I’m not scared. I know how it begins, at least. San Francisco isn’t synonymous with shy. There’s a lack of permanence to this city that must exist in the fog. It will fall apart. It will end. When? I don’t know. It’s never predictable. I’m not scared of you, this time, your skinny frame. Yes, you’re another one.
You have a Southern accent. And beard stubble that scrapes my chin. And one of your front teeth is quite charming in its crookedness. Your vocabulary is more advanced than mine, although you do have six years of life on me (June 9th is your birthday). I am nearly silent when I arrive. I’m nervous; you talk. You tell stories. We discuss the worst days of our lives. We discuss the best days of our lives. I ask you questions about the last person you kissed before me. You tell me. You tell me everything.
We’re supposed to go on an adventure after lunch. I haven’t told you that I hate bananas, and there are some residing on the plate in front of us, touching the strawberries and black berries and creamy cheese in what I believe to be a threatening manner. You grill small, salty anchovies on bread. And then we eat a peach, juice on the counter and chins and chairs.
I’m intrigued by you, a creature. Clever and sure, you show me the blonde patch of hair on your back. There’s no reason it exists. You say. To keep you warm. I say. After we eat, before our adventure, I suggest we lounge for a moment. Lounge? It’s simply lying down, I explain. Can there be kissing? But that’s it, I say. I go to the bathroom with the broken lock and there is a beautiful, clawfoot tub I want to melt into, but instead I stare at from the toilet. When I return to your room you’re in bed. With a large pillow. This will be our chaperone. You say. I take off my shoes. And lie on the bed.
We kiss. And kiss. I stare at your face too close up, in that way that makes a person feel like a fish, a sardine. Perhaps the ones we just ate. I move your hair from your face. I kiss your eyelids. You tell me that you didn’t have eyebrows until you were twelve years old. I am self conscious from recent critique on my kissing abilities, “kind of small and tentative” he said, a friend. And a girl’s feedback either that weekend when I tried to kiss a girl and like it, “Your teeth get in the way!” She said and fled.
Small and smaller and smaller, I think, as we roll and move and scan and press our hip bones into each other. We nap. Your body shakes suddenly as you fall asleep. You wake up and I propose we take off our pants. I am tentative in this new naked-ness that isn’t even nakedness. I’m not the girl that read a story about taking virginities. Confidently, slowly, calmly. I want to tell them. And you. That was a lucky performance. (A performance.)
I’m the cowering, cobwebbed, worry-minded, throw-up girl. You skim my panties with fingertips. I skim your shoulders. This adventure won’t happen I realize. In three minutes we must get up, I say. You agree, but it’s too harsh to untangle our limbs. I remember that this is how you fall in love. This paired with the acceptance of the gray of uncertainty.
I need to leave, I decide. You scramble for a shirt that’s not wrinkled, and these moments of scramble and sandwiched between sturdy confidences are what I like. The both of it. You pick up a book, a Russian one about love stories, about men detailing their love for different women. I recognize a theme in your life, perhaps, love and loves, and music, and writing, and women. I have a similar one.
I want to tell you that I love you. Like a crazy, crazy woman living in a world where only this one-day exists. I know this is infatuation, a serotonin rush, adrenaline, a hormone cocktail sliding quickly through my veins and brain. Quick and quick and quicker. I don’t know you well enough to hold these feelings, but the impulse lurks. You leave the house when I do. I understand this because I don’t like to be left, either.
How many times will we do this? I wonder, days later. Alone. (I’m exhausted at the prospect.) There should be a word for this, I tell a friend. A word for the complete absorption of the learnings of a person’s details, of their past and present, of their niceties, and the horrifying matters that they’ve buried. The flaws, the freckles, the sighs, the stirs after dark and deep in early mornings. The understanding of a person’s being, of their habits, of their existence, that accompanies love. There should be a word for this — it is a thing I do not want.