There are some things I think I know, but when I test them with another, especially another naked person, I falter. The perils and joys of solitude, which my winter was full of, are in learning what I need to know. Then I have to welcome my test buddies when they come to call. Bringing aspiration into knowledge, body deep, is hard until it’s easy; until you finally have enough of the desperate friction and eager fiction.
I’ve had enough. I’m sitting in an empty cup again. Okay not entirely empty, I’m thinking there are some very nice flowers in it. California Poppies and Cynoglossum officinale. Or something like that.
I finally have sincere gratitude and some much needed forgiveness for the naked test buddy who drafted me into Heart Boot Camp. His indifferent handling of delicate valves taught me to be steady, to grieve as deep and hard and lonely as can be, and trust that it will pass. The heartbreak hangovers grew shorter every time. I persisted with him, out of a stupefying mix of nostalgia, love, loneliness, and straight-up get-those-fucking-clothes-off-and-sit-down-in the-big-boy-chair desire. He could rely on my yes, and so he did.
It was a stupid thing I was doing, even the internet said so. Sex with the ex is a bad idea, particularly one you thought you’d spend the rest of your life with. I had to learn to let go again and again. He timed my recoveries well and by the time he’d call again I opened my heart (and assorted other body parts) to him just as readily as the last time. Friends thought this was the very definition of insanity and were tired of hearing about it. I was tired of talking about it, but being with him in this untethered territory was fun and playful in a way that it wasn’t when we were together, especially that last year.
When it was done, and he went back to workaholic absence, I tried to find a way to keep the sense of play amid the flood of memory and story that I could not write. I had at my disposal several versions of what once was, and, I considered all too often: could be again. I wanted to know. I wanted to know now. I wanted the plot back. The memoirist in me was stifling the puny human. Teetering between love and hate, rage and gratitude; I couldn’t just let fragile fire be.
About five different narratives clashed in my body as I tried to write an essay about it. Chaos was giving order the Philly Phinger. I just had to sit in it. Drown in it some days. In crazy-ex fashion, I even reached out to one of his breakup-time lovers, to try and suss out which memory path would bring me closer to the truth: the one where he was a controlling asshole, or the one where he was an gentle teddy bear safe and hot and home. I thought someone else’s story could stabilize mine, as if that would sandbag the balloon.
Well, it sort of did. That’s what stories are for. They do that. We do that for each other in the telling. As it often goes with unstable dichotomies, he is both. A fuzzy stormtrooper. Just his nature. That must be hard. We are, none of us but the sociopaths, trying to hurt each other. Paths cross and don’t, and though I can’t believe what a dirty hippie I’m becoming, to trust in the necessity of that, to persist in allowing comfort in uncertainty, is the order of the day.
I don’t know anything, except that when I am still, I am safe. I discovered that this morning, just like that. A sudden poppy. This is not to say I won’t veer, oh god, not at all, veering will hopefully just deepen my understanding. Desire is disruptive. Desire is life-giving. It is spring now, after all. But still, this morning has the ease and light of an actual epiphany. I think I might really finally know this beyond my tricky brain, deep in my sturdy bones, all the way to a steady heart: Everything is going to be okay.
Big props to naked test buddies.