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Hannah Cao




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The lamb in love

Museum in Vienna Gabriel and I went to in the Spring of 2020

There was a time a few years ago when my “brand” was writing about heartbreak and romanticising what wasn’t actually there. Quite simply: I was mourning relationships I’ve never had and swallowing in the hurt that was real heartbreak when a relationship did come to an end. Reading all of those pieces I wrote back for consideration for my poetry collection, I hadn’t realised that my poems about love weren’t much about being in love at all. The puppy love. The giddy kind. The cheesy kind. Today is such a day, my friends. Today I’ll tell you about the lamb in love.

There were three very significant times when I knew I loved my boyfriend.

The first was in the beginning. The beginning of the beginning. I knew I loved him whilst in the process of falling for him and it sounds stupid because it would have been, but luckily I wasn’t wrong this time. We had met coincidentally in the city, then talked in a coffee shop, then started texting while I was on a weekend trip in Hamburg with my family. Our first date was right after coming home from that trip, with tousled hair and the next best outfit I could find in my bag. We went for burgers and took a walk towards the Elbe river and he looked at me in a peculiar way. I asked him what it was and he admitted to me that he wanted to kiss me, but that he wouldn’t.
We couldn’t be rushing. We met up every day after that, like silly teenagers unable to stay away from each other. We told each other stories and laughed at stupid little things, he picked me up from the book store, we took pictures on the bridge, and he walked all the way to bring me home when the days were over. Then he’d text he wanted to see me again and he’d come back an hour later. We lay in the grass watching the stars. The exact same time when he saw a shooting star, I pointed at a rabbit jumping across the grass. We kissed for the first time. And then we met up again many times, and one rainy evening we ended up running to a pub, our cold clothes sticking to our bodies. My hair was a mess, completely drenched, and his t-shirt was damp all over. We were sipping on our pints, his arm around me, and we were grinning faces and silly chuckles and then time stopped because we did, and he looked at me and said the words. I called him crazy drunk, and called myself a hypocrite as I always tended to go slow in relationships, and yet there I was, saying the words back, and I knew that I felt it and I knew I would be feeling it tomorrow, and a week from them, and a month from then, and later. It’s been two years and a half since.
The second was when his beloved cat passed away. His cat was a testament, in a way, for his huge heart. I’ve never had a pet (only fish and a bird that flew away when I was trying to feed it), so I can’t even imagine how much pain that death has caused him.
I just knew that he loved him, and he was in pain, and all I wanted to do was paint smiles onto his face. I was suffering more about him suffering than because of my own suffering. I wanted to give him all the strength that I could muster myself and do things for him. I wanted to show him how worthy of love he was. I felt then what it meant to share pain with somebody and to care about someone so much that their suffering turned into my own. Loving him made me want to love myself from his point of view. Because for this kind person, I am somebody special and lovable.

The third time is now. Now, where closeness in all forms is taken from us for most of the time. I feel so close to him nevertheless. Our texts are routine and I feel myself growing kinder each day. My love is settling into a rock hardly shaken by anybody or anything else, and it is turning so solid that not even distance can break at it. Our love raises me when I can’t stand the mirror or I’m fighting hormones that tell me how bad of a person I am. It forces me to work on myself, it holds me and it doesn’t give up on me. It encourages me to keep writing that novel despite all doubtful odds. It encourages me to chase my dream of opening my own coffee shop because that faith in someone goes beyond one person and truly feels contagious.

Sending you all so much love today and every day.