— I was giving up.

I Am a Better, Stronger, Happier Version of Myself Without You.

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