"Make love, not war."

"I'm a lover, not a fighter."

Well, yes. But also no.

"Love is like war: easy to begin and hard to stop."

There ya go. That's me.

I've become a soldier of sorts, fighting with love. Love is my weapon, my protection. Love is my enemy; my everything.

But I have been fighting my whole life and I am so, so very tired. This war that wages inside me shows no sign of stopping before my heart inevitably does. At this point, I've given up on giving up. It's like those produce scales at the grocery store when you put too much weight on them; I care so much that the scale tips all the way back to not caring. I'm overwhelmed to the point of shutting down completely. I've turned a piece of my heart off and can't find my way to turning it back on.

All these paths I've walked in my mind, all the lives I've lived and dreams I've dreamt, none of it matters on the outside. No one knows how ancient I truly am. I've already been on this earth far too long, but everyone keeps saying I still have my whole life ahead of me. My whole life has flashed before my eyes enough times that it would take me another lifetime itself just to count.

I need to stop counting. I need to start living. Everything's stuck in my head. Nothing gets out the way it's meant to. No one reads the mental scripts I write, sees the art of life in every little thing.

No one but her.

Words can, yet struggle to, express how grateful I am for her kinship.

Scarcely anyone sees the light I've been trained my whole life to dull for fear of burning others. But hers shines on par with mine and I know we were destined to go down together in blazing glory.

I give her my joy just as a tree tangles its roots with its neighbour. Seasons change, the flowers of happiness and of troubles bloom and flourish and fade and die, and she holds me up through it all, closer than any blood of mine.

The thoughts that tumble jumbled out of me receive as much if not more attention as the ones I present cookie-cut to the world. A desperate poetic delicacy is as precious to her as a tragic word-vomit info-dump, and she always responds well to each in turn.

Not in a million years would another soul be so flush against mine. How blessed am I to have found and wound myself into her. She is a part me and I of her. I am myself on my own, of course, and I could survive if I never knew her—but I am my best self with her by my side, and she reminds me that I am allowed to enjoy life and truly let myself live. I can only imagine being without her—and it is a dreary existence indeed.

We sulk and we shine and we sharpen each other. She is my muse, my confidant, my rock, and my partner in crime. My woes become hers, not because I make them so, but because she loves like I do—we share every burden to make each load just a little more bearable, if not by taking weight away, by at least giving a hand to hold. Walking together and shouldering our lives like backpackers seeking some great elusive treasure trove is one of the best ways to spend the rest of our days.

She thinks I don't notice her notice me, just doing simple things like admiring a thistle or humming a good song. But I do. It's never uncomfortable but it is so bizarre, so unusual to be loved like so. To be known is to be loved, of course, and she knows me better than I sometimes know myself, but the depth of her understanding is terrifyingly intimate and I couldn't bear to ever lose that. I couldn’t bear to ever lose her.

My eyes and imagination see so much that I'm hardly able to see myself, just this fragile young creature with a meek presence and a small voice. As alike as our minds are, she is vastly different in every other respect; she is loud and bold in ways I never could be. Her voice moves mountains and stills crowds, stirs up storms and calms all of mine. She takes your breath away with those smiling eyes and gives you life through her eloquent words. And yet, as big as she can be, I never feel small in her presence. I feel strong and supported, like I can talk and not only will she listen but that I will truly be heard.

When I dangle my feet over the lake and say, "This would be a romantic place to drown," she never chastises my death-obsessed self. She simply replies, without skipping a beat, "Yes, the sea grass would love us like nothing else," and she leans a hug into me and life goes on. I never have to fear that she will leave me because I will never leave her, and if we go down I know for sure that we'll be going down together.

It's a great power she holds; even greater is the manner with which she holds it. Nearly no one could guess her heart at a glance, and it astounds me how she hides it all. There is so much love in that vessel of hers. It's a wonder she doesn't explode, a wonder her love never fades or runs dry.

She is a wonder. She is my anchor, the one who can tether me down and who can set sail and travel around all the seven stormy seas, no matter the season. She's practically my boat itself, tried and true and weathered and enduring. The storms toss and churn around, salt licking my lips for me, wind kicking my hair ever towards me. Yet there she is, holding fast, keeping hope afloat that together we’ll outlast the hurricanes.