My stylist is a genius of hand and mind. Yesterday, we discussed “The History of Love” novel and After Life, the Netflix series with Ricky Gervais. After hours of nearness and gratitude for the way she manipulates my hair into perfect behavior, I pay attention. *See Fleabag, season one, episode five, also recommended by said hair whisperer.  Last night, my husband and I watched After Life, and her insight of what I *might* like proved true yet again.

If ever I had stamina for face to face human interaction, it ended in the extended ~ no shared breathing in common spaces ~ mandate. We each moved to an internal camp, a victim’s default, and the effort to engage feels so tiring now. I am easily labeled a horrid, inconsistent friend, but there in a salon chair with my head painted and wet, I find gratification in exchange. It makes me long for friendship.

Chit chat can feel exhausting like treading water, kick kick kick to stay afloat, while there’s an easy slow ooze around in the depth. But when I sit with her, she dives in. She pays attention, she knows me. I have felt this new phenomena lately with my Julie and my Sarah. And it happened when *I* began to undress my distress.  It’s my fault. I’m guarded, playing defense with how much I’ll allow a difficult past to temper conversation. I should have stayed the course with vulnerability in friendships, with admitting I had a limp. tumors and trauma, guilt, shame and deception, abuse and secrets, longing and rejection, inadequacy and confusion instead of pretending my way into belonging only to exist at an arm’s length in closeness.

When I finally did, they all seemed to sigh in relief that I had finally shown up.

He’s the only exception. Slowly, he has come to know me, slowly I have shared what I need, slowly I am beginning to feel seen. We have been near for so long, like twins now, a force, a team, like spokes and gears that roll along in unison. The history of ~our~ love is an overlay of pages, card stock and construction beneath, four daughters deep, deeper than you can see or read, the stories hold hands with memory, covered by the way we sway today as light and confident as the decor of tissue and vellum.

Nearness creates fusion, a mitochondrial transfer of knowing. I cannot airdrop a touch of your hand or see your eyes flicker or transfer my own raised brow or squinched smile. All we have is now.  If I view through pixelation, the way life feels alone and online, a distant attempt of exchange, a zip file of suggestion, the understanding and the measurement of any relationship dries and dies in the shallows.

I once asked him if he was ever not with me, knowing he would still be with me, what would he say to me that I may not be able to hear. And he said he would say ~ I’m right here~ I’m right here.

We have come to know each other in the nearness of our blood and bandage, our walks back home. I I love him enough to admire his individual frame and also become an extension of that frame. My vow is to not dissect him in cold psychoanalysis, but, with warmth, listen and observe as one does a miracle. His soul exceeds what may be known or viewed or categorized or systemized or dissected in my misinterpretation through a lens of my own fractures.

And so I muse at him mysteriously, the other me, wonder filling my imagination as in the first days with history being as deep as any content.

So, here is an example of a beautiful complex and blemished history which informs the future of love. I’ll tend to you, and care for you while you are healed in my love, and I in yours with shadows of dimming indiscretion and broken confidences becoming crossbeams of a lean-to, a lean-two, a T-pee, an overlay of feathers, a woven complexity of union, a mysterious communion.

And I will learn to have this same behavior in friendship if grace gives opportunity. If it does not, if I had to lose to learn, to write as a tool, I will write about all of the beautiful souls I’ve lost because I was scared to let them in for fear they would think the contents too much a mess.

There is a romance so deep that no one can live up to its demand alone. It requires the air, much of the err, and four corners of giving. I have seen it only in glimpses, as through vellum, such as the one that lies so elegantly atop so many heavy and complex pages.

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