August 31, 2017

We all Carry “Baggage.” {Poem}

Several months back, I joined a dating app.

I was approached by an older man looking for a younger woman to start an uncommitted relationship.

While that was not even remotely something I was interested in, I admit to a sense of curiosity about why he was not interested in women his own age. I posed the question, to which he responded, “They have too much ‘baggage.'”

I was quick to let him know that at 24 years of age, I had plenty of “baggage,” and he could look elsewhere for this magical woman who had experienced no loss and who had no regrets. However, as I moved on and began a relationship with a man who is loving and considerate—and who adores me—this idea of “baggage” (and I hate this term) affecting individual’s romantic relationships has come into my mind repeatedly.

How is one not affected by the experiences of their past? Attachments are fragile connections to other people that only grow as they are nurtured. But what happens when the foundation is one of decay? How does love grow out of that? And what if, having grown so used to our damp circumstances, we are unable to accept or reciprocate good love?

This is something I struggle with, and I wrote this poem as an exploration of those feelings. I apologize that I did not come up with any universal truth or guidance, but I think—ultimately—the answer is an individualized one. I don’t know if I would call it a choice, but perhaps it could be defined as a result of each person’s unique experiences and personality traits.

Full disclosure: I haven’t figured it out for myself yet.


I Feel Decay

My home is a garden bed,
I breathe in spores
from overwatered soil.

Mold embraces slender roots—
fragile, grasping connections
smothered by decay.

I am different now:
Idealism washed away
with the summer rains.

I am caught in the rain with you.

You could be my blue skies.
Your eyes, sunrays drying
out my poorly drained mind,
a calloused heart
to grow again.

I’d love to see my garden bed
after tearing out dying roots,
after planting different seeds,
after an afternoon of sun with you.

Snapdragons, morning glories,
white roses.
Tomatoes, peppers, herbs.

Plants grow brighter
around your ribcage.

My home is a garden bed.
I breathe in committed rain,
determined spores.

Mold grows too.


Author: Chelsea Griffin
Image: Hernán Piñera/Flickr
Editor: Leah Sugerman
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

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Chelsea Griffin