Photo by Zoë Collins
This piece was originally published in our Winter 2022 Volume 2 print issue “Wanting: A Queer Beauty & Burden.“
I love you.
The first time I said it, my hands shook, my heart beating as fast as hummingbird wings. I waited for his response, blushing in front of my phone screen. It’d taken me a lot of thinking to muster the courage to say it, and I was scared I’d said it too soon. By that point, we’d been dating for two months, but we’d known each other for eight.
But he said it back with a smile before we hung up one of our weekly calls.
Love always confused me. I don’t remember being anyone’s first choice when it came to the matter. I had a bouquet of love interests, but no one stood out as he did. He was like the early morning sun, his love gently shining over my petals. His smile was re-energizing, his laugh contagious in the best way possible. He reassured me, knowing how easily I wilted.
I was a fragile dandelion, unassuming and delicate. I wasn’t a carnation, lavender, or a rose, yet he looked at me as if I was a garden. Our in-person dates were always my favorite. Earthy green eyes filled with curiosity, pale hands floating over my brown skin like a gentle breeze on a warm California day.
“I had a bouquet of love interests, but no one stood out as he did.”
Relationships are weird. This one was a gentle surprise, unexpected but welcome. Before I met him, I was sure that I would just be the wild pansexual in college, your one friend that only had bad Tinder hookup stories. But alas, here I was, in a very sweet and endearing relationship with a boy who had stumbled into my life.
I felt weird sometimes saying that our relationship was “queer.” I don’t wear “pansexual” nor “non-binary” proudly on my chest. Like Chicano, these words simply symbolized living in the sexual, gendered, and racialized borderlands (Thank you, Gloria Anzuldúa). Like the borderlands, everything about me often shifted with the seasons, like dandelions that grow from mustard yellow, rays-of-sun-like petals to lunar-like white orbs of fluffy seeds. Many people didn’t understand that I lived within these intersections, that these facets of my identity were non-negotiable but constantly changing. He was the first one to make an effort in understanding, not seeing these constant shifts as a hindrance.
The words linger inside my throat as I stare at him in my doorway. Dandelions threaten to burst from my chest as I bargain with the universe to give me a little bit more time with him. Just one more minute, maybe 30 more seconds.
He gives me one last good kiss as I start to wilt, accepting the hard truth that our love will be once again contained through iMessage, FaceTime, Instagram, and occasionally Discord.
We’d done this dance before. We started our official relationship during the most strict part of the lockdown, having hung out several times prior. But for a while, we’d been seeing each other in person. The first time we went on a real date was in October of 2020, and the last time we saw each other in person was December 17, 2021.
But I was hooked on him like a bee is to honey.
I miss you.
When I wake up in the morning, I feel around for any trace of him. I’ve been staying with my mom as if her house was a giant orange ceramic pot, and I am the lone dandelion living in it. I think she knows I am wilting and allows me to stay a few extra weeks in her home. I dread going back to my apartment, having to accept that he’s no longer nearby.
“Like the borderlands, everything about me often shifted with the seasons, like dandelions that grow from mustard yellow, rays-of-sun-like petals to lunar-like white orbs of fluffy seeds.”
I wake up to soft “good morning” texts, but it’s not the same as seeing his sleepy smile and playfully arguing about whether or not to get up to make breakfast. I type out “I miss you” on my phone at least five times a day, before quickly deleting it.
Yahya Al Noor once wrote, “Hearts disput[ing] distance can connect.” Truthfully, the distance is what I worried about. The physical distance and time zone changes are daunting, but not as much as the emotional distance.
I think this is the source of all yearning: the need to close the emotional distance. This deep-rooted desire to be more than what you are to them, never content for what you are because you feel like you’re not enough. So you write love poems in your note app, send them songs and playlists, write love letters, send memes, watch movies through Teleparty and buy them elaborately thought-out gifts. It’s not yearning for what you don’t have, it’s yearning for what you already have.
So I sit here in my ceramic pot, waiting for my partner to come back, yearning for the early morning sun.
Author: Judah C (They/Them)
Artist: Zoë Collins (She/Her)
Copy Editors: Emma Blakely (They/She/He), Bella (She/They)