Slide that glass down the bar to me, Tavern Keeper. My day has been long, as has my week, my year, my marriage, my divorce, my melancholy and life. Slide that hand-filling vessel of liquid salvation my way, so that it may whisper softly to me that all will be well once I consume it. It will light a comforting fire in my gullet as it soaks into my body, and caress my mind with satin fog as it soaks into my thoughts. Slide that glass of surrender and escape to my waiting palm, even though I realize it is merely shackles and sorrow in disguise. I will hold you blameless for the shame I will wake to, and the disappointment of my loved ones. Slide me that perfect, precious potion, and look on me no more. Perhaps if no one is watching, it will wash me away along with my senses, reason, and pain.
I was barely a young man when I met my first real love. She was a wounded romantic, and I was young and on fire. We walked through an empty playground and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my fiery heart, the brightest and most trusting of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, her scars spoke lies to her, and she believed them. She poured water upon my fiery heart, and the charred remains dried up and blew away.
My burns were still swathed in bandages when I met my second real love. She was confident beyond the clouds, and I was stone-like with wariness. We kissed beneath winter icicles and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my stone heart, the stoutest and most cautious of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, she deemed married life a vexation, and divorce a rite of passage to true Womanhood. She squeezed blood from my stone heart, and the dust left behind scattered and blew away.
The cracks had just healed when I met my third real love. She was purposely distant, and I was redesigning myself. We stood under a shower of autumn leaves and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my paper heart, the intricately folded and most expressive of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, she found the expressiveness tiresome, called it abrasive. She tossed my paper heart upon the fire, and the embers floated up and blew away.
My eyes were newly dry when I met my fourth real love. She was manically pixie-like, and I was hopeful yet fragile. We each crossed the skies to be briefly near each other, and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my glass heart, the wide-eyed and most delicate of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, she came to fear the hopeful closeness, and pushed my glass heart away. It shattered to sand upon the floor, and the sand caught the wind of my sighs and blew away.
I cannot know what, or who, I will be when I meet my true, real love. She will be everything I have sought, and I will be frightened, yet willing. We will fill the spaces of each others’ souls, and I will tell her I love her, because I will. I will reach inside…and find that all my hearts are gone, save the one true heart that makes me myself. She will reach inside and withdraw half of her heart, and say “I will share my one true heart with you, because I know you will always care for it.” I will reach inside and withdraw half of my heart. I will give it to her because I know she will always care for it. In time, my heart will be one with hers, and hers with mine. That is when I will know that I have found…
…my true, real love.