I’ve known you for five years, loved you for three, but I’ve never actually seen you.
Not really. I’ve seen little snippets of your heart, short teasers of your soul and shiny, polished clips of your truth, but I’ve never actually seen you. I’ve never had the courage to look at you with naked eyes—for all this time, I’ve been hiding behind the the sweet glow of my rose-colored glasses.
So I took off my rose colored glasses today.
I shed them like a layer of skin that’s grown too tight, a constricting wool scarf that’s protected me so fiercely from the whipping winds of truth that it has also hurt me, cut into me, and compromised the clarity of my eyesight.
I took off my rose-colored glasses today.
I smacked them down on our dining room table with a loud thud and watched silently as they cast magenta sparkles on the stained, ripped, and tattered white fabric tablecloth—sparkles that weren’t meant to be there, sparkles that suggested false beauty, sparkles that were spun of fantasies wrapped in candy vines of lilac-scented lies.
Dammit, my love, I’m so tired of looking at you through pretty pink lenses of pretty pink half truths. I’m tired of gazing only at your potential, your promise, your hope, your charm, your handsome smile.
There’s so much more to you. And I’d like to see it all—especially the not-so-pretty things.
I want to see you, all of you, more of you—I want you to unfold in front of me, like a slightly yellowed scroll, unveiling chapter after chapter of hidden stories and addictive prose sprinkled with secret poems. I want to see the things you like to hide. I want to see every ache, every mistake, every fractured smile, every obstacle and every gritty, snarly struggle.
I want to see you, for real.
So I took off my rose-colored glasses and unpeeled the edges of my never-ending fairytale expectations like a raw clementine, smelling the sweaty-citrus aroma of your dry, splotchy skin. I snipped away at the stubborn seams of my seductive, sparkling fantasies, chopped ’em up into a pile of sharp, steaming-hot honesty, and stripped it all down to something I like to avoid—
I undressed all the things I wish you were, all the things I’ve tried to change about you, all the things I’ve wanted you to be—and, for the first time, I looked at you.
For the first time, I saw you. I saw you, and it was so f*cking beautiful.
I cried in shocked gasps as I gazed at the gentle fragility that flows behind your smile, a secret waterfall of doubt and fear filled with goldfish of squirming vulnerability—vulnerability so raw that you won’t allow anyone to touch it, not even briefly. I saw the grief that still lives inside you, tears threaded into your heart like fossilized puffs of smoke. I saw the dark, roaring currents of hurt that rage underneath your skin, unseen from the top, like hidden waves in a deceptively placid lake that’s frosted sweetly with a foot of snow.
There you were—naked and honest, curious and confused, vulnerable as hell.
So tenderly human.
No, you weren’t as perfect as I’d hoped—and yes, my fairytale fantasies were shattered, but I smiled so wide as fascination lit up my eyes like a thousand stars. I saw you, in a new way, in all of your imperfect, human glory.
We stood there silently, you and I—no words could form in the lace-like delicacy of this gossamer moment. And in this moment, I realized something startling and true: you don’t exist in the blooming tendrils of my active imagination—you never did. You exist here on earth.
You are not a mythical superhero, you are a man.
A beautiful, flawed man.
So let me step outside of my bubbling imagination, let me set down all the lengthy lists I’ve made of all the things I want in a lover and let me step onto the gritty, muddy ground, as dirt gathers like crumbling chocolate between my big toes. Let me taste the brashness of Winter’s whipping winds, rip off all my preconceived notions and touch your hand—for the first time.
I want to feel every bump and callous on your fingertips, to examine the tiny blue-purple veins that are like maps to your secrets, roads that lead to the trembling, bubbling center of your tenderest truths. I want to run my lips over each misshapen scar and every scab and every goddam bead of sweat that rises from the tiny pores on your palms.
I want to see through your skin to your bones, and then go deeper and deeper, til’ I’m glancing boldly at the unmasked rawness that dances like a snowflake in your soul.
You are so tenderly human.
And so am I.
Today, I took off my rose colored glasses and I saw you for the first time. I embraced you in a new way—I embraced reality.
It hurt like hell.
I met you at noon over a cup of strong coffee, in a crowded cafe that smelled of eggs, burnt bacon and stale perfume.
We walked through the snow-dusted forest with cold fingers and rancid coffee-stained morning breath, getting our shoes dirty, our pants speckled with mud, our cheeks painted red from the harsh, clawing winds.
It was simple. It was sweet. It was messy. It was terrifyingly human. It was just two people talking, for real.
It was my favorite thing in the whole world.
I took off my rose colored glasses today—and I saw you, for the first time.
And then I looked in the mirror, and I saw me—dark circles, pale skin, eyes full of fear, a curious smile hiding a misty sprinkle of sadness.
I stood there, naked and confused, curious and imperfect, vulnerable as hell.
I wasn’t as perfect as I’d hoped, but I smiled wide because I looked so human.
So tenderly human.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Caroline Beaton