Well, it is called body, remember 😉
It is not a small love.
It is a big, messy, wild love. It is moss and thicket, and forest floor. It is tangled vines and surviving light, and the shocking red of a determined flower. It is a love that has always grown best in the dark.
It is not a polite love.
If the heart is a fist, this is the punch it delivers. A love that sinks ships then trawls them for their treasures, a love that will search every room to find what lays beating deep in the chest. It is a love that never stops seeking a truth that is hidden.
It is a love that is tender and generous, still.
A love that reaches at five am, that finds its expression in the dusty light and drowsy touch of morning storms. A love made from the heaviest air and an opening sky. It is a love that rains down for days.
This love that sheds its skin a hundred times – and more. Grown too large to be contained by the shelter of gods and boxes, and easier terms. This love that is mine
and was yours and is now.
(It does not know its time or place. And it bursts with life in its own conclusion).
“Ordinary life does not interest me.” ~ Anais Nin
It is not so remarkable. To be two in seven billion. To find each other in the throng. It is not so remarkable to navigate the wide oceans and narrow fences between us, to swim and scramble, and to arrive at each other at last.
It’s not so remarkable to shake loose from our skins, to shed the layers of other lives – to lay naked and begun in borrowed arms. There is nothing to revere in the slow unwind, in the pulse and rise of you and I. In the honesty of opened palms, and the delicate invitation. These consummations of an
There is nothing special in this, my love. To fall so hard that you prefer the ground. How it sinks you in and you’re finally found. How all around us people are buried alive, and here we are – gasping for air.
(There is not a single thing worth holding there).
Not a thing at all, I have to say. If you close your eyes and take your time. If you think on what we had, and made … if you think about just what we were given. I feel certain that now we would have to agree. It is not so remarkable at all.
Others only read of the love, the love that I love.” ~ Jason Mraz
A crack down the phone. Electricity. I can hear the shift, even in the silence that follows.
And then this.
Lucy. Tell me what you see.
I … I stumble against the words. How are we here? Here we are. Seeing the line, only as we step to cross it.
Tell me what you see.
And I’m looking at my body now, kicking off the sheets. Wanting to do this. Suddenly. Wanting to wake up after years of sleeping.
I’m here, Joe. I’m … tell me what you want to know.
Of course it was leading to this. From the moment he walked into my apartment, and we didn’t quite know how to touch. Or right after, when we continued to meet in secret, night after night. The decision made then, not to tell anybody. Shared secrets, those that belong to the two of you, are a very different weight to carry. They bind you to each other, and they make you search each other for their meaning.
It has to mean something – when you hide the truth like this. No one has ever needed to protect an unimportant secret.
And so here we are. Here is where our deception has taken us. Joe telling me where to put my hands. Joe’s voice like silk, sliding off my skin. His low commands, and my own fingers responding, following his instruction.
Tell me where, tell me what to do, Joe.
He is a patient teacher, his words making me find all of the broken parts for myself, helping me fuse them into something whole. Because he’s there too, telling me how, and my body is metal and fire under this touch. That’s what I see under my skin when I close my eyes, when I let him guide me. Silver bones and bright red nerve, before I’m pushed right out of my own skin, pulled apart and dissolved, suddenly, exquisitely, into something beyond a body and scars.
I don’t even recognise the sound of release I make, the surprised cry from deep within.
I’ve never done this before.
You’re frigid, I think, Adam said once, after yet another failed attempt to make my body respond. Always such concerted effort, and constant focus, until I would panic under this pressure, and my mind would go blank. Apologising over and over for the numbness, for my failure to please him. I thought it would always be this way for me. I thought it was my body’s fault.
I try to process what I have just discovered, what Joe has led me to, tonight. And I want that feeling again. Now. The tremors haven’t quite let me alone; it is as if my cells are cementing the sensations so that I won’t forget. My breathing is shallow down the phone, my fingers remembering what to do; I fall silent as they start their journey over, repeating these new and bright lessons learned.
I have always been a quick study with the right guide.
But this extended silence between us has worried Joe; he wonders aloud if he has pushed me too far.
Have I, Lucy? Are you all right with this? With what just happened?
(Lucy. Tell me what you see. I have never known such care.)
Joe. It’s okay. More than okay. My assurance is delivered between jagged breaths. Just give me a minute.
Metal and fire, under my skin and behind my eyes, all over again.
I’ve never done this before.
Joe’s burst of laughter at my revelation sounds both perplexed, and relieved. It is a beautiful hum against my ear, and as my body arches toward his voice, I spill over into laughing too.
And it feels like music played across my skin, as I tell Joe exactly what I’m making of his lessons now.
Nothing has changed, Mack.
It would be the same if I walked into your hotel room tonight. I would still spend less than 30 seconds on my side of the couch. My legs would still snake over yours, and I would still play with the soft of your earlobe as if it were mine. I would still kiss your mouth hard and fast, and over and over, in the style of kiss you seemed to permit.
I would still follow you to the bathroom and sit on the edge of the tub while you showered, and I would still pretend not to care. I would still breathe deep at the sound of the water hitting your skin, and feel the familiar liquid start to flow. I would still see this in the too-lit mirror – carefully careless dress falling off my shoulder, teeth on candied lip, eyes a little glazed and blinking too fast.
I would still have needed to throw back the vodka shots when getting ready – my ritual of nerve and consequence when the sun went down. Did you ever know how my throat burned and my knees wobbled every time I knocked at your door?
So much time has passed, but you could still set me spinning. Still cause my hand to tremble when lifting my glass. Here it is now, curled around the stem – an erotic embrace you once called it, but really it was the only solid thing, and the red you poured felt like a consecration.
It would still be the same. Naked and cleansed, you would invite me in. We would still make an alter of our hotel bed. We would still make you the ready and willing sacrifice, still soak the sheets in a kind of communion. I would be so tender in your destruction, Mack. One does not need god to be devout.
And after. My faith, and your lack. It would be exactly the same. I have not wavered once in this affair.
The only truths I ever told were with my body, Mack. Every time I laid us down. The sincerity of the body has been much maligned by the idea that words are more honest than a beating heart. This is what I have learned since then, that my body knew us better. Every confession it ever made, those revelations in your arms. They were the only truths of our seven years, the history of us that deserves to be told.
Our bodies tried to tell us this truth, time and again. Honesty was traded from limb to limb, prayers were written across the skin. I have to believe this is what lasts, Mack. That truth and faith are actually one and the same. That while we are busy telling our little stories, trying to make our characters fit, our bodies remember a different truth. A leap of faith made when hands reach across the widest of chasms.
And how sometimes, Mack, we nearly make it.
What does the body remember of another?
What memory sits at the tip of the tongue, ready to burst? Does desire constantly swim in the veins, little pieces of longing that warm the blood and rise to the surface at the slightest provocation? Do they reconstruct and orient the desire toward that which we cannot forget? Is remembering merely the act of desire trying to make itself whole again?
I miss your body. I miss how I made it mine. I miss the caught breath and the shifting weight. I miss the switch that flicked, the way your hands would suddenly tighten and pin me down.
I miss the safety of this certain surrender, the risks we took. The weeks apart, how time would build a tension in the muscle, a coiling of need that unravelled so beautifully on those nights we came back.
Sometimes a fast and furious unwinding, the release like a firework that explodes in the dark. At other times a slow and tremulous untying of knots, working into the early hours and seeing the sun come up on each other’s skin.
I never lost the craving, even when we were in our wars, all those battles finely played to lose. The body has always been the ultimate traitor, don’t you think?
Eidyia’s note: Today I was curious to see just what I was writing this time last year – to see who I was, where I was at the change of seasons. It had been a tumultuous winter, no doubt. But I can see that I was finally beginning to explore memory and desire in the deeper sense – the universal sense. A year later, the work continues …
Peace. I will stop your mouth! – Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
The couple on the television show are fighting. It’s a real-deal, humdinger argument. There have been dirty looks all day and the tension is now bubbling at their lids. We get lots of uncharacteristic yelling as the former lovers throw subtext-laden accusations back and forth, the heat rises, they move closer – is that genuine fury in her eyes as she fully unleashes? Then suddenly it changes, there is a beat, the tiniest axis shift, and she’s in his arms. They are kissing and her hand is on his neck as she makes the soft, telling sound of acquiescence. Audiences all over sigh, and cheer loudly. Or want to throw their dinner at the screen.
This recent polarising scene from my favourite television show The Good Wife is a grand example of passion. It is in fact the bang-on definition of the word – this representation of suffering, of surrender. The word passion can be traced back to the Latin verb pati which literally means to suffer. It also has a relationship to submission, to allow and to permit. This then is passion as our stories have always told us. The immense emotion and the giving over to it. The idea that there is something epic, an uncontrolled and driving force at play, when certain people come together.
I write a lot about passion here at body, remember. I privilege passion in fact (I was definitely one of the viewers cheering!) and would even go as far as to say that passion is my default experience, heightened as my desires always seem to be. I can love something to distraction, I can suffer with the best of them, and yes I can surrender beautifully. Ridiculously. Palms open, heart pulsing on my shirt-sleeve ridiculously. As any reader of this blog will likely have figured out already, I am not one to love anything in a mannered way.
“Half – the most beautiful half – of life is hidden from him who has not loved passionately.” – Stendhal
In the context of relationships, I don’t mean to say passion has come easily or frequently throughout these rotations around the sun. Thus far, I have had two grand passions in my life. One bright and blinding like the sun itself, and the other more like a moon-rise – years of a cloudy night sky with sudden moments of illumination, and yes the guiding light for this blog, and my book. Two grand passions. Neither of which I escaped from unscathed. Suffering and surrender? You betcha! Like I said, I can suffer with the best of them. And the truth is, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I cheered for our Good Wife Alicia, and her wounded lover Will because I think that you are never more fully alive, never more connected than when you follow your heart. It can sound trite, an over-used term like this. But I believe the heart belongs to you. Reason is given to you, it’s piled on with the teachings of your family, your culture, your faith. Reason is the check and balance of a society that has a vested interest in your model citizenry. The heart is something else altogether. It would sooner put you at the centre.
“I want to live my life so that my nights are not full of regrets.” – DH Lawrence
But as I said in an earlier piece here, the sincerity of the body has been much maligned by the idea that words are more honest than a beating heart. We have all talked ourselves into and out of things because the decision seems right as opposed to feels right. By feel, I mean that alive, connected sensation which signals our arrival at something, the beginning of more. And that’s not exactly something women are encouraged to pursue, this idea of more. Not when we’re bombarded with messages that suggest we’re too picky in love, that too many options will make us miserable. Not when the greatest role we are supposed to play is that of the good, satisfied wife.
Indeed on The Good Wife, the backlash against the lead character pursuing her own passions with Will after her husband cheated on her (with both a prostitute and her best friend – stellar guy) has been a strong reminder of how a woman driven by passion can be seen as dangerous, as morally bankrupt. The people wanting to throw their dinner at the screen over the passionate kiss mentioned above can see how such an action could bring about the unravelling of Alicia Florrick. Those of us cheering can of course see this too. The difference is we celebrate it. We want more for our girl.
“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” – Katherine Mansfield
Those two grand passions of mine changed me. I stopped skimming the surface, I locked in on this life of mine and became honest. I came to understand that I’m not always nice and I’m not always prepared to put my needs last. I also came to understand that in the pursuit of connecting to others, and to myself, I am prepared to take great risks. Neither relationship ended particularly well, but that’s not the point. Their influence flows through my life and threads through my stories like an ink vein to my writer’s heart, and I am a better person (and writer!) for it.
Here’s hoping The Good Wife writers (and viewers) allow Alicia to discover the influence and impact of grand passion for herself.
“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.” – E.M. Forster, Howards End