why it began at all (or, what it was like in the beginning)

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I fancied you’d return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again. 

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

– sylvia plath


Her first love, she said, she had made in her mind before they ever met.

I remembered in that moment that, oddly enough, out of all the women I’ve loved, you were the only one whom I felt I’d met in my daydreams.

Well, that was in the beginning.

I have been so vocal and so emphatic about the reasons why it ended that I don’t think anyone really knows why it began at all. And it isn’t important anymore. But tonight I am feeling uncharacteristically pacific and gentle, so I will write about the person you sometimes were – the one you showed me in the beginning – the one I trusted for too long to still be there, but never showed up again.

this is why it began

  1. Because the first thing I noticed about you was your smile and the lines in the corners of your eyes that, to me, were the traces left by countless real smiles
  2. Because you knew the names of the white birds at the lake and the plants in the grocery store
  3. Because your garden was overflowing with blooming flowers
  4. Because you wore lipstick and heels to our first date; not that I like lipstick and heels specifically, but that you thought me worth dressing up for
  5. Because of the books stacked in your shelves and on your tables and along your walls
  6. Because you got along so well with my dog, at first, before she became completely terrified of you
  7. Because you offered the customer behind you your Starbucks planner sticker, because you weren’t collecting but you thought someone else might want your sticker
  8. Because you photographed me in your bed and called me beautiful (the only time you ever photographed me without being asked)
  9. Because at the time you were working on an art installation in [redacted]
  10. Because the poems you’d written for the others were beautiful
  11. Because you did not want to be called by any names I’d called my others; you wanted to be the only one
  12. Because you liked me to stroke your hair while you drove
  13. Because you liked to sleep together on video call or on the phone
  14. Because you felt so surprisingly weightless
  15. Because you seemed so sure
  16. Because of the nights you towered over me in the back of your car
  17. Because you were rather shockingly forthright about the things you wanted to do to me
  18. Because you liked to be seen, and to see me, in the light
  19. Because you liked to sleep in my arms
  20. Because you drove miles and miles at night to meet me
  21. Because you seemed so extremely kind and tender
  22. Because you seemed to understand my native tongue
  23. Because you had so many plans about what you wanted to do for the world
  24. Because you had great biceps
  25. Because you liked to save pictures of pretty girls
  26. Because you had a world of your own and I was once invited to share it

I don’t really know what happened. Perhaps it was as simple as her getting too used to me. Perhaps our little world was too little.

All I know is that since then I have been so changed… scabbed and scarred over.

It’s just that I could not get through the day without breaking down and there weren’t enough bathrooms to duck into and there wasn’t enough time to wait for the tears to stop.

It’s just that it was getting too heavy and I couldn’t bear the weight any longer.

It’s just that my friends watched me bent and broken and blinded for you for months and begged me to end it, for my own sake.

It’s just that I’m too young.

It’s just that she was only ever there for the shortest time and I spent the rest of our relationship waiting for her to return.


Scabbed and scarred over. Hard – but a hardness that is also brittle. Like ice. Like glass.

Lately I have been wondering if someone could come along and shatter this… this peace. This numbness. This silence.

With music and light.

Would I be able to bear it, after making my home in the deepest and darkest place I could find?

Sometimes I feel as if what I want is simply there waiting for me to take it.

But then I think about the flowers I cut from their stems to perfume my home, and how they withered and died.

You are beautiful in the sun. You, you and you. I would be glad to simply watch you grow.

A beginning means an end that is to come.

At least, that is how I’ve known it.

I know I should go, but this sweetness makes me linger.


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