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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Friday, Apr. 19, 2019 @ 1:25 pm
“Gift for the house.” I hand him a bottle of gin to replace all that I’ve consumed in the last two weeks.
“I have something for you too,” he says, opening his arms. I fall into his hug.
When he’d asked me how I was doing earlier in the day, I decided to be real: I could use a hug.
I needed a hug badly. Fiercely. Ferociously. With a frightening intensity, a hunger, a deep primal need.
All week, emails back and forth about the house, the toaster, the lamps, the vintage Tupperware. From him, an essay in misery, edging into insanity. All of this leaving me feeling unnerved. Steady but aching. Watching someone self-destruct. Writing a generous and empathic email response in the face of his fire. I tell Peter about a bit of this, to explain my fragile mood.
“The fact that this process is challenging, that he is being neither gracious nor appreciative, is evidence that you’ve made the right decision.”
We order in noodles. He grabs my box and before I can react his chopsticks are in it he steals a bite. Later, we share a bowl of ice cream, passing the spoon back and forth. These comfortable moments of playful domesticity, how easy it is to fall into these things with him; it’s not a stretch to imagine him as a best friend.
Throughout the week, I seek advice from the various women in my life. Sitting in a bright coffee shop, rain slopping down the windows. Robyn’s face dewy and flushed with the humidity and spring warmth.
“Be yourself. If you are intense, then be intense now so that it’s not a surprise later.”
And then later, as we walk back towards the office.
“You know what? Ignore the people who are telling you to take a step back. I think that you should throw yourself into it. Let the fire burn, and then let it all burn down. This is your rebound; do it wholeheartedly and with passion.”
I wake in the morning and my face is pressed into his back, as much of my body pressed onto his as possible, from my forehead to the tops of my feet. The interface between his skin and mine is vague. After a while, he stirs and I unfold myself and make my way towards the edge of the bed. I tell him quietly that I’m leaving. He gestures for me to come back. I tuck back in, kiss his neck, his ear, and then his hands are on my face, on the back of my head, pulling insistently on my hair.
We lay together talking for an hour. The indulgence of this, a Thursday morning. Emails piling up in my inbox.
I tell him about when I was working in a stable in Ireland, mucking out the stalls, riding the horses bareback down to graze in the paddock. Galloping along the beach, the sun low, the surf high.
“I did what I wanted that year. I had no apartment, no job, no relationship. I was free.”
He is quiet for a moment. “You would feel free in a healthy relationship.”
I finally leave, now overdue for a breakfast meeting, knowing that I’m going to be showing up at work messy, flushed, and hungry.
When I step out through the huge glass lobby door, I’m surprised to discover that heavy rain is falling. I leave my hood down and let myself get wet. The city is verdant and lush and fertile. The rain causing the blossoms to droop, lacquered with a sheen of water. Water stands atop of the black asphalt, the gutters run full.
I am halfway down the block when I realize how differently I feel now from the night before. Where before there was anxiety now exists calm. Where before I felt scattered, I now feel centred. Where before I felt detached, I now feel secure.
“When you hold my face my insides soften, and when you press on my back, I’m overcome with something that I can only describe as sparkles throughout my entire body.”
He places his hands on my face. “Tell me whenever you feel the sparkles inside of you. I want to know."