I dreamed of you after I met you. It was so simple: we were standing in a kitchen that was ours and time was nothing. We were old and we were young. So much had happened and not much had changed. None of it mattered: you were there with me. How surprising it was to find myself waking up, knowing. How terrifying. My happiness would be contingent upon knowing that you are okay, opening the gates to a menagerie of beasts that could destroy me.
I have made my peace with it now. I am nudged by the horns of my beasts to forgive you when I am terrifically angry. This is how I would describe love, being tied to a leash of fears that force us to be grateful, to be present, to be kind. It’s very useful, when you are crunching your cereal so loudly I can’t focus on what I’m reading, to have a hippopotamus that whispers do you really wish he were not here to bother you? How quickly then does irritation evolve into something shaming.
I tell you that I love you each day, like going through a turnstile that spits my ticket back at me on the other side. We know what we mean to each other. No, I’ll sometimes say, smoothing the corners of the ticket and feeding it through again for good measure, I love you. (I want to stand in the kitchen with you. I want to eat cereal with you, every damn day. I want to fight with you over nothing and laugh with you over nothing. I am glad—every day—that you are here.) You smile—you can see all the hippos lined up behind me; you have beasts of your own—I know.