Love

A Love Letter to Imperfection via My Exes

(Previously published on Thought Catalog)

I secretly loved that scar. That little pop in your belly you always cursed. I loved those few gray hairs that sprouted haphazardly from your temples. How that one tooth was askew from the rest. I loved that dimple that came out when you smirked just so.

I loved that sleepy eye look and the imprinted we-just-woke up face. The gumminess of your smile when you laughed. Like really laughed.

When you couldn’t keep your mouth shut in public, no matter how much I pleaded because you always unapologetically do what you want.

There was this time I adoringly caught you flexing in the mirror, staring intently at your pores and your hairline. I said nothing.

I loved when you admitted that tears streamed down your face as you poured your shamed feelings of inadequacy onto the page. I saw you in that moment, so completely. I’m sure I’ve seen nothing more beautiful.

I loved the dorkiness in your admission you once wanted to be a rapper. You were never a bigger fanboy than waiting for Paul McCartney to take the stage. You yelled to anyone who’d hear in that nice restaurant that you thought I was beautiful until I put my hand over your mouth.

God, those days you ran out of time to shave were always my favorite.

I loved the moments where you disrobed that fierce masculinity to show me the softness, a gift of vulnerability that showed me you felt safe with me.

I fell for all these unsexy, pre-airbrushed, non-filtered, not-for-public parts of you. They became your thumbprint, the thing that made you uniquely you. That made you mine.

And in this world of swiping left because we don’t like the same music or writing a profile to say “if you don’t like x, please move on”, we easily forget that magic.

The magic that what is different, what is surprising, what is classically “un-cool” can be that which we fall most madly in love with.

It is in these discoveries, these contemplations and reflections, that I realize the perfection I constantly strive for is in vain. Because what I loved you for were the things that were so wildly imperfect. Unimaginable, even. You couldn’t have strived for them even if you tried.

As I found myself self-loathing in a full-length mirror, wishing (again) for that tiny waist-to-butt ratio, noted were my uneven calves from my Achilles tear, one that commemorated an injury resulting from my pure joy of leaping to see an old friend. A mole that I disdained, until I recently found a friend of mine had the same mole in the same exact spot, and now it feels more like a matching tattoo. Smile lines that have formed from grinning so hard that my skin just couldn’t keep up. Freckles I curse, tan lines I try to fade, toes that don’t point with that perfect turnout I pine for.

And then the tattoos I have chosen. Words I painstakingly picked to forever inscript onto my body as permanent scars, always symbolic in timing. More mystery bruises, the result of abandon as I often get lost in my dance.

I realize those very same flaws, those are the ones that someone may find to be the best parts of me. How can I see this in myself?

So, hey, imperfection… As I begin to more deeply acknowledge and embrace you, here is my ode to you, in hopes that I come to love you more deeply. In hopes you can find your way to me and continue to break me more open.

Give me your ugly and your heartbreak. Show me the depths you’ve been to and lived to tell about. I want to know your checkered past and how and why these dark stories have shaped you. Where is your awkward that shows you break free, the recklessness that makes you scream monkey noises in public, disregarding the whispers and the disapproving stares.

Dye your hair pink (even if your boss hates it) and flex your feet. Let your mascara smear and please take off those ridiculous Spanx. Your body is a f**king treasure to be worshipped.

Stand in the rain for a long period of time, just to let the water wash over you, droplet by droplet, and feel.

Give me your resume of failures, not your list of titles and awards. Talk to me about the times you fell, but show you risked, you reinvented, you re-emerged a better human.

Jump on the kitchen counter and dance with abandon like you’re a Rockstar, because c’mon, it’s Justin Bieber, and how can you not? Seriously, though… Let that body move in any awkward way it wants to.

Quit your job with no explanation, but to say “I choose me”. Venture on an unplotted and non-societally-approved path, knowing your return to conventionality is uncertain… and unlikely.

Burn it all down with no second thoughts or remorse. Live all the versions of you.

Who cares what they say.

Cry. Soft tears or ugly uneven sobs. Because you feel something and your soul needs to grieve. Or because the moment is so beautiful, the emotional overload knows no other outlet.

As I work daily to break free from the box, from the structures and the lines, from the sequence and choreography, from the “normal” and acceptable, freedom emerges.

The weird and wonderful, the awkward and liberating, the imperfect and exactly right. If you see me on the street, invite me to go there to the edges with you. Remind me of this choice and let’s climb that statue together. God, I hope people will be staring.

And thank you to my beautiful exes for bearing your souls, lifting the mask, and showcasing how intoxicating humanity can be.

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