Recalling diamonds

I remember the moment I fell in love with you. It was summer in New York, dusk was creeping in and we sat beyond the dirty gates of a public baseball diamond. And you looked at me.  You saw me. 

You told me you were falling for me and were worried that you would inevitably mess things up. I felt my body tense, I looked down and couldn't bare to meet your eyes. You did your best to pull me close but I could not be moved. Maybe it was the traction on the park bench, coupled with the load of my heavy heart. Maybe I physically moved but emotionally remained unchanged. 

You asked me not to shut down. With a quivering heart, I sat with my chest facing you but my feet were pointing toward the exit. If I'm honest with myself, "I don't want to mess this up" sounded guilty. It sounded clunky and stern coming from your lips. As if you protested just a bit too much so in my mind and at that moment, I was petrified. 

You grabbed my hands, and wove your rugged digits between my dainty ones. I inhaled and felt like running away. I exhaled and stayed. In a just a few seconds, I decided to love you. More accurately, I let myself feel love. And I was hooked. 

I was hooked on the light in your eyes, how your skin became taut and glossy when you laughed. I was hooked on how you begged for me. I was hooked on how my heart felt when you looked at me across the room. I was hooked on the exquisite pain of loving you. I soon became hooked on the fighting and the excitement of never knowing what day of the week you would decide that you loved me too. 

I knew it was over when my name sounded funny in your mouth. I knew that you loved me. I knew that you needed me. I knew that I loved you but it hurt too bad. I knew that I had to love myself more.

I want you know that "our" pain was unbearable but it was worth it. Sometimes I struggle to remember how you smell or the things that would make you laugh but I'll never forget how you made me feel. 

So when people ask me how I feel about you, my first love. I want to tell them about our epic love story, but can't bring myself to recognize our failure nor remind the universe of the unraveling of us. So I simply tell them that I feel gratitude and that gratitude is the highest expression of love and thus the love is still there, it's just different. 

But I can still hear you say "This. I don't want to mess this up". 

And my, what a beautiful mess we made. 

Cynia Barnwell