She slyly whispered it before she had to go, my face buried in waves of lusciously scented Carmen hair, "Honey, it's FINE. He's a good guy and he doesn't give a crap you're older. Quiet but confident, I really like him. I'm going now so you can hump each other to bits, k? Love you." And off she went in a fragrant caramel streak of hair and tanned skin.
I was busy dry heaving with both trepidation and thrill as Mr. X rubbed my back, softly soothing me, "It's because we're a lot alike, that's WHY we have the same books." He explains this to me gently as if I were a child. I looked askance at him, "Are you for sodding real? Seriously, this is freaking me out, but OMG you have Into the Wild." I digress distracted by the book. Needless to say, my objections wore thin when he smiled at them.
I'd left him in bed at the crack of dawn, carefully kissing him before slipping out the door and into a city still in half-mist. I was finally calming down and it helped immensely how Mr. X seemed to take it all in stride. My gorgeous friend and astrologer Mystic Medusa has a term she likes to use for this kind of thing, she calls it "comfort zoning". I'd liken it to entering someone else's inner world and realizing it mirrors yours, with a few bits and pieces intriguingly skewed. The alone that you are in your head is no longer when they're around because by some fate, whether perversion or blessing, the walls between you feel porous. There is conversely less distance and less space, that it takes barely a slight shift from them to touch you where it matters, and yes, where it hurts.
He holds me closer to comfort me, "Well, that was before..I've changed since then, I think I know better now what to expect from relationships."
Somehow I remember I actually have a wealth of experience in this area and recover enough to question him, "But what are you looking for? What is it you want in someone?" Mr. X tilts his head thoughtfully,"I think..I know, I know I really want someone who'll challenge and inspire me." Challenge and inspire? Oh good, these were my forte. If he'd said have my 2.5 kids, iron my shirts and be Penelope Perfect, I'd have to quit then and there. But challenge and inspire I could do.
Mr. X is actually excited by this line of questioning, at first gasping,"I'd never been asked that before!" I look at him delighted at his appreciation,"Well, I'm asking now." He quiets down to think, biting his lip while his eyes sparkle lively. This was a new realm for him, and I smiled at him patiently waiting. "Honesty.,"he decided. "I'm more honest than other people, I can't be or do or say something I really don't mean."
He states this clearly, without boast or promise. Just the facts, m'am. He twinkles at me mischievously and lobs the question back. "Me?," I ask all milky innocence. "Oh, you don't want to know about me." He sits up straighter and clears his throat, "Seriously, I want to know. I want to know your answer." I think, but why? Now it was my turn to bite my lip in apprehension, but I finally take the plunge deciding, he may as well know now and if it frightened him, well, there was nothing I could do.
"It's the Truth." I answer rather briefly. "You mean honesty like me?," he questions. I swallow gingerly, "More than that."
"Ouch! Fine!," I say tightly, pouting at him. "The Truth. Something about the way I love people means I can sense their truth. I don't confront them about it, just I can't seem to be with someone without encouraging them to be more of themselves. Or having things come out of the woodwork. It's a good thing if they're self-aware and aren't..you know, preoccupied being or doing something they're not. But.." I hesitated to end the sentence immediately thinking of the bizarre events that led me to out the Sewer and the Serb, or of all the countless secrets I've had to keep over the years.
"But? Come on, tell me." Mr. X chides me. So I do, "But if they're not, if they don't want to know who they are, it means my being around will always remind them of what they're hiding. It's hard to explain, I guess..if I love someone, then I love all of who they are, even if they can't quite admit all of it yet. Things happen, the truth..and well, everything that belongs to it, starts to come out. It can be terribly conflicting and painful."
"You said you've never allowed yourself to be exposed that way," I say, slowly studying his long fingers with my smaller dark ones,"but you need to know that for life to give you its best, you can only let a situation unfold to show you what it will. Then respond to it. People think they can tell love what to do. It's the other way around, it tells YOU what to do. It poses a
Mr. X is thoughtful at this, his huge hand swallows mine up and I feel the ship of my doubts docking. It was a beautiful conversation to have with him, because he had a mind and a soul thirsting to explore it. It neither implied a promise or a guarantee, I knew that, but for that moment I was happy to be there with him. To stand on the cliff of the questions that were now beginning to greet him.
I understood his guardedness, even his hubris at being so well-controlled over his relationships. For indeed we were alike, he would get easily hurt by someone who'd be callous to his dreams, to his desire to improve himself, for beneath all the rock and roll, he was steadfast. "Are you brave?," he whispered the question in my ear.
"Too brave for my own good, " I managed to answer before he kissed me quiet.