Warning: Adult language ahead!
He stood at the edge of the bed against the dirt-stained white wall.
The glow of the lights made his dark, sun-kissed skin look even softer than it already was.
The sheets were pushed back.
It was rare there was a sound other than the hum of the fan and the faint music, but his voice filled the room, heating it.
You know the feeling of having something right in front of you, but for some reason you can’t touch it? Do you also know the feeling of being right in front of someone and feeling their gaze go right through you, as if you’re not even there?
His inability to be idle while telling the story of how he got barreled in the perfect wave made my chest warm. His passion was contagious, and I wanted him to bring it to me in the bed. His eyes glazed over as he stared in the distance, still feeling the high he felt when he stood straight up on his board, a blue wall surrounding his body.
He said in that moment, time had stopped.
As complex creatures driven by emotions and logistics, we have been given the opportunity to choose the route of how we handle a situation. Moments that feel like hours go by, when in reality, only enough time to blink our eyes passes. We file through all the emotions in our brain quickly. Feelings of rejection, anger, sadness, disappointment, memories of past lovers, memories of friends that lied to you, for some reason a childhood memory of a close-knit group of girls pops into your head and how you felt, so young and so alone.
In those small moments we either let ourselves collapse under the weight of those difficult times, or we file them right alongside the other, equally as beautiful lessons life has been so kind to give us.
In his mind, he was telling me about his day. In my mind, I realized I was being rejected. He had a lover, and she wasn’t me.
His blonde-tipped eyelashes fluttered and he looked back into my eyes, like being awoken from a dream. His limbs went limp and his body relaxed as he crawled back into the bed. He didn’t speak much after he finished his story; he didn’t look at me. He reminded me of the guys I had fucked. The heart racing, the climax, the release. This kid didn’t need me to make him cum.
I realized I was competing with the ocean. And I realized I could never win.
I laid there, paralyzed from the realization that I was so powerless. I had never felt so small lying next to someone in a bed. I found myself drowning in the gray sheets as if the ocean surrounded me in my small bedroom.
I’ve heard that when you drown, there’s a flash of peace and clarity in the last moments—much like those instances when you feel time has stopped. A moment where you’re no longer fighting, but instead feeling all that is around you. I didn’t feel hurt, I didn’t feel wronged, I didn’t feel helpless. Instead, I let go of trying to control and let myself settle where I was meant to settle.
Once there, I looked back to what was in front of me.
I simply saw a beautiful boy that was full of so much love taking up half the bed. And even though he couldn’t see me, I felt lucky to be able to see him.
There’s something to be said about the moments that really break us down and slap us in the face (sometimes harder than others). It’s natural to experience those low moments. But it’s what we choose to take from them and what we allow ourselves to learn from them where we see the true beauty.
As humans, we’re resilient animals who have evolved to survive and overcome the harshest winters, the driest deserts, the bloodiest battles, our economies crashing, our loved ones dying, our paychecks keeping us from taking that trip we’ve been planning and even something as simple as someone not wanting to kiss us back.
We come out of those moments feeling beaten down, with hazy eyes keeping us from seeing the way out. But the simple truth is we’re stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
We keep breathing, and our feet keep carrying us. We move forward a little bit, sometimes take a little step back, some days moving slower than others, but eventually, we move forward, and realize there really isn’t an option to turn back.
We’re strong and powerful, full of our own depth and mysteries and our own waves of emotions.
And one day we’ll realize there is an ocean inside of all of us, deserving to be seen and worthy of being loved.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Used with Permission by Kylie Sky