I was never going to be that person,
you know, the one tightly closed like a rosebud
pushing away all signs of blooming
the gloomy defeatist drenched in the blood
of the past like an English economy booming

I was never going to be that person I decided
at eighteen, black jeans, idealistic and slightly misguided
I never understood the funny commitment-phobe trope on TV
not even when I got into poetry
and saw someone language fantastic weave webs of words about feeling dead
I could never get my head around it

I was going to be passionate and opportunistic forever
feeling everything to the core of my being
I figured detachment was something that they felt
when they decided somehow to give up believing
and that pushing someone away was a choice
made by some sudden urge to fly
and if you don’t give fear a voice
it can’t swell and crash and block out your sky

But you don’t just stop seeing good in the world
and it starts innocuous, easily dismissed
they don’t like me, he didn’t call back
okay, move on, you won’t be missed
They don’t mean to hurt you and you know that
but you become the person who doesn’t call back
It happens like that, careless encounters that you couldn’t care less about,
in fact you prefer it this way, never stay over,
never let anyone stay over, always play the game
and always win, never care enough, never care much
It’s what everyone’s doing, it’s meant to be fun, and love,
well, what is love anymore?
You don’t know. And that’s when you worry
because half of your bed is cold and the places you go,
they get old, and people finding excuses to leave
leaves you unable to stay awake or sleep.

So I became that person.
I didn’t mean to, it weaves between vague memories not important enough to catch a hold of you for a second,
and apathy is easier than fear and loathing I reckon
and second guessing is second nature
I was a creature of habit who accepted nothing greater
but my walls had blocked out fear and anxiety;
no waves of panic nor joy could break the fortress in me.

I became the tightly closed rosebud,
and when I met you I still was
when your expectations are on the floor, you don’t feel worthy of anything more
So it was fun at first,
with no expectations came a sort of freedom,
my nerves quelled by a casual reassurance that this would lead to nothing better or worse;
an inhabitant of Hades’ land, calmed by my own demons.
And then you said that you loved me.

And the walls didn’t immediately crumble,
and my eighteen year old self would’ve grumbled
and not understood me at all
And the fear raged like a tidal wave over my sky and around me
and I boxed myself in and bricked myself up
Immune to the pain and the joy that had found me.

You reached through the sea and you banged on the walls and you screamed and you screamed and you screamed,
and I could only love you from a distance,
or else drown in the storm I’d dreamed into existence.
I placed my hands against the walls and felt you on the other side,
I thought you’d have gone by now,
left on an outgoing tide,
but you still said that you loved me.

I couldn’t face the storm alone so I shut it out and shut myself down
but it hadn’t swept you away and you clearly weren’t afraid to drown.
How anyone could cling to walls like that I never understood,
but I started to build a door from bits of old driftwood,
You told me from the outside that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed,
the storm was quieting a little and the horizon gleamed
I built that door with everything that I had, gluing together bruised and barkless branches
working towards a time where we could stand together on the threshold, facing the whirling ocean
a time where I could turn to see that the door was not still broken.

Opening up that driftwood door was like waking up from a dream,
you stood there smiling, relief painted across your weather beaten face, seawater still dripping from your hair,
and the threshold was mine to step across,
that little step toward solace, scary storm be damned;
and we stood together, facing the ocean.
It wasn’t whirling but lightly rippling and glitter-reflecting sunlight for the first time since the walls went up,
and I turned to you and said
I love you.
And then I started blooming.

Image: Oregon Beach Driftwood Pelicans by JB Brookman