So we played this game. It was cat and mouse. It was yes and no. It was no, and NO. Who wants who less, who can hide for the longest, who can care the least and than make it all matter again with the most powerfully provocative or intensely personal interaction musterable. They were hard won: those moments of intensity, valuable for their rarity.
They shocked me in their clarity, jolting me to life with phenomenal aim.
When I realized how I felt I hid in my room.
No kidding. I locked the door, I buried my head, I warned my friends.
And that this undeniable draw was mutual held no doubt. Anything so overwhelming and horrible couldn't help but to be as cruelly possible.
It was the first sense I ever had of what a friend of mine came to ironically term “the psychic link.” It was the foretold knowledge and forgone conclusion that above and beyond my control we were already bound on a course. Our “relationship” existed the moment we locked eyes. It was foreshadowed in quiet asides and pinpointed comments, it mounted it’s course in drunken admittance, in banter and rejection.
And we'd tell eachother this "no", "nevermind, “whatever" time and again and then we'd grab each other and negate hours of discussion with hours and hours of yes.
I hadn't had this before. I had felt love, or something like it, I knew affection and companionship. But I had never looked into another’s eyes and seen such an amplified, fractured reflection of my own thoughts and needs, and such a clear understanding of kinsmanship.
Were we friends?
I don't know. I wouldn’t use that word.
I liked him, I respected him. I was fascinated by him. But I feared him and I feared myself with him. I never trusted him.
Strategy and tactic were implicit in our interactions. I would never have told him how I felt in sincerity and certainly never how I felt about him.
But those hard won moments of affection and the accidental moments of perfect open communication felt like every barrier had come crashing down. They were a new brand of honesty.
They felt like contentment. They felt natural. They felt like me.
See, I had spent so much time seeking to bond with people who looked and dressed and acted like me. So many interactions based on presumed commonality and the intention of expanding upon a common framework. And we never really talked. And our commonalities became a trap when differences threatened the basis of our affection.
And this man. No. He was different. Different than me. But not really. Not at all. He was so much like me it hurt. He didn’t look like me, but he smelled like me and he thought like me. And when he spoke, I understood. When he looked at me, I knew what he saw. I swoon now in deference to the memory.
And I learned something very powerful.
I learned to stop looking and start moving.
I learned that sometimes we find who we are in the most unexpected places. I learned that I was much much more than every stylized and anticipated version of myself I had drawn in my youth.
I learned that many paths can lead to the same destination, and how you come upon a view has as much capacity to saturate it’s colors as immediate static context.
I learned that the most challenging intellectual puzzles are sexy and vibrant.
And I learned something about romance and love. That it doesn’t look like flowers and candy and a tall prince. That sometimes it’s found in the most unfair and unbelievable forms. That it’s scary sometimes. Someone opens up a door you thought was a window or pushes you off a balcony only to find there was a landing obscured from view, only precious feet below. And your whole world grows.
And in the quietest of moments, the most tender expressions of affection that were exchanged in this whirlwind still resonate with romance, even in the darkest corners of my mind.