That moment when an ex-lover comes into my viewfinder on a summer day. I blink twice, waiting for the mirage of memories to subside, only they don’t. Thus, begins the walk down a familiar road, hand-in-hand with my modern deity whom I never really stopped loving.
Dilated pupils as big as moons, we howl against Southern California’s photo polluted sky, dotted with aircrafts glinting off the ocean’s surface. I inhale deeply catching a scent that smells like tobacco and linseed oil, I am struck with a scene from painting class during our sophomore year of college. Between the memory and the moment, our hands poke out of baggy hoodies that hold brushes dripping with acrylic paints. The luster of pigment forms on canvas, we watch the paint drops form their own language. We watch each other, quietly, without the other knowing. I haven’t let anybody do this in a long time, this dance of creative vulnerability. In fact, my ability to hide my art and expression below the eye line of close friends and family has been my bad habit for years. But within hours near him, he splits this shy girl open, that guile goddess sleeping under the radar. Turning her on without warning.
Casamigos tequila and a hit of sea breeze lingers on my upper lip. In these moments when he transgresses my body and spirit, I pray for protection as my tender skin starts to ache for his. My rational brain, the egoic self, sits across the room from me with her legs crossed and a fist under her chin, eyeing me with a subtle grin. I push her out of view as I turn into his warm neck, a quiet release into the access of intimacy.
There is a partition that began rising between us out of necessity, years ago when he moved to my hometown. But this undulating barrier is as fluid as the reposado; it starts to slide down in the brevity of just a few short nights together and before I can even catch my breath, I am knee deep in the sensuality.
This glossy wall that once stood a few feet between us is dissolving. At my bare feet a pool of neon paint forms to the edges.
He is the pattern burned on the backside of my brain after years of walking in sync and sometimes me in his shadow and him in mine. His exalted masculinity was the partner to my feminine divine. A partnership forged from something unconditioned as we led each other into step work that hailed and faltered in balance and brought us to our knees on the worst of days. Hindsight comes flooding in now, coating my figure in the past: outlining my neck, my fingers, my calves. Highlighting the shadows that it cost to get me here, just a shade below glowing.
We make our way through my home by the sea, navigating my space with four eyes instead of two, as he follows my movements without intention, and I start to see my objects and environment through his lens. This shifting of perspectives is the trademark of a visitor in my intimate abode. Water circles the drain while our dark eyes cast to one another and candlelit droplets fall from the hard-tiled grotto. I feel our old home together taking form, the one we shared in 2011 where we had long nights alone, just two adoring undergraduate lovers. Thick thoughts run rampant trying to dodge the past and settle on the present tense. Those very same limbs play under the downpour of this rainfall, I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to blink back the flood of the past, but it is too easy to become lost in what was.
We suffered together, celebrated in unison, divulged our weaknesses and walked amongst forests, icy mountains, slick rock, and river beds with a faith that nothing would ever change. I am now pulled between that tender submission to belong to someone else and the opposing need to defend my solo sojourn. The conditioned mind is trying to put this heart in context, giving it a name and a narrative, but the thing about love is that is rarely makes sense.
It shape shifts so often it can confuse even its most discerning beholder.
Metallic spit runs down my chin and I can taste the traits of my past self, the obediently sensual middle-child, looking for a place to be heard, and he—being the closest thing to that previous iteration of me—gives me total permission with the slide of a hand. I suck up the spit and bite my bottom lip. Strumming though thoughts, I realize that beneath the impassioned appreciation we have for one another, there is my independence that I worked hard for that is determined to remain intact. My own artwork of glittering mala beads and published prose hang from my walls. These are the visual and written explanations of all the processing, expressions and editorial pursuits that line the pathway to this warrior who is still becoming. I fought hard for her so as not to lose her in the heat of someone else’s palms.
Through the unfurling flashbacks of our freckled foreheads bowing down against velvet moss under Aspen trees, a bit of logic claws her way up through my face, allowing me to force a smile at him so it looks like I never even left this room. He stands in statuesque form across the shower, abiding by his own laws with a disposition I have always envied and admired.
On El Matador beach, following a careening dirt trail below Malibu’s sandstone peaks, he balances his camera on a handheld gimbal, panning across the Pacific Ocean and back to my white sneakers that leave a tread behind me as I skip ahead. We alternate filming each other as I am eager to try out his gear and step into his medium. My attempt to get us both in frame falls short, we settle on solo captures of the other pinned against a striking landscape of sea and cragged caves.
My unhinged ability to be alone is the singular trait I thought I owned that allowed me to fly free on the page and in the concrete mosaic of Los Angeles. From cathartic love bites, swollen hips, and a trusted support system, I begin to find that the same liberation I am running for lies somewhere in between me and him and all of the others. Maybe it was something we opened, together, but what he has taught me within these three short days is that my ability to let him in and to create amidst the light of someone else's glow is a powerful tool I can use to leverage my artist without abandon.
I wait for my deeper understanding of the heart and all of its tangled string work to find a way to align with my head. I look past the horizon, loosening my jaw and letting the smooth stonework support my bare feet. White-hot light from the mid-day sun in June coaxes me further down the shoreline. The ocean purrs and foam licks my thighs. I let the ocean stir me and salt-bathe my old wounds as my arms begin to open from my sides.
textures of love.