I know all the caves and contours, all the “Picasso Gone Buck Wild” contortions of a face thats just heard the words, “It’s over. I’m sorry. We just can’t do this anymore.”
They sit playing on a reel in an old abandoned movie theatre in my mind though I don’t make popcorn and watch them flicker anymore. No one has ripped my ticket stub to that theatre in years.
But I should tell you that they’re hollowed in my memory and I could easily stand over the workspace of an artist commissioned for the Museum of Broken-Hearted Faces and guide her. “Add a little more droop over there,” “His face needs to be paler,” “Ah, yes! You’ve captured it perfectly… that is exactly what he looked like when I asked him to open up his chest for me so I could rip his heart out with my scrawny manicured fingers.”
I’m not a heart breaker by any means, don’t get me wrong; these are just the faces I’ve collected like Pokemon cards, the only gathered proof I’ve got to tell you I was raised by a woman who doesn’t believe in cell phones and would never let me unload my baggage—the Suitcases & Hat Boxes of Strangeness and Sorrow—into a text message gone marching towards the eyes of Another while I headed for the grocery store to cross avocados off the list.
“I don’t care how far you have to drive or how hard it is to say it,” I can still envision her telling me. “If you are going to break up with that boy then you better do it to his face.”
I have not always listen to her but, during the times I have, I’ve had to say hard words that I realized quickly cannot be remedied with a few swift taps of my phone. I’ve had to swallow hard and bite down on my bottom lip. I’ve had to wait. Mostly in Silence. For someone else to release me.
I’ve had to watch tears pour. I’ve had to mix those tears with mine. I’ve had to concoct slobbery messes of Pain & Unsaid Words & Missed Phone Calls. An elixir that I am so sure caked the faces of those once wearing petticoats and buckled shoes, rocking back and forth in their puddles of Salt and Sorry’s, saying, “There will be social media for this one day?”
I don’t diary my pain on Facebook. I won’t tell you that I am hurting through index cards and a Macbook camera. But baby, baby, it’s only because I’ve got a Mama who once sat me down and told me, “God created faces for a reason.” That we were made to see them, touch them, learn them like numbers sweet & sticky on the chalkboard.
And I’ve learned this best in 23 years: the best thing my face will ever learn to be is present for the moment my heart has lent itself to. Present to the face of the one who deserves far more than my text messages and voice mails.
(Mama: God gave us faces so that others could hold them when the Sorrow rolled in with the fog & the tide. Am I getting warmer? Warmer, still?)
People-- all the “They”s and “Them”s stacked upon “He”s and “She”s, boiled down to “Me” and “You”—people deserve this… You.
You. Deserve. This. Don’t you know it, baby?
You deserve words that don’t always sound like poetry because they are shaky & breathy & said out loud without a script, instead of tossed into a blog post where the title line don’t warn you right, “The contents of this blog post will knock you to your knees. Please. Read. Carefully.”
You deserve pauses.
& Losses of Words.
You deserve the sometimes weighted, sometimes throated explanations.
Regardless, you deserve the explanations and the effort it takes to say them out loud.
And you… well you deserved far more than what I gave you after we heard the news that time… I’m sorry I didn’t realize that sooner.
And if you deserve this then that must mean Me… Me, yes, Me. That I deserve something too.
I deserve to know when your heart first decides it is time to pack his bag, stand off by the side of a dusty road, stick out his thumb and wait for the nearest jeep wrangler to pick him up. I deserve to see the paleness in your face. I deserve to show you my face, when you’ve washed me clean with words you’ve been needing to place in the “Box of Said and Meant It” for far too long, and tell you- with my own shaky voice- that I’m going to be just fine… that I appreciate the honesty…
I deserve the times you tell me that your kind of social is dinner parties where people use their hands when their speaking and their phones are tucked in coat pockets letting other people get used to the scripted message we should all be telling one another when the laptops close and it becomes 5 o’ clock somewhere. I’m not here right now. Please leave a message. I’ll get back to you... In the morning... Because I’ve got someone who folds me in better than a file and who doesn’t need an e-vite to grab me by the face tonight. I’ve got someone who draws me to eye level more instantly than Instagram.
I deserve to tell you… well I guess you deserve to hear it… that you’ll always be one of the greatest Single Characters in my book-- no matter where the time takes us, no matter how we come out from the rubble.
You deserve to know that there have never been 140-Characters when it comes to you… No sir, only one… only one…