I get on these music kicks sometimes. It’s usually some ridiculous pop-esque song that’s annoyingly catchy and not really representative of how I live my life, but tangentially hits on something that resonates deeply within me.
Past incarnations of this have included The Killers, “When You Were Young,” (we’re burning down the highway skyline on the back of a hurricane that started turning when you were young); Fun, “Carry On,” (and it’s nice to know when I was left for dead, I was found and now I don’t own these streets; I am not the ghost you are to me); Halsey, “Ghost,” (I don’t like them innocent, I don’t want no face fresh, want them wearing leather begging, ‘lemme be your taste test.’ I like the sad eyes, bad guys, mouth full of white lies, kiss me in the corridor but quick to tell me goodbye)
Nothing particularly profound. At the moment, my current binge-listen is Gavin DeGraw, of all things: “She Sets The City On Fire.” I commented to a friend that I wanted someone to hear that song and think of me (except, not really, cause it’s a little too manic-pixie-dreamgirl for my taste) but what I think I mean is, I want to see myself the way other people see me. So if I can just believe, for a moment, that someone else sees me in a way that is achingly beautiful, then perhaps I can see myself that way.
That isn’t how it works, of course. External affirmation doesn’t do much to assuage internal messaging. We all tell ourselves what we believe to be true, even if it’s at a level above (or below) language: a moment of guilt when we have done nothing wrong. A tendency to acquiesce when we butt up against a different perspective. An overabundance of apology and an underabundance of “no.”
And yet, there is value in hearing that we are beautiful to someone, that we are thought of, that we are taking up space in someone’s mind, or life, or across their face in a smile. There is value in knowing that we are taking up space in someone’s life in language and words, that we inspire them, that we are, in some ways, bearing witness to their passion. But not only is there value, there is…intimacy, of a sort, in that. Knowing we are present when we are not physically present is a powerful thing to hold. But more than simply knowing that, trusting and believing it are different beasts altogether.
Can you imagine believing that someone craves you as desperately as you crave them?
I’ve written about mania before, everything from how I fall in love to fixation and obsession to needing permission to have desire. But the reality is this: I believe, inherently, that I feel too hard, too passionately, too much to be reciprocated. The harder I feel, the more distant I become, the more vulnerable small actions feel, until telling someone that I am thinking about them is enough to make my chest constrict.
When I say, “I am thinking about you,” that is all someone else hears. They don’t hear the two hours of conversation I had with someone else making sure that it’s ok that I’m thinking about someone this strongly. They don’t know that I lulled myself off to sleep last night in a mental recreation of what it felt like to sleep beside them. They don’t know the pressurized sensation of these words; they hear them and interpret them in the way they would mean them if and when they extended the same message.
Here, have an image or two
I had a conversation with someone recently in which we were discussing a mutual friend and I made the comment, “I could sit with that person and drink in their energy all day.”
A friend with whom I switch frequently, throughout the day, in the middle of scenes, in life, spent his lunch hour one day threatening to screenshot our conversation and send it to someone for whom I was having strong feelings in an effort to show me that the world would not end if I exhibited such straightforward openness (and also, because he likes to fuck with my brain, and can, and has consent to).
I have this erotic piece that isn’t half bad about being co-topped by two people who are in my life in very different capacities. One is a space of intense vulnerability; the other is the kind of person I still get nervous around and want to not feel like an awkward, bumbling, clunky human. I wanted to think about what it would feel like to share space with those two people simultaneously, to be in a place where I was forced to integrate, in some capacity. I wanted to play around with what sensation might feel like, in those moments when I can’t differentiate or partition. It was a good thought exercise.
I can’t post it. It feels like what I imagine people talk about when they talk about feeling naked as exposure. Nudity has never made me feel vulnerable and exposed, but I know I’ve written something real when sharing my writing feels like that.
Let’s be honest here. I have created distance in so many ways, even here. There is misdirection in what I am not saying. See: plausible deniability.
We could have dinner
I want to devour you. It’s sensational and yet, I am looking for the ravenous look in your eyes. I could get drunk on watching you exist in passion, whether it’s for physics or herbalism or audiobooks.
I told someone I wanted to be my bad idea’s bad idea. What I mean, of course, is that I want to be overwhelming, tantalizing, draw you in and live in a tiny nook in your mind and come out at the most inconvenient times. I want to take up space in your life without actively putting myself there. He pointed out that I am already that, for many people, but it’s never for the people who are that to me. Desiring someone automatically frames them as a bad idea. I can’t believe that the people who have drawn me in could be so similarly drawn into me.
The concept of my own sense of power is startling. What would happen if we believed that the people we loved the most fiercely, the most dangerously, the most recklessly- for those are the only words I know to describe what that kind of craving feels like- what would happen if we could allow ourselves the luxury of believing that they reciprocated that desire? If we allowed people the autonomy to have emotional surges that rival our own?
Instead, we dampen down. We minimize. We keep what happens behind the scenes so well-contained, people forget they are watching a play and start to believe this is reality. You are not capable of loving me because I am not capable of allowing you to see me, unleashed, for that is the only part worth loving and it is the singular part that you are missing.
(Note the distance: “we” instead of “I.” I am wrapping you into this so that it is not singularly focused on me. By bridging the space between us, I am distancing myself from my experiences and circumnavigating the need to be truly vulnerable.)
I’ve always done well with slow exposure. I make a move, and then walk away. Come back to find a countermove is waiting, and I walk away without looking. Come back and take the smallest glance at the board, and walk away. Come back, and take in a wider view- and walk away. Again and again, absorbing small pieces each time until I feel like I can see the whole picture, and respond. It’s the way I deal with expecting the worst. It’s the way I process out the terror of vulnerability in any form- I can’t even say radical vulnerability, because claiming desire honestly shouldn’t have to be something so deviated from our lives that it must be called radical.
But there I go, with that “should” word. So perhaps, still, because of what is and not what should be, these things are radical vulnerability.
There was so much in @WhyTrustTomHanks’ most recent piece that I want to sink my teeth into. There is, perhaps, a second, and third response and rumination, but I am thinking about love letters and how I don’t really write them. Ever. I write recollection and I write (at least, lately), erotica. But I don’t write love letters. I don’t tell people what I see when I look at them, how I feel.
If I were to write love letters, these are the love letters I would write today. Right now, in this moment.
To the person who makes me giddy and ache simultaneously.
To the person who is human with me.
To the person who asked me if I burned things, then lit a fire and held it with me.
To the person who can read my heart in circles on the floor.
To the person who reminded me why I love to write.
To the person who helps me drink coffee with my mind.
To the person who looks at me and sees more than I mean to show, every time.
To the person behind the game face.
To your disdain for small talk.
To your juxtapositions, the quiet, contemplative calm and the intense, methodical movements.
To your immense capacity to care, with your entire heart, but with discernment, sometimes, and recklessness, others.
To your tone, enthusiastic, vehement, intense, contemplative, which comes through the binary characters with no memory to reference.
To your wings, which you’re starting to find.
To your goodness, and lack thereof, and the tension you hold between the two.
If I wrote these all, I would have to write a book. It’s a justification why I shouldn’t tell you that I love you immensely, even if I don’t know you, even if we’ve started sleeping together and words like “love” complicate even the simplest dynamics (and this, I think, is far from simple).
(That damn “should” word again.)
I anchor love to dive to different depths. Some cords will barely hold me as I peer over the edge; others let me plummet beyond where light gives reassurance of the boundaries.
Fun fact: I don’t do well being up high. I do even worse falling.
But I crave, in different ways, different sensations, different desires, some the slow burn, others the ravenous craze. Something in you-each of you-brings me to ache in ways that I have trouble naming. And. Something in you is beautiful and takes up space in my life and some part of you witnesses the passion in me. I want to tell you but you cannot feel this back. I want to tell you but I do not have permission. I want to tell you but this will scare you off. I will ruin everything before it begins.
I’m watching you, wondering if you are thinking the exact same things. I wouldn’t trust it if you told me you were.
I want to tell you for the simple act of telling you, if I didn’t think that telling you would destroy you.
More true: I want to tell you for the simple act of telling you, if I didn’t think that the look in your eyes might destroy me.
I want you to see me as a hurricane and a firestorm, a wolf or a predator, something powerful, something worth spending the time to get under my skin because I think these things of you and maybe it means that I’m not alone in this.
I don’t want it to be because I need permission to feel these things toward you.
Otherwise, you will miss the best parts- not because you are not looking, but because I cannot accept that the eyes across the room that have been watching me for hours could possibly belong to you.