It's Who You Know

there’s always more

You know someone…

Or you think you do. How do you know when you really know someone? How do you know when that person has let you in, really in, all the way in so that you’re comfortable and secure and happy and ready for anything? Do you know enough? Do you know just enough to get by? How much do you want to know? When he looks at you and says the last thing you ever expected to hear– are you shocked? Or does it intrigue you? Do you want to know more or less?

You meet someone…

And even though you just met, you feel this history, this sense of belonging, this sense of togetherness that you don’t usually have with people. Maybe you can talk to her for hours and you forget the time. Maybe you talk despite the time. The two of you laugh and order another drink and end up late for everything. But it’s all worth it. The time you spend together is worth any amount of inconvenience later. Because it feels like you’ve been missing out. You just met this person, but you were supposed to have known each other for years now. That’s the only thing that makes sense. So you have all of this catching up to do because it feels like you screwed up by not meeting sooner. You missed out. You missed out on the fun.

You know someone…

You’ve known them forever. You know how they work, how they think. You know what he’s going to do before he does it. You know all of her jokes before she gets to them. You know that scar right under his earlobe, you know the name of the dog that did it and you know why it was his own fault it happened. You know the songs that make her cry. You both look at each other whenever you hear the words “Katie Couric.” No one else knows, but you two know. You know when she’s going to cry. You know when he’s in the other room crying. He knows you know. He just doesn’t want you to see him. There’s a quiet understanding between the two of you. A gentle reminder of each other, like when you visit your parents and the same stair creaks under your feet. A reminder that something larger than you remembers you, knows when you are around.

Someone meets you…

And you assume that they couldn’t possibly know you. You haven’t given him enough time. She seems too busy. You are too busy, perhaps. Maybe that person surprises you with a gift in the mail. A message on your voice mail. You bump into each other at the store. And she asks how your cat is doing. You forgot that you told her about your cat’s cough. It’s almost nothing to you now, but she’s been thinking about it. Someone outside of your world has been thinking about your world. You’ve made an impression. You are a part of them. You let them in. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe all of this attention makes you uncomfortable. Maybe you decide you don’t have enough time. Not this time. Not this person. Everything didn’t come together just right. Maybe he reminds you of an old boyfriend. Maybe she reminds you of an old teacher you had. She has a funny laugh. He wears too much cologne. She keeps shortening your name when you hate being called that. You’ve even told her. Maybe he seems too perfect. Maybe you know if you know him much longer you will fall in love and you don’t want to fall in love or you’re already in love and he will just be temptation. Maybe she already is friends with your friends, or is friends with people you can’t stand. Perhaps you just don’t want to put in the time. Sometimes you can be selfish. This is one of those times. Or not. Sometimes you get closer despite you trying to stay away.

Someone knows you…

And you can say anything without fear of judgement or punishment. You can wear whatever in front of him, or nothing at all. You can laugh your stupidest laugh– she’s heard it before. You can discuss the things you’re ashamed of. You can talk about how for some reason you can’t stand people who aren’t from France but act like they were born in Paris. You don’t even know anyone like that. You hate the idea of that. You don’t tell anyone that because you sound like a moron, you know you do. But you can tell him that. And he just smiles, hands you your coffee and makes a joke about fake frogs. You laugh. A good laugh. A calming laugh. Because you are safe. You are with someone who knows you. She will be honest with you. She’ll tell you when you really did get a bad haircut. When everyone else tilts their heads and says, “No, it’s really good,” she’ll sneer and pull you into her apartment and tell you you can live with her until it grows back. She’ll lend you a wig. She’ll cry for you. He gets you the book by your favorite author when you didn’t even know there was a new release. He knows just where you build up tension in your back, and seems to be the only one who can get in there. He puts up with your obsession with ABBA, and he never runs out of coffee. He doesn’t smoke your brand of cigarettes, but always remembers to pick up a pack for you when he’s out. He doesn’t hide things from you. He talks to you. He listens to you. He has a way of holding your hand that makes you shiver. He can ignite your entire body just by brushing his fingertips between your shoulder blades.

You love someone…

And it is the hardest and most rewarding thing you’ve ever done. You ache with love. You cry sometimes, because you know two things. You know that you’ve never felt this good and happy before. You also know that it couldn’t possibly last forever. You want it to. You want it frozen. You want to stop time, right there, as she hands you your toothbrush, or as he pulls you back from the curb of the street for one last kiss goodbye. You want to be able to pull them closer than the hug, into your body, so you can keep the smell of them inside you, next to you, all around you. You hear him make jokes in your head. You sometimes see her in other people. You once followed a girl at the airport for fifteen minutes because you thought maybe it was her, maybe she had just changed her hair or something. Even when you were sure it wasn’t her anymore, you kept following her, hoping that because you wanted it to happen enough, she’d change into the woman you wanted to see. You love someone and it hurts. You love someone and it’s very very good. You feel better about yourself. You feel better about people, life, animals, the color orange. You find yourself thinking about things that she loves that you can’t stand. You search the Internet for three hours to try and find a Stevie Ray Vaughn poster. You aren’t even sure of one Stevie Ray Vaughn song. It doesn’t matter. It’s not for you. It’s to make him smile. It’s to let him know you were thinking of him. You find yourself doing ridiculous things. You wouldn’t tell anyone what you’ve been doing. You cleaned under the bookcase for her. There’s no way that she’s ever going to see under there. She couldn’t possibly know. But you know. Just in case. It could happen. You could end up in a passionate embrace by the CD player and she’ll pull you down to the ground and you just want to make sure it’ll be perfect. If you die right there with her, it will be clean. It will be clean for her.

You love someone…

because you always have. That’s all you’ve ever known. Even when you’re angry, you love them. It’s not a passionate love, it’s a deep protective love. And when that person is hurting, when that person needs you, what do you do when they don’t want you around? What do you do when the person you love is the kind of person that doesn’t want to be seen when they’re in pain? Do you leave when they push you? Do you stick around? Do you tie yourself to the door frame and declare that they will have to kill you first before you walk away? Do you leave quietly, and let them have what they want? Is it dignity? Is it better? Isn’t it going to leave so many things unsaid? Do you do what they want, or do you do what you want? Are you being selfish if you ignore their wishes? And if they don’t want you around, if they can’t have you in the room, if they can’t speak to you anymore– does that mean that you aren’t loved back? You don’t think that’s the case, you’re pretty sure that isn’t the case, but it doesn’t stop the whispering ones in your head that tell you that you aren’t good enough. The voices that tell you you’ve fooled yourself again. The voices that want you to give up. You love someone and maybe that person needs you. Maybe they don’t know how to ask. Maybe you don’t know how to offer. Maybe you’ve never done that for each other. You keep quiet. You keep to yourselves. You give a quiet punch on the arm and a “You know, if you need anything,” but no one has ever asked for help. No one has ever looked at the other and said, “Please stay here with me. Talk to me.” It would almost seem like you’re changing the dynamic of your relationship to do it now. But who else will do it? Should someone do it? Who makes the first move? You love someone and you feel frozen. You can’t make the first step. You don’t know how. You’ve never done it. You don’t want to make the wrong move.

You think you know someone…

Because you’ve got a history. Or maybe you have a roundabout way of knowing each other that makes you appear to be closer than you are. Maybe you both act like great friends because it’s easier. It’s easier than ignoring each other. It’s easier than declaring things dead. Maybe you know this person more than you want to. Maybe this man keeps coming up in your life. You move, you change cities, you change jobs, you bump into each other again. That happens, sometimes. You aren’t even close, you just keep getting thrown together. You see him all the time on busses. Always a bus. Never a plane. And you’ve already made your decision about how this person fits into your life. Maybe he’s just a peripheral friend. Maybe he’s not a friend at all. Maybe you keep forgetting his name. But you had one evening or one lunch or one weekend where you most definitely decided that he wasn’t going to be a friend. But you keep running into him. Does that mean you’re supposed to be closer? Is he going to be the one constant in your life? And if he is, is he supposed to be your best friend, or a quiet reminder that you’re still the same person going through this big world?

You think you know someone and then they say something or they do something that throws you back. It shuts you up. You can’t believe she said that. You can’t believe she’d admit that to you. People don’t say things like that to people, do they? You find yourself staring at her like that guy that you keep bumping into on the bus. Were you wrong about her? Were you completely wrong about how you labelled her? Does she now look like a new person to you? Do you love her more? Or are you now filled with this sense of pity? Do you respect her more? Do you hate her? Do you still need her? Is she the same person to you? If she looks different, then who wasn’t being honest? Did she always show this side of her and you just ignored it, or were you too busy trying to hide things from her that you never saw what she was showing you? You think you know someone and then they show you the opposite. Does it scare you or turn you on? Does it make you sick? Is it fascinating? Do you want to know more?

You know someone…

But there’s always more to know. There’s more to learn. He always has another story. She’s always got another idea. You feel like you’ll never have enough time. There’s never enough time. Each time you say goodbye or turn out the light or walk home you remember something else you wanted to say, something else you wanted to do. Are you ever going to have enough time? What if you forget some of the things because you never got around to them? How many stories will go untold? What if you never get to ride a roller coaster with her? What if he never asks you to dance? Will you ever meet his parents? Will she still want you to go to Maryland with her next summer? You make plans, you discuss events, you wish for more time. Will there be enough? And as you’re checking these activities and stories off this list, as you get to know each other more and more– does it make it easier or harder? Do you want to know more? Do you want to expose yourself more? Do you share more and more, or do you get worried? Do you start to hide after a while, after you can feel the raw flesh? Does it happen the one time you see him flinch after you tell a story? Does it happen when you find out she slept with your nemesis? Or do you dive deeper into each other? Do you let it go further? Do you welcome the pain because you know it’s going to be worth it? Do you tell them everything? And if you do, do you know you’re getting just as much back? Can you go too far? Can you be too honest? Do you forgive him when he hurts you? Do you forget about that time she called you boring? What do you excuse to be together? Or does it even matter? Perhaps it’s too perfect. Maybe nothing could damage it. Maybe you’re the lucky ones that feel too safe to let jealousy and spite ruin what you have together. Maybe you’re too busy laughing to ever notice the pain. Maybe the other person just means too much to let anything tarnish it. You know someone and you love someone and you risk everything to be with that person. Are they risking just as much? Do you want them to? You know someone and you let them know you. How much do you want to know? Is there a part where you want them to stop talking? Is there a place where it hurts too much?

You know yourself…

And you know where you can’t listen anymore. You know where it becomes painful, too painful. You know your limits. You know when you just can’t see someone again. When they’ve gone too far, or they aren’t doing enough, and you end up just exhausted from dealing with her. When he doesn’t return your calls and you’re talking into nothing, screaming into nothing, when you’re hoarse from trying to be heard. Or maybe they just quietly, very quietly, walked over and stabbed you in the heart. Or the back. Or right between the eyes. They waited until your guard was down. Or maybe not. Maybe she knew you were looking. Maybe she did it because you were looking. Maybe she knew how much you thought you knew about her. Maybe you knew enough about her that you should have known better. Maybe you both knew that. Maybe he wanted to see if he could do something you didn’t expect. Maybe he was testing his limits. Maybe he wasn’t thinking. Maybe he was just trying to know someone else a bit more, just for that instant, just for a little while, just to be known by someone else, to know someone else. Maybe he doesn’t want to know you anymore. Maybe it hurts to know you. Maybe all of you are hurting. Maybe she knows that you’re thinking about her, but she doesn’t want to hear you. She disappears, but makes sure that what she’s doing while she’s missing will be heard by others. She’s still getting to you, even when she’s not around. He’s still hurting you even when he hasn’t said a word to you in years.

You know yourself and you know when you’re going to be hurt. You know when you’ve given someone enough power to hurt you. Maybe you want to take some of that power back. Maybe it’s too late. You’re hurt. You’re hurting. But you don’t leave. You get hurt more. You can’t stop it. Is it because you feel you deserve it? Is it because you want the pain? It feels very real. You’re alive. You know yourself enough to know that you used to like the pain. You used to use it to see how much you were aware. Now it’s just a dull throb. Do you stop it? Do you ignore it? Do you do something about it or just wish it away? You know yourself and you know you’ll just stand there as he slips away, you’ll stand there as they push you out of the room. You’ll listen to him when he tells you to go away, even when you don’t want to. You might even suggest that you go away, and you’ll do it when everything inside you says to stay in that room. You’ll want to give a part of yourself over. A part of you to him. Not because it sounds noble. Not because that’s what you’re supposed to do. But because it feels like what you’re supposed to do. It feels like why you’re there. It could be why all of this is happening. It’s all so you can become a part of him. You can help him. You give back. And when they won’t let you, you’re confused.

You know yourself and you know you won’t rest until everyone is happier. Until all of the people you know and love feel better. Are calmer. You’re in the middle of something you can’t seem to control. You know yourself enough to know that you might lose yourself in all of this. You’ll spend so much time pleasing everyone else that in the end you will have forgotten to make yourself happy. You’ll be at the end of the line. You know yourself, and you don’t want to do it again. You know you will, but the knowledge that you don’t want to is somewhat comforting.

You know everything, and you know nothing…

And in that there’s this: you will always learn something new. About him. About her. About yourself. And even learning the bad, the uncomfortable, the messy– it’s what you take away that counts. It’s how you feel when you learn something new. When someone confesses. When you learn about someone’s flaws. When you see someone for who they really are (or what they really want you to think they are). What you do with that knowledge– do you leave? pull tighter? ignore it? use it to fall in love even deeper?– that’s when you learn more about yourself.

You aren’t a bad person. You’re a complex person. You’re dealing with complex people. And there’s always more to know.

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