Different Ways to Say the Same Thing
Issue no. 2: matters of the heart
Words - J. white
It's hesitating at the moment of orgasm. It's seeing the number on the alarm clock, 4:00, and your legs tangled around his, in a languorous, glistening heap, like the roots of trees. It's realizing you don't know his name. It's knowing he looks more beautiful than you thought was possible. Not beautiful like a painting, or a butterfly resting against an old building, but beautiful like seeing your own mother being saved from a sinking boat by Jesus himself, or beautiful in a way that cools your eyes, and makes you smile without wanting to. It's understanding what he's doing to you – biting your lip – and letting him do it harder. It's saying no, and saying yes at the same time.
It's a sharp intake of breath. His lips. It's this night. It's the smell of the bar and the smell of his skin. It’s the sterile smell of a hotel bed made twice today, and three times the day before, and twice again tomorrow. It's grabbing his fingertips, pulling his palm over your chest, pressing down and squeezing. It's the little cries you didn't know you were making. The sound of the bed and the sound of his voice and the sound of his skin meeting yours. It's the dumb thoughts you know better than to say out loud right now: "I love you," and "I haven't done this in a while," and "what was your name again?"
It's being scared, nervous, excited, and foolish too. It's giving up your pride. It's being strong and confident and stoic, and holding something back. It's reaching up to put your hand on his chest now, and seeing the color in his eyes, only to remember that you, too, have a body, heart, and face. You'd forgotten all about it. It's losing all self-involvement, when you start fucking him like you love him. It's coming back to your senses, and assuring yourself that you don't. It's lifting yourself up to kiss him anyway.
It's not about the connection, or anything as rudimentary as that. It's about entering his life as a star, a sun, a golden blip against the dull background colors of real life. It's about wanting to be remembered. It's about twisting your hips just so, and tucking your bellybutton down to your spine, and wondering if he can feel it. It's lying on your back to come out on top. It's never letting anyone take advantage of you. About adding a notch to your belt, a feather to your cap, a check on your list (you've always wanted to do this with a redhead). And steeling yourself – no, it's about the melting, the giving, not the taking. No! It's about the moment when it ends, and the world seems to pause! flash! explode! celebrate! congratulate! console! and you realize you're gripping him pretty tight. It's about letting (him) go.
It's the aftermath. His eyes, and the world that swims behind them – the world you're swimming in. It's the laugh that breaks the silence, the smile that won't fade, not yet; it's the glistening radiance of labor-induced love. It's flexing your abs, biting your lip, and twisting your hips again just so. It's the collapse of a thousand civilizations; it's the collapse of your head against a pillow. It's the rise and fall of your chest, as your reality reunites with your body. It's the little voices, the questions, the rationale. The ebb and the flow of emotions, as your world struggles to find equilibrium after the Big Bang.
He doesn't know anything about me. I'm everything and anything, right now. If I pout my lips like this, I look like the girls in the magazines. If I paint my eyes black, I look like the girls in the photos. My skin is glowing. I'm smiling. I don't want to keep him waiting, but –
I don't know anything about him. He's everything and he's anything, right now. If I flex my abs like this, I look like the boys from the videos. If I shave my head into a mohawk, I look like someone he'd know. My skin is taut. I'm unsure. I shouldn't be here, but –
I move like a fairy from the bath to the bed. When it's just him and it's just me, I can be whatever I want. I can move my hips like the girls, and I can flex my abs like the boys, and I can show him my eyes and not be ashamed of anything. I can hide and offer all of myself by colliding into his chest, not stopping, but pressing forward until we're two objects merged together. I want to kiss him, but –
It's the aftermath. It’s the subtlest, most dangerous dance of the night.
It's knowing it's going to end, that it's already over, and planning your next move. Extricate. Untangle your legs from his, your fingers from his, your hair from his, your words from his, and your plans from his. Abort, abort, leave Leave him remembering you as a poster of a boy, a one-dimensional perfect fuck; a body, not a mind. Don't let him see your nervous smile, your uncertain eyes, your slow thoughts. Keep your poses strong! Tilt your chin this way, pout your lips like this, speak in small, mysterious phrases only when prompted. Hide yourself, and remain perfect. Light a cigarette while sitting at the edge of the bed: your shoulders raised like the walls of a castle, let him see your spine, let him see the constellation of freckles spanning your back. When did posing become truth? Take a drag. Let him watch you withdraw, make him wonder...
It's the war between transience and permanence.
Between right now and always,
drinking and remembering every detail,
between sleeping together and waking up together,
being sweet and being genuine,
between leaving now and getting brunch,
a kiss on the cheek and kissing with tongue,
between being “another one” and the only one,
dirty talk and small talk,
between freedom and monogamy,
adventure and comfort,
between what you know and what you don't know,
what you want and what you think he wants,
that prompts you to get up and smile, truly, stubbing your cigarette in an ashtray,
and to say naked and proud:
"Do you want to come to a party with me?"
...and then kissing him everywhere to end it all.