Homesick: longing not
for a place on a map but
in your lover’s arms.


Art by Toni Frissell

Art by Toni Frissell

“Can you imagine your life without him? Do you want to?” Mom softly prodded.

“My life is not defined by who I am with; it is simply enhanced by that person,” my well-rehearsed response rolled off my tongue.

She pursed her lips with dissatisfaction at my answer. Despite her decades of wisdom and several broken relationships, at her core, Mom was still a romantic. She believed in a plan for everyone–a path intended for us. That’s not to say work–real, hard work–isn’t involved to stay on that path. No, Mom believed in a special mix of elbow grease and destiny to make a forever love possible.

“I want you to find someone you can’t imagine living without. Someone who makes your heart feel so full and complete, you want to hold onto him with everything you’ve got,” she said with motherly tenderness. “You deserve an all-encompassing, uplifting love.”

I didn’t believe such a thing existed. Moreover, if it did, I didn’t believe I deserved it. And we accept the love we think we deserve, right? Man, I must have some really fucked up self-esteem issues…

My heart felt like a fishing bobber, the line cast out and left adrift to catch what it may in open water. Something heavy tugged from below, threatening to pull it under. Part of me wanted to silently watch it drown, succumbing to the cold, dark peace of seaweed and sand. Buoyancy is over-rated and exhausting.

“Maybe one day, Momma,” I murmured after a long pause. “Maybe one day…”



She prepares her coffin of hope, lined with naivete.
Love takes no prisoners–only casualties.
A deep drink of wine to chase the pill of stability.

Her heart is black and blue from her own fists.
She is the sharp dagger, poised above the breast.
One courageous plunge… then she can rest.

She wants to watch the world burn,
Pouring gasoline apologies from an urn.
How many times can a phoenix return?

The toss of a match
A long look back…
Fiction melts into fact.

Her place is here among the ash
And skeletons of hearts amassed,
Her own bones completing the cast.

She clings to the ghost of a dream,
Her words eaten by the sound of a scream.
Rise, firebird, and spread your wings.

There will be time for coffins and time for hope.
There will be hearts tangled and strangled in rope
As they try to scale her treacherous slope.

Love takes no prisoners–only casualties.
And yet we seek its fire perpetually,
Death, rebirth… Victims willingly.


“Tell me how it ended,” he said, over lunch one afternoon. “Was it sudden? It seemed sudden.”

The summer sun was warm on my face. Last year’s autumn felt like a lifetime ago.

“It was… and it wasn’t, all at the same time,” I replied, swallowing the aftertaste of grief. “I think, in a way, it always feels a bit sudden. But things had been unraveling for years. The threads came loose more quickly than I could tie them up.”

He nodded, “Some friends of mine had a whirlwind courtship. They seemed pretty happy for a while. Shortly after they got married and had a child, the husband just sort of snapped, like someone flipped a switch. He disappeared for a few days, and when he came home, he barricaded himself in the bedroom. He would only come out to go to work. This went on for about a week before he was just done with it all and left. He doesn’t even see or talk to his kid. He’s completely cut off from that part of his life.”

Coping mechanism… I thought. I wonder what pushed him to that point. I wonder if it’s easier that way…

I took another bite of salad, feeling for the wife in my friend’s story. So many unanswered questions. Did she blame herself?

“That’s hard–to not get closure on something like that,” I said. “That’s something I had to come to terms with over the past ten months: sometimes, you never get the answers you need, and you have to be able to move on without them or you’ll go crazy.”

The air was heavy with the weight of our conversation. An unsaid expectation danced in the breeze of the words. What badge of wisdom had I earned over the past nine years? Was it hope? Bitterness? Comfort? I sounded like I had it figured out, but I wondered how much of that was an act to protect myself. If I could convince everyone around me that I had my shit together, well, then I must, right?

He leaned back in his chair and shifted his gaze down the busy street. “What scares the shit out of me the most is how people change. You commit to a person who may be someone else completely in five years–or even seemingly overnight, like my friend’s husband. You can’t control it, and sometimes, you don’t even see it coming… How the hell do you deal with that?”

A bead of condensation slid down the side of my glass. My mind grappled for a response–something positive but also real.

Take it in stride. Don’t get married. Try to grow together as much as you can. Make sure you’re with someone who is as committed to building something together as they are to building themselves. Sometimes things fall apart so you can build something better from the rubble. Lifetime commitments are unrealistic. If only love really did conquer all…

I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t.


photo credit: Nick Kenrick . via photopin cc

photo credit: Nick Kenrick . via photopin cc

We lulled on peaceful seas
Lit with a sun that made all others
Before it seem like mere moons.
A floating paradise:
Our love was the vessel;
Your laugh the wind in the sails.

But in the volatile darkness of night,
The siren sang her melody of doubt.
Each note echoed my most secret fears
Unsung–until now.
Helpless in her sway, I offered tears
To appease the dark songstress.
Yet she sang–of loss, destruction,
And fragile vulnerability.

A broken compass, torn sails,
Turbulent seas, an abandoned ship…
I knew the risks when I came aboard,
But they were all at once,
Laced with the song of private uncertainty,
Heavy enough to capsize it all.

I dried the salty wet from my face
And charted the course with
New resolve.
If I am going to drown
There’s no ship I would rather sink.