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I found love here
I found love in family photos of my young parents apartment at Tulane, the bright feathers of the pet parakeet I never got to meet
I found love in photos of memories I could never hope to keep as an adult
I found love on the other side of the street at 12
Spied black hair and pale skin
First real brush with infatuation 
Starring shameless jailbait seeking validation for my inability to ever feel young
And feeling so much younger across from him and finding that I liked it
I found love that I didn’t realize was going to be a trend I’d have to spend the next 10 years fighting against. 
I found love hidden in my mother’s bookshelf long before Lolita came along
I found love in my own form of sex education courtesy of being grounded  for lying
I found love in trying 
I found love in street names in side-walks, crumbling infrastructures, in tangles of jasmine and magnolias and Spanish moss that I pretended was hair
I found love in witchcraft tours and a small black cat.
I found love in the boyfriends I kept hidden that were a phone call away and often never more than that
I found love in the divorce, found love in my stepfather, in a household divided.
I found love in my youngest brother in his unicorn costume and wanting to cry because he was so beautiful and I did not deserve a chance to be a sister again.
I found love in growing
And sadness
And loathing
I found love in losing everything
Family ties never before tested by distance
With every inch of my home at the mercy of more water than I knew existed.
I found love in the bag of clothes my aunt sent us when she found out we had lost ours
I found love in the one person who didn’t ask what I lost in the storm
I found love in my father’s voice on the phone
“You’re coming home.”
I found love in my mother’s smile understanding that I needed to go
Because do you know what it means to miss New Orleans? 
I found love in St. Louis Cathedral, in listening to a prayer that meant nothing and everything to me 
In candles and choir music
I found love in bars on my 21st birthday with my stepfather buying my drinks and walking with me by the river like nothing had changed even though everything had. 
I found love here
And strength
I found love in finally being fed the fuck up and unwilling to waste anymore time
I found love in forsaking the old and picking up the new 
A new life without an old flame
I found love in the terror of what was truly picking up the pieces of my heart and starting over
I found love in stage-fright and first drafts
Love in running wild at night with the sun at my back
I found love in a Melody I had never heard sung before and never wanted to stop hearing 
Found love in a firm handshake
Love under the red lights on Halloween 
Serpentine dancing
With hips between my thighs 
“How many times can you do it in one night?”
I found love in kisses sharp like a knife
In knots tied just right
In the sharp stings of leather and sweetness of silk and lace
I found love in that place between night and day
It isn’t tomorrow yet until I’ve slept
And I found love in avoiding the world outside of the bed
I found love outside of my own head
I found love in loud nights and quiet mornings and loud mornings
No one is awake at 8 a.m. the way New Orleans is on Mardi Gras
I found love in my grandfathers laughter at his first carnivale
Love in my brother comfortable behind the bar, how despite his shyness, how he had come so far
I found love here
I found love in new voices
In drunken confessions screamed over someone’s karaoke
Love in the graveyard at 1 in the morning
I found love in the line of a jaw
In the curve of lips and hips
And the sips of drinks at any bar we could get to
Found love in shared absinthe
Found love in thin walls and trying to keep it down, people are trying to sleep.
I found love in lessons that could only be learned the hard way
I found love here, 
filling the beats between the lines
I found love in illusions and trapdoors
In props and people hidden under the floor,
In tears shed for the same deaths every night, in the ghosts echo calling for war and the terror of realizing that “Let be” was goodbye, every time
Now cracks a noble heart
And underneath it all, I really am coming apart.
I found love at 3 a.m. singing an aggressive version of Piano Man with seven people who’s sides I had not left for 3 months.
I found love in the art of learning a person deeply in that time and still being wrong
I found love here
I found love on Wednesday nights
I found love in the devil’s details, the end of a lie, in erasing a man, in exhales of smoke and sighs. I found love buried in the warmth of Mortimer in the dead of “winter”
I found love in the first red leather dress, penning my pain on paper, too many amaretto sours and the desire to do more than simply touch and see, living beyond being half a human being.
I found love in coming home. Home to the arms of goddesses, werewolves and beasts. 
I found love in all they’ve taught me.
I found love here.
Right here, 
living in the spaces in between word, thought, and deed.

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