by Sarah Kay
from No Matter the Wreckage
Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else. —Richard Siken
If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at, you can let them look at you. Do not mistake eyes for hands. Or windows. Or mirrors. Let them see what a woman looks like. They may not have ever seen one before. If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch, you can let them touch you. Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for. Sometimes it is a bottle. A door. A sandwich. A Pulitzer. Another woman. But their hands found you first. Do not mistake yourself for a guardian. Or a muse. Or a promise. Or a victim. Or a snack. You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat. You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses. If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold, you can let them hold you. All day they practice keeping their bodies upright— even after all this evolving, it still feels unnatural, still pulls tight the muscles, strains the arms and spine. Only some men want to learn what it feels like to wrap themselves into a question mark around you, admit they do not have the answers they thought they would have by now; some men will want to hold you like The Answer. You are not the answer. You are not the problem. You are not the poem or the punchline or the riddle or the joke. Woman. If you grow up the type men want to love, you can let them love you. Being loved is not the same thing as loving. When you fall in love, it is discovering the ocean after years of puddle jumping. It is realizing you have hands. It is reaching for the tightrope when the crowds have all gone home. Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman men will hurt. If he leaves you with a car-alarm heart, you may learn to sing along. It is hard to stop loving the ocean. Even after it has left you gasping, salty. Forgive yourself for the decisions you have made, the ones you still call mistakes when you tuck them in at night. And know this. Know you are the type of woman who is looking for a place to call yours. Let the statues crumble. You have always been the place. You are a woman who can build it yourself. You were born to build.
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