Outside Middlebury, where the roads wind through miles of endless cow country and the fields splay out on either side like sleeping giants under golden blankets, we put on Major Lazer’s latest and I shoot past the speed limit, blowing by sleepy weekend traffic in the little red Nissan Chris rented for us. The breeze ruffles my hair. He leans over and takes a photograph with a disposable camera. We still haven’t finished the roll, it’s not yet developed. I wonder what I must look like, window down, eyes on the road.
There’s something impossibly erotic about a car, its glassy cage, a bead of light on the freeway moving between public and private. Maybe the eroticism is in the promise of anonymous freedom. Should I tell you I’ve never actually fucked in one? I like driving, I like twisting through country roads, an endless sky. When I drive Chris puts his hand on my thigh; he likes to feel my muscles tense when I hit brake or gas. When he drives we hold hands over the gearshift.
October, he’s been gone for two weeks. He asks if I want to pick him up from the airport. I scour Prospect Heights for fresh-cut sunflowers—the first gift I ever gave him, a bouquet on his doorstep, a tiny note on green paper—and throw them in the passenger seat of a Zipcar, then sit through an hour of gridlocked traffic, the sun in my eyes. When I finally arrive at LaGuardia he cuts across a lane of traffic, climbs in shotgun. We make out at the light until the cabs behind me start honking.
I’m a menace to all of Queens on the drive back, hardly focused on the road, melting under his touch, pliant and turning toward him as a plant turns toward the sun. The silk strap of my camisole keeps slipping off my shoulder, it’s loose, I wanted him to see the soft swell of my breasts. We make it home, barely, and stumble into his apartment touching each other. I take my shoes off. I put the sunflowers on the dresser.
“Snapshots aren’t enough,” writes Jean Baudrillard, in America, a book a man twelve years my senior gave me. I was twenty and the copy full of his margin notes, glimpses of his mind I treasured. “We’d have to replay it all from end to end at home in a darkened room, rediscover the magic of the freeways and the distance.”
If only I could play it all from end to end. If only I could relive everything indefinitely, I’m a prisoner of nostalgia. The problem isn’t being here, it’s being anywhere, it’s staying. A vector starts at a point and then cuts across a plane into infinity. It’s an arrow, it has an origin and a direction, but it must move. Once Chris told me he liked tying me up because it meant that for a moment I was still. Sometimes I imagine disappearing off a map: is it any surprise that our most impossible fantasy is running away somewhere, together?
We fuck, I’ve missed him terribly. I dissolve under his hands, his mouth; we press our foreheads together. We kiss in tender, unerotic ways. How lovely and wretched, to be familiar, to know the turns of his body, to reverently run my tongue along the vein on the underside of his cock. I come hard but I still want to keep going, I’m insatiable, I’m a monster, I’m a vector of desire. I can’t imagine anyone else touching me the way he does.
After dinner at a new restaurant we decide we hate and night falling thick around us, we go back to his apartment. We curl up together on his narrow bed. He rests his head on my stomach, running a hand up and down my thigh. “The still point at the center of the universe,” he says quietly.
“Where?” I ask.