Unguarded, life now is so simple: wake up. Breath comes in, leaves, comes in again. Warmth beside me shifts and sighs. A hand finds another hand, fingers entwine, palms squeeze. Soft words seek through the darkened room, catch in an ear, a companion sigh heaves. Good morning, my love. A turn, a kiss, limbs tangle. Good morning.

Unguarded, walking down any street, arm in arm, steps match and we sway. Straight lines of sidewalk become dotted; there is a path forward together, behind us so many footfalls from time apart. Words bubble up without concern, without censoring. Laughter encircles us like a shield.

I watch him, eyes open, heart open, while he touches and loves and savors the world. I watch him and, unguarded, see the past, the pause, and the present unfurling into the future, our future: I know we know how it’s done.

If you would have told me four years ago just to be more patient, less guarded, that this was waiting for me at the end of a year apart, I would have shaken my head and walked away; I could have never imagined then that now it would be this right, this whole. That makes today all the sweeter a victory. Regrets have no place in our love. Years later, I am finally ready to fall into him again, knowing with all shining certainty that he will catch me. We will catch each other.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.