All that pent-up passion, where does it go? It travels in endless loops and spirals like a lost and wild thing that can’t find its natural environment. It cries out in unremembered dreams, and wakes in the morning to buttons and buzzers, fluorescent lights, and just enough sun to keep it thirsty and pulsing.
March on, soldier girl, march on. There are some mercies you will never know, and others you are probably better off not knowing. Carry your arsenal of words proudly, and spray paint the obstacles and alleyways in your path. Write your name boldly, and let your vivid colors splash against the graying admonishments and swells of whitewash.
Once, I wrote you a story by hand, in plum colored ink, in a beautiful leather notebook. I did not hover over lines or pause between paragraphs, and I did not sleep for three days. It seemed urgent then, but somehow all those flowing words got lost. Stolen or lost – or maybe never found – does it really make a difference? There was no one there to protect anything, and it was easy, so easy, to pretend I didn’t care. I bought three piece suits from the secondhand store, read books that taught me how to aspire and conform, and forged my way into some musty tapestry held together by false needs and even falser promises.
I faltered then, I know. I was young, and bumbling, and out-and-outside of everything, scrambling desperately just to understand the essential facts, such as the chasm between how people acted, and how they really were in their own private and natural worlds, where no acting is required. I struggled to slow down the alternative other-scripts in my head, where I could create and arrange, rewrite and edit, until every new imprint and revelation made sense. It was not easy to evict myself from that sanctuary, but I did. I took a deep breath, and plowed my whole self into dangerous, unknown territory, as determined as any pioneer looking for a title and forty acres.
I did not have the means then to promise you what I am promising you now.
I want you to do whatever it is you really want to do, love, with any sort of abandon. Stay out and outside, if that is your wish, and I will protect whatever messages you leave in your path. I will let no one pour a whitewash over your words, and in this, I will not fail you. I will be the Theo to your Vincent – the unflagging patience to your spitfire impulsiveness, the protector of your interior art, and the keeper of your secrets. I will secure the essentials, keep the destroyers at bay, shore you up, and pick you up in ways that will be unintrusive and unnoticeable.
I will do it for your art, because it’s not always beautiful. Because it’s often curious, gritty, unrefined, full of question marks, and unmistakably yours.
I will do it for your hands. The ones that still plead when you talk, like a last vestige of childhood, a desire for your soul to be understood, even when your words are wrapped in the esoterica of language.
I will do it for your mind. The one that has been spent in fractions and unjustly divided in a world where half or less of a human being is thought to make a whole.
I have loved you from the day you recognized your separateness. When you gazed at your hands and feet and happily realized they belonged to you alone. When you lolled on the shag carpet of your pink bedroom, dreaming of horses, oceans, and Amazons. When you rebelled against the teachings of a monotonous life punctuated by fistfuls of anger.
I loved you when you were a hero, experimenting with the world, filled with unbridled energy and a desire to do and gather all that was good. I loved you when you were on your knees in the river, begging for your life, praying to whatever god watches over the set-apart and abandoned, and when you felt vindictive, angry, and bitter, knowing that no such god existed, and that you were truly on your own. When you numbered your scars, 1-17, and gave them names. Snake in the Grass. Saint Albert’s Fence. Five Minutes Late. Two Against One.
I know how love begins. It begins alone, in the sacred flesh of a new soul, as an intuitive desire or a biological imperative. It rises up to fill in the barren spaces, smooth the jagged edges of scar tissue, and nurture the mind, body, and spirit. It becomes intrinsic, outreaching, sacred – birthed over and over again in neophyte stages until it becomes agape and all-encompassing.
I do not know, and have never known, how love really ever ends.
All those years when passion was kept in tight coils and stored away for some future days of freedom, had this effect; my love is a renewing thing that knows no end. It is not fickle, or conditional, or wary. Once given, it is given forever, no matter how great the distance, how few the words, or how lost the original reason. For this love, and out of love for you, I will stand my ground, as close or as far away as desired, and guard the gates.
The world that made it impossible for us to be one, to be both artist and worker, dreamer and survivor, existing in the same physical being and outward expression, is no stronger than the shoulders that carry it as a necessary burden. I have grown strong enough to carry that burden for the both of us, and brave enough to face the consequences. So be, my love, that girl under the tree who paints poetry and writes abstracts. Be wild, and unrelenting, and undaunted. Burst your spindly roots out of the ragtag world, and leave the broken branches and dry leaves behind. Abandon the dogtag chains, the crumbling mortar, and the numbers that would subtract art from your every equation.
I will be here, holding steady the balance pole, guarding the gate, and gathering all the good that falls.
From me to you, for us, this is my promise.