You’ve been in bed with someone. You know the close feeling of bare skin touching warmly bare skin. You know the embrace when you think to yourself, or even say aloud, that you could never have imagined how two bodies could fit together so well. It seems to validate every notion you’ve had of love.
And you know the feeling of distance–while in bed with someone–that two bodies that have loved one another can create. You don’t want to be upset about whatever thing it is you’re upset about, but you are, lying there.
So what do you do? You can imagine and re-imagine all the reasons you should stay quiet, not do anything. Or, you can hope you can say the right thing, begin a conversation, hope the other person will be responsive.
I remember a night like this. Actually, I remember several. A party she wanted to go to and a night where I just wanted to write, to work. We fought the whole drive back to her apartment that felt so cold and empty. I stayed up on the side of the bed in my boxers, feeling naked in the not-good way, and couldn’t say a word, let alone touch her. Maybe it’s no curiosity why that relationship ended.
There was another night, more recently, the sheets hot, the room quiet. My current girlfriend and I had a conversation at dinner where she called me out for never going for it. “You never asked me out on a date–I don’t know if you ever have!” she said from across the table. She lowered her eyes in a way that I couldn’t escape. I felt emasculated. She was right.
After dinner we drove to her apartment and got in bed quietly. There I was, and there she was.
The point of a relationship, at least one of the most salient and wonderful points, is the going through with the other person. To grow and learn and offer him or her care, support. It can feel like vacationing, it can feel like trudging, it can feel blissful, it can feel dark. But to still go through, that is the magic.
So, that night, after our conversation at dinner when I realized I hadn’t been courageous when we first started out our relationship, I reached over to her, kissed her shoulder, her back, once on her neck. She turned to me (we’d been that curled back to back position) and we talked, dim moonlight sneaking through the blinds.
And before we fell asleep, we found ourselves intertwined, embracing.