I. one of these nights
If relationships are like novels, then, I believe, one-nightstands are poetry. And lately I am more in a poetic state of mind. There is a certain element of repetition ingrained in the make-up of life because of the circles of day and night and the seasons, and I believe this repetition is necessary as the base-tone of our existence but we need to be able to improvise on or vary with these leitmotivs we established in our day to day lives. The night seems to be the ideal, but not exclusive, stage for these perforations of the self.
When you meet someone new, this creates an opening, a void. The narrative that you call your identity is halted and suddenly there is room for endless possibilities. I have this tendency to be overtly romantic so I have imagined what would happen if I would share my life with someone I had barely met a few hours before, more often than I care to admit, but these moments are also an opportunity to make up the balance of your life up until now and rethink the person you would like to be from then onwards. To be confronted with the unknown of the so-called Other puts you in a position where you have the freedom to try out a new version of yourself. I don’t want to say that I lie during my one-night stands, but I take a little bit more liberty with the facts. Rearrange the notes in a different key and melody. My personal Goldbergvariations.
It is almost a confession. A testimony of your own fallibility. Being forced to see yourself through the eyes of another, awakens a certain instinct, that of seduction (maybe), in a way that might border on the violent. When a guy told me his last boyfriend had killed himself a few months before I met him, I felt violated, caught in the act, so to speak. I thought I could get away with just entering his life for a small period of time, but he drew me in. As if he said; you will not get me for free, there’s a price to all of this. If I wanted to use him in order to forget my loneliness, he gave me his in return. There is so much loneliness in this world. When you try to escape this, you go in exile in someone else’s, which only reinforces your own. A dialectical movement wherein you escape into what you’re escaping from.
Of course, it is also about meeting another person, another world perhaps. There is a certain democratic merit to dating-apps in the extent wherein they make me meet people I would not ordinarily meet in my job or free time. As an academic (and artist, sometimes), I meet a lot of people but most of them have the same worldview or horizon against which they give meaning to or interpret life. Some people I have met on dating-apps (because I don’t really meet people in bars or clubs) came from a completely different background and lived in, for me, rather unknown territory. I don’t want to turn these nights into a philosophical or sociological experiment but in small, tender ways these meetings have altered and nuanced my way of thinking and perceiving the world, like good poems are wont to do.
But these are reflections for the morning after. The moment itself asks for surrender. Something almost mystical. I believe giving yourself to this moment, and ‘when I give, I give myself’ as Whitman wrote, is a manifestation of mysticism. You become much more attuned to your surroundings and experience everything more profoundly direct. You strip yourself naked from the roles you have taken up in society. You are no longer a son, a friend, an academic, a brother, a citizen. You become a body trembling with the sheer pleasure and excitement of being just that, a body, alive. This doesn’t happen every time, of course, but when it does, I believe this might be what people for ages have referred to as ‘the Holy’. If God were to manifest himself again on this mortal coil, it will be during one of these nights.
II. a desire for homesickness
When I met you I wasn’t ready to meet anyone as the ending of our affair has made clear to me in a way that I could not grasp but at least seemed to have had a premonition about that first night. You left me waiting in the cold for a few very long minutes because you needed to get dressed, ready as you were to go to bed already, ready as you were to never let what followed happen. I remember everything. How I wore the same sweater that I am wearing now, writing this, reading this, and how you asked me why I dressed like a 50 year old and how I answered that I had already suffered for 50 years. Of loneliness. Both of us then still believing this to be a joke.
What happened next is the unholy alliance between both my sin and talent. My sin was greediness, when I want something I want all of it, never thinking if my wants and needs are aligned. My talent was tenacity, when I want something I go for it, I take everything , never thinking if what I take and what I can receive is aligned. I struck down my desire in you and you received it, diffidently at first, but as you said more than once, I have a way with words and my words became flesh.
We met in a city where both of us only recently moved and in a language that was your nor my mother tongue I tried , quite desperately I see now in retrospect, to build a home for the both of us. What we talk about, when we talked about intimacy.
I had to leave this city, your city that even shares your initial. We met a few weeks after my arrival and so I did not have the chance to create memories of which you were not part. Everything reminded me of you and if I tried to strip away this veil of your presence from the streets and bars and riverbanks and even the very bed I had shared only with you, I found out there was nothing left for me in this city, I had to admit my defeat, a word that in my mother tongue even rhymes with the name of this city. So I left, on our last night together I told you I missed you already and you said I didn’t have to be so dramatic but I was right and yet I was not prepared for this; I didn’t know miss could be so physical.
What I am left with now here are pictures of you. The glory of your body (I don’t think I ever loved someone as beautiful as you), your doofus smile, the British accent you slipped into when talking about your work, the accelerated intonations of your speech when you were getting excited about something, that look in your eyes when I surprised you by saying something you said you always felt but never were able to put into words. I have a way with words, you said more than once.
And what hurts, what hurts so tremendously, is the imagined future I remember when thinking of these things. The openness that I was willing to dive into with you that is now closed and irrevocably classified as past. During our last conversation, you told me I need to love myself in order to be able to love someone else. I disagree with this vehemently. Loving me was your job, not mine. If you want me to love myself before you can love me, you don’t want to love me, you want to consume me. Risk free and safely. This is not something I will ever be able to offer you or anyone else. What I can offer you now is my gratitude (and I know I will actually mean this someday), a gratitude for what you set in motion inside me and for giving me the feeling I was not alone for however small this period of time we shared was. I wish you will find your home someday and someday I hope I can wish the same again for myself. Right now all I am is a desire for homesickness.