I am in love. Again. Again. I am a person who is constantly falling in and out of love. It's like a sickness, really.
This time he is six months younger than me, an English major like me, and one with whom I share more in common than most of the specimen I've dated. This time it seems to be more for keeps than ever. And you know what, it scares me. Because he is the kind of person you have to sink your teeth into, really bite down into the marrow and feel. The kind of person you fall into, like quicksand, or a well. One whom you can't ease out of too quickly.
Sinatra on the radio, a song with lyrics I know by heart but understand now for the first time: "I dream of you, night and day...."
His name is Ricardo, and he shares part of the true name of one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda, which I find it to be no coincidence. These are the design of fate. The quirks of God. In this way, everything seems to have meaning in my world.
He makes me want to write poetry. He makes me long to describe the rain and the noise it makes against my window pane, like the silvery tinkle of coins, to render the pink curl of a rose petal, the weightlessness of twilight. To transcribe the thoughts and feelings of my days pure upon the page. The manner of his kiss. The dark square his hair makes at the nape of his neck and how it would feel to press my eye against it. Sinking and sinking and sinking. Like sleep only with a depth to it that memory cannot erase. It stays within your mind, digs its heels into your subconscious.
I keep seeing him like a ghost translated into other people's features. His eyes on this elderly woman's face, those warm eyes which seem to submerge everything. A dark ocean. His cupid-bow's mouth on that little boy's face. The mouth which I have kissed and kissed again these past few days as if each time is the last. Anchoring to his breath.
Ask me a year ago who he was and I wouldn't be able to recognize him, even if you showed me a picture. This is a boy I went to high school with, shared the same friends with, even. One who was on the peripheral of my world. He was part of the white noise, part of the background to my days. I walked through a maze of people never noticing him, never caring to look his way. He has been in my life, within and without it, for about seven years. Anonymous like a passing cloud.
Then this year, both of us disentangling ourselves from the viney grip of other loves, suddenly turned a corridor and bumped into each other. A sweet disruption. Colliding like stars bursting upon impact. Our worlds merged and only then did we discover that our lives were already intertwined. From the beginning we have been in each other's spheres.
Wanting to test him, when we were still "friends," when I was already half in love with him, thinking he didn't reciprocate, I showed him passages of my favorite books, daring him to understand, to even like them. I've done to this to other guys before, a form of intellectual chicken, if you will, and I know how to distinguish the look of boredom, that barely concealed yawn, or the ploy to distract, as they draw me in order to kiss the words away.
Always I have been with boys who try to stifle the words in me. My writing and books are like a child's diversion to them, nothing to be taken seriously. But not Ricky. Ricky with his quiet understanding and his patient ways. He took the book in his hands solemnly, read the words like they were a prayer, and I sat back, amazed. And that was when I gave him the last piece of my heart. That was when I knew I completely his.
There is no going back now.
I think what terrifies me most is the look I see in his eyes. The look he veiled these past two months when we had to disguise our feelings from each other, when love seemed the impossible option. Now that we have set free our captive hearts, I see his heart rise bright-winged in his eyes, and it scorches me with its fire.
I have to look away -- I have to keep staring into them. Sometimes I would kiss him just so that I wouldn't have to face that look. That look of awe, of wonderment.
He called me spectacularly beautiful today and normally I would scoff at this. I believe in the spareness of descriptions, mistrust whenever words are over-used, multi-leveled. But when he said this I think I blushed. Because his eyes made the words true. There is great truth in his eyes, there is purity. He looks at me like I am a Madonna, like there should be wings behind my shoulders and a halo above my head. So I sit on my devil's tail and pray that I don't disappoint.
What happens when love comes as a surprise, when it seems most impossible? This wasn't supposed to happen. I have disassembled him. He has disassembled me. We can't ever go back to who we were before. This is irrevocable, this is strange music. A foreign language we are learning to decipher every day. Hands clumsy suddenly over the other's, in the clasp of intimacy. Shyness in the space of unrehearsed dreams.
Whether or not this is love with a capital "L" we have yet to discover. How many times have I been guilty of tagging that label on other faces, other boys. As if love were just a name I could assign to the one of my choice.
As if I had a choice.
This is why I am leaving it all out of my hands. We will make up the rules as we go along, I tell him, not wanting to disrupt the spell. And then we will break them.