Les, this letter isn’t for you, today. It’s also not going to the person I addressed it to a month ago. These words are just dissipating into air like water particles during a rainbow. Shining briefly then disappearing. Never really meant to be touched.
You tell me that you are a hot mess yet say this is the cleanest you’ve ever been. You shared over your vegan biscuits and gravy that you will always be a mess—you can’t tell me otherwise. And you look at me as if these were my words for you: “hot mess.” They weren’t. They aren’t, although you seem to think you have my measure, seem to believe you know what I think, want, or expect from you. Maybe you’ve made a home in those words, . Maybe you’ve brushed aside the t and s’s and pulled the furniture of those two words together.
I don’t think you are a hot mess and I don’t view you poorly. I look at you and listen to you and see that we are different people with different ways of moving through the world. And I think that we both have big hearts albeit with different wiring. While I perhaps have more reason to be open and trusting, I keep my walls high (even when it appears I am a meadow: calm and open). I struggle to be intimate with even one person but intimacy with one person is what I prefer. If more than that, perhaps holes would form in that muscle called a heart, light would shoot out, it would crack, and I’d be left unwired, ungrounded, un-me.
You, however, despite the many experiences which could have influenced you to shut yourself off from others entirely, seem to love easily. You’ve got so much, you share this with multiple people. You are sweet, kind, gentle (or not if it’s consensual), and supportive. Curious, engaged. That’s not a hot mess, beautiful. You just live and love differently. And I wish I could say your polyamory didn’t make me sad, but it does.
And while my heart twinges, I marvel that I can feel anything at all.
You asked me what I was looking for, at that two-person breakfast table. You asked why I was on Tinder. I answered honestly. I wasn’t looking for, but perhaps for an if — if I could, my bones damp wood left outside of a woodshed, feel anything with anyone. We met at Cruz Room that first night and I held myself away from you but during our laughter and talk I felt myself warm slightly, move from the flyaway drops of rain. The wind still cut through me as we waited at the bus stop. You experimented with holding my hand for a moment after I casually said hand holding was my favorite thing in a relationship although a poor fit of hands was telling. I thought your move was presumptuous, especially for someone with a girlfriend. I wasn’t sure how I felt about our hands fitting. I apologized for my icy fingers. Shoved you playfully, danced away.
In your polyamory, I found both more walls in myself, sadness, and relief. Relief because I wasn’t looking for a relationship. Relief because there’d be less pressure on me to be somebody’s everything. I could never be someone’s everything and they could never be mine.
There are many shades of love and I’ve looked through my box of crayons trying to find a color for what I feel for you. I can’t. I kept thinking periwinkle, but I think I’m just hung up on periwinkle. I’ve never been good at singling out colors. I also know using those four letters jars minds and mouths.
But I’m calling bullshit on that insecurity (mine and others’). Because there are different shades of love and I don’t need to desire a relationship, be in love, or be loved, to know the strength of my care. There are no strings attached here. No expectation. Just as I do not expect the tulips to bloom for me every spring even though they cause me much jubilation. At the end of the day, I would rather feel this open and trusting than nothing at all.
I think I know this about myself, : I am some kind of stone, but I can still care. And that affection, despite its surprising appearance, is not riddled in expectation.
, I am answering you again, a month later. Even if you are a hot mess, you are not my storm.
I hope you are well. Safe travels to California.
This letter has diagonal lines through it in my journal, and the note to myself: Not now, Sugar. Nope. Mostly because of the paragraph about shades of love. Mostly because a letter was too much to write at all.
UPDATE (3/16) – I don’t mean to imply the person I address calls herself a hot mess for being poly, although that seems to be what I respond most strongly to in this letter. Her life is turbulent for many reasons and I wish to honor that. Perhaps every syllable of this letter is too much to let loose from a journal, including this addendum, but I really don’t want to convey that any human is a mess simply for being who they are.