December 16, 2015
December 16th is, for us, an anniversary of sorts. It’s not our wedding, or our proposal, or even our first date. I’m not sure even sure what to call it, other than just the day I wrote this poem.
A week before December 16th, about a month before Jenna and I started dating, I asked a group of friends if any of them could give me a ride back from the airport after an upcoming trip to Texas. I was secretly (desperately) hoping Jenna would volunteer, and to my delightful surprise she did.
We had a great conversation all the way back from the airport, met our friend Jackson for dinner, and then went to see Frozen in theaters. I don’t remember who rode with whom where, but Jenna ended up dropping me off at my apartment after the movie. My heart must have been pounding in my chest as we parked, because I could feel everything inside me wanting to say something, anything, to Jenna about the way I felt for her.
But I didn’t. I just went up to my room, screamed into a pillow, and paced around like a crazy person for half an hour.
And it wasn’t because of fear––well, not only because of fear. Besides being intimidated by her beauty and the number of guys that adored her, and not knowing how she felt about me, and my feeling like the class nerd daydreaming about a cheerleader, I felt that something about the timing wasn’t yet right. I didn’t know what, and I couldn’t explain it; I just knew that I needed to wait.
It was in that state of frustrated confusion and hopeful heartache that I threw a notebook on the ground and wrote this poem:
I feel as though I’m standing before a thin sheet of ice
delicately separating me from, well, her
And I want nothing more than to reach through and hold her
To smash the barrier because I hate these walls
that provide artificial transparency
letting me see what I think I need
what I want.
Like I can see her outline, a blurry glimmer of a shape
But I can’t tell what she’s doing
If she is turned away, unaware
or has her hand pressed to the ice just like mine
its warmth slowly melting the divide,
hoping like me to feel a warmth on the other side.
Like maybe if I were to break through it would help her, comfort her
or maybe it would only please me
Let me prove my own strength to myself
Maybe breaking down that wall would leave her exposed,
with another weakness to watch, another worshiper to worry about.
And maybe I am that again – a worshiper of false gods
So thrilled by the coolness of the ice on my forehead
So awakened by its chill and its exhilarating fragility
that I fear to let it go.
Like maybe the ice itself is what keeps me here
The way it warps my vision
Refracting light rays of reality into my mind’s eye in funny shapes
And perhaps this wall exists for a reason
That in its season it will fade and melt
Leaving both sides more prepared to unite
or to not
And currently protects two beating hearts
or one overactive imagination.
Perhaps words are too powerful for some occasions
And their potency, when ill-timed, leaves only ruin
And perhaps we only have one shot
But then again,
A little over a month later, when I did ask Jenna out, she told me that she had made a deal with herself to not talk or even think about dating anyone until December was over. Had I proclaimed my undying love for her that night after Frozen, she would have lied and said she wasn’t interested. And then we would have been too awkward to ever speak to each other again.
Thankfully, God’s timing is far better than my own.
So if you need to reach us tonight or on any other December 16th, we’ll be somewhere nice and warm watching a well-worn copy of Frozen.