Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Don't You Know I'll be There?

NY was a trip. Details, details. The park, a play (O'Neill's "the Emperor Jones"), Museums, walking through my old stomping grounds, drinks at Stonewall... Details, details. Family--two dinners, and a board game... Details, details. He met my friends, he saw me laugh with them as we drank PBR in a Williamsburg flat on New Years Eve after the mixology bar...
What mattered most is that we didn't kill each other. In fact, what mattered most was that we both sorta felt a bit out of place when with my family, and so we held tight to one another. And when in the city, we both were struck by the awesomeness of the grandeur of it all--he of the city, and me of his joyous wonderment. I fell in love with him more than I knew I could. And I think he fell in love with me more, too.
He was our navigator--this kid, this man, from Illinois, leading me around the city because something in his body tells him which way north is... I need signs and trial and error... and he just gets it, a cocksure turn in one direction and a somewhat disapproving reproach: I know where we're going! And he did. And he does.
This morning I looked at the ring he wears, which he started to wear when we became "official" in his eyes--though he said it meant he was married to some girl he knows--and I allowed my phantasies to dream of stealing it away for a day so I could get us matching bands. I thought, then, of the betrayal this would entail--of my politics, of how seeing a man wearing a ring on THAT finger means "straight (and narrow)", how it means heteronormative privilege... and I thought of all the things I've changed about myself since I started allowing J. to penetrate something more than my asshole, and of all the things I want to change, of the things I've learned about myself... And it was terrifying and exhilarating to realize how unlike myself I've become, and how much I like who I am currently.
I wear a gold bracelet he gave me. Both of our signs of commitment he found, neglected or lost, on a street sidewalk or a train car aisle. I'll wear it until he breaks my heart. And then I'll give it back to him, so he can melt it down to make a ring for someone else, or pawn it. I don't know what to give him other than myself, and it seems such a thin gift that I keep giving it, too much, always, in an effort to make it right, to even the odds, to make him want to stay. And I think there is something about love that is irreconcilably about inequality, but that this inequality has very little to do with the other person--the one we love--as much as it has to do with ourselves: love forces a confrontation with ourselves, our value, our worth, our meaning, and we must stake this, must risk this as a wager--and my poker face sucks, and I often feel like I bluff my way through, barely.
How do I explain this except to say: The necessary fictions that got me through suddenly are exposed as the artificial guises I always knew they were, but they are exposed as wholly inadequate: not because I am not a good liar, not because I didn't will the most adventurous, but because my fictions were about survival, and not about love; I can survive on a will to power that cocoons me in a myopic view of the world, but he insists, he demands, he invites, he seduces me to see that such a way of life is no life at all: life, he says, is about receptivity, about welcoming the unknown and allowing it to remain unknown until it develops into itself--to resist the impulse to categorize, schematize, impose form and order and interpretation--violence--on this unknown: I can only hold him tightly as he leads the way into such an affair: I am so at a loss, and yet so very desirous of feeling, experiencing, understanding what he lives when he allows himself (and us) the courage to simply go forth boldly. I am in awe, and so thankful.
I am confronted with a terrifying proposition: to live anew.
There are, I think, two forces that confront such a proposition, or rather, that afflict--or, better still: that color, temper, inflect--the process of embracing such a proposition: 1) mourning the loss of a certain, past way of life--a life that served you well, that offered comfort and security, regularity and predictability--that is to say: control and mastery; 2) anxiety over the loss (willed and desired as it is) of that way of life: suddenly, or gradually (until one notices, and then immediately!), one realizes that what is before you is uncharted--and this terrifies you, so you hold fast to the only thing you know (but these, too, are opposing forces: what you KNEW and then him, him: that force which calls you out, calls you out of yourself, challenges you and prods you and teases and allures you...: stasis and dynamis...), and you realize that to retreat to what you know is to abandon him, and yet to embrace him is to embrace what it unknown: your fear itself.
At such moments, such as when he offers you his head phones and his shoulder to rest your head in an airport shuttle, you accept his offer, and you release yourself to him. And you don't shutter with terror, you feel the warm of his neck so close and you breathe.
My lover is younger than I am, and so my sister calls into question his capacity to challenge me, she says: I don't know if he can provide for you (I paraphrase). She likes him as a person, but her unforgiving eye looks for and sees nothing but weakness.
My lover is younger than I am, and yet, I so often feel like a child before him, reduced to something primitive, stupid, in need of learning. I speak so highly, I allow my speech to elevate me to the heavens--if they still exist--and I hide behind the clouds I accumulate around an otherwise naked frame.
He comes and makes it rain: I am drained, and my coverings wither, and I am naked before him. I am ashamed, except that then he reaches out to me, touches me, strokes the side of my face, and welcomes me into his arms. And naked, I grasp him.
Love is about inequality insofar as what is loved is never reciprocally loved: He loves me, but I will never see, nor love, what he sees; and I love him, but he will never see what I see, nor love this. Perhaps because we always already look through the lens of phantasy. Perhaps, also, because we are somehow sick and self-defeating, and the idea of embracing fully what he says of me is so anathema to how I've lived that such a way of life would be too close to a sudden death--even if it promised a new life.
Ultimately, perhaps, because love demands a new vocabulary, one which has at its center the very love of the unknown: a center that is a "remainder"--that which cannot be systematized, symbolized, or rendered comfortable or knowable.
And yet, if there were a man with whom I would risk such dissimulation, it would be him. After almost 7 months--and my mother laughed when I said, "that's 3 years in straight people time"--I am more recognizable to myself than I've ever been. And yes, this notion--recognizable--is antithetical to the "unknown," but not quite: I've come to know what I've heretofore been afraid of knowing in a meaningful sense: I've come to accept what I couldn't before, and even learn to live with it--perhaps I'll even learn to love it. Though, I imagine, that will depend on my will(iningness) to release myself even more to him.
Why is it that to come to oneself, one must alway turn away from oneself?
I wrote--I write!--about this all the time. And yet, what a mindfuck to live it. I had to leave you, so that I could return. Re-turn. I write in the midst of a turn. A spin. Like Penelope's loom, I am done and undone by this man. And I love the weaving itself, his hands on these threads.

1 comment:

Lyndsay, Fair Ye Melbourne said...

This inequality in love that you speak of, this is what I cannot truly understand, or perhaps accept. Do you remember me?...