SIMPLY BEING

Tag: intimacy (page 1 of 1)

A Tanglesome Approach

The approach to you is rather tanglesome —
A thin cotton quilt, two thick, woolen blankets, a plump comforter, you.

It’s all layered nice and neat as the lights go out
And thereafter a little unrest ensues.

As the layers meld, then separate, splitting apart
Splitting us apart.

I reach out through the gaps, clasping and grasping at your bony elbow
You are better at this — because your arm makes it through.

It is far warmer nestling in the crook of an elbow.

Unexpected Intimacy

It was a 11-hour flight. And I was determined to make it work this time.

I don’t do well on long flights. I tend to feel stiff and tense. Not me, but my body. Perhaps they’re one and the same. I cannot fall asleep, instead drifting endlessly between slumber and wakefulness. All this waking and sleeping makes for some lucid dreaming too. The idea of writing this also came about as a half-dream.

I was flying solo this time. Leg space was fairly good, and I managed to snag an aisle seat. My flight companion was a young light-haired boy, all skinny arms and legs and light freckles. He effortlessly squeezed past me, and settled into the window seat. I started to make myself comfortable too. Covered my knees and legs with the airline blanket, wrapped my beloved orange shawl around my shoulders, slipped on the eye mask… resolved to SLEEP. I also took a tablet of Jatamansi, a nerve relaxant herb that has helped me with sleep in the past.

It seemed to work. Six hours drifted by. I felt like I was awake but I must have been asleep. Is that odd? Sleep is a mysterious state, and it is hard to pinpoint where exactly you are in it.

A couple of hours or so later, I felt a nudge on my shoulder. My young friend had fallen asleep, resting his upper body on the arm rest between us, legs curled up. I was sitting up, my seat slightly reclined, and his shoulder brushed against mine. In a couple of minutes, I had fallen back into my wakeful-sleep mode. A little (or lot — who knows?) later, I straightened up, my knee bumping against his. I awoke to find him snuggled on the other side, knees drawn to his chest, pretzel-like. He was a slender contortionist, this young fellow. As I pulled my legs up, deciding to sleep on my side, my feet pushed against his body. The cabin was cold, and I felt a gentle warmth radiating from him.

All night long, we kept wriggling around in our respective spaces, trying to get comfortable without disturbing the other. My friend kept squeezing his lithe body into all kinds of semi-circular formations, and I tried to get somewhat comfortable so I could get some sleep… and through these mutual efforts, our bodies connected. He was scarcely awake (seemed to be a light sleeper) and I was all adrift too. I found this strange intimacy oddly comfortable.

Perhaps it was his youth that made him so unselfconscious and free with his body, an utter lack of physical awkwardness. He stepped in and out of my space with absolute comfort and ease, and even though I wasn’t all awake, I was charmed.

Locking Eyes

This evening, as I drove home from work, I passed a white van. “State Prisoners” was inscribed prominently on the front and back. I couldn’t recall the last time I had seen a vehicle of this kind. I wondered if it was actually transporting any prisoners.

I got a little ahead, and looked again. There were two men inside, dressed in white. One was middle-aged and white, looking out at the traffic. Behind him sat a young, handsome black guy wearing a headset. He had large eyes and thick eyebrows, a prominent nose. And he looked straight at me.

I couldn’t look away. I had sunglasses on, so I felt somewhat comfortable looking right back. His gaze didn’t waver. Neither did mine.

The van moved ahead, and I kept pace with it.

Again we drew level, and I found him looking at me. I returned the gaze.

The traffic moved swiftly, and the van sped forward. I fell back, and lost my place in the traffic.

I prayed silently, let me catch up with him again. I removed my sunglasses.

The traffic continued to flow forward, and again I caught up with the van. There was a lane separating our two vehicles, but there were few cars, and I was able to look right at him. He looked back at me. He had a direct and open expression. It wasn’t unfriendly. There was no question in his eyes, or any curiosity. It was a clear, simple look. And I was able to reciprocate the simplicity.

It felt special, this brief interaction. Later I wondered, should I have smiled? Given a thumbs-up, a tiny wave, perhaps?

In hindsight, I am happy that I did nothing to spoil the moment.

Not for a single instant did I “feel sorry” for the young handsome man. Neither did I feel intimidated locking eyes with him. (I am not always comfortable looking into another’s eyes; it feels too direct for my comfort.)

What did I hope to convey? That I was sympathetic? That I hoped things would improve for him? Or did I mean to send a blessing?

None of the above, actually. I was caught in a brief moment of sharing, and I was able to participate fully. And I came away from that interaction, feeling strangely intimate and connected.

The farewell…

By the time they reached home, it had stopped raining. The sky was an unnaturally bright blue, the air heavy and hot. They got to work instantly. She got out the ironing board and started ironing his clothes. He pulled out his suitcases from the closet. They were musty from an 8-month long sabbatical. All his travel clothes were soon stacked up in little piles all around the room. He picked a set, discarded another, fussed over a third. Matching shoes, socks, handkerchiefs, underwear… the works. She ironed a couple of shirts, a few pairs of trousers and a pair of cotton shorts and packed it for him. The two pairs of shoes didn’t fit in the suitcase until she advised him to wear one of the pairs instead of packing it. All the items finally fit in and the suitcase was locked. He showered and changed. She reminded him to pack his belts and ear-buds. Soon after, he gave a final survey to his luggage, kissed her good-bye and drove away.

She looked around the dirty apartment and sighed in dismay. The sink was full of greasy dishes, there were dirty clothes strewn all around along with the freshly washed ones, the carpet was a display of brown shoe-prints. She soon got to work, picking this, cleaning that… She folded all the washed clothes neatly and placed them in the cupboard. Picking up the dirty clothes, she filled them into the laundry bags. The dishes were piled into the dishwasher. She got the vacuum cleaner out and ran it all over the tiny apartment. Her knees were killing her but she couldn’t find the courage to stop, take a breather.

After an hour of scrubbing, washing and cleaning, she finally straightened her aching back and looked around. There was nothing remaining to be done. She went into the bathroom and took a quick shower. The clock struck 9:00 pm. She turned the TV on. She surfed listlessly but found nothing interesting. Well, I have to sleep, she tiredly thought. She turned the light off the instant she entered the room so that she wouldn’t have to see the empty bed. Quietly she crept into the once-warm bed and pulled the comforter over her head. The instant her fingers touched the empty pillow next to hers, her reserve broke. She sobbed uncontrollably, like a child.

[A dramatised and *dressed-up* piece of fiction….The essential disclaimer]