I’m a scared 18-year-old kid.
A flask of jack Daniels tucked not-so-discretely into the inner pocket of my ill-fitting tuxedo jacket.
A wishful condom making my wallet bulge awkwardly.
I’m praying silently to the horny teenage gods that this encounter ends before I pass out from the whiskey already coursing through my body, or the sheer intimidation flowing off of the man in front of me.
The man who is glaring at me as he says, “what are you intentions with my daughter?”
Snap to the 37-year-old version.
Same whiskey-lubed brain panicking as I’m asked that same question: “what are your intentions?”
Only this time, the man staring back at me doesn’t look like some disapproving father.
In fact, he looks a whole damn lot like me…
37-year old me doesn’t stammer through some bullshit.
37-year old me pulls that flask out of the pocket, unscrews the cap, and takes a swig.
“Well, sir. My INNN-TENN-SHUNNNS,” I say with at least four times more bravado than is currently required, “Are as follows:
First, I’m going to take these two hands (holds up hands) and I’m going to use them to strip away every ounce of fear I’ve ever felt when my heart beat flutters at the thought of being exposed. I’m peeling off the armor I’ve strapped on piece by piece to protect myself from life’s next little disaster. I’m going to collect up alllllll this emotional baggage I tote around behind the guise of ‘lessons learned’, soak it in high-test gasoline mixed with a dash of asphalt tar, and light that shit on fire with a road flare.
And once I’ve cut myself down to a slag heap, I’m going to put myself back together. Piece by piece. I’m going to take the time to heal. I’m going to take the time to love myself. I’m going to learn to smile back at that goofy asshole in the mirror, but most importantly – I’m going to RESPECT him. I’m going to take all those fragments of a lifetime’s-worth of traumas and build a house worth calling a home…
I’m going to show her that house. I’m going to open the doors and the windows and let her flow through them like a breeze. All smooth edges and gentle egresses. Letting her move through me without any of the pitfalls and hard corners. I’m going to just simply enjoy a presence in this pristine place made from blood and tears. This place with no weird closets or cabinets full of curiosities.
And if she decides this house is a home, I’m going to embrace her as a part of this place. A place where her mind is free. Where her heart is safe. Where her body is a temple, and I’m a religious zealot hell-bent on worship. A place where she’s appreciated like art, enjoyed like a great song, and admired like a treasure worth raiding a tomb for…
In the even that this house isn’t her home. Even a temporary one. There will always be footprints of her left on my surfaces like a bootprint in moondust. The scent of her will always dance through the air like she dances through my head. My house will always be better for having had her in it. A new tattoo to cover up an old scar. There will always be a place for her, because she is just as much of a part of that place as the shards of life it was built with.
What I’m NOT going to do is masquerade a shitty road-side motel room of a human being as some grand palace. I’m not going to let her rap her knuckles on steel plates when she tries to tough my heart. I’m not going to push, or pull, or otherwise alter her course. I’m not tying her down in any way that she doesn’t hold her own wrists out for. I am not a clever trap. I am the escape route.
So, to answer your question as simply as I can: My intentions are to be everything and nothing. My intentions are to build. My intentions are to hold up. My intentions, sir, are to be a better version of myself. For me. For Her. For everyone. Because if I am a shaky, crumbling mess – how can she ever live inside of me? How can I?
THOSE are my intentions.”