Do you have a crush on him, he asks me. Though my response is reactively dismissive, this seems to validate what was swelling inside me. He continues, it’s in the way you look at him. It’s like the way you used to look at me.
Maybe it’s the fact that he’s leaving for France soon, that causes this sort of clinging to surface. I am surprised of the pressure of tears welting up in me at the mere mention of his departure. It will never be like this again, to my awareness. The beauty will fade and transform. Just as it has never felt this way before, feelings are never stagnant and inevitably I will not feel this for long. People take photographs to capture a fleeting moment, and I am compelled to capture this— whatever this is, with words. I must.
He asked to use my shampoo, to which I reply yes, but I make it clear it’s a one-time deal. After opening the bathroom door, I find him rubbing his slender fingers through his hair, commenting on how soft and supple it feels. What is this, he asks. What is this Argan oil? I feel so pampered! I mumble something in acknowledgement but am so transfixed on this feeling of pampering that I indirectly played a part in.
I lay at night awake in my bed, listening to him drawing himself a bath. I imagining in all the ways I’d like to replicate and expand that feeling, though more directly. I see myself slipping into that tub with him, lying in comforting, undisturbed silence. Falling into one another, falling into ourselves, falling out of this world into nothingness.
To come back, I bring myself to wash his dark hair, combing it between my pale skinned fingers, admiring the contrast. I slowly massage his scalp, his eyes close and peacefulness upturns his lips. I find pleasure in melting him with my touch. His head is between my legs, nestled between my thighs but still resting on my lap. I carefully rinse his hair with warm water, the soap gliding down my legs.
Next, I move to his face and exfoliate with the scrub on the pads of my fingertips. Circular motions, I concentrate on his temples and strong, exquisite nose. He tells me how he never realized how itchy his face was as the gentle abrasion is scratching it with unexpected relief. Thank you, he whispers with ecstasy.
I wipe his face with a wet, steaming towel and wrap it around his face in such a way where his nose is exposed. I think about one of my favorite bathing positions, the “fish pose” in yoga, laying in the bath and dipping my head back, leaving only my nose above water. I leave the towel on for a minute. I pat it dry and proceed with a nose-strip. As it is curing, I close his eyes with my gentle touch and lightly drag my lips across his forehead, trace the high point of his cheekbones and then down, across his upper lips, settling into the philtron. I embody the definition of this term with fullness, the name of this area stemming from Greek meaning to love, to kiss. My bottom lip catches on his lower lip as I make my way to his chin. My chin grazes his nose strip, hard as what I envision to be beneath the sudsy water, and I know it’s time.
I remove the strip and hand it to him. He revels in all the spines created from the extraction of his pores. He caresses his nose and observes how soft it is. I kiss it and move on. I reach for his hand, and begin massaging it. I loosen the tissue and muscle, bringing an enhanced bodily awareness to his hands. The tenseness of years of masturbating fall out of his fingertips. Loneliness dissipates in this moment. There is only love, shown through touch and intention.
The times I have contemplated breaking up with my partner, I was prepared to walk away from this relationship as well due to their friendship. But not without parting words!
You have a brilliant mind, I am prepared to tell him. You will become a very fine-young man, a respectable man. A man whom I will continue to admire. You are beautiful, in the way you sit almost nude in the patio doorway, your perfectly bronzed skin absorbing the morning’s sun rays, gazing into the distance, into the thick of greenery ahead. Greeting the day with this sort of processing and slow acceptance of your awake-ness. The gold in your green eyes sparkle. I have to intentionally fix my eyes in another part of the room as I want to look on and adore every square inch of your are skin, noting where your bones protrude and muscle is evident. Wait, is this too much?
But you are beautiful in the way you soak in your ritualistic baths, downing a full cup of milk beforehand, and keep a whole gallon of full flavor milk in the fridge at all times. The way you whistle in the bathroom and the kitchen, finding joy in feeding your body and soul. The way you thoughtfully consider every piece of art, no matter the form, and articulate ideas and relationships only a philosopher could produce. You are beautiful.
Your name alone sets you apart from many, a name I never knew before. You have an energy I am blessed to have encountered. I watch you go about your day, spending a notable amount by yourself, and mourn for all those who do not know you. They don’t know your depth, your insights, your passion. They do not know. But I know. And I know that you are beautiful.
I hope your life unravels in such a way that supports your intelligence, humor, dignity and passion. I hope you are always surrounded by love and understanding, acceptance, encouragement. That you are challenged by people, ideas, experiences and love.
I feel paralyzed by this emotion. It consumes me. If not my thoughts, my bodily sensations. I’ve lost my appetite as I am transcended above food and physical needs. There’s a warm weight in my chest. A pain, a tender string that pulls, aching, desiring closeness that may never be. Emotional, spiritual, bodily. This is an expression of love. A total exploration in what will ever be between us, and was born and will die in my imagination alone. It means nothing but is also everything, the reason we are here. To love freely, without consequences. Without definitions, categories. Just to notice and express the love that flows in all of us. I know this means nothing as far as the outward trajectory of our lives. And I am okay with that. One of the biggest tragedies in life is to love in silence. I will cannot do that any longer.