Must I forego some part of myself for you to see me? Forget some memory that I cannot help but grasp onto, even as time and obligations make the details blurry? What would it take for you to nod your head, beckoning me toward your outstretched arms?
And what of you? Must you forego some part of yourself? Must you forget in order to be a part of me?
A part, yet apart.
Forgive me if I sound naïve or ungrateful. It’s difficult for me to address you directly. To reveal myself. Make myself vulnerable. So often, when I’m called upon to represent you, to speak for you, I have to fake strength and resilience. I’m very self-conscious about it—the shift in my posture, the articulation of my words, the precision of my gestures. In order to make clear that you/I belong here, that your/my presence is necessary and important. That you/I have something to say that needs to be heard.
Sometimes, I wish I didn’t have to speak. I’d rather just lay next to you. In a dark room, with the windows open. I’d lay my hand on your chest, watching it rise up and down with each breath. I’d listen as you whisper to me the details of your day. What you ate. And whom you saw. What you said. And how you said it. I want to feel the warmth of your body against mine, as we pull the covers up over us as protection from the cold.
I want you to love me as much as I love you. You don’t have to say it. I just need to feel it.
Which isn’t to say that I don’t already. There are moments when all around me I feel your presence. Moments of lightness, and brightness, when I think that nothing could ever separate us again. But our separation is inevitable, and so is our reunion.
As we’ve gotten older, wiser, more honest with each other, we’ve come realize that our love is not about undying devotion or lifelong monogamy. There will be times when you don’t listen, when I don’t hear. When our tired, angry, hungry, proud, joyful, beautiful bodies will be so very far apart.
But even then, I will desire you. And you will desire me. I will seek you out, as you search for me. I will share my heartbreaks and happinesses, as will you. I will read to you from the books in my bag, sing the songs stuck in my head, ask the questions that only you can answer.
I will change you. And you will change me, as you have done so many times already.
There are voices and heads, mostly male, mostly white, on TV, on my computer, on the street, on my phone, telling me, but not necessarily you, over and over that it gets better. I’m not sure what to make of their assurances. I don’t know what “it” means. Am I it? Are you?
Unlike those men—who insist on bombarding me with false narratives of inevitable progress, of celebrations of privileged mobility, and coded rejections of where you and I come from—unlike those men, you and I know that we are not living in a moment of new and unprecedented crisis. This crisis has been and is ongoing—we see it every time a young person decides that death is their only option, every time black and brown men are gunned down by white cops, every time bombs fall on cities whose names we insist on mispronouncing, every time my mother recalls the violence of her colonial childhood, every time they limit your right to choose or ask for your papers or demand to know whether you’re a boy or a girl, every time I am randomly selected to open my bags at the airport.
No, this crisis is not new. It doesn’t, inevitably, get better.
But what you’ve taught me, through your example, your mistakes, your contradictions, is to fiercely imagine something else. Not in the abstract, but always grounded in the material, and the everyday.
This is why I am writing you this love letter.
You have given me histories, personal and collective. Stories that pass over and through generations and peoples, violating the logics of biology and time. Stories of mothers and migrants, laborers and scholars. Of people coming together, through and across difference. Of separations and longings. Of utopias and otherwises, where hope and love replace profit and prisons.
Those worlds may be foreign to me. I may never see them, never experience them fully for myself. But I know them because you show them to me. Because we build them, together, with our hands and our minds, because we know we have no other option but to imagine them into existence.
With all my love. Till soon,