Day Heart vs. Night Heart
The night was humid and the air thick, as heavy as my thoughts. I stepped outside, escaping our claustrophobic apartment, preferring the bugs to the silence. The trees that lined the backyard fence waved in the light of the single bulb above the door, taunting me with a breeze only they could feel.
Sighing, I found a smoothish patch of grass and sat. Closing my eyes, I concentrated on the sweat on my forearms, imagining the salty liquid was actually cooling me down instead of just making me more miserable.
Hearing the back door open and close, I turned to see my friend come out. He held out his hand and I grabbed the cold beer can he offered.
“No worries,” Stormy replied. Stormy wasn’t his real name. That would be Steve. But his was a fierce temper and Stormy was more appropriate.
I looked around the yard. Our pathetic attempt at a garden cowered in the corner of the lot, afraid to reach for the meager sunlight that threaded through the leaves of the surrounding trees during the day. A scattering of camp chairs dotted the remainder of the patchy grass, more mold than rayon. We preferred the grass. Less mold.
“You ok?” Stormy asked after a minute, looking at me without turning his head.
I thought about the question for a few heartbeats, then shrugged.
“I will be.”
He returned the shrug. “Valid.”
We sat in silence for some time, looking for words in our drinks. Finally, he sighed a frustrated sigh. I could tell he was restraining himself from raising his voice.
“Piece of advice?”
I rolled my eyes. “Sure.” Why not? What did I have to lose?
He took a few seconds to gather his thoughts before responding. “You need to stop being such a Day Heart.”
I looked at him, trying to put his words in an order that would make sense. I knew all the words he had spoken. But they didn’t make much sense as they were.
“I’m sorry. What?”
He shrugged his shoulders again. “You have a Day Heart. That’s why you’re having such a hard time with this.”
“And what,” I picked my words carefully, “is a Day Heart?”
“A Day Heart,” he responded, taking on the airs of a professor, “is someone who lives for that one sun in the sky. They love that single bright orb. They move around it. They set their clocks, their lives to it. Their sun is their life. It brightens their existence. You, my friend, have a Day Heart.”
“I, on the other hand, have more of a Night Heart.”
“No,” he shook his head, “you don’t.”
“So, you’ve a Day Heart. You need that one, special, bright sun in your life. Nothing else matters, as long as you have your sun. Me, I have a Night Heart. There are many suns in my sky. And I love them all.”
“You basically just called yourself a whore,” I pointed out.
“Not true! See, loving all the stars is only part of the point. Only by putting a few of the stars together do we get constellations and therefore, meaning.”
“So you only sleep with some of the vast number of people you could.”
He held up his hand. “Love. Not sleep with. There’s a difference. But the select few people I do love make my life meaningful in ways you, with your Day Heart, cannot understand. My constellations burn just as brightly as your sun. But I have more pictures in my sky than you. They just happen to be further away.”
“In other words, my options are to only love one person completely or love a bunch of people from a distance.”
“Well no. You could have a Dawn Heart or a Dusk Heart.”
“A Dawn Heart loves those few stars that hang around the longest but ultimately is waiting for a sun to rise and fill his heart.”
“A Dusk Heart, on the other hand, seeks out the brightest stars as soon as they appear in the sky, thinking that they’re the best since they burn the brightest.”
“Neither sounds bad.”
Stormy shook his head. “None of them are bad. They’re just different ways of navigating love.”
I looked up into the night sky. Only three or four stars were visible through the leaves of the trees and the lights of the street. The brightest of the bunch.
“I don’t know what Heart I have anymore,” I said quietly.
Stormy placed a firm hand on my shoulder as he got up. “Understand that, and you won’t hurt so bad.”
After he went back inside, I spent another hour looking at stars and thinking. I didn’t truly know what heart I had; day or night, dusk or dawn. All I knew was that it was broken.
(I wrote this short a while ago during a particularly bad time. It helped to think about my heart in different ways. There's no one way to love. There's no right or wrong. There's only our best. Most of the time, that's not enough. But sometimes it is.)