I’ve been noticing that Forrest and Aya are spending a lot of time together. And Forrest is always smiling and sort of half-way closing his eyes when he looks at her.
As close friends as he and I have been–and we’ve been BFFs–he’s never looked at me that way. He looks at Aya the way that Elder looks at me.
I wonder if Aya knows it. I remember how she told me I needed to let Elder know how I felt back before the three of us left on our camping trip. So if she’s feeling it, I wonder why she doesn’t tell Forrest.
No matter. It’s not my business, and the two of them seem really happy with whatever dance it is that they’re doing.
Elder and I were still doing our own dance on the afternoon of his first day here, trying to see if we could find our way into new ways of being with each other.
Towards sunset, I joined him at the chess table. We became best friends as we shared ideas over the chess board.
I ventured a flirt. He caught it. He blew me a kiss. I was about to flirt back when one of our friends who was visiting sauntered out, and I was so impressed at how Elder moved so gracefully from our flirty conversation to a pleasant conversation that included our friend, avoiding awkwardness for all of us.
When our friend left, it was just the two of us again, and just as gracefully, Elder let his romantic side show.
I wanted to kiss him, and I had the feeling that he wanted to kiss me, too.
To think, just yesterday, I had been complaining to Gray that none of us had romantic partners. Just last night, I’d been rationalizing that one could feel the joys of flirtiness without needing to share them with anyone. And here I was, sitting at the chess table with the person with whom I most wanted to share that energy, and he was receptive to it and sharing it back.
I followed him into the kitchen. I’d decided to kiss him. But when we got there, Alex was there. My mind said, “Wait,” but my lips were already moving towards him. Elder raised his hand and gave me a look that said, “Not now.”
I knew he wanted our first kiss to be something shared by only the two of us, and he wanted, also, to spare Alex from any awkwardness or uncomfortable feelings. His thoughtfulness was really sexy to me.
The neat thing about living together in the same house is that we can have time alone and yet we know we’ll still see each other that day. We spend a lot of time apart, but then we keep bumping into each other, too.
The thing is, I hadn’t counted on always bumping into him. Especially dancing on the landing. In his red-heart boxers.
When I saw him dancing there, on the landing, in his red-heart boxers, I had to run away into my bedroom. I shut the door.
I had so many feelings it was overpowering. I sat on the bed and just tried to relax and calm down.
The sole of my right foot tingled more strongly than ever. Two inches below my navel, it felt like this whirlpool was spinning so fast. Whoosh! Whoosh!
My heart was opening so wide that it hurt.
I closed my eyes and saw these psychedelic colors swirling, purples, reds, blues, violets.
It felt like all my cells were opening at once: ping! ping! ping!
What was I feeling? Was this desire? If so, I wasn’t sure I liked it. It was uncomfortable, and even a little painful.
I focused on my breathing, trying to coordinate it with my heart beat. Breathe in. Beat. Beat. Breathe out. Beat. Beat.
At last the colors stopped swirling and settled into a pleasant orange, like sunset.
The whirlpool slowed, my heart relaxed in openness.
I remembered some lines from literature that I had never properly understood before
From Karin Boye:
Of course it hurts when buds burst.
Otherwise why would spring hesitate?”
From Zora Neale Hurston:
She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sun and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw a dust-bearing bee sink into the sanctum of a bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love embrace and the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight.”
From George Eliot:
If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”
I understood what was happening: I was becoming a woman. It does hurt. And there is something on the other side.
I went to the bookshelf and found the anthology with Jenny Nunn’s translation of Karin Boye’s poem.
I read the last stanza:
Then, at the point of agony
and when all is beyond help,
the tree’s buds burst as if in jubilation,
then, when fear no longer exists,
the branch’s drops tumble in a shimmer,
forgetting that they were afraid of the new,
forgetting that they were fearful of the journey –
feeling for a second their greatest security,
resting in the trust that creates the world.”
Forget that I am afraid of the new. Forget that I am fearful of the journey. My greatest security lies where it has always been: in the “trust that creates the world.”
It is not meant to be a trifle when one becomes a woman. Desire is not meant to be mild. Falling in love is not something casual. When love, and desire, and becoming a woman combine–when the person one loves the most is the usher into womanhood–it is not a small matter. It is the stuff that the world is made of.
I went back to the alcove off the landing. I was alone. I painted, and as the colors flew off my brush, I felt that it was pulling from a palette within me, and that my own passion was finding expression on the canvas.
I heard the door of Elder’s room open.
He walked up behind me and stood close enough that I could feel the heat of his body, still warm from the covers of his bed, and I could feel his breath on the back of my neck.
I could feel his sweet feelings.
“You change me,” I told him.
Now, there was no one but us to step inside the pink bubble of our first kiss. And we made another moment to put into our invisible scrapbook.
“This is my new favorite part of the house,” he told me. “It’s where I’ll always be able to get inspired.”
We were both smiling when we climbed back into our separate beds in our separate rooms.
I fell asleep wondering how many of my dreams could come true and how many new ones Elder and I would dream up together.
We’re gonna need to get a double bed soon.