My house smells like baking apples.
I wake up happy and in love and whole. I wake up in my bed with a man who kisses even the bends of my elbows. Sometimes it feels like luck, other times like destiny. (I have softened enough to contemplate such thoughts without shame or irony.)
I could tell you about the indigo months of Before — about the bruises and the people who left them; about the sadness or the rain. Everyone still asks about the scars, but the pain is boring; even the memory of it is whitewashed into the Decembers of my past.
It took me until now to realize there was no broken; that every laugh remained better than the last. In the morning he looks at me like I am light because I am light. Because I shine. Because I know beauty so thoroughly, and because I have found it everywhere, in each and every day of my life.
I have been crushed. I have been hurt. I have been to the depths of darkness and almost lost myself there — but there was never any broken; never any part of me that was incapable of growing, or wanting, or fighting. And maybe it’s strange for a war to end with the scent of apples and cinnamon, and maybe it’s strange for a victory cry to be lips pressed against skin — but this is my story — every word of it, every chapter. This is my kingdom — blessed and golden — earned with strength of my own two hands.