Steepings: When words don't say
Introducing essays exploring small and big aspects of love, loss, and life. Often experienced, remembered, and reminisced over a cup of tea. This month, a Valentine's special.
I have known him for a year now - 18 dates to be exact. But no, we are not a couple, at least not in any conventional way. We are simply two people with great chemistry, shared interests, and a mutual love for cuddles. But we are not a couple.
To be a couple you need to, on some level, share a life - a balancing act the structural units of which are time and space. Words, here, are the coefficient - that thing that stimulates the two units, enriching them, binding them, strengthening them. Words, between two people, bring to life their stories, feelings, and thoughts. Their dreams and desires. Our needs and wants. Phrased by lips, our chosen lexicon reveals our truth - as we see and understand it. Words, because there are so many, will - and they do - reach deep, provoke atoms, and magnetize feelings. In doing so, words spark a connection. They mediate touch. Words are touch. And words are exactly the thing we don’t have.
Between us very little gets spoken.
Now, I tend to be direct, confessional, and honest. I love telling stories and connecting over musings both silly and sublime. Oh, how I yearn to share. He, on the other hand, defaults to a measured reservation. He has his reasons. And I see his reasons. I even understand them. But his lack of words, on most days, is maddening.
Some days, I can’t help but translate his silence as a loud unwanting. But then there exist our bodies - now they scream a whole other truth.
In the privacy of our little space and time, it seems our bodies have found a way to navigate our quiet reality. They talk for us, to us. It’s a foreign language because I don’t fully understand it nor do I know where it’s coming from, but it feels lovely and familiar.
To me, the language of our bodies is somewhat guile - rough around the seams, but sincere at the center. It looks like a language marked by rushes and pauses - there is at once fast hesitation and then slow yielding. There’s also a lot of reciprocity - the touch of one is immediately acknowledged by the touch of another. It’s also brazen - I cannot not feel his touch. I cannot untouch him. Neither can he. So we receive and return, and that marks the rhythm of this language. This language is also possessive - the kind of ruthless attention my body gives his body - so singular in its focus - it can’t be any other way. My legs readily approach him and instinctively wrap around his waist as he places his weight on me. My arms fling themselves on his neck, as far away from my body as they possibly could, wanting to be on him, rather than me. His hips never spare a breath’s worth of space between his skin and mine. Lying in bed, absorbed into each other’s skins, my body lives detached from me, too busy wanting to be on him, trying to hold him, feel his warm flesh, smell his rowdy thick hair, remember the tender glance of his eyes, the soft pressure of his lips and some more. Lost in a tangle of all this reaching and retaining, I can’t seem to surrender. Oh, but his body knows - it knows to pull me away from myself, outpacing my cerebral engine to take over, heave on, and consume me in a way that leaves little room for anything but a faint warmth that lingers like the balmy air on a summer day. Meeting and melting into his ample, sweat-laced skin and warm breath, my body dissolves into him and I am undone.
It’s not just that touch fires synapses in our brain that words could - should - but don’t. But that some touches open us up in the most moving, generative ways. This, by landing so deep and far, that you cannot help but allow it to molecularly penetrate you, shake you, and sweep you into a melody. This is the kind of touch that feels not like a noise, but a sweet, sweet language. This touch is his.
We are, still, not a couple. We are not in love. We are not even in a relationship. But I do wonder, would I feel as much about it had we been in either? I don’t know.
I don’t know how is it that my trust in him is this uninhibited. I can’t tell you why my body feels this magnetized by his. Or why it operates with reckless abandon around him. But I can confirm that it does. And it all creates a kind of intimacy that’s hard to shake. The kind that lingers on the skin the next morning. The kind that leaves the air heavy with a vapidly charged energy that stands suspended. The kind of intimacy that arrests your body into a doozy daze and tricks you into believing that you are more than your situationship. But against our silence, all this intimacy, nowhere to go, starts fading and the moment dissolves, in low whispers and warm breaths, and then it glides away.
Knees - you know that’s the first thing I touched on him. It was our second non-date date. We were sitting next to one another, diving into cocktails with weird, mish-mashy names, when, about an hour into the evening, our knees grazed. Somewhere between cocktails 1 and 3, our chairs had come closer, our bodies had begun to lean into one another, and our hands as if charged by some phantom force kept lightly flinging towards the other. Somewhere, we inched close enough for our knees to collide. I let mine rest on his. He did not move away.
I feel our bodies have held proverbial hands since the beginning. They know something we don’t, and they choose to operate bypassing the command of words. Guiding us towards each other in ways words could. But don’t. At least not yet.