The rare frost covers the ground like powdered sugar, tempting me to go outside and try some, lick it and love it, fold it between my cavities and tongue, let it smother what’s there now. I want to feel its icy pin pricks, the dimming forgetfulness the cold brings, the insistence that it always was and that it’ll never go back to a dry warmth. The chill will soothe my soul like a lid on a flaming pan smothering a dancing fire and gently return me to a balance from a boiling passion towards a flat sea of consciousness. The frost means all of this as I look back from the fogged window at you in bed, your eyes closed and breath steady.
I remember the beginning: the day we traversed the city from North Beach to the Mission, ducking behind stairways giggling, looking up at the afternoon sky and running between bewildered couples on their way to taquerias, all while hiding from the shadows of pterodactyls. By the time we reached Dolores Park we were sober and staring at each other.
On the grass I saw your dark eyes fill my vision and felt I was going to collapse in your arms, but your gaze held me still. By a simple touch, your smooth steady hands in mine, you held me up.
I said, “I’ve seen my future, and it’s you.”
You smiled, took my hand and placed it over your heart, and said, “I offer my heart if you will take it.”
You leaned forward and I felt your smooth cheek touching my stubble. Your perfume for the first time filled my mind, not flowers but an earthy undertone with sandalwood.
Yesterday morning I woke up alone with you not talking to me. I came to your apartment building at six in the morning and knelt on your doorstep, waiting for you to leave for the restaurant. You opened the door and without looking tripped over me. You cursed, got up to your knees and saw the dozen yellow roses I brought. You took your hand to my cheek, brought me close and we kissed. From the rush of blood to my head, I almost blacked out. You stood up and pulled me to my feet. The rest of the day was spent in bed.
Here we are the next morning, you asleep and me at the window. I move my lips into the forms of “I love you,” but I can’t vocalize. I look at you, a bare shoulder above the blanket, ankle revealed. This seems perfect, but I don’t feel at ease.
I came with the fervor of a believer to win you back, but I never asked why. I thought to be with you was my destiny, unquestionable, and I followed the path laid by the stars. I made it work, and now I wonder why. Why love you?
The day after Dolores Park, I sat in my office and wondered what had I gotten myself into, but that evening we met under the cupid’s arrow sculpture on the Embarcadero. I looked into your eyes and I felt like I was in a trance. This has always felt surreal. I sometime wonder, is this a fantasy realized or an imagined reality?
Now the words that had set in my mind like a sculpture in a die aren’t coming out as easily. Is something different? Have the words changed to me or is it the abandon I took in using them?
I’d like to think there would be a clear answer, or is this like asking why the sun rises or why the moon isn’t made of cheese? Is this facing down an unassailable fact, shaking my fist at it, and looking like a fool? I’d like to think I can understand, but can I break down the mystery of emotion and reassemble it into the logic of a proof that will tell me what’s going on?
A proof is clean, lines intersecting and going to infinity, a perfection of simplicity. Instead emotions are like a pod of jellyfish drifting in the current, an amorphous tangle, a perfection of confusion.
Discerning love seems like watching jellyfish from below, trying to form them into constellations and call the shape love, in order to see where an imagined cupid’s arrow is pointed. I want it to be exact, but the arrows path keeps shifting, then the jellyfish stop shining and I’m left in the cold, listening to my own heart.
How I love you, let me count the ways. I’m sure I could come up with a for and against list. Is this right love though? Is this the right way for us?
I look at you. Your lidded eyes are surrounded by a cloud of hair, your own ever present halo, and your skin glows in the sun like burnished wood. I want to know if you have these thoughts. I want to know so much about you. What I know covers the onion’s outer layers, but I can see a history of smiles and barely contained laughter laid out like in a glass apothecary chest. All those moments I can retrieve and relive any time and that gives me joy. I’m reminded of all the love I’ve professed and all the love I’ve inhaled like incense from you. That smell, deeply mysterious, touches the depths of my chest and resonates like sonorous bass, subsuming me. I feel a peace I don’t understand but can’t deny. Is this what defines the right love, a felt truth?
How do I know I love you? I do because I do?