Truth be told: I am a hot mess (sometimes) whose fleeting responses to intimacy come at the cost of authentic relationships and cause much more heartache in trying to protect myself from injury than that of actually putting myself out there.
So, imagine my surprise when she said, “Next time, let’s sit at the front of class. Save a seat for me if you get there before I do.” Rarely am I so immediately confused. But in all eagerness, I longed to honor her modest request; racing toward our next class, determined to keep my word; shunning conversations with others; she’d never know I had been running. Instead, she is there waiting–for me.
Beneath a veil of rusting candied-apple locs shown a constellation of opulent freckles mapping the territory of heaven; her eyes more brilliant than all earth and ocean. Her voice: a testimony of long-awaited nights of winter’s intimacy. My gaze is fixed upon her lips, studying every syllable of her native tongue, frozen by the whisper of a [ch]ill.
Worlds apart in so many ways, but the sudden collapse of distance accentuated the glory of our peculiaris.
So, why am I searching for everything “wrong” with my life; everything wrong with me; exaggerating all the differences; fabricating consequences; trying to convince myself that “she” and “me” could never be “we;” negotiating my heart’s desire only to torment myself with the specter of a dream I never once had?
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.