Sonnet XVII (100 Love Sonnets, 1960)
I don't love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that doesn't bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving
but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.
That's the poem the boy whispered in my ear the other night while I was curled up, head on his chest, sobbing. I was sobbing because one of my friends was talking about her mother's best friend and saying someday when she got married, that was who she wanted to have walk her down the aisle and she didn't know how she would break it to her father. Most of the time these days, people say things like that I don't even think about it. Ok, that's a lie. I always think about it a little, but I don't dwell. But for some reason that night all I could think was "Oh god, who is going to give me away? My father's dead. My grandfather, who raised me, is currently undergoing radiation treatment and if the doctor's estimate in January was accurate has just a little over 4 years to live. What if I don't find somebody who wants to marry me in the next 4 years? What am I going to do?". Yeah, I realize that's an overly dramatic reaction even if it's only in my head but I'm a little stressed right now and I was tired and sometimes, I just let things pile up until one little thing pushes me over the edge and I find myself in bed, a few hours later, and for the first time, really truly just letting myself cry in front of the boy and only feeling mildly self conscious. There I was, lying in bed with a boy who two months ago said he was on the fence about our relationship, feeling him stroke my hair and listening to him tell me he would always take care of me and then the poem. If that wouldn't make you swoon, you're dead inside.
How the hell did I get here?
That's the problem, I think. Or, one of the problems. One of probably many reasons I feel stressed and raw and emotional as all hell. There was never any explanation. Never any talk. He came back from Europe, he sheepishly told me he missed having me around. He made wry comments about his commitment issues and somehow we've ended up in the "oh fuck this shits 'bout to get serious" place that I thought we were headed towards before the last break up. Sometimes I think he was replaced by an alien while he was gone. He tells me he missed me when we haven't seen each other for a couple days; he kisses me in public, on the mouth, not just pecks; he actually cried on my shoulder when he had a dream about his father the other night instead of just retreating into a book or becoming distant; the word "love" comes out of his mouth on a regular basis; when he says asshole things to his friends purely for amusement value he looks guilt stricken and apologizes; talking about the future has come back into play and, in general, he's just been ridiculously lovey and sweet. On the other hand, I don't even know if we're actually dating again. I mean obviously we're in some sort of committed, exclusive relationship but words like "date" or "boyfriend" send the boy running even if they're the accurate choices anyways.
When I'm with him, I'm mostly just happily mystified. I don't know when or why this change happened but it feels pretty fucking awesome and I'm going to just drink it in. When I'm lying in bed and he's fallen asleep or I'm home alone, the doubt seeps in. Does he really mean it this time? How much more time do I have before he changes his mind again? Weeks? Days? Will I wake up in the morning and see by the look on his face that we need to talk? Do I talk to him about it? Do I let him now how insecure I'm feeling? Or do I let sleeping dogs lie? Do I trust that this change means that he's stopped being afraid of committing himself, of admitting to himself this could work?
He called his bedroom "our bedroom" the other day.
But what if he's still on the fence? Do I really want to know if after eight months he's still not sure he wants to be with me? Because if I found out he doesn't know, I would have to end it, to protect myself, and it would hurt.
I don't want to have to break my own heart.