After a long, slow sunrise, a man's insides blurted out “I love you” to a woman in glasses and sweatpants. For those of you who haven't heard, these words, especially when uttered on the outside, make a woman hope in the parts that she usually keeps shut tight. Shut because open is so dangerous... so risky. Sunshine on sensitive skin burns... for who knows how long...
I've been playing it safe... playing it smart.
After my last bad burn, I acquired a wide-brimmed straw hat... you know the kind. Brim stretching well past my shoulders, swooping elegantly at just the right angle so that the innocent passer-by would assume (it's only logical) that the hat was to protect my skin (not made for sun exposure) from the sun (it's not my fault that parts of my parts are white) (and should be protected)
(who knows what could happen)
(who knows who might see)
(best to stay safe)
(besides. Who doesn't like the woman in the beautiful hat?)
I wore my hat everywhere. I wore it to work. To the store. To the river. Out. In. Around. It was, as you could well understand, practical. I was safe from the sun, carrying my shade around with me. I would not, could not burn.
Your sunrise warmed me slowly.
My toes felt you first. A gentle need to be touched, to find that warmth from where I could see your light beginning to glow, just over the horizon, just headed this way...
... and I knew when it was happening, the whole time I knew... knew in my bones... knew that if I ever got to see what noon looked like (there was no way), it would be friendly sunshine... only warming. Again warming. I'd likely still be able to wear my cardigan. You don't take your cardigan off when you're just friends.
As that morning broke and the sun climbed its way up my curves to the back of my neck, I started to realize that my hat was getting in the way... started to loosen that thing up... maybe slide that thing off... careful... but maybe it was safe... safe to let my hair down, spin a little, twirl a little because maybe falling down wouldn't be as hard as always having to hold that hat up... make room for that hat... find places where wearing that hat made sense (looked easy)... where I might let your warmth turn to heat as the sun rose, burning off the dew, warming the cold corners, browning me slowly enough... just slowly enough... until I would be...
... on Fire. I was on fire. I was burning, looking for my hat... where did I put my hat? Why am I thirsty and tired and dreaming in nightmares of falling... always of falling... and your face, disappointed, looking at me (tired and disappointed)... and I can't seem to find my hat. And I can’t sleep because I’m too busy panicking.
I sat, on fire, desperately waiting for you to notice. Notice. And join me. Because in all of that being on fire, I seemed to have misplaced my hat.
I thought about it, and, for more than a moment, I considered that the hat might have burned off... that I might not need it... that maybe...
The problem with the sun is not that it burns. The sun would be fine if it would just reach down and consume you. You might not care so much if the sun just consumed you instead of setting.
Which you did.
Abruptly and without warning.
Or so it seemed.
I want you to know that I saw the signs. I mentioned them in passing as one might say, "Glance in the rearview mirror. Aren't those pretty colors tonight?" Everyone else was moving along behaving as though they saw nothing... felt nothing... and I kept wondering why no one else noticed that you had stopped sitting right beside me. Had stopped holding my eyes with yours...
I saw the colors. People have said before that it's pessimism... some kind of lack of ability to see my own light. It's just that I was the only one close enough to see. The only one who could smell the wind change.
And I've been walking around like that first few hours when you know that you're warm and you know that you're a little more pink than you should be and you know that there is a possibility that...
Yes, you're a lobster.
You've never been so burnt in your life.
And it hurts like hell. And you can't sleep. And it hurts like hell. And when you move, you can't believe how much it hurts. When you breathe. When something brushes against it. When you think too hard.
It's called sun burn. Poisoning maybe.
Anyway, I'd like to be friends. With my mind, I'd really like to be friends. Not to have to acknowledge that, without so much as a formal pause, I took my hat off, flung it to the wind, tried spinning in circles as long as there was the least bit of light... I remember it now, the circles and how you pulled me close and held me there, inhaling the scent of my hair...
But I found my hat.
It was lying over there.
Slowly, with lots of encouragement, hand-holding, and aloe vera, I'm trying to learn to laugh again.
Or at least how to let myself just lay there while I give in to the tears I've been fighting.
With all of me.
For longer than I'll ever say out loud.
And putting my hat back on.