Years since our last kiss, yet, recently plagued by an inescapable sense of disappointment, a guilt of breaking a bond that should never have been broken. How is it I am unable to remember her name? I felt as if I was compromising the sanctity of some divine ecstasy. Our propinquity electrified the space between us. We were so good at disguising our passions. It was our game no one else knew how to play.
Her boyfriend was always uneasy when I was around. I coveted her from the start. I didn’t care if he suspected or accused us of some love affair. In truth, I wanted him to know. I never once flinched.
I remember the party when I found her boyfriend and his friends strewn about my living room unconscious (I put up with him only to be near her). The whole lot of us drank until the dawn—until the liquor wrung out the moisture in our bodies. But my thoughts at the sight of his vomit on my carpet: “You hold your liquor when you’re in someone else’s fucking house.” Instead, I took the opportunity to be alone with her.
That was the morning we confessed the extent of our lust (which none could be found). She said: “I wanted to sneak into your room last night and climb into your bed, but he kept watching me. I think he knows I want you. I need more than one lover and he knew this about me when we met.”
To him, she was a possession. Me, I wanted to be possessed—by her.
Sex flowed from between her thighs and down her legs. Sex was in her hair; in and throughout her body. It settled on her skin like morning dew. I lusted after her. She walked with this exaggerated switch as her hips swung wide like a pendulum counting the seconds until her next orgasm. But it was no façade—it was who she was. A whisper against the fine, invisible hairs of her porcelain nape would unleash a frenzy of sensations that wouldn’t quit until she got her fix.
My imagination turned on me and I could feel myself inside her, relishing the melody of violent collisions; the scent of our sweat escaping through the windows. I asked if she wanted me as her lover. There was nothing light about her response. We leaned close enough for our lips to exchange vows of an unspoken marriage.
To quote Anais Nin:
“…if a mouth touches flesh profoundly, if the blood quivers, if the rhythm is one, there must be a marriage somewhere—somewhere that is not apparent, sometimes never comes to the surface, never materializes, embodies itself, formulates itself. It remains a mystery…One has to believe in a marriage without white veils and orange blossoms, this marriage in darkness which sometimes cannot be prolonged in daylight. One has to believe in this marriage under water, voiceless and wordless.”
There was no lie in her kiss.
Nothing was ever rehearsed with us. No pressure. We simply coalesced.
On the nights we shared together she drank ginger-flavored vodka from my wine glasses beneath the fireplace as she wrote poetry and doodled all the while telling me her story. The truth came out of how her sexuality had been exploited—pimped by someone she trusted. Branded with a felony because of her naivety. Crimes committed in her name. Crimes she didn’t know were being committed. She wept about not being able to find a job worth the harassment she dealt with everyday serving food for tips that never met her needs.
Our last night together was in a watering hole we both frequented. As the night strengthened, the crowd poured in and I mingled with familiar faces. We played the roles we normally did in public. But in a small town word gets around, and people knew her name. I remember how she found me that night. I was sitting at the bar with a glass of Cabernet: “He keeps grabbing my tits.” Any other night she would have succumbed to those advances (it was the chemical reaction to touch). But this night I could feel the distress she never knew to express. What’s more, is that she saw herself safe with me and I recognized what she wanted people to realize about her. She didn’t always “want it.” Regardless of how her body felt about it.
I carried her home in the morning not knowing it was for the last time. Days later I was on a plane headed back east.
Most noteworthy–most memorable–is in all the time we spent together we never did anything more than kiss. We were never naked together or tasted anymore then tongues and lips. I like to think it was because we did not need to. Moreover, I hope it was because our lust was satisfied by the histories and fantasies we shared in secret.
Nowadays, the nostalgia is overwhelming and I remember what I miss. I remember her name.
She wrote: “Analysis does not count the creative product of the neurotic desire.”
So I’m sayin’, do not read from Anaïs Nin if you are not ready to be tossed out of the comfort of your illusions, unless you are ready to be robbed of your false sense of security, if you are not ready–>to feel<–I swear your very own heart will betray you and deny you refuge.
She wrote: “Deprived of the opium of intensity I fell into an abyss” and I recall the emptiness of my self-righteous logic of love that denied myself quintessential desires. I can’t even begin to count all the elaborate fantasies I’ve concocted about relationships that were no less than attempts to protect my ego.
Don’t read from this woman unless you are ready to get intimate with yourself. Almost like a part of me has been given some purpose again, if not for the first time. While a dormant, indispensable, primal, and libidinous force is resurrected. Up to this moment everything else has been so intentional, calculated, codified, and complicated to the point of disingenuousness.
Strangely enough, the only thing that hurts in the least are my cheeks because I can’t wipe this ridiculous grin off my face. I’ma keep on readin’!
Patriarchy will tolerate no such thing as “unraveling” from men, but over the past few days I have literally come undone. This is, of course, a good thing. It might not feel that way from time to time. Removing the sutures of pride, arrogance, lust, fear, inter alia, stings at the sudden exposure to a deepening darkness.
But there is comfort in the depths of my own uncharted emotional territories; comfort of learning what has been for so long awaiting discovery–places undisturbed.
And in all this unraveling I find tremendous relief. Pain. Then relief. Then pain again. And so on. Further into the darkness. It’s amazing how a little Anais Nin and Adrienne Rich turned down the lights low enough for me to see. Studying so much war I forgot the reason I came here–Love.
I returned to school because I love. After all, what is it all about–life, social justice, freedom, clean water, fresh air, peace–if not for love, right? However, I never anticipated I would be in love–with anyone–even though I suspect it has always been my heart’s desire. Nevertheless, I am coming undone still.
A good thing? No! A magnificent thing! Only one issue: I never had the courage to tell you. In hindsight I revisit all the opportunities you gave to me to just say something. I have never been more afraid in all my life than of what stirred inside me at the very mention of your name.
And suddenly it begins to make sense…I never gave myself the opportunity to commit, to come undone. I stayed single for five years and bragged about freedom all the while building a prison. I became secured in a fortress of illusions (the perfect place for a patriarch) built about a logic of love.
I played a game of comfort. Never getting too close. Always keeping enough doors open to reassure myself of my arrogance. Now the fortress is crumbling. And my emotions laid bare. Nowhere left to conceal the grief of watching you walk away.
A river runs through where stone walls once stood, tracing the steps of your journey, racing towards hope.