The words blend together and slur from one to the next like kids pushing and shoving to get to the front of an ice cream truck. Each of them wants the first choice before all the good ones are taken. I turn the volume up on my car stereo and roll up my window, sure I’m not hearing correctly.
A song by a rapper that’s not about sex, drugs and violence? What is this world coming to?
The chorus starts up and I hear it again, the way a man I’ve never met pins me down with a few words and forces me to admit where I’m at in this life.
For a second, I think he’s equating seduction with stealing. Crooks stealing hearts. Not jewelry or cold hard cash, but the single-most important organ in the human body.
You know, the one that keeps you alive and all. No big deal.
If breaking hearts is a crime, the world has more criminals than it can possibly hold in its many county jails and state penitentiaries.
I wonder if we’d come to identify certain levels of indiscretions, starting first with the girl in kindergarten who shakes her head and speeds off when the boy asks to hold her hand as they cross a street. Second up: the boy who won’t go to the Sadie Hawkins dance with the girl he likes because he was supposed to be the one to ask—not her. Third: the girl who slept around with the boy who gave everything he had to her. Fourth: the man who married a woman out of fear of being alone and left her because he was afraid he’d never be free again.
Would the crimes build and build until each situation was dissected by a judge, both parties sentenced to individual sentences? Would that stop heartbreak, drying it out at the source so every handhold held meaning far beyond the act of safety?
You deserve the best, he says. You’re beautiful.
Would we listen to a man with teardrops tattooed on his cheeks and believe that he was just as beautiful? Would we consider that maybe he needs to hear those same words and believe them just as much, or is beautiful a word reserved for a woman on her wedding day, when the rest of us know that she spent hundreds of dollars to cover up whatever it is she doesn’t want to remember about herself?
She walks down the aisle in a sheet of white and every head turns. The bridesmaids whisper the same thing. She’s beautiful.
But isn’t she beautiful in thirty years when she’s washing dishes in front of the kitchen sink? Wasn’t she beautiful when she was just a kid with skinned knees and a cherry popsicle stain rimmed around her lips?
Can’t have a man stare at you for five seconds without you feeling insecure, he says.
Believe it or not, there lies within us the ability to balance: spending all day thinking about someone naked versus holing up inside and cutting off our fingers one by one, repenting for sins we haven’t yet given ourselves a chance to commit.
Believe it or not, there are hundreds of emotions and thoughts that pass through someone’s head besides these two things, these two extremes, yet our hearts and minds jump right to the first option.
How to love. It starts with something simple: you’re not ordinary, you’re not trapped, you’re not always someone else’s eye candy.
You can be more. You have to expect more. You have to give more.
No one ever fell in love by scooting into a corner and pulling their knees to their chest. Love is a jump. A leap. A belief that something good is left in this life. That someone good is left.