How when I let my cat inside in the morning, he skims his body alongside my ankle, practically the only time he’ll make physical contact with me all day because he knows I’m about to feed him.

I know I loved the morning coffee, but I didn’t know there would be a desire for more in the afternoon, and that sometimes I’d give in to that the way I’d give in to another game of solitaire on my phone, which I thought was me wasting time, but which my friend Catherine says is me simply finding another way to rest.

I love all the green leaves from the trees outside my living room – a wall of green that enters my house – and how today I fantasized that if I were dying I’d want to bring my bed into the living room so I could watch the trees and take all that green inside of me.

And at night, how, when I finally turn out the lights, I make my body into a comma, bringing my legs into my belly and pulling the pillow under my head.

Or the way my hand moves instantly to my chest in the morning, a silent prayer to move slowly, to not tumble toward the list or check email too early – an attempt at keeping things fuzzy and unassembled and a little closer to the dream.

I loved the idea of moving the woodpile.

And I loved the idea of starting the mosaic project, as well as the collage project, but I didn’t move toward any of it. Instead I took a handful of chocolate chips and looked at my phone as if I had all the time in the world.

And saying no. And putting myself first. Or at least including myself in the equation.

Even disappointing people, which had scared me for so long, but which now I’d now begun to find just a little thrilling. The way I practiced saying out loud to myself before a date with a friend, “I’m sorry you feel disappointed, I’m sorry you feel disappointed,” and how I had to get comfortable with how those words sounded coming out of my mouth.

I didn’t know how much I like changing my mind just because I could, how I’d suggested a date to the man after our phone conversation, but how in the morning it seemed like a terrible idea, so I took it back. And the date I had with someone else who texted a few hours before the meeting, “not feeling social,” he wrote, and which delighted me because it taught me that not feeling social was a completely reasonable reason to break a date.

I didn’t realize how much I’d come to need and respect my own time. How obligation and doing the right thing has come to feel outworn, and something I’d done my whole life, and how ready I am to let the chips fall, to let people feel what they feel and for me to get acquainted with the word no, which can feel like the end of the world to a woman who has been entirely accommodating her whole life; sucking it in, swallowing it whole, overriding what her belly was telling her and making it work.

I didn’t know I loved my freedom as much as I do. Moving wordlessly around this house, turning on music, opening up doors and windows, lighting candles and incense as though I owned this place, as though this life was mine.

Inspired by the poem, Things I Didn’t Know I Loved, by Nazim Hikmet

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