A Portrait of Infatuation
He puts your palms together, curling his long, elegant, pianist’s fingers around yours, remarking on how utterly small they are. “Your fingers are so little, so delicate. So soft. Have you ever noticed that before?” He evaluates their respective sizes and shapes like two children meeting on a playground, comparing not for competition, but rather an honest appreciation of human differences. You are smaller than I am, I am stronger than you are. How fascinating.
And this is it, you think, in much the way someone feels when they solve for X in a particularly difficult equation–this is infatuation. That satisfying, fulfilling locking into place of an answer that is so simple and yet somehow takes so long to reach. This is that moment before the story cuts off in the fairy tales–before they live “Happily Ever After.” This is where people run through city squares, scaring pigeons, singing children’s songs, dancing to music only they can hear. This is what all those insufferable couples must feel when you move by them at a solid clip, thinking with detached disdain that they should get a room.
We are so quick to dismiss all around us those who are effusively, publicly, almost profanely falling in love–until we do it ourselves. And then, all of a sudden, we find ourselves on an empty street at 3 in the morning asking questions to prolong a conversation we simply cannot allow ourselves to end. Suddenly we are checking our watches and realizing that we have to be up for work in two hours, that we didn’t feed our pets, that we might have left the oven on. We were only supposed to grab a quick coffee, how does that last 7 hours?
Tripping over ourselves to give compliments, longing to take the other person’s face in our hands and force them to look at us head-on: “You are beautiful, you are incredible and, no, you’re not going to blush and ignore this one.” The way he looks around and fusses with his glasses when he thinks, the way she takes her hair down and it effortlessly falls around her shoulders like warm caramel. Whoops, there it is, we are infatuated.
And then, as if by magic, those couples who annoyed us, the metro that was never on time, the forecast for rain, rain, rain–couldn’t be less relevant. The way he slips his arm behind your back, the way she opens her eyes like a child on Christmas after she kisses you, that’s all that matters. That’s what we should really be focusing on.
We suddenly want to go up and give all those couples a high-five, “You did it! You’re in love! Good for you guys!” We suddenly want to stop everyone on the street who looks upset and tell them how beautiful the weather is, that the flowers are starting to bloom, that kissing on a park bench at night may be the single greatest thing about living. “You should try it, seriously.”
Kissing, kissing for hours, stopping at random street corners and leaning across tables in restaurants and even while clumsily walking. Inelegantly, beautifully attached at the lips. Those long, urgent, yet somehow slightly chaste kisses that take over us before sex has even come into the picture are the best in the world. Pressed against another body, eyes closed, trying to make a mental image of every rise and curve you feel–shaking your present on Christmas eve, approximating its size, shape, its texture, trying to take a guess as to what it could possibly be. Giddy with anticipation, stomach fluttering, a hand on the small of the back. Not tonight, not tonight, but soon.
The moments where you listen to a love song that you previously thought trite and overdone, hearing it again as if you’d never known it existed, longing to take out every note and hold it in your hands, examining it. Surely it must have some physical mass, surely something so beautiful and so universally true must have a shape and size. How did they know just the inflection, just the chord progression to perfectly describe how you feel when he kisses your forehead?
And examining your hands, pressed up against each other, a flawless representation of two people coming together–you swell up with excitement, and just a touch of fear. You realize that in these first breathless moments, where you are just blank slates, when there is no history here to muddy the water, this may be the best you will ever be. This is the honeymoon phase, and perhaps there is nowhere to go but down. You will fight, you will cry, this person will have a hold over you that you may not be comfortable with. And perhaps, one day, you will cringe when anyone mentions the city you vacationed in that one time. But just as you allow yourself to spiral into a bottomless pit of questions and doubt, you find out that you both love the same ice cream place that’s only a couple blocks away and you think, “What am I thinking? This one is different. Let’s go get some ice cream.”
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Underwear Man stood in the front yard of my friend Dean’s house everyday at 1:45 in the morning for six weeks.
It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.