I didn’t know what to call it at first. But I felt it. Almost right away.
Sometimes you feel something before you can identify what it is. Before the words come to you. Before you have a name for it. Later on you asked me what the fuck was going on, and I answered honestly. I said I didn’t know. I told you you had no idea how many times I’d asked myself the very same question.
You said it was an irresistible pull, like a magnet. And maybe it was for you. But for me it was entirely a wanting. One I had never been more sure of. A wanting I resisted and resisted and resisted.
Sometimes there are things you just know. Deep down. Like a truth you carry inside of you no matter how hard you try and deny it. Even if there is no logical way to prove it. Even if all signs point to the contrary. Like if I had to bet a large sum of money on whether or not you were falling in love with me back then, I’d instinctively know where to slide the chips.
Not love itself, just the falling – the tipping point, the cusp. Like the first rivulet of ice cream that drips down the side of a cone, something inside of us was melting, but you couldn’t call it melted. The same way you can’t call something that is dying, dead. Just like the moment right before an orgasm isn’t the climax, but also isn’t any less fucking intense.
You called it a massive crush or something. I don’t believe it was a crush that made you offer to come and clean up my puke at two in the morning. When I wanted more than anything in the world to say yes, but told you no instead – resisting, resisting, resisting.
Or when I saw how you looked at me in the reflection of my sliding glass door. You told me later you had had this huge urge to lean down, kiss my neck, wrap your arms around me, and squeeze me. I certainly would not call that lust. You said it was passing, but that I still made your heart pound in your chest. What did the pounding say? That it was passing? I think you misread the symptoms.
You were always misreading. Like when we read the same book and your final analysis was one of annoyance: “Why can’t it be about love?”, you asked me. Of course it was about love. It was always about love. But all I said was, “It has to start somewhere. You can’t just know right away.”
Sometimes you were very good at reading. Like the time you looked at my face and saw the concern written all over it. You teased me for it afterwards relentlessly. Or when you woke up in my lap and looked up at me and thought I was scared. It was never you that I was afraid of. Or how I felt. I was afraid of who it would hurt. You most of all I think.
I never asked for what I wanted outright. Partly because I didn’t think I deserved it. Mostly because I had an acute understanding of what it would entail. You knew I had just lived through something similar. You knew it was fresh. So of course I was slightly offended when you speculated that maybe it was all just a rebound for me.
Who would want a rebound this complicated? I’d never seen two people make more excuses to touch each other. That need to be close in any way possible. I told you I was attracted to you intellectually, physically, emotionally in response. Looking back, I wonder if you were making a safety net for yourself out of those assumptions. Like you were afraid of getting hurt. Like if you decided it didn’t mean anything to me, you wouldn’t have to make a choice.
How could I ask for the one thing I had spent so much time expressing I wouldn’t wish on anyone? It took time for me to not hate myself for wanting it anyway. To separate the wanting you from the not wanting to hurt anyone and let both of them exist side by side. To read the grey between the black and white of it all.
But while intentions can be grey, decisions can only be one or the other. And I understood yours. I really did. I told you it wouldn’t make it go away, and I think we both know now that I was right. Even though you would never admit to it in those three words, I miss you, I can see them spelled out plainly. Trying to fight their way out from behind your closed teeth. The same way I used to see you struggling not to lick your lips, because you knew I would make fun of you for it.
I didn’t know what to call it back then. When I felt it. Almost right away. Sometimes you feel something before you can identify what it is. Before the words come to you.
These are the words that came.