A perfect metaphor

Before you, I didn’t really understand why they call it falling in love. I thought it was exaggeratedly metaphorical, a hyperbole just for the sake of it. Too theatrical, without a doubt.

I thought of love as perfectly written poetry, red roses, soft kisses, a familiar perfume, a way to find home.

But to my surprise, the expression was perfect. From that day in October when a girl with freckles painting her cheeks and eyes dark as the night walked into that bar I used to hate, just a little brighter than everyone else, the word began to make sense.

Through looking for the words that you would want to listen to, discovering that your laugh was my favorite song, crossing my fingers under the table like a child when I asked you for your number, through the hours I spent thinking about which date would charm you the most or wondering the exact right moment to call you, through the things I said and was always disappointed when you didn’t say back, through all of it, I kept thinking about that word. Falling.

The shortness of breath, the blurry vision of everything around me, the adrenaline felt on every spot of my body and most of all the desperate uncertainty of what will come next. Pain, death, the heartbreak of a lifetime, a story I will never want to tell, a dive into crystalline water. Falling felt like a beautiful possibility, but mostly it felt like a sharp fear of the unknown. At best I could see eight feet in front of me, and whatever would come next was a complete mystery.

For a while, it felt almost like a nice kind of thrill. Those are the butterflies, I thought. The suspense made things exciting, somehow, although I could have done without the unbearable nerves. I though about you all day, wondering where to go or what to say or when to kiss you or how to tell you the things I wanted to tell you. There was something about the beginning of the relationship, about discovering the mysteries of you.

But as it does, time passed, and it was always there. Every day more butterflies, and more seeking of your laugh, your smile, your kiss, your words. Every day, a little disappointment. Every day another evidence that love in fact is like falling, a perfect metaphor, not at all a hyperbole, as much I have wished so.

There was I, falling at maximum speed, no way back, the wind blowing in my face, and you were nowhere to be found.

I like to think love could be perfectly written poetry, red roses, soft kisses, a familiar perfume, the way back home.  I like to think after you fall and your heart is to your throat there is the sweet quietness of a waterfall only you and I know where to find, the peaceful and simple beauty of everyday waking up to your eyes. Maybe if as I feel you had jumped too. Maybe if you had held my hand.

Two or three, at most (on a scale of ten)

I’m not sure why I am waking up just now. If it was the dog downstairs, who barks at nothing (or ghosts) in the middle of the night, or the girl upstairs – the one with hair so black I sometimes think it’s blue (maybe it is) – that gets home this late almost every day (one day I’m going to ask her – doesn’t she have a job?) the heels tapping the floor, my ceiling.

I’m not sure what time it is: the battery of my digital watch died (at least two or three months ago, at best). But the Sun hasn’t risen yet, so I must have a few hours until cold shower, hot coffee, crowded subway.

I get up to open the curtains, that by the force of habit I closed before going to bed. Since the battery died, at least two or three months ago, I have been waking up with the sunlight (I have always been a light sleeper). I wake up even earlier than I would with the alarm on the digital clock – and still, every day, I sleep with the light, almost imperceptible, adrenaline of the risk – the risk of waking up just before lunch.

Without caring about how pathetic that may be (is), I pretend I am one of those people we hear so many stories about – so many sometimes we forget they really exist. The ones who climb mountains, travel to Africa, quit their jobs, parachute jump, the poets who write about waking up in the morning, taking a cold shower, drinking hot coffee, and, on the way to the crowded subway, getting hit by a blue car – imminent death. And here I am, almost high on the adrenaline of the risk of waking up just before lunch.

The streetlight hurts my eyes (even though it is almost completely dark). A lamppost, one car or another here and there, two windows, three at most, with the lights on. When the curtains are fully open, my dangerous (almost) alarm turned on (almost), my eyes get used to the light (or lack there of). The street outside is ugly. (Always has been). The building next to mine too grey, too close; so close I can barely see the sky. (And if I could, only two starts, three at most, would shine as they’re supposed to.)

In one of the many windows with the light off (now I see there are only two with it on anyway), there is a girl with honey hair. Or maybe it’s red, or perhaps it’s only the fire on the tip of her cigarette that gives me that impression. She drags looking at the sky and blows the smoke with her eyes closed, head stretched out the window just like dogs or drunk blonde girls do in those movies that almost always have happy endings (and I’m not complaining – I have always been a fan of happy endings).

I look for a while – not too long. I would rather remain a romantic without becoming a potential stalker. Even though I’m not, I would like to think if someone was looking (maybe someone is) they wouldn’t think I’m that weird guy who stares at pretty girls (maybe she isn’t, but I don’t think it matters) smoke cigarettes by the window in the middle of the night.

Before going back to bed, I look for stars one last time (there is no harm in trying). The grey building is blocking my view, and I’m not sure there even is anything to see, but I keep looking (there really is no harm in trying), and I wonder what she, with the honey (maybe red) hair is doing awake at this hour (two or three in the morning, it must be). Maybe she was woken by a dog who sees ghosts or a neighbor with very high heels and stretched her neck out the window to look for stars (, sure, but mostly so that her boyfriend wouldn’t notice the smell of cigarettes – she does have asthma after all, and he really cares for her health.)

Maybe. Or maybe she owns the medium dog and doesn’t want to make of him a passive smoker (he’s her best friend). Maybe she is the neighbor who just got home from a loud noisy party, the kind that happens every weekend and we go to anyway (and worse: love doing so); (maybe that is a normal tendency between girls with unidentifiable hair colors); and as much as she promises everyone she’s not a smoker, when she’s drunk it’s a free pass (and she drinks every weekend).

I pretend she has blue eyes (I have always been a fan of blue eyes – yes, I know everyone is a fan of blue eyes). I pretend I have the courage of smiling at her. I pretend the only thing stopping me is not wanting to seem like a stalker. I pretend I am that guy from the movies that always have happy endings (and I’m not complaining); the one who runs through the airport (as if he can’t just send a text she’ll see just as she lands), the one who kisses in the rain, who travels the world, who quits his job, who buys a hundred red roses, who risks (for real). I pretend she smiles back.

And just as I lay in bed again, eyes already closed, I realize that, by the force of habit, I closed the curtains again. I need to get up, of course, to turn on my (almost) alarm. My version of parachute jumping, the danger I enjoy being in. And I get up again, and I open again, and I lay in bed again – eyes already closed, falling asleep, almost high on the daily dose of adrenaline. The imminent death, the second you jump, the unbelievable danger – of waking up just before lunch. (On the last two or three months, it hasn’t happened once.)

messy ugly dirty and positively beautiful

Life gets messy and dirty and ugly and positively terrible sometimes. There are dishes to wash on the sink and bad grades on the physics test you studied so much for and rain on days you planned on going to the beach. There are people who don’t keep your secrets and people who don’t invite you to their birthdays even when you invited them to yours. There are stupid problems you get over in three weeks and there are also hospital beds and black clothes and tears and people who kill each other because they think they’re better. There are bad news you weren’t expecting at 3:34am and traffic when you just want to get home because today your boss was just worse than usual. There are people who don’t read the poetry you spent four hours writing because it’s probably not that good and there are expensive drinks that taste like disappointment. There are bad movie adaptations to your favorite books and there are nights when you just can’t sleep.

But also:

There’s a moment when you realize you like to take an afernoon nap to the sound of rain and the beach is still there in the morning. Maybe it feels a little like freedom to have your secrets out there and maybe you don’t want to be at a party where everyone’s too drunk and doesn’t really care about each other. And maybe your grandma was in too much pain to be here still and there are also good news at 3:34am. Sometimes you’re stuck in traffic and wanting to kill someone and the air you breathe is pure claustrophobia but your favorite song starts playing on the radio and the city lights are so beautiful and poetic and you open the window and the air outside is pure happiness. Maybe your bad poetry made you feel something good and if you hadn’t tried that drink you would never stop wondering. At least you found that favorite book hidden between textbooks at the school library and you did smile a lot with that old friend you went to watch the movie with. And you realize it’s been too long since the last time you were up long enough to catch the sun rising.

Maybe it sucks to wash dishes and you did deserve at least a B+ on that test, but oh well.

There are surises you watch through the phone with someone special, good grades on test you didn’t study that much for, cheap drinks that taste delicious, sunny fridays when you just need a break, good movies just starting on cable and compliments from strangers who have no reason to lie. Sometimes, good things happen. Just like that.

But most importantly, sometimes bad things happen too, and it’s okay. Because when there a dishes on the sink and bad grades and rainy days and mean people and death and war and traffic and everything bad because there is so much bad – there is probably also something good to be found, and it’s probably not that hard to do so.

Life gets messy and dirty and ugly and positively terrible sometimes. But it’s also exquisite and fascinating, and it can be so, so beautiful.