At a party over the weekend my friend Max tells me that I’ve been getting sincere lately. He suspects I’m in a earnest period. When I remove my nose from my glass of red wine long enough to protest that I’ve always been this way, he says, well, when you’re in an earnest period you can’t imagine ever not being earnest.
Later that night Chris comes over; it’s the first time I’ve seen him in a coat which startles me into remembering that time is passing. I fall asleep almost immediately after we have sex and wake up with the lights still on and his arms around me. It’s like waking up into a dream. I get out of bed to turn out the lights and upon returning I grope for his sleeping body in the dark.
“How long have I been sincere?” I ask.
When I was younger I treated sex like a weapon. It seemed easier to be cruel to other people while I was being cruel to myself. I suspect almost every woman goes through this. When I was eighteen I pierced my nose and lost my virginity a few weeks later and all of a sudden a singular power appeared and it was called putting your tongue in places you’d never thought tongues could go before. And it was called being seen for the first time ever. And for months after that my septum ring got knocked around a lot and sometimes it bled.
“Oh, about six weeks.”
I count them on my hands. It’s been longer. It feels like it’s been no time at all.
Because I am sincere these days can I tell you I wasn’t expecting this? I wasn’t expecting to feel this way but I guess the funny thing about life is you can’t really plan for it because some things just come to you and they don’t always have names. In the locked chamber of my chest I have a feeling and I can only describe it in metaphor. The light under a doorway. A raisin dropped in a glass of champagne to make it go fizzy again. I am running headlong, I am already there, I have been writing from this point sooner than I thought, I am holding the fabric of his comforter tight between my teeth so that I don’t cry out when I come. Our bodies quake his narrow bed. I sit on the floor with my knees up against my chest, I say, “Don’t go.”
In a dream it’s snowing and we are together.
In a dream we have a cabin on the Oregon coast and there’s so much water all around us and we have a cat named Watch.
In a dream I am reading poetry out loud while he moves inside me and my voice quavers on every syllable but I’m not allowed to stop reciting.
The night before the moon goes full I show up at Chris’s apartment. I’m looking up at the sky, trying to find it among the trees and at first I mistake the moon for streetlights, it’s that bright. We go to a bar close by and each have a whiskey even though I’m already drunk from hanging out with Julian downtown. It’s Bulleit, my favorite bourbon, it comes with a big cube of perfectly clear ice that slowly melts down, and to entertain ourselves we pretend we’ve met for the very first time.
Hey, stranger, where are you from?
In a dream we go to Iceland and make out in a hot spring.
When we first met he said he might leave the city before the year was out and I joked that I’d probably grow tired before then but I was wrong.
In a dream I’m tied wrist to ankle, ankle to wrist.
In a dream everything smells like lavender and peonies.
In a dream he tells me anything can happen, anything.