touch

our third night together
you smiled, tapping my cheek
“you like to be touched”
i always thought my love language
was words
words of truth, affirmation, acceptance
but you identified my craving to be held
the intimate comfort
of your hand at the small of my back
pinkies linked walking down the street
falling asleep in the warm cocoon of your arms
you made me realize
that i wanted to be held always
words were still beautiful, moving, life-changing
but touch was magical

i grew up in a family
where affection was expressed through service
meals on the table, laundry folded overnight, gymnastics lessons paid for
i grew up in a family
where my mom said “I love you”
by spending hours tutoring me in SAT math
i can count on one hand
the amount of times she hugged me
it wasn’t until you
that i understood the novelty of contact
the irreplaceable comfort of a simple embrace
even now,
it’s your touch i miss most

i still can’t explain
the tidal wave of happiness
that smothered me each morning
i woke up in your arms
you understood my unspoken desire to be held
massaging my hand beneath the table
tucking me under the crook of your arm on the bus
you made me feel safe
never letting me question
whether or not i belonged

the night you didn’t touch me
was the night i knew it was over

we lay like strangers, soldiers,
your blue sheets – an unfamiliar ocean
i should’ve reached out
i should’ve bridged the gap
but i let you go
my fear of rejection
crippled any reconciliation
my fear of losing you
stole my voice
it was my silence that pushed you over the edge
for a communications major,
i was terrible at communicating

it’s rainy days like these
that i wonder
whose hand you’re holding now
which lucky girl gets to fall asleep in your arms
i was so terrified of pushing you away
by being overly clingy, by feeling too much, by loving too hard
that i suppressed everything
and i confused this suppression
with healthy independence

i’m sorry.

examining these splintered fragments,
i realized how deeply you ruined me
now i know that a love like yours exists
i can never settle for less
i’m sorry i couldn’t be the girl you needed
but thank you for showing me
the type of man
i hope to meet again one day.

-a.j.

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