I wish today I could be born again; no sensory prejudices or knowledge; no disparaging truths. That clenching a blackberry between my teeth and feeling it sluice my throat could feel new. Deaths of the living are the hardest; as you age, the deaths accumulate. I have seen my best friends die and later watched them walk before me, decayed strangers. The thing about life is that we don’t want it to be real – we want an escape, we want to be in control, we want others to see things the way we see them and with equal conviction. The other thing about life – the insufferable thing but also the most true, important, and rewarding – is that you can’t escape.
I spent a large portion of my youth exploring escapes; in bottoms of bottles, in blotter papers, in rolled dollar bills, in glass pipes. Reality hurled me back to this planet, scorched and lost and confused. When I oriented myself again, my friends had passed. I suppose I should start at the beginning, if there even is such a thing. With a dream, a delusion, a woman, novelty. But that would not suffice. Writing a catalog of grievances advances no one. I just want to talk about what I remember, what I have felt, and what I feel now.
“So what if I do have feelings for you,” you spit, eyeing me warily and clenching your lukewarm cider between perfect pale hands.
Despite the abundance of beer coursing through my veins and the thick blanket of blissful ignorance I’ve managed to surround myself with, I can feel my heart shatter. This is what I feel now; the pain of longing and desiring the unattainable, which has suddenly been made partially available. You are not open to my advances – you’re not open to anyone’s except for his, who is allegedly oblivious to the way you currently wax poetic: a beautiful stream of consciousness confessional flowing out of your full, glossed lips. Yet you’ve admitted that I’ve somehow cracked your tightly sealed Pandora’s Box of emotions; I’ve crumpled your controlled façade and have caused you to want me in spite of yourself.
I’ve broken your boundaries, you say. I’ve pushed you too far, you who are uncomfortable with love, especially same-sex, coworker love. Love that is barely love, because how can it be true love if the receiver is unaware? This is a question you have asked me yourself. How can it be true love if it’s shared with an additional person outside of what is meant to be a two-person dialogue? You asked this in reference to my current partner, who knows about none of this. You also asked this in reference to your Colorado man, who is your all-beef, corn-fed, intelligent, regimented counterpart. You think it is black and white, but every single moment is gray. The universe started from a collision of particles moving at high speed; humans are slowly destroying the earth and each other; and you claim it can all be segregated into absolutes.
This is why the two of you will fail. Because underneath your absolutism, you hold a secret, shameful penchant for the unknown, the unorthodox, the unexplored. You hold a tiny match in your hand for me, just out of reach from the forest in your heart that grows for him. That match burns brightly, and you keep trying to wave it out, but oxygen feeds flames, and the match continues to reignite itself the more breath we waste talking about the inevitability of our attraction.
I know that I’m not the only one you will hold a match for, especially if we never figure this out. Even if you end up with him, if you cannot tell him about every thought, every dream, every fantasy of goodwill or malice that you harbor towards friends and strangers alike, you aren’t going to endure. This is not to say that you need to cascade a waterfall of internal thoughts on your partner, but that you are capable of sharing the difficult thoughts in order to reveal your true essence. Eventually, that match will burn the forest in your heart until you learn how to acknowledge the flame as more than the sole light source illuminating a suffocating closet.
However, you need to be with him, and honestly I hope it works out for you both. I’ve been there – I crossed an ocean and went to another continent to follow that sort of passion. It’s intoxicating, exhilarating, and petrifying. You need to follow it to the ends of the world and watch everything shrivel and die between you before even thinking of letting it go.
I know this is all scary and surreal. I know too that if I go without saying all of this, our lives will go on without consequence. We’ll stay in our current relationships, and we’ll be happy, or less than, and we will look back on earlier times and what could have been and sigh in acknowledgement. I’ll stay compartmentalized as a trophy in your “Lesbian Feelings” shelf and you’ll stay the beautiful woman that I should never have pursued in the first place.
Or we could try. We could see ‘what if’ at the expense of our deeper feelings for others; you could listen to whatever your mind or heart or curiosity is trying to say about me and sort it out. If it didn’t work (and it probably wouldn’t), we would at least have the satisfaction of parsing it out. There’s where you and I distinctly differ: I crave that satisfaction at the expense of everyone involved. I’m a hedonist; you might as well be a poster child for abstinence.
I look at you in the dim glow of the patio lights, surrounded by our pseudo-friends and alcohol, and you look back at me. You smile, for the first time in forever, I’ve no doubt, and I can tell it’s genuine, and I briefly wonder if this is the smile you share with him and the men that came before both of us. We look out over the baseball field as the fireworks rupture the steel, foggy black of the summer sky. You tell me you didn’t see fireworks this year because you had to work over the holiday. I’m not lying when I tell you that these are the best fireworks I’ve ever seen, but I don’t tell you that it’s because I’m standing beside you. I’m staring at your hand, and wanting so badly to grasp it, but instead I pour everything I have into these tiny explosions: controlled, magnificent combustions.