Every memory starts the same. Heartbeat on sleeve. Up the stairs. Two knocks. Door swung open. Two steps in. Your eyes seared into mine, or mine into yours (I never did quite figure out who poured the gas and who lit the match). Mere seconds. My back against the wall. You pressing into me. Me reaching for your jaw. Your fingers in my hair. Mouth to mouth. One of us biting into the other’s bottom lip before even saying a proper hi.
The last time I saw you was on a Tuesday night. February 21st of last year. Around the time Texas weather perfectly plays the role of Jekyll & Hide. That week it couldn’t quite seem to make up its mind. It did for us that night.
It was as you always were – perfect. A cool bite in the air. Just warm enough to where I could fulfill your request and wear something that showed my legs.
You had recently moved in with her but still hadn’t gotten rid of your own apartment some buildings down the street. She was gone, out of town somewhere, it didn’t matter where.
As was always the case with her, I told myself it didn’t matter. In fact, I pretended she didn’t exist. She was just a name. A credit to some minor role at the end of some movie. A face out of focus in some photograph. A figure receding into the background in some painting. A paragraph you skipped over in some page. I’d see that picture on your wall of you and her at a party, her beaming beneath your arm, your arm possessively around her shoulder, and I’d simply ignore it. Sometimes while you were inside me, I would pretend it was me instead. Jealousy? Hurt? Guilt? Wish? I don’t know.
As always, on the night of February 21st, 2017 the door swung open, and the world was once again as it should be.
You know, I never understood the term time stood still. Not until you. Because it did stand still each time, you and I were together. Nothing and no one existed except you and I. We never could last long without touching each other. The electricity in the air was too overwhelming when we pretended when we tried. I’d feel almost unbalanced, drunk, overtaken by vertigo until your hands were on me again. You’d joke about what it would be like if you and I were together. You’d say we never would get anything done, that we would disappear, never to be heard of again, and it’s true, our hands and mouths were always all over each other’s bodies.
Sometimes you didn’t even have to touch me to have the kind of effect you did on me. I’d hear your voice, and like a feline my body would respond, hairs raised and back arched. I swear the same thing would happen if we ever set foot in the same room again. My body recognized yours without having to feel, without having to look. I hate to wonder if on some level it meant it had something to do with feeling yours.
Do you remember that night you placed a chair in front of me and had me bend down at the hips, back parallel to ceiling, and asked me to hold on to it? You hadn’t touched me yet, and there I was, skin awakened by your simple command. “I’m going to take you from behind,” you said. “And if you move, if you let go of that chair, I’m going to spank you with my hand, and if you move again,” you said unhooking the leather from your pants, “I’ll use your favorite belt to paint you red.”
And you did. I always loved being painted by you. The flush on my cheeks your voice would leave, the heat on my skin from your caress, the blood rising to my surface from your vehement touch. To this day I cannot see the color red and not think of you.
Hell, sometimes I can’t even drink wine, specifically Cabernet, without thinking of you. Do you remember us on your living room floor, you pouring it over my skin and drinking it from my chest, my belly, between my hips? I wonder if the stains on your carpet ever came out.
We brought out beautiful demons in each other that never quite were met by other people. When we made love we fucked, and when we fucked we made love. Was it a perfect chemical reaction between us? Was it love? Whatever it was, I was unashamed when I was with you. That’s how you made me feel. I could do anything, I could tell you anything, and you’d never make me feel judged for it.
I never felt as safe as when you wrapped your hands around my throat. If I ever traveled far, if I ever flew to another world, it was then. Your thumb on my vein, my vein throbbing, your thumb digging deeper the closer I got to ecstasy. You touched me with this kind of ownership over my body, but oddly you were the only man who ever made me feel like my body was truly mine.
I never told you this. But being with you were the only moments I ever truly felt beautiful.
I remember a couple of times, you lighting a joint, and asking me to stand in front of you and take off my clothes. You wanted me naked. I wanted to please you. My desire to do so was never satiated.
I’d drop each garment, my eyes never leaving yours. I’d see you transform from man to something much more animalistic. In your eyes, slowly I could see how the sight of me gave birth to beast.
You would use my native tongue and call me Diosa. These were the only moments I felt as such. A goddess.
Standing naked in front of you were the only times I felt like I was a work of art. And I wanted you to paint me in shades of your will, and I wanted you to tear the masterpiece at each corner and in every crease.
I wanted so much more than that. I wanted to love you openly. I wanted what you had with her. I wanted what we had to be something we could say out loud.
We spoke about fate. About meeting in other lives and in other worlds. About how the unconventional thing we had was love. How it was more real than what other people had.
But I wanted to be with you.
I would have done anything to be the small of the back you reached towards at a bar. To be the hand you held in public. To be the shoulder you wrapped your arm around at some party. To be the lips you kissed good night. To be the silhouette in the dark on the bed next to you when you couldn’t sleep. To be the eyes you greeted with the sun each morning.
Last February, laying naked on your bed in your almost empty apartment, well aware most of your things were now in the new home you shared with her, it dawned on me that I may never have you in this life, or in another one. Maybe this is something we do in every universe we meet in. Something about you, something about this fire, about this heat is so familiar, I’m not sure you’ve ever been mine, but I know we find each other beneath the debris each time.
I wonder if in those other worlds, and in past lives, I write about you like I do here. I’ve sworn countless times that I’d stop letting you bleed into the words and the poetry I write. I write about you without even meaning to. I get angry at myself, disappointed at myself. I feel pathetic because surely I must be insane to still be thinking in your name.
I’ve tried to burn it, you know? Like a crazed scene in an angsty music video, I’ve written it down and put a match to it in the sink. I wish it were tangible. I want to snap it in half and throw it against my bedroom wall. But instead, I’m carrying it, like that scar on my knee from that dog bite I got when I was six. Like my grandmother’s ring I can’t take off because I feel incomplete without. Like the fucking weight on my back from all my sleepless nights.
The last time I saw you, it felt like it could be the last. I tried to commit every line on your face, every freckle, every place you touched me and kissed me to memory. None of it matters. I’ll always remember how you made me feel. How ethereal our moments together were. And how miserable I felt each time you didn’t ask me to stay. Each time I was free, and you still didn’t try to make your way to me. How empty, each time I had to tell you goodbye. How cheap, each night I thought about you curling into her side.
I would have loved you, you know. I would have done everything to paint your world in colors not from this world. I would have sat there and listened to you tell me about what blood had ever stained your hands and still loved you. I would have loved the you who has never been loved by anyone else.
It’s what I wanted. It’s the hurricane you saw me blink back when you looked into my eyes. I wanted to be more than just your favorite secret. I wanted to make you happy in ways neither of us had ever been.
I only hope it’s the way she loves you. I only hope you slip under her skin and feel like it’s the closest thing you’ve ever been to holy.
I only hope you wake up in the middle of the night and stare at her silhouette and feel grateful it’s her by your side.
I only hope you never think of me.