An Awful Thing to Waste

Here I am again, towering above you, trying to live up to the best parts of me. I said we’d have extraordinary lives, and I guess what I really learned is to speak for myself.

You want to plant roots, but my mind belongs to the clouds. I’m blinded by the stars and sun and everything I cannot reach. Reality has never been my first choice, and love has always been a consolation prize.

You should have seen this coming. I know you had romantic weekends and white picket fences in your eyes, but I’ve always been such a predictable disappointment.

You wanted me, but I wanted this more. Necessity has always been a luxury I can’t afford and everything looks better from the 27th floor.

I’m always performing for the gallery inside my head, though they stopped applauding years ago. My hands will shake and my eyes will strain, but my acceptance speech will sound so effortless.

Some nights, I wish you could have fallen in love with the inconvenient parts of me, too. I fall asleep with our memories. I’m not in love with the person lying next to me, but my god, I used to be. There were nights I didn’t dress rehearse sleep, nights I didn’t worry how much my eyelids fluttered or if my breathing was convincing.

Now I don’t hang any art. I leave no illusion of permanency. Don’t slow down, don’t look up, don’t own more than what you can fit in a single checked bag. Any beautiful distraction will do. Ambition is just avoidance that gets likes on Instagram.

I’m a reluctant actress trying to make ends meet. I’ve held silicone and silk, but I’ve never known romance. I don’t need another fucking audience.

Even on my worst nights, I can quiet my mind long enough to hear her say, “Potential is an awful thing to waste.” Do you remember when potential was a promise instead of an obligation?

What happens when all your dreams come true? You dream new dreams, and they destroy you, too. Success is a sisyphean task, a mirage 3 miles from an oasis. Enough is a headless apparition. There is always more, always something bigger to disappear into.

Outside Gate D36, it occurred to me all at once that I have spent my life chasing a flight I no longer want to catch.

You tried so hard to keep me here, yelling when I climbed too high. But I can barely hear you now, over the in-flight radio.