I am in it for the titles, baby. The titles and the glory.
If I didn’t have this impulse that I wanted you to read this, perhaps I would find myself breaking away at top speed to write about all the goings-on of now. How we have leapt forward into some place new and how this means something I am nervous to decipher.
I won’t let you read it, though. That’s a silly idea. Not all the things I think are meant for direct transmission.
What a fumbling, stumbling, space I am in. My equilibrium is gone. We now have not only spoken, we’ve seen each other whilst speaking through the marvels of video-to-video simultaneous broadcast. This has been a generally pleasing development. But it drops a veil. It raises a portcullis. I am known in a way I cannot be unknown, not with him, or anyone. We smiled, giddily, at each other. I became, in some ways, a real person. At least for him. He has always been realer than anything I am used to, but nevertheless, I imagine J. will not actually become a human being until I hold his hand for myself.
I am not complaining that this has happened. I am just mindful that these things – romantic connection, delight in another human soul, caring about someone’s well-being so deeply you shudder with the weight of it – things I have so pondered for so long and been drawn to since I were aware they existed in this wide and often heartless universe are happening. They are unfurling their crimson sails and the ship is sailing where it is steered. Straight into the mists where lie rocky shoals or else some far distant land of milk and honey or else just more waves and water until we all run out of food and look thirstily at the salt-sea that surrounds us.
And now, today, I feel softened and urgent and needful. I put on makeup and set my hair just so in order to face this new reality of being visibly available, not just via voice. I have let go of security blankets I have clung to for eons. Negative and sour milk beliefs, deep sincere faith in my absence of worth, shackles of self-doubt to let this little engine that could, do have been poured out and run haphazardly down the gutters and gullies. All away and not towards me. If I can be honest and analyze this choice that hardly felt like a choice at all when it was posed to me, this is a Tower crumbling to the ground.
This is a level of vulnerability that is profound, visceral, and truly, one I never reckoned I could find a way to evoke. Now, regardless of what ends up happening in this relationship, this relationship I’m in, I’ve crossed this border. I’ve set foot here and I can find my way back. Mildred has just been silent, face agog, as I have marched along without her towards a life that can’t allow for her to be in charge.
This is not in alignment with you today. You want to not be solely these people who hit this pleasure button over and over again. You want us to have conversations. Be edifying and surprising. Give each other knowledge, tell each other about arenas and universes that are new, that we can be enlightened by, that we can be illuminated.
It is our remit and suddenly, he’s the raconteur with all the cards pre-filled with esoteric knowledge of grand cinematic or epicurean or psychological or miscellany and I hardly know how to take a breath. The absence of an easy, pat answer frightens me. I blank so hard I feel dictionaries crack against the front of my skull and break into individual letters.
I know about surrealism. I know about gardening. Trillium, delphinium, rhubarb, nasturtium. I know some French. Je sais un peu de Francais. Un petit peu. I know about…the sound my dryer makes as it tumbles on a Sunday night. I know about the route I take to work that snatches tires with its teeth. I know about panic, hot air hanging where it shouldn’t in your chest and ballooning until you lift your mind out of position. I know about feminism or the feminist lens as presented by academia ten years ago. Cixous. Rich. Valerie Solanas. A bit. I know about the red and the white, Emily Dickinson peering down through history at us. I know about the sestina, the villanelle, the haiku, the heroic couplet. I know about the saga and the fabliau. I know about Wyf of Bathe. I know about how to read a palm. I know about David Eddings (only about Sparhawk and the Elenium and Sephrenia, and once I recall the spelling of her name). I know about the river in the morning when you are the only one awake. I know about riding with relative strangers through downtown Los Angeles in the middle of the night, falling asleep at four am. Yet, he asks me for something interesting and I stutter.
I say. I don’t know. I’m not the kind of person who can talk about things.
Which is such a baldfaced lie and yet it comes to hand so quickly I have to try and swallow the last of it back before I think I mean it.
I like listening to him think aloud. I like drifting off under the melodic tones of his voice. I like the trust that means I can luxuriate in his presence.
But there is more to me than that. And more is needed to sustain us both. A bore who doesn’t think for herself is a depressing self-definition. What a grasping, anxious pit gets centered in my chest when I think about myself trying to be a lover who has no opinion but yes. please. okay. Not one of being beautiful enough, but of smart enough and that is a shock to the system. A piece I’ve taken for granted so long that suddenly my bluff has been called and I’m sweating.
How much has deserted me in this effort to keep myself away from the danger of being known? How much has been paid to an internet with no vested interest in insuring my intellect is exercised? How much of a quicksilver facility for fact and fiction has been mortgaged for a silence I did not want after the first day?
More than is fair.
Time to read up, fill this well, and let the awe of being changeable yet still, find the words that match its feeling.