I’m not big on social graces.

I have had a hard time lately deciding when and where and whether or not to be appropriate. I mean, I know HOW to be appropriate. I understand that there is a time and place for certain behavior and that decorum dictates that one conduct herself in a certain manner. After all, one of my mother's favorite maxims throughout my childhood was the ever popular "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." But I find myself lately getting angry at these unspoken rules of social interaction. Why can't I just say what I think and do what I feel? Why do I have to act all nice nice when I don't feel it? And what's even more infuriating is that I KNOW the answers to these questions. I know that to ignore the rules is to devolve into chaos, to choose selfishness over the common good, to step on toes and hurt feelings. All that I don't want to do.

And yet there are also times when I feel the nicey-nice code that we all (well, most of us) adhere to only serves as a barrier, preventing us all from being real. Why can't we all just stop the charade for a moment and be real with one another? When a casual acquaintance asks in passing, "How are you?" why must I say "Fine."? Why can't I say, "Wonderful. I am so full of joy that I feel it flowing out through every single strand of my hair!" Or "Uck. I drank too much whiskey last night and now I'm feeling churny." Nope. Impossible. One must reply within those very narrow boundaries that only really allow for "Fine." Or "Good, and you?" Or, possibly, if one doesn't mind a reputation for oddity and regional quirkiness (and clearly I don't), she might answer, "Peachy keen" or "Fair to midlin'." But we mustn't make any mention of joy so thorough that it becomes a bodily response, or true sorrow, or gratitude, or any human emotion, really. In fact, the inquiry itself ("How are you?") is not really an inquiry at all, but merely a gesture, a nod, and proof, perhaps, of a shared commitment to maintenance of the status quo.

I hate it. I hate "fine." I want to live, not to maintain. I want every person I pass on the street to look at me and acknowledge that life is grand, even when it isn't. Especially when it isn't.

I don't want to leave this world with anything untouched, anything unsaid. So please know that when I say "I love you," what I really mean is this:

"Every time I think of you, I long to touch your skin. I love your name in my mouth and the smell of your hair. I imagine conversations in which we speak only with our eyes, but we understand one another perfectly. You make a moment feel like a lifetime, and a lifetime move so quickly. I hope that you feel the same. I hope that when I speak you hear poetry rather than madness. But if you do not, and if I never touch you, say your name…even if none of these things comes to pass, please know that it is enough for me just to be alive in the world with you."

I don't care whether loving you is appropriate. I'll do it anyway. I'll go on doing it. And I will be anything save fine.

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