“Have you ever been in love like that?” she asks me, and I realize that maybe I’m so good at hiding my most tender parts that she really doesn’t know the answer to this question.
“Yeah,” I say. “Yeah. That kinda love where it feels so big, and so tangible you can hardly stand to stay inside your own skin with it? Yeah. I’ve been in love like that.”
“It broke me.”
“You don’t seem broken.”
“I’m not. Not anymore. But once I was tiny pieces, carelessly broken and thrown away.”
“What did you do?”
“I put myself back together.”
“You can do that?”
“Yeah. Most people do it better than I did. You can still see all the seams in me, the places I didn’t fit together well or glue carefully enough. But you can do it.”
The part I leave out is each breaking can be more excruciating than the one before it. That the fingers that sew you back together don’t get deft with the skill of experience but instead tremble at the exercise, bewildered that you’re here. Your arms stretched wide across the floor. Scraping the bits of yourself up to bind together. Again.
“I hope you get to be in love like that,” I tell her gently.
And I do. Not because of the heady intensity of it all. Not even because I believe she’ll leave it unscathed. That’s now how it works. But because the fallout- vast, wide, nuclear- is where you learn that pieces don’t mean broken.
And we all deserve to know we’re made of steel.