Your breathing comes from a calm inside your chest. Your eyes are closed; you have the atmosphere of sleep. In the heat of your arms, which have gone loose around me, I am aware of the wind, blowing above our bedsheets.
Can you love a man for his mysteries? For the stories he tells? Can you base the decision on something like faith? How many facts do you need? How much does someone need to tell you before you know the stretch and the scent of his soul?
I have friends who speak of settling down the way others might speak of choosing furniture, trying on a number of partners for size, and finally, like a comfortable recliner, one fit. Other people fall in love with a person without stopping to measure or analyze, without systematically screening and filtering and testing for proof of long-term compatibility. I fall into the second group for sure. I have given my heart to an enigma, a dark-haired man with twinkling eyes and capable hands whose spirit dreams and softly sings in a language as different as my own.
I think I thought I wouldn’t ever find it, that all the men I’d meet would be like the ones I’d already met, crammed with the things that hold no weight for me. What do you do with the sprawl that is the life you’ve not yet lived? How will you know when love happens? I had been looking for something I could believe in, and there you were smiling at me from across the street as you walked around the backside of the car to meet me, the autumn sun shining on you like a spotlight.
It was your hands, at first, I think. Certain things are knowable about a man’s hands. I knew instantly that yours were gentle. Yours was a hand probably capable of great violence if provoked but still able to cradle a tiny, fussing, newborn as she adjusted to her new surroundings. A hand that took my hand into itself. A hand that I trusted instinctively.
Trusted. And this is something new, the weight and quality of this trust. It is something extraordinary—more compelling than the mosaic of good feeling and faith that lies at the foundation of every true friendship, so powerful that I cannot name it. There is nothing traditional in your appeal for me, nothing conventional. I have found a man who shares his fragment of the moon and his portion of stars. A man who thinks my writing and art can matter.
But let me go back to that thing you give to me—this big loom of trust, with so many fibers. A net large enough and so exquisitely crafted that it can catch my many shards—my moods, my regrets, my music, my joy, the person I have been, the person I am becoming. I can be every part of me– conflicted, ambitious, loving, self-doubting, victorious. I can sit, dance, want, give, fly and be drowning , too and you will leave your lamp on for me. You will be there, come the rain, come the gray hair. You will be there, and that is what I understand. This is friendship, of course, but it’s also so much bigger. Certainly it’s bigger than romance. It is the union of two souls, and it scares me to death at times. I hadn’t meant to fall in love with you.
There is no one like you. Without so much as a conversation you have shown me the color of your soul, and then you start talking, telling me of your travels and the characters you’ve known. Revealing the life you’ve lived. And I sit legs tucked up under me, listening to laughter, watching you and loving you, occasionally still afraid of the feelings I have. I know enough now to know when a man tells you about the people he has known and the people he has passionately loved, he is inviting you into his family, bringing you into his life.
When you open to me like a page in a book, open with all poetry and heart, watching the moon, telling the truth, there’s no not loving you. There’s no not looming you into the weave of my life. There is no going back. I’m not headed that way. This is what is true about the life I choose to live to date: You are the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done, and you are also the safest, smartest and dearest.
Beside me now, you sleep. Your hand rests light as silk below my breast, your freckles stand in acute relief against your skin. Tied by the things we cannot see and by things we just imagine, we are here because trust is, because it has saved us from ourselves.