I was eleven, or maybe twelve, when it hit me that I was just a leaf floating in the air, being carried over by the wind coming from whoever happened to blow my way. Not much agency or direction of my own, just letting myself be moved around by the whims of other people.
I always felt distant to everything. Like seeing the world through a thick, tinted window. Everything and, specially everybody, always looked a bit too blurry, forcing me to squint my eyes to make out what was happening. Was I even a human at that point? It didn't feel natural to be that way. Maybe I was just an alien, trying to learn how to behave; trying out every day to disguise myself, afraid somebody would look through my act.
When I liked a girl, was that really love? My stomach would turn, my mind would be in a rush, and I could barely talk. Is that what love is? At the same time I felt the desire of getting closer, I felt afraid even more: would this be worth it if it's making me drop the act? Something devastating would happen the moment they would realize I'm just an alien. That their ideas of me are just fiction, that I can't give them what they want. But after all, I wanted desperately to break through the window and see the world without barriers, thinking that loving somebody would allow me to finally achieve it.
Then, was that infatuation, love? Or was it just me trying to fix my mind by leeching off from somebody else?
For a long time the only emotions that could overwhelm me were fear, anxiety and infatuation. The fear of not being human would transform into the anxiety of finding somebody that I could give my life to, so I had to be infatuated with a girl. Maybe not being alone would make me human, or maybe my calling was to just serve as a secondary character to another, more fulfilling, more human, life. So I, unconsciously, became a leaf, going from person to person for the will to live.
The moment I found somebody that accepted me, I was relieved. Thinking life would get easier, I would start feeling more human each day. But it was draining. Without fail, things would break down eventually when my mask slipped off and, accordingly, people wouldn't want to spend their time with an alien. Did I really love them? Would it have been better to never even met in the first place? I wanted to be with them, feel the soft touch of their hands on my skin, hear their voice all throughout the night. I wanted to be everything they expected from me. But it still felt distant, I couldn't be sure of what I was feeling.
Then it ended, again, but this time the pain was overwhelming. The first time I could feel like something was ripped off from me. No more blurriness, no more fog. The sun at noon would burn my skin relentlessly, the rain at night would freeze my bones, my breath would start being erratic. All the songs whose lyrics I never bothered to pay attention to suddenly were weighing heavily on me. Suddenly I was thrown into a world that I could barely understand, but it felt real. At last, I was feeling human.
It must have been love. The way I could let the mask slip off ever so slightly, that led to building plans for the future. We were in a kind of slow burn, that made us feel safer around each other. Not a burning passion that fizzled out, but a constant yellow light illuminating every corner. Maybe that is what love is for me. Something to assuage my fear of being an alien, something that brings me back to the real world. Spent most of my life seeking the brightest flame when I needed a safe slow burn. It wasn't completely without flaws and damage, but the pain it brought alongside the happiness made me feel alive for the first time.
Such a shame I could only realize this in retrospect, long after everything ended. During those years, the anxiety didn't pull back, trying to obscure the meaning of what we were.
Now everything feels overwhelming. The scratches on my knees, the burns in my palms. The same sad songs I keep repeating. I want to run, I want to try new things, I want to sing. For so long I thought I would never have the drive for those things, suddenly having it is exhausting, but I don't want to go back anymore.
The girl I talked to for just a few hours, I keep regretting not calling her before it was too late. But this feels closer to love, more than just infatuation. I don't feel the need to throw my life away to serve her. I don't feel the same anxiety as before. For the first time I wanted to chase the connection I felt out of pure desire. To try another slow burn, but now starting from a better place.
Life is still scary and unpredictable, but the excitement hasn't wore off yet. I want to take the pain and the bliss as forcefully as they dare to come.