FOR MORE MELANCHOLY SEARCH THE TAGS. In the meantime, wallow a little. Go on, it’s fun. – Paul
Love letter # 328
It happened a couple of days ago. It wasn’t a surprise but it did burst a bubble. Intellectually knowing it is one thing, seeing it so clearly demonstrated is another. Hope and fantasy thrive on denial, on pretending, on maybe maybe – but they cannot be sustained when reality is so unwittingly played out before you.
There is no blame. There will be no name calling. No retro-fitted accusations. The simple fact is that the flame I have been quietly kindling burns in you for another. I saw it your eyes and smile when he arrived. In the way you looked up at him. And in that moment I understood without any possible recourse to fantasy that you did not and will not reserve such eyes for me.
So if I seem a little strange, withdrawn, not so forthcoming – you now know why.
Love letter # 717
And so it has come to this. The bridge that will not be crossed. The line that separates the wishing from the will not be. Yet although I have been here so many times before, I too am rent as though by newly inflicted wounds. For I know so well your side of the line. I know it like the memory of knives. Like blood pouring out so hard and dreadful you want to let it run to the very end. Till everything is washed away. That I should now be the carver of such cuts will surely set those ancient floods in motion once more.
Of course I did not mean this. Of course I hoped we might not arrive at this awful precipice. I felt so good in your presence, so seen by you, that I wanted it continue. Perhaps this was foolish. Selfish. It did not seem so at the time – but I concede that it may have proven so.
Yet for all that, here we are. With the brute animal fact before us. That for all of our absurd posturing, our dressing it up, our pretending we are somehow something other than what we are, desire is not a polite and constructed destination but an ocean far deeper than any philosophy we might dream of or insight we might proclaim. The river is made of blood. The castle built from bone. And dreams are made of skin. So easily torn.
I too have looked at another and wondered. How? What? Why the fuck not? Like you, I have scratched at the hard surface of love and rejection and found no satisfactory answers. Because there are no answers. No logical or ethical reasons. No conscious criteria.
So I will not insult you with a bogus explanation or political apology. You feel the way you feel and I feel the way I feel. Sure, we might try to conjure up nice, middle class theories about this but in the end they are all a denial. A way to paper over what all we fear. That sex, that desire, even love itself spring from wells we cannot control with neatly packaged ideas or the vanity of our so-called enlightenment. That in their narcotic thrall each of us shall surely fall.
I am in pain today but I know that yours is hotter. Darker. Perhaps full of fury. I have stood many times at that gate, waiting and hoping, trying one more time, turning over one more stone. Because of this I know that there can be no consolation prize. No quietly suffering nearness. If I were you I would be doing exactly the same right now.
Au revoir, my friend. I know there is nothing I can say, so I will say nothing more.
The space you once coloured with wonder.
The mundane so often reveals itself to be a quiet form of the profound. Like yesterday. Sitting watching a simple scene – a disjointed gathering of strangers at a café. It was as if I could see it all being played out unwittingly before me.
In one corner, a group of girls – young women in their early twenties – so full of easy confidence, so loud with the certainties of youth, so utterly assured of their attractiveness.
Two tables away, an Asian couple in their thirties with their adorable cherub in her stroller. The way the man doted on his girls. How the mother glowed when she stroked the child’s beautiful black locks.
Next to them – another couple. Older. Silent. Both prodding away at their phones, barely giving a flicker of notice to the waitress delivering their lattes. A tiredness it seemed – a routine resignation to a less than perfect but still comfortable arrangement. The fear of not having it.
And then – landing on the table next to me – the silver grey man who made the whole scene burn. A taut, unrelaxed frame. Drab utilitarian clothes; doubtless the same non-style he’s known for decades. But his face. His gaze. At the distance of despair. In the certainty of loneliness. Knowing that the table of young girls had not even registered his existence – and would not. Ever.
Of course, you know that this is why I’m writing. He was the mirror. A window abruptly opened on an emptiness I try not to ponder too often. The space you once coloured with wonder.
Love letter # 562
I won’t lie. It’s like a knife. This silence. Distance. The way that abundant promise has winked into nothing in just a few months. From everything to this.
I still don’t know why it went the way it did. What it was in you that said no. I guess it doesn’t matter. Explanations are a pale recompense.
Maybe there is something you value more than love. Or fear less. (Whatever.)
Then again – maybe it’s something in me. Or something missing that you couldn’t do without. Either way, I’m here now – and you’re not. And I think of you, even though I know full well you never think of me.
I used to be a romantic. I once hoped for the miracle of returning. Not anymore. Now I sit and breathe.
Au revoir, mon amour.
Love letter # 575
So now it has come to this. A wish to forget. To wipe clean the slate. To pass through the wall of remembering, with all its built up, sedimentary longing, and emerge stripped and minimal on the other side of you.
The shape of your name in my mouth – the sense of you which I conjure so readily – the memory of hands that ripples on my skin – the glow of a fire in my veins … these things I shall set aside. These I shall abandon to the distance of forgetting. No more a song, not even a whisper. Just the liberty of silence. Just the space where you stood.
For there not even ghosts shall linger.
I have loved you in such a way – so utterly – with everything there is. It has been my choice to do so; and I have been free to stop at any time. You have never tied me down. You were only beautiful. I only had eyes.
Eyes I now close. Eyes that will open again soon – looking elsewhere. Into the cleanliness of nowhere. Not even the trace of a footprint. Or a shaping of sand. Or a word that sounds remotely like you.
For then I shall forget. And begin.
Love letter # 460
I think of you and I wonder if you think of me. Actually, I’m fairly sure you don’t because, despite the obviously deep connection we share when we’re alone, you have made it plain that this will not spur you into action. Again, I have cause to wonder. Why? What stops you? Is it simply something about me or do you sit behind a line of deeply ingrained fear and doubt?
Then again – maybe you’re just faking it. Maybe that’s why you blank me in public. Eyes like walls. Not even a flicker. All that lovely nearness banished. As though I had imagined it.
Could well be that I’m a fool for falling for your ‘soulmate’ routine. For answering your calls. For opening up a door to my heart.
That’s it, isn’t it? I shouldn’t be pondering your motivations, I should be questioning mine. I could start by asking myself if I am prepared to spend any more time and energy on this. I could wonder instead if this was worth another syllable.
Yet even if it does stop here – right here in the next minute – the love won’t. Because I don’t fake things like that. So the only difference will be that I too will not be spurred into action. So now we can both be blank. Cleaner that way.
Love letter # 946
When I am alone with you it is so obvious. Our love. Like a tiny flower. Or two little kids at play in a garden somewhere. Just too beautiful for the world.
In public – in the company of the loud, the graceless and the complacent – it retreats. Not able to withstand the noise; let alone the sheer thundering ugliness of it all.
This is when we drfit apart and I am lost – wondering if we will ever find the courage or the space to bring this nascent joy to bloom.
And so we sit in our separate corners. Playing along. Privately loathing it. Angry with ourselves for validating the cacophony with our mute consent.
For we are dressed in the purple of bruises. Perhaps we are now just made of wounds. Left over from the memory of breaking. Cuts afraid to bleed again.
Yet our fear will bequeath us only the things we are scared of – and the love that we feel in our few private moments will become just another scar. Is that what we want?
I doubt it.
Love letter # 306
Back when I was even dumber I pictured the perfect girl. In later years – sensibly – I gave up on her. Until you came along. The walking, breathing form of everything I ever privately dreamed. Beauty in the guise of a woman.
Perhaps this is why I’m finding it so damn hard to let go. Part of me wants to fight for you – do whatever it takes, even if the rest of me knows there’s no point.
I guess I never really expected that you would materialise – so I prepared no defence. Had no strategy for the possibility that you might decline.
It is a sobering thing to discover that even your fantasies can turn you down. I am sure that in the time honoured way of the white, suburban middle classes the truth of this will get smoothed out into neat hindsight and re-configured as a ‘lesson’, complete with all the euphemistic language of self-improvement and other such beige coloured lies.
In the meantime, I watch you walk away.
Though there is an undeniably painful aspect to all this tissue box melodrama, I find myself taking some kind of heart from the mere fact of your existence. At the very least I will one day be able to say that she was real. That for a brief time I knew her. And that her light was just as I first saw it in a dream.
Love letter # 392
You will see me playing it cool, doing the right thing – being adult about it. You will notice that I leave early. That I no longer call. That I smile and nod on cue.
I understand the act that is required of me. I even agree with the reasons for it. Even if arguing the point was useful – which it so obviously is not – I would keep my counsel. I have given up on you. Bowed to the facts. Officially.
But that’s me pretending. Because tonight – like last night and most probably tomorrow – I conjure the possibility of your nearness. Sometimes I kiss you in these pointless dreams. And you always smile. Your eyes full of light. And there is an ocean of love around us and we are free.
But yeah, like I said – pretending.
So now, just in case you think I don’t mean it, even these words will fall silent. Though not yet this longing.
Love letter # 481
If once I hoped that time and distance would quell the fire – now I understand how spectacularly those gambits have failed. Seeing you again. So near. So fucking far away. What I felt to be true – still true. Beating steady. Counting time. Measuring the distance between dread and desire. For you sit opposite me now. Polite space observed. The quiet diplomacy of not touching. A candle burning down untended. Little flame sputtering. A swirl of smoke. A dissipation. And in the mad vermillion sky of my wanting – the wonderful flood of monsoon rain. Preparing to wash everything away.
Love letter # 398
When I remove the filters and look at things clearly, one question repeats itself in my head and in my heart. When I take stock of your actions – and contrast them with your words – I am left asking: how exactly am I meant to interpret this?
When you say that no one else has ‘seen’ you like I have, that you can finally be yourself around me but you choose not to be with me – how exactly am I meant to interpret this?
When you declare that our connection is the most beautiful and profound you can recall but you choose to pander to the wishes of family and the diktats of culture – how exactly am I meant to interpret this?
When you implore me not to turn my back on you and seek my reassurance but you maintain a frigid physical distance – how exactly am I meant to interpret this?
I could go on … and on … but you get the point, right? Or maybe you don’t. Perhaps you think I should be satisfied to wait in the hallway outside. Or leave the door to my affections and intimacies ajar, just in case you pluck up the courage to come in and take part in the kind of relationship you tell me you want.
Don’t complain about parental pressures and social expectations – or the wearing of ill-fitting masks – and then continue to cave in to them. You are not a child. You have choice.
Yes – and you’ve made it. With holding me off, with excuses, with radio silence.
And how exactly am I meant to interpret all this? I think you already know the answer to that question. So no doubt you will also understand the reason for this abrupt cloud of dust.
Love letter # 338
Looking at your behaviour, (analysing your words, checking out your body language, noting what you seem to prioritise), it occurs to me that you may have it all wrong.
I do not love you for your money or your success – am not drawn to your status and apparent power. I care not for your gold chains; for what are they but expensively assembled shackles? I do not bleed for the bright lights you show me. I lose no sleep over bigger, better, brighter.
And your palace – that shiny, hard faced edifice you wall yourself behind – it is little than a pile of rocks made pretty. A decorated gaol.
So I look at you now and I wonder – who is this person? Are you still the one who sparkled so wonderfully? Was it you who sidled into my world with deep and connective beauty? Who said they would risk it all for the notion of us?
I only ask because sometimes that person seems like somebody else – and certainly not the career obsessed, supposedly strong, wealth accruing conformist who sits across from me now.
Tell me, when did our love become a routine; a sequence of expensive gifts and hard wrung promises? Something we squeezed in between flat screen TVs, bucket listing and retirement plans?
For this garbage, I shall never again wear these rings. For this shallow approximation of care I can no longer kneel.
Yet for the spark, the private truth, the compass we can still offer one another … everything and then some.
Our world mistakes the trappings for the substance and we have both played along and struggled against this. We damn well know this. How many nights have we lain together in exhausted recognition pondering this?
So why? Why gold and not love? Why success and not joy? Why the act but rarely the meaning?
Perhaps you can answer these questions, or at least address them in some truthful and hopeful way. Remind me of the human being beneath the outfit and of the vital contextualising details that help us to make sense of all the discrepancies.
I still see the one I love before me and there is still plenty of love left to go – but I will not spend it on shimmer or shine. Only for the simple signs of your heart. For who you truly are.
Love letter # 314
Of course there are no rules to all this. Barely even protocol. Just feeling the way I do. Risking it all to tell you. Accepting that even the most heartfelt confession is no guarantee.
So too – no need for apology; and certainly not guilt. The ache I carry today is simply the price of hoping. Of being dazzled by the light. For even though there is a bridge between us, no one said we had to cross it.
And now – a river sparkles in the bright day sun – you and I on either side. Toes wet. Looking across a stream made of promise. Of tears unshed. Baptism forestalled. Two swimmers – fully clothed – still able to smile at one another. Knowing where we stand.
Love letter # 419
Your beauty is such that it hurts. So golden. Unattainable. An almost perfect sheen. And mine is the rapture of the broken in awe. The swoon of the hesitant.
Beauty, often as not, seeks damage – and damage finds solace in beauty. We always want the opposite of what we have. Opposites attract, right? Like magnets. Electrons and protons.
Not this time though. We will simply orbit and wonder. Maybe wobble off course for a moment. A glitch in our separate journeys. Eyes across a crowd. A nearness so brief and splendid – the euphoria of a breath withheld.
Perhaps it is not necessary to collide – merely to brush. For the night to be lit for a blink. Not even for the length of a kiss. Just the spark of possibly. Like angels pricking splinters in our skin. Pearls of blood. Red as knowing.
And then you are gone. Your beauty recombined with the indistinct. My heart like the memory of flames. Embers like diamonds. The way you shone – and the lovely shadow that cooled me down.
Love letter # 491
It is time that keeps us apart. Or more precisely, years. My age, your youth. My yesterdays, your boundless tomorrows.
It is the heedless, evolutionary logic of mortality which shall shut me out from the dazzle your love – which has closed your eyes to the lustre of mine. For I am no mere dreamer; I loiter instead on the sidelines of time, not even daring to imagine your arms about me. Indeed, I know that even to confess this is to condemn myself. In the old and the ugly, love is a kind of malediction.
Yet what more appropriate response to beauty is there but gentle wonder? The heart melting. The soul on fire.
This – and a thousand other reasons. Useless. No warm and private nights. No naughtiness. Not even the whisper of a kiss. Just the banality of years. Your lovers, my silence. Me leaving, you not noticing.
So here – the flower I carry. Persistent little bloom. Heady perfume. I only need breathe it in to know; and knowing, I am beside you – and you are smiling at me – and everything – absolutely everything – is beautiful.
Love letter # 402
Was this how it was?
When we were together they could never hurt us. In our world there was no language – simply recognition. The song that played deep inside your heart was singing its heart out in mine.
Was that it – or did I make it up? Now I’ll never know. Just believe.
For by believing I can feel those arms around me. Sense that magic on the surface of my skin – little bumps, hairs on end. As though time had not flown. Doors not closed.
It may be a delusion – but what a gorgeous mirage to thirst for.
Here in the desert, I dream of flowers. Close my eyes and smell them. And in the ordinary walk of life, I am only ever a thought of you away from the presence of wonder – and therefore transformed.
Because, at the nearing of the hour, it will be joys such as these I shall ponder – and they shall fill the void with beauty. As you once did.
Love letter # 462
I had a dream – the one of you that didn’t quite turn out. It was made from the sadness in your eyes and from the detailed loveliness of your bony fingers. Carved from the litheness of your form. Painted in the dusty alabaster of your skin. Made from the stories I wished were true.
Yet we are not the dreams of others, just as the world is not a map of our desire. You were not the fantasy I created and I was not the narrative you penned. But it was these two figures who fell in love. We were ones who followed. Hoping. Wanting so much to believe.
Now, as we sit with the blank stare of reality, we have something else. Easy to call it bitterness. Smug to call it wisdom. More beautiful, I feel, to say that this is what we made from the fire. Not just the ruins – but the light.
Love letter # 253
You who are my angel, you are my destroyer too – and I shall be neither the first nor the last to drown in the act of loving.
This is the vessel of my sorrow, the broken raft of my undelivered fury. Like nails in me. Pretty, pretty punctures leftover from your kiss.
How the stars have turned to darkness – and the darkness now to light. Burning out my eyes. Too bright to be denied.
The wave may be too strong this time; more than passing through. The ties that hold the walls in place are snapped and frayed and loose. Useless now. For things are coming to their pitch – the voices all at once. My usual tricks have had their play. See through, stupid games.
The pills, the lies, the stoic pose. No dam against this flood. The levee bank is leaking blood. How much shall drain away?
It is a dangerous path this one. My feet are landing blind. Salvation wears a frightful mask – a face so damned and strained – and I cannot tell which is which. So shall I have the grace to fall, to land where I shall land? To risk the breaking I have feared or the silence I have craved?
Love letter # 488
It’s ridiculous really. Because trying not to think about you is thinking about you. Making out I no longer care is caring with all my heart.
I have tried to cut you out – to surgically remove the million traces you have left inside me – but perhaps all I have succeeded in doing is creating a bunch of tell-tale scar tissue. Ridges on my skin. Ghosts in my thinking. The tower of my denial is now the temple of your presence. Or is that absence? Maybe now they are the same.
I pushed you away to save myself from breaking – but in your wake I have mended out of shape. Bones with cracks. Dreams with caveats. I was afraid I might crumble before your eyes – that you would think me a fool for doing so. Now I simply carry the dust around with me. Ever heavier. The quiet, desiccation of a flower I was too scared to water with sorrow.
Love letter # 277
From the distance of now it is safe to say that I would have offered you everything in my power had you wished it. I would have run with you to wherever you wanted to be – however far away from everything else that was.
I am almost certain that this would have been a grand folly – but at least I would have known the thrill of it. For though I am here now – and there is much to like about this fact – I still cannot help the feeling that in my truest heart I most long to be wherever you are
Love letter # 337
As I have grown older I have come to realise that part of loving is knowing when to stop. Much as it saddens me to say, that time has now come. Your accidental utterance – your Freudian slip – the other night has let the cat out of the bag; and though my heart is broken my mind is clear.
You are a truly wonderful woman. I love you with a passion that has all but consumed me. But try as I might, I could not turn the key to your heart. And now that I have heard you say it so plainly, I can no longer continue to hope in the face of the facts. If there is no light, there is only dark – and in the dark I shall not dwell.
Perhaps you will feel the loss of our friendship and curse my stupid love – but there is no well put argument that can hold a candle to the fire of feeling. Had not that spark taken hold none of this would be happening. But it did. And these are the ashes.
Having said that, I am glad to have loved you – and that sound of your laughter made my heart sing. That the brush of your hand made the whole world right. And how can I ever forget those few times when I lived in genuine hope – when it really did seem that you would come over to my side? How beautiful those nights were. What cleansing joy I felt.
In the years to come it will be these things – these, and your exceptional loveliness – that will live in my heart and give me the courage to believe again.
Love letter # 370
You ask me what is wrong; although I cannot believe you do not know. There is nothing wrong, per se – only that I love you – and that I have done so for ages. Silently, because I respect your situation. In my head, because it is the only safe place for me to say these things.
For I am neither a fool nor a bully. Your body language tells me the truth. The way you withdraw. The subtle way you have of keeping me at arm’s length. Maybe the clever tacticians are right and I should manoeuvre you into it – make you realise. But that wouldn’t feel right – and anyway, I like you too much.
Yet to the quiet music of my heart, I can see us dancing. And in the secret fire of my sinews I can feel how good it would be. Perhaps if I did not know that we could make stars, I would not stare into the sky and wonder. But I do – and that’s what’s wrong.
Every day I promise to forget – to be cool. But then I see you – and because you are smart and caring and wonderful – you notice and you ask and I feel compelled to stammer ridiculous denials, which I know you do not believe. And I do this because I am afraid.
Because I would rather hide from you than have you hide from me.
Love letter # 259
You wondered why I never came back. The answer is as simple as blood – as obvious as desire. I tried to outrun my love for you; thinking that if I could not see you, hear you, be in your wondrous vicinity, that I could quell the inconvenient eruptions of my ardour.
That you are reading this would suggest that I have failed to make my escape. You followed me in my dreams. First thought after waking – last before sleeping. Every spare moment a fantasy of you loving me like I love you.
Of course, I have been through this wringer before – been so nearly destroyed by it. This is why I’m running. Not answering your calls. Hoping that silence will subdue my pointless longing.
None of this is your fault. This is me and my mad proclivity for misplaced affection. My stupid drama. I realise that perhaps you are losing a friend here – the nice guy next door – but I have so much more to lose. In a year I will be a dim memory – the weird dude who wrote you that absurd love letter. I pray that by that time I will not still be yearning for you with every sinew.
I beg your apology for this distemper. I know it was uncalled for – but when did longing ever listen to a reasonable argument?
Goodbye, beautiful lady. Sorry for my foolish heart and preposterous dreaming. Sorry that I loved you too much.
Love letter # 394
At our age, everyone has baggage. I guess that’s what makes these dramas so vexed. When I think about how much I love you my heart races and my breath catches and all the ghosts of my considerable caution come out to haunt me. I sense this is the same for you.
So here we are – both looking at the other through the prism of accrued misfortune – both having to accept that the erstwhile simplicity of our desire has been sullied. By poor choices. Heartbreak. Negative patterns on repeat.
I realise this is a defeatist attitude – and yet somehow the fact that we both seem to be nursing our respective wounds weirdly makes it easier to accept. Why is this? I do not know.
All I know now is that – despite an extraordinary warmth between us, an almost reflexive connection – we will each turn our back, neither willing nor able to countenance one more risky trip to the well.
This is both courageous and cowardly. Gutsy because we know where our lines in the sand are drawn and because we retain the strength and conviction to stick to them. Craven because we have no stomach for the adventure that you and I would surely be. I wonder how big a loss this will turn out to be.
Tonight however, we are both disappointed for similar but different enough reasons. Perhaps we will both shed a private tear. I know that I will – and that while doing so I shall dream of your arms around me.
Love letter # 154
How much I have not wanted to write this letter. How long I have delayed it. Turned it over in my head – in my gut. But alas, I feel that I need to say this: I can no longer continue. I do trust you. I feel that you toy with my feelings – enjoy the dumb, supplicant fact of them – but that you do not, never have and never will, reciprocate.
Naturally, you are allowed not to feel. This I have no issue with, much as it cuts me. My issue is with your behaviour – or rather, my reaction to it.
No more will I sit there, my affections being milked by you for whatever gratification this gives you. No longer will I rise in stupid hope to be slapped by the slamming door. It is a torment I am now refusing to bear on behalf of my absurd, hormonal optimism.
When you flash your smile – your eyes, your cleavage – I will no longer go to water. Because I will not be there to see it.
I am certain you will think me ridiculous in this but I would rather imagine that acerbic snarl of yours than stumble again into the honey trap you so beautifully set for me.
I stand ready to offer you all the love in the world – but if you will not receive it I will neither force it upon you nor suffer your teasing delight at my reflexive adoration.
Maybe you have not set out to beguile and fool me at all. Perhaps it is I to whom all the folly belongs. Makes no difference in the end. I cannot stand your loveliness – the way it hovers so near and then withdraws at the merest touch.
If I was made of stronger stuff I would most likely tough it out – but I am made of longing and impossible hunger – and I will not inflict the spectacle of my pathetic starvation on either of us.
Au revoir, my love. You are wonderful. Far too wonderful for me.
Love letter # 206
It’s true – I genuinely thought about not coming.
Around me – the universe I knew. Friends, family, work – and the few remnants of respect I could still count on.
Inside me – a heart seeking to re-armour itself. To avoid unnecessary breaks. Even the wild hope of me winning you back made it tremor. Falter.
But mine is the oldest story in the book; the adventure of one soul desperately seeking to find harbour and recognition in another. This impulse – for which my bloody wires are designed – lit up my imagination. It wasn’t long before I concluded the inevitable: that I would risk everything for the taste of your skin. The heartache, the stares of disbelief, the self-reproach – these are but fees for the fire – and I – like any other fool – would stumble in awe towards the brightest, most beautiful light.
If only to love you for the blink of an eye.
Love letter # 441
I dived too deep into the pool of your gaze. I drowned in the honey of your skin. Held fast by your pretty little fingers. Unwound by the slow release of your affection. And my resistance evaporated just as your warmth turned to clouds … Bad timing, huh?
I should have loved you sooner. Perhaps been more certain. Less afraid. Or maybe I knew all along that you didn’t mean it.
But I did. Still do. If that makes any difference.
Love letter # 260
In the mirror of my light – my sacred darkness. On this shaky ground – this here tower of strength. And from my self-destruction – everything I make.
Do you know of these things, my beautiful love? Are you, like me, your own negation?
I say this now because I have come to believe that everything is the smash of opposites – the fission/fusion, create/destroy dance of a world too wonderful to put into a sentence.
And yet my love for you contains it all – because it is the unbounded ocean from which we all came and to which we shall all return.
Love letter # 132
Sitting next to you tonight it hit me. You just tolerate it. That thing I took for your liking me was just you putting up with me. I saw it in your eyes. Please don’t look at me that way – that’s what they said.
For certain I am fool – but not stupid. You allow my touch without responding. You smile when I’m sweet. Maybe you just say yes because you can’t quite find a way to say no.
I feel ashamed. I never wanted this. I wanted you – it’s true – I still do.
I wish I found this out before I loved you. Now when I walk away I leave a little part of me behind. Hanging around your loveliness. Still deluded.
I hope you will forgive my outrageous feeling – my ill-advised flights of fancy. I only wanted to love you. Instead I’ve embarrassed you. Made everything ridiculous.
We wear the same masks as everyone else – we keep our burning quiet – but still those fires light up the night. Every rule in the book will not stop me aching for you. I am dissolved in your nearness – pretence unwound by the brush of your fingers. I feel like light when I’m around you.
Or rather, I did. Because now I have seen and the evidence is undeniable; and the only decent thing to do is disappear. No drama. No scenes. Just these words. My confession. You were right. I liked you too much.
Love letter # 203
Today I have chosen to forget you – or at least to appear as though I have. No mention of your name, though I hear your voice inside me. No inkling of a tear, though the river runs firm and strong in my veins. I ache to burst the meniscus of my silence but stay beneath the shimmering surface instead … holding my breath. Under the sea, all of my memories, like wrecks and smoke stacks – the submerged and emergent evidence of a far greater force than I. Perhaps it was you all along.
Love letter # 375
‘Breakfast’ was at the airport. Different flights. You were the first to leave. I yearned in the echoes – until I too was flown away.
The notion of you and I so brutally compacted. Like a raid. A storming of the citadel. The borrowing of small hours from much longer nights. In my numbered seat I stared into the black night and vowed never again to make such one sided bargains with time.
Was it better to have seen you? Felt you. Heard you sigh.
If anything the weight of the miles increased. I was never sure why you liked me – but I knew it wasn’t enough to make you stay.
Perhaps you wondered why I never gave chase. Because you didn’t want me to. And I was just smart enough to understand what absolute folly it would have been. A lover must be wooed – not hounded.
When I crawled into my cold bed later that night, having endured the usual interrogation and convinced myself a hundred times to end it, I clutched my arms about me and pretended they were yours. I tried to feel you inside me but even that was gone.
I fell asleep to the sound of the radio. And in my dreams at last I let you go.
Love letter # 123
When it ends, as I know now that it must, I will not fight. Not because I have no strength but because love is not a victory – no matter how great the ache of its loss.
Saddened though I am by the dimming of the light, no amount of protest will prevent the coming of the darkness. The steady process has begun. You are slowly, inexorably withdrawing – your touch a little cooler each day. Your kisses less … just less.
I am only saying this because I do not wish to linger in the grey-lit half world of the drawn out breakdown. Nor do I wish it on you. Not for us the awful, second guessing diplomacy and metering out of affection. Not for you the eggshells. Not for me the frantic wondering.
Let the night fall now – before memory fills up with regret – before daybreak dawns bitter and afraid.
I do not know why love has left you – I only know that it has. And that is all I need to know.
Love letter # 299
Why do I still think of you? How come, after all this time, you still break into my thoughts – even my dreams?
I have just spent an hour imagining a scene with you and me – a scene in which your voice was drenched in honey tenderness. Thinking of it, a bloom of warmth spread out from my chest. Hairs stood on end. Little antennas – still attuned to you.
Were you, by any chance, thinking of me? Do you ever?
I know it doesn’t matter. It’s over now. I accept that. But I’d like you to know that whatever you’re thinking, I’m thinking this: that life was more beautiful beside you. That part of my heart still beats out the song of your name. Not in hope – but in thanks.
Perhaps I think of you to remind myself of stars. Of possibility. All I really know now is that I’m awash with sweetness writing this. Even if there is a kind of sorrow lurking behind these words – it is the sadness that stems from the presence of beauty. It is cleansing. Uplifting.
You will think I’m mad and obsessive – that’s fine. These things may well be true. But what I am not is hardened and bitter. However dark it sometimes seems, I still have your torch to help me light the way.
Whatever happens – I promise not to shine it in your eyes.
Love letter # 113
There is an impossible distance and it sits inside me, the vast unfilled quiet between my breastbone and my spine, the echoing chasm, the unimaginable miles. You are out there somewhere, in that enormous other. I can walk for hours in the dark and still get nowhere near you; and every sound, however small, reverberates in the encompassing silence. I am just a dot now – a speck in the sky – and in that cold forever somewhere …
In the night I pray for sleep, hoping not to wake. The days are too long and I am almost crushed by the hours.
Every now and then I get distracted but I remember with an awful crash; and the horizon draws its circle around me. I keep waiting to get used to it – but in your horrible nowhere you are everywhere. I never knew that absence could be so complete, presence so hollowed out.
I do little things, one after another, by rote mainly – a sequence of somethings to paper over nothing.
How did I come to love you so much that I was left with this? You weren’t perfect. You annoyed me sometimes. How petty those quibbles now seem.
And now even they lie across the uncrossable ocean – further every day, as even memory falls apart. It kills me that I can no longer properly recall your eyes – or the way you laughed. Time is stealing you in tiny lots. One day … only my hunger will remain.
Perhaps even then I will still love you.
Love letter # 261
Surely we are old enough to know there is no perfection. Young romantics might sneer, suggesting we have surrendered and they may well be right; but we both know that not every box is going to be ticked. In a way, our love is a kind of graceful (and grateful) acceptance. We have each other and that is a whole lot better than nothing.
So, you and I have a choice. We can let the inbuilt grit rub away the sheen and dream of more polish or we can live with little scratches. Perhaps this is well short of what either of us truly wants but we have reached something; we have created a fragile bubble of us and woken content inside it.
I am not sure that this will ever be anything other than what it is – and the idea that somehow ‘it’ must lead to something more seems silly to me now. Why, when we already have a beautiful sweetness?
Or maybe it’s that you believe we don’t.
Either way, I am old enough now to be utterly confused, to admit I may be totally wrong. Maybe even this, which is me trying to keep us together, is making things worse. I will not pretend. I will not promise what I know I cannot honestly give – but I will say that it was much better when we agreed, when we just kissed and made it up on the run.
Love letter # 181
I get through the days okay – busy, busy – but the nights. I come home to the quietness, to air unruffled by you, and all around the scent of dust is gathering. There’s a barely discernible film over everything – time like wafers, geographic layers. Whispers slowly building.
It looks the same – but it’s another world now. Things are right where you left them. Only you moved out. And in your place? Empty evenings – and the awful sound of settling dust.
How wonderful it was to believe for a while – to have unfounded hope. It was like being alive. Thinking of it makes me smile. And that warm bloom I had for you; I can feel that too – in spite of everything.
Isn’t it strange that what remains is the still echoing strain of how it all started – and that the last ghost to leave is the loveliest by far?
Love letter # 127
It’s weird. I think of you for the first time in ages and you email me out of blue. You haven’t spoken to or typed at me since it had to end. And you mention that – our little thing. Our private LOL. Do you remember? you said.
I smiled to myself at the memory of it just this morning. It almost made me cry.
I tell myself all sorts of things – I’m over, it’s over, she’s not the one – but a few letters on a screen makes my blood go crazy. Why today? Why that – of all things? (Ex flames should know better than to never play with fire.)
But I’m no fool. I know the difference between words and reality. I know that your fingers on the keyboard were just indulging in a moment of nostalgic warmth. A blip-click-click of affection. Nothing more. So I’m only going to ask one thing.
Please tell me I didn’t make it up. Whatever else is true, I long for the lie that it meant something to you. Just say it – and let me go. I promise I won’t dream.
Love letter # 191
You were my vespertine angel, my melancholy queen, and I was your lone hero, fighting the darkness on your behalf. But in the end the night still fell – and before the morning came I had lost you to the shadows.
Now the moon is my companion and the sun is the cruellest of eyes. When I wake in the night the black and the quiet make it possible to breathe your name out loud. In the day time, no such liberties are allowed.
I look for you in dreams; hoping to believe – but then my eyes fly open and the ghost of your kiss recedes at the speed of a startled sigh. Like you never ever were. And how complete the silence afterwards always seems. Deathly, deathly quiet.
In a way it’s a kind of release – as though memory itself had reached its end – and in that moment I am both the closest to and the farthest away from you. And I am okay at last.
Love letter # 119
How did we contrive to throw it all away? What made us do that? We fought over thumbtacks, we staked silly claims, we did everything in our power to break it up. And we succeeded. Brilliant.
We had a wonderful light around us – but somehow we didn’t see it. We were on another planet, when we should have been here. Noticing how beautiful everything is. Loving each other. That’s all we really needed to do.
Love letter # 63
There was no time when we were together – just a sea and you and me. Things I never dreamt of – dreamable – believed – and in my waking moments you were floating next to me.
We had our lovely bubble – a world for no one else – and you were my beautiful queen and I was on my knees. Nobody ever knew who we were – invisible walls around us – so no one saw it coming.
No, not even me.
Love letter # 121
Whenever I think of you – you seem further away. The corners are dusty, the photos face down; the shadows move quietly in your room.
… It is because it is.
But when the sun is warm and the beer is chilled, with just the cans for company – and that song you used to sing out loud … oh bella, oh bella.
Maybe I have a rosy view of you. All the better to remember you by.
Love letter # 148
The beauty of compassion. The wonder of your hair unbraided. The exhaled sigh. The almost impossible cool of your skin. The terrible weight of your leaving. Your soft footsteps. Waking beside you. Hearing you breathe. To have known you. How could I have wished it otherwise?
In the light of morning, you are the angel of the day. In the thickness of evening, I can barely stand. In the sea that is my memory, I hold out my hand for you. And when the light goes out …
Be with me, be with me, be with me.
Love letter # 90
It is often said of lovers that one remembers, the other forgets. You can guess which one I am.
Three years ago today. Do you recall? We listened to Sigur Ros – and the whole world was ours. You asked me if love was the most important thing. I said there was nothing else. It was the beginning of everything.
So how did all that music turn to silence; all that closeness to miles? And what has time done to us?
I know that it’s really quite mundane – that it happens to everyone – but I still can’t fully grasp it; let alone accept it. Yes, I walk through the days. Yes, I function. But that’s all.
In my chest there remains a knot. I feel it like a weight, like a strain in the breath. It is the part of me that still loves you. It is my heart.
Perhaps it is the cold silence I hate most; maybe that’s why I’m writing this. For even a lone voice is something. Even a memory.
I mark this day and honour you – for even now I would still grab fire from the sky and fashion stars for you.
Love letter # 54
In the end, I just learned not to think about you. As long as your name never rang in my head I could float around just fine. For a while it was almost okay. But we both know the bells never stop. And sometimes … we are the rain – destined to fall. I know you won’t have changed your mind but I thought I’d just let you know. Just in case.
Love letter # 555
Would it be wrong of me to say that I miss you; even though it was me who pulled the trigger?
I’m not about to say can we please start again; we both know that would be pointless. But even if it is better this way, it still hurts. There is no victory here, no triumphal consolation, simply the vague hope that I got it right.
Have you ever noticed how the right thing is so often so awful?
Until my heart is full again the nights will be empty. The mornings quiet. The unused section of the bed – cold. Sand on the hearth; where once the fire burned. And the things you left behind, little trinkets of you, gathering dust, turning into memory.
Is it not true that the good walks out the door with the bad?
Perhaps we are the wiser for this – time alone will show us that – but the one thing I do know is that I would be a fool to forget what it was to love you and to see that beautiful light in your eyes.
I think of that, my angel – and I am all at sea. Melted. And I could almost pick up the phone.
Love letter # 56
They tell us all kinds of lies. It’s not that they are cruel, just that they want us not to hurt so much. I have learnt to smile and nod. Bite my tongue.
One of their favourites is: time heals. Yes, the years are a sticking plaster, a morphine drip – but where is this healing they speak of?
You and I both know that time magnifies. Is not this distance greater now, the echo more poignant? Every smile is a tightrope walker and memory is a shudder in the wire. The space between airborne and descent is no more a thin line stretched taut between what is and what is wished for.
If ever I reflect upon it, the emptied out room we once shared is quieter and more awful than ever; the scent of ashes asphyxiating. I swear some days it feels like half of me is back there in time, still dancing with you.
I know you feel the same. I can hear it in the tiny gaps between words; see it in the way your eyes shy. So why are we here – and not there? What damn rule, what cursed idea of moving on and letting go, sees us sitting here in polite, paralysed desire?
I would smash the wisdom of millions to sit next to you. I am unhealed by this so-called time. The more I don’t have you … well, you know.
Would it be alright if I reached across this table, if I swept the coffee cups to the floor, if I set fire to the miles with a touch of mouths?
We would surely know the truth then. Surely.
Love letter # 59
Sunlit autumn afternoons – they are like my desire. The satin soft shimmer of summer; now cool edged and minty. The preposterous, quixotic belief that somehow this warmth will linger; absurd like my stubborn dream.
In this inexorably chilling air, the ghost of a song; its echo receding to inevitable hush. I whisper to these burnt gold leaves – do not fall – knowing they must. And with steamy breath I pray for the sun’s return. As I sing for you.
I am sure I will sleep tonight hoping to wake in spring, even though I know I will not – but certainty never stopped me before. That’s what all these ridiculous words are for. They are the Indian summer of a fevered hunger. They are the last beautiful day.
And in this lovely, gilded air – soft like your gaze used to be – I can almost believe. Believe enough, at least, to ask aloud for one more twirl in the light, for one last tumble of dice. For there is a fire burning here – warm enough for you, my love. Warm enough for you.
Love letter # 97
Sometimes I feel like blaming you. Sometimes I wish I felt nothing. That would be a whole lot easier.
None of this is what I think – it’s how I feel. In my polite, well ordered mind this is all perfectly ordinary break up stuff. You started off liking me and then something changed and you didn’t. I tried to get you back but I failed. Nothing new, nothing original about any that. Ho-hum really.
Yet in my blood coloured heart it ain’t anything like that. It’s still raw, a wound still bleeding; with all the irrational, hyper-emotional drama that goes with it. I’m almost ashamed to admit it.
Partly, I want to hurt you back – anything to draw a response. Even though I know this is utterly ridiculous, I still find myself wanting it. It’s an incredibly humbling experience. I feel thoroughly undermined. The reasonable and relatively well balanced person I once prided myself on being has left the building. He dissolved in your embrace … Or maybe he was an illusion waiting to be shattered.
But y’know what? … So what.
None of that matters. More stupid theories that change nothing. The only way this is going to change is if I stop. So that’s what I’m proposing. An end. A full stop.
Love letter # 76
This evening, the sky was sublime – and the water, it was shimmering glass. A silver sliver moon scratched a bright exclamation above and the velvet air filled me up with scent and soft promise. I was a drunkard – barely staggering.
Would you be amazed to learn that all the while I thought of you? I almost wished you into proximity – so beautiful amidst the beauty, so perfect beside the vespertine fire.
You are like the beauty of the world – or so it seems to me. And you are like the stars coming out – dressing the universe in infinite magic.
I missed you. I yearned for you. It was a beautiful ache. As it always is when the night is like this and you are somewhere else.
Love letter # 58
This may have to be the end. I don’t know that I have the strength to sit next to you and listen to you talk about other men. I understand that I’m being petty and jealous, that I have absolutely no claim over you … but I cannot stand it.
We had a great time last night. You were warm and friendly and generous. We got a little drunk, we got a little high, we talked like soulmates. It was beautiful. I loved it. I loved being only two feet from you.
But I am not blind. I saw that your eyes contained no desire; that I was just another friend, no longer the special one. Last night was exactly the kind of night when we would once have made the most wonderful love – but there was not a flicker of that possibility in anything you did or said. It’s not that you were cold; it’s just that I was on fire.
You have been honest and upfront with me and I respect that. But I cannot be number 58.
I realise that all this churning comes from me, that it is my desire for something I cannot have that’s making me ill. There is no blame for you to take, there is no reasonable criticism I can make. Yet all that even handed thinking does absolutely nothing to dilute this feeling. When I see you – even if only in my imagination – I am overwhelmed by how beautiful you are and how very much I want to be with you.
I would offer you forever but I know that two hours is your limit. And I wish I could be those other men that you tell me are so hot – but I’m not.
I love you – and therein lies the issue; because hope is the last thing to die. Indeed there are times when I swear that I will die first – and I am not ashamed to say that I have prayed for that day to arrive.
So be free, my love. Fly. Be brilliant. But maybe don’t call me …
Love letter # 52
So this is where I find myself – hoping you won’t be there. It’s not that I don’t want to see you it’s just that I can’t bear it. I can’t sit politely, pretending you’re just anybody. My heart will not make do with scraps.
And you’re so awkward these days, trying so hard not to let it show – wearing your veil of uncaring because someone said it was better that way. Hiding your beauty away, lest I be tempted.
I find this impossible to watch. It is an insult.
Better that I say goodbye. Better to have clean nothing than dirty remnants. Better not to be friends.
I can only apologise for my intemperance. It has led me to this ultimatum. It has made me choose – and I have chosen the truth. You will not love me again and I will not wake to your beautiful drowsy smile.
And now I am all at sea – gasping and flailing, a fool thrown overboard. Yet surely the threat of drowning is more than enough reason to swim.
So here I am – staying afloat, hoping for islands – sending you love and letting you go. x
Love letter # 83
If I have called your name out a hundred times it was simply to bring you near, to conjure you out of sound, to have you here once more.
If I have imagined you at odd hours it was only to let this walled up love run, to spend this beauty on you … to pretend.
All because, for a few weeks back then, you loved me and I loved you in return – and just like it says in that song: we were amazing.
I could easily be a fool for saying it but I would still give it all for you.
Love letter # 431
Because the embers remind me of a fire. Because the rain was a river you swam in. Because the wind has brushed your hair. Because …
Love letter # 150
In another world, my love … in another world we still swirl in golden light.
And in another sky we still soar, up on the updrafts, where all the little details melt to feeling.
There is a place where you and I are king and queen – and there we walk barefoot, living on air and sunlight, needing nothing more.
We may well be done and dusted on this grubby planet – count the stupid reasons – but deep beneath my ribs a study beat still rattles the cage, the rhythm defiant. For even though the dancers have departed the room still echoes with beautiful songs.
Yes, we frayed all the edges – but who remembers nicks and cuts?
In this imperfect world, my love – I remember you.
Love letter # 55
Tonight, as I write, the warm air buzzes, voices drift up from the street. Down there, where I have just been, they are walking arm in arm – and I have lurched up the stairs missing you like mad. Wondering why; even though why won’t matter.
I tell myself to forget you and my friends agree. They say things about you that fill my imagination with horror, that almost make me determined. Yet when the truth crashes through …
There is nothing more to be lost now so I might as well risk it all. You can’t be any more gone.
I look over my shoulder at us and what I see is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It was you who said you couldn’t do close. It wasn’t that we fought or fell out – in fact you were at your most loving just minutes before midnight – it’s just that you decided. You flicked some switch and your soft gaze steeled, your warm voice dried. You broke it off on the phone, almost like an after-thought at the end of our regular late night lovers’ call – and then simply stopped calling. Your affection emptied out. Us washed away like shavings.
People tell me things. Hideous stories. I feel sick when I hear them – and I yearn to hold you again.
I wonder how so much obvious magic can turn so abruptly to nothing. Even now I am still bewildered. I look at these loving couples on the sidewalk and I know exactly what’s missing.
But I am not writing for the past, I’m writing to spark a future. All those promise I made, each and every wild, creative scheme we hatched, they are still here. You need only whisper the thought for it all to come true.
Look at it – all this beauty for your deciding. You must remember it; how easily we connected, how effortlessly we flew … Hey, I might as well ask.
I understand that the chances of you reading this are close to nil but I could not sleep tonight without at least trying. When I click send and these words go spiralling through the matrix to your machine I will possess, if only for the few foolish seconds before oblivion, some small sliver of belief.
Not hope. I’m not that stupid. Just a little more faith in you, my beautiful absent love.
Love letter # 37
There is something altogether humbling about this. My various treasures are now trash, my victories hollow shouts. The smug assurance with which I swaggered through the world like some kind of deluded king is now a quiet shuffle – almost a hiding away.
All the well-meaning therapies have failed and ‘perspective’ has only shown me what I already knew. And now … the bandages are discarded, beyond disinfecting.
My desire has left me with bloodied knees, with cuts all over. A scorched earth stares out from the mirror. I’m sure you get the picture.
I have tried to be sane – to be friends – but I have failed. One of us is poison to the other. I’ll leave you to make your own determination on that.
I cannot judge you. I can only act for my own salvation. I cannot be in a room with you; it’s as simple as that. I know it’s absurd and I offer no defence but I have to ink this full stop right here.
I love you endlessly, recklessly … but I have to live. Please don’t seek any further explanation; the sound of your voice shakes my resolution to pieces. I am only calm in silence.
You are the most astonishing person I have known, the most dangerously beautiful. I have never felt so connected. Never been so sure. Until now.
Forgive me, gorgeous girl. My feet weren’t even clay in the end. So much for swaggering.
Love letter # 124
It would be much easier if I didn’t – but I do. For despite all my trying, all my regularly updated vows, I still sit in the place where we once lingered, vainly reaching across time, trying not to breath too loudly; lest the remnants be obscured.
In every room, the archaeological record, barely buried – the way you danced over there, how you softly sighed in here. In one envelope – a picture of you in that dress and the only two love letters you ever wrote. And that childlike painting tacked to the wall in my secret corner of you.
All of which brings me to this … you once said goodbye; and so now the wheel has turned and it has come time for me to break these things.
Time for me to say: it’s not you.
There is an old saying; it goes something like this: at the end of the summer remember that in a very short time it will be spring once more.
Tonight, I have walked amongst these dry old leaves and seen at last the chance of flowers. Thank you.
Love letter # 3
This morning I woke to find that sorrow had turned back to sweetness. And now – with all the rowdy gatecrashers gone home – my love remains in quiet triumph. The room is cleared of wreckage and the song we used to dance to plays softly in the newly calmed space; the sound of tenderness – uninterrupted after all.
The noisy drama of heartbreak, the messy entanglement of separation – it was temporary. But my love for you … did I not say it was forever?
Though I can number my faults in the thousands, I am grateful for my two lone virtues – for I have learned to give without asking and love just because.
So now I can breathe – and it is joy – and my heart is free at last to beat out the rhythm of your name without bleeding. The things I remember – they are music once more.
Be free, my angel – set the stars on fire.
And always know, whenever, wherever, no matter what – here in the beautiful corner – that light … that light … that light.
Love letter # 1
You won’t read this so I won’t lie.
This is love without hooks, without points of order.
But what becomes of love when it’s dammed? Does it pour through cracks? Does it threaten sudden inundation?
I can answer only by saying that the secret unleashing of floods is a euphoric liberation. It is the beauty that despair becomes. It is the light that shines when you’re not here.
So maybe this is it – some kinda wild river. I know I promised not to mention it but a dumb wall cannot hold back such a beautiful rush. Right beneath my fingertips visceral, unreasoning, eternally narcotic glory is triumphing over text book ordinariness.
When I fell for you I was uplifted.
And your not being here, your not responding – it has done nothing to quiet that inspired song. I hear it in every silence. It sits behind my edifice of pretence; my pretending to be okay. It will not keep quiet and neither will I.
But you will get no cards. You will receive no flowers. I will not call you. I will not beseech you. I will become a figure of memory – someone you once knew.
But I will walk away singing.
For love that does not even whisper is wont to become poison in the veins – and I would rather have the golden light. Even if the price is a fire. Even if I lose the distinction between ecstasy and despair.
Why be mad for trinkets when you can be mad for angels?
Through some strange gate you found your way inside me. Your temporary tenderness kicked over the traces. The brakes stopped working – and in their place … flight.
Falling. Splendour and terror. A magnificent dissolution. An unexpurgated version.
This gift you accidently gave to me. Your warm ardour, your momentary faith in me – it changed the way I breathe. And my love for you suffuses everything to this minute. Even when I’m begging not to feel, even when the blood is sticky and my fingers are trembling, even as I drink to forget.
How can I be quiet when there is music in everything?
So here I am – blurting to the safe ether. Letting the dam burst wash me to the sea. I can tumble in that crazy deluge knowing that at least I’m getting somewhere.
See – much better to type it out than to fence it in.
Love is too vast for silence. An ocean too big for a teaspoon.
Love letter # 49
If only you could feel the fire – then you would know – and I wouldn’t need these tepid stand-ins, these words that say nothing.
I have no langauge for these tides. This ocean will not fit into a cup.
I would fumble. You would run. I would seem mad. You would seem cruel. Fear would win.
Better to love you quietly tonight. Wiser to forget where the phone is.
I might pray instead – seek the elusive favour of angels – speed some helpful cupid your way. They would say it better than me. They would let you know.
Until then … just words – and their stubborn little sibling. Hope.