Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


In an earlier writing, I nibbled around the edges of the degree to which touch animates my sense of companionship, and how single life is perhaps more impoverished for the absence of easy touch than it is for want of sex.

Beside the fact that sex is not terribly difficult to find, it's a certain species of touch that I miss most when I am not romantically involved; and it's intimate contact that I mosts crave and relish in the bloom of a new relationship. . . . Sex can wait, and sometimes does; touch, however, is always in short supply, always precious, as addicting as heroin and as heady.

My recent single, if not terribly lonely, run of days wears on, and continues to affect me in surprising, intriguing ways. The cinematic interiority of the journey is what most fascinates me. As though I were pregnant, I find my cravings to be frequen, unusual, vivid; often, they have little or nothing to do with sex, though many are incidents of a certain voluptuous mutuality arrived at by the closest, most complete of couples. Like a once forgotten song with a catchy hook cued up over and over in one's mind for days, so are these visions, these reminders of why, sooner or later, the sacrifices that come with commitment pay dividends in excess of the expense, recurring, metemorphosing, one tarrying for a day or a week and another waiting behind it: a slide show or concatenation of tiny vignettes: Why Single Life Ain't All It's Cracked Up to Be.

Lately, for an unusual duration, I've been captivated by the most affecting of quotidian gestures, with varied visuals drawing from past experience, present fabrication, and future conjecture, a commonplace almost unaccountably erotic.

An old friend, the big brother I never had, the 25-year-old city-mouse roommate to my 18-year-old clueless suburbanite, once commented that nothing is more exciting than the vision of a woman elevating her foot behind her, and stooping gently to remove from the elevated foot a high-heeled shoe. It's a cliche, infinite variations of which we've all seen in advertisements a hundred times; while I was always charmed by the seriousness with which he stated this, and somewhat astonished by the earnest constancy with which he returned to it in various contexts, from single through married, time and again throughout our friendship, I never entirely shared his pique.

I have a few of my own, of course, and this is one:

It's late. I'm tired, and so are you. We have just returned from a formal event, one which has kept us on our feet, dancing, mingling, for hours. Our smiles have been constant, unaffected but taxing; our mouths involuntarily defaulting in their stretched expression of contentment and amiability; in our minds, and on the tips of our tongues, cycle and recycle the banality of simple consort.

All night, I have admired you from afar, enjoying as much the vision of you across the room hosting and attending the ephemeral gatherings of two and five and seven that collect and dissipate like pools of water on an irregular surface, droplets joining for one leg of the journey before splitting into new rivulets, intrepid ribbons of water no longer pure but instead intermixed with molecules shared with prior companions, onto the next temporary puddling. You are a vision in black, silk blessing your curves, your hills and valleys, the downy poetry of your skin as I have for as long as I care to remember. All night, I have stared, luxuriating in my prerogative to do so, thrumming with the cherished secret of my astonished good fortune.

And now it's home, lamplit and simple, the air perhaps a bit too cool around us but warm between us.

You pause, halfway through the first room, and turn, silhouetted against night's cool suggestion through the far windows, dress whispering cryptic affirmation. Like a barge pilot negotiating a twisted course of familiar pilings at midnight, I find a candle to dispel the unaccursed darkness. In the lamp's embracing glow your eyes are heavy-lidded and alight; everywhere they fall bursts vividly into color, and their path across my body pulses and tingles; I am melting.

Guilelessly, you step out of your heels, tall and sculpted, and your body, once arch and shapely transforms with your two-inch descent to earth into something welcoming and vulnerable, elegance retiring to leave intrinsic beauty at the helm. The ground slips beneath my feet, and I reach to balance myself against the nearest stable feature, a couch's plush backing; at once I silently beg your approach and fear it, pushing and pulling in similar measure, seduced and petrified by the same integrated suite of unwitting gestures, mindfully heedless, dionysian and lyric, now and now and now.

Removing your dress may be the apogee towards which this night has curved, ballistic with acknowledged yearning, the inevitable parabolic course of mutual desire. But its culmination, in my imagination, is neither more nor less than the settling to earth of two elegant heels (and the concomitant softening of all that makes you irresistible), the anticipation of which has been my event horizon. For as long as I care to remember.


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