It’s autumn, and I may be falling in love for the first time.
The thought crosses my mind as I have my arms wrapped around Caiden in the backseat of his car. I decide to close my eyes because the longer I stare at the bright red leaves of the trees outside his windows, the more they seem like a metaphor.
I just can’t shake the sense and it scares me.
Maybe it has something to do with that novel I’ve been reading about opening your heart. It’s been sitting in my room half-finished for over two years, but recent intimate developments had drawn me to it again among the piles of many other books bought and yet to be read. Something in me was finally ready for the end of the story. Reaching the end of that story was an unexpected accomplishment. It filled me with a renewed sense of inspiration and appreciation for life’s possibilities. Perhaps, those words were the medicine I needed.
A voice in my head keeps whispering the title to me over and over again like a spell.
“Now is the time to open your heart.”
Now, I see the yellows and reds of the trees as a reflection of the growing flame inside my chest. It’s a refreshing contrast to the chill of a coming winter.
As I burrow more deeply into his embrace, I feel my mind rifling through all the insecurities I’ve collected over the years. I try tapping into all the elements of healing I’ve collected so I can relieve the pain which kept me from opening up in the past. I even begin meditating on a passage from that book of daily Tao reflections I read early in the morning. It said that now is a time of harvest, a time of cleansing and taking stock. The statement makes me think of my emotions. I’ve put so much work into myself to be able to shamelessly lean into another person’s arms like this. I can’t help but see this moment as the fruit of all my efforts.
I breathe in deeply in an attempt to further calm myself, and also just for the sake of indulgence. I notice that faint spice to his scent that I’ve always loved. It relaxes me.
“Now is the time to open your heart,” the voice whispers again.
I want to open up. It’s hard, but I want to try.
So, I open my eyes. I find him looking back at me with a sweet smile. The blue sparkle of the moon reflecting in his eyes charms me into nostalgia. It’s that pale twinkle in my lover’s eyes which brings me back to the first boy I felt my heart burn for. The memories of the first time I felt like this come flooding, and I let my mind surrender to the warm summer haze.
It was the summer I was ten years old. My parents would send my siblings and me to the local Jewish community center for summer camp. We weren’t Jewish, but I had no idea. Back then all Jewish meant to me was challah bread on Friday and Hebrew prayers before lunchtime. It also meant my favorite camp, with the best games and the best field trips.
One day we went on a field trip to the ice skating rink. That’s when I saw Vernell gliding across the ice in his sparkly blue leotard. I had no idea when he changed into it and I didn’t care because I was enraptured. I thought the way the sequins on his loose long sleeves shimmered against his cool toned dark brown skin as he jumped and twirled was just dazzling. I had never seen a boy so graceful.
I hadn’t paid much attention to him up until that point, even though he was one of the few boys in the Voyagers Camp with me. Most of the boys my age were in Sports Camp, which had just as few girls as Voyagers had boys. Regardless, from that point on I couldn’t stop noticing him.
I noticed how big his smile was when he was talking about his favorite cartoons with his friend, and how focussed and committed he was to his silly ideas during arts and crafts. Above all, I noticed his boldness in breaking the rules I loved to break too.
The memories kindle the flame inside me. I start to feel gratitude for being able to reacquaint myself with these long forgotten feelings. I realize the uncertainty from all those years ago still remains in some ways. However, the reflection brings clarity, and the sense of familiarity brings comfort.
I’ve been here before. I’ve felt this before. Everything is okay.
I’m just falling in love, again.