I often refused to skip or run. And I watched my step very closely on the sidewalk, especially when it was cold and there was black ice to slip on. When you fall as a child, it’s easier to get back up because you’re little and the fall is short and Mom and Dad have your back (or at the very least, the grab the back of your shirt to help you get up).
When you fall as an adult, you must check every inch of your body for bruising because Mom and Dad are in another city and aren’t there to help you up. Then you go to the doctor to double-check you didn’t injure yourself in a hidden place only discoverable under the care of a doctor’s kind hands. You check for injuries you can’t see, like your ribs or a hairline fracture or even your heart.
As I got older, I learned to self-protect. I used caution around certain situations, and places, and things, and people. I stepped gingerly, until I found someone that changed me. He encouraged me to do everything I was scared of, including skipping, and running, and falling and getting back up.
I loved. Not just loved but loved. Greatly. And it set me free and turned me inside out and upside down like a rag doll. It opened me up to life lessons and personal changes and a whole lot of self-revelation. It also made me vulnerable to real feelings because relationships are hard and sometimes you hurt the people you love and the ones that love you hurt you back. He hurt me bad.
I carry tissues in my purse just in case the wounds re-open and my tears run as freely as my love did. You’re not a true New York woman until you’ve cried on the train.
It feels good to love with abandon and to run, and skip, and hop, and fall, and realize you can get back up and try again. You learn to stretch your heart in the same way you stretch your hamstrings after a workout. You hope your bounce back is strong because the risk of trying again is worth the potential pain that brings you one step closer to your happily ever after.
It takes practice to aggressively love after skinned knees, bruised thighs, and cracked ribs. So you learn to dust yourself off, get back up, and open your heart again. And then wish.