My boyfriend reads my writing, which usually doesn’t faze me, but sometimes it does. Like right now, as I write about the one who might’ve gotten away, except not, except who knows, because that person is away and so am I.
Bumping into someone with whom you had a not-relationship relationship is always interesting on many levels. There’s the hesitation that precedes recognition: “Are you still the person I knew when I last saw you?” The answer, oftentimes, is “Kind of”; it takes much longer for people to change than they might think or admit, and once you move beyond superficial differences, it’s easy to slip into familiarity, particularly with someone who used to be an emotional intimate, or at least someone you drank with a lot.
For years, I thought that certain things were true: That I wasn’t meeting anybody, and that there was really nothing I could do about it. But looking back, there was a “something” there; I just wasn’t prepared to, and willfully avoided, engaging it. The hard thing to do would’ve been to address the underlying weirdness that blossomed out of our relative silences; the easier thing to do, as it were, was to pretend that nothing was up.
But that doesn’t mean I hadn’t been aware of it; this palpable “it” between us. It wasn’t really romantic in nature — rather, we’d gone through a crucible together, and while we only met within it, perhaps that made the connection stronger. It helped that as the years went on, I became more sure of what I wanted and who I am, while he similarly grew into his tastes, his surroundings, his skin. Broad hands and small shoulder blades, resting in alignment like spines on a shelf; our easy laughs crackling with shared disbelief.
If you’ve ever read this blog before, you’ll know that the three things I write about most are music, family, and boys. That last point pains me, because for the past few years, I’ve only slipped into this site to furiously record the immediately necessary misery and memory of those times, which means that I spent a lot of time and a lot of words on men. Some of that was good; much of that was turmoil, rejection, paranoia. But I never wrote about him, at least in that specific manner: him, whose presence in my life grew from a seed into a sturdy tree, whose personality and habits could not be more different from mine, who has never told me a secret but has shown me many.
“If I touch you, will you recoil?” — the thought buzzed in my blood like cheap sake, and I spent an afternoon of picking-at-nails and twisting-of-hair wondering if he felt this same strange fire. It was as though I was preparing for a presentation, except it was for myself and about something that I kept telling myself was nothing. Of course, once you notice a scab, you pick at it, and now I’ve just about ripped it off. I’m curious, but I’m also not concerned, but I’m also thinking about the choices I’ve had along the path to here and where it was that things lost their way.
To reach out and to touch someone is to assume that they will be better off for your touch; it’s a thought oftentimes lost by men, but to be a woman who touches is to be the enabler of your own desires. Or something like that; I generally shun touch, but for the people I love the most, it is the signifier of my deep affection that I place my palm on your cheek; weave my fingers around yours in jest or in need; turn to you not for warmth or for comfort but simply because in that moment, our happiness would best be expressed through contact. Though I’m a big believer in the equal warmths of URL and IRL, as in the case of music, there’s something to be said about the live.
I don’t know if we’d ever had skin contact for more than a few seconds, but as we shocked each other in the quick, it was clear both that 1) we knew, and 2) we would’ve never stood a chance.
When I was in college (words that still feel strange to type), I didn’t feel the gaps between years; instead, everything sort of drifted in a time mush, where days took years and months dashed by in bewildering succession. I measured my time as pivotal relationships. There are only a handful of people I still talk to from my freshman year circle, and so that is the haziest part of my memory. Things clarify, and with it, certain people — and now, I’m constantly surrounded by only the brightest lights.
To pop back into uncertainty is to challenge your comfort, but then again, it’s the only way to move forward as a person and not become an emotionally-stunted, evolutionarily-plateaued brick wall. The trouble is that it’s easy to push something as malleable as your body to its stretched extremes, but the heart is a muscle with very specific and conditional needs, and its projection upon the world is similarly fragile. Every tug at its invisible strings puts it at a proportionally bigger risk of being sucked into the terror of a totally foreign place; yet we are no less rougher with them as we are with our scarred, healing skin.
I guess I wanted the push, and to confirm that I’d made the right choice after all. Which ended up being the case, but still.
Thank you for dreaming with me.