You want to travel with them. You want to see what they’re like going through airport security, on planes, in strange countries. You want to meet their families and charm them to pieces. You want to nestle into their childhood beds and look around in the dark at all their old posters. You want to see all the embarrassing photos of them with braces and socks pulled up mid-calf. You want to hear all the stories about their drunken nights under the bleachers and their best friend’s jokes. You want to read all their journals, see how they took notes in high school. Did they use pen or pencil? What color highlighter? You want to work with them, just to see them work. You want to go out with them. You want to make out with them in the bathroom. You always want to touch them; you want them to always want to touch you.
You find reasons to disentangle yourself from them; it’s only going to hurt later, you can tell already. You stay up way past your bedtime for them. You look at the clock and know their schedule. You neglect other people and other things, and beat yourself up about it. But it’s like they have a hold of your hands and your voice, and you don’t mind. It’s like you’re trapped in an hourglass; you know your lungs might fill with sand, but there’s something sensual and comforting about the grains sliding down glass walls and pooling around your ankles, your knees, your waist.
You like things about their appearance that the rest of the world may cringe at and call strange, less than perfect. Their broken, reshaped noses; their little teeth or the gaps in between them; the way they pull their hair; their narrow hips; their wide shoulders; the depth of their pores. You can laugh when funny things happen in bed. You usually want to be in bed with them.
You think they’re smarter, better, friendlier, fitter, happier, more productive than you are. You strive to be as much as they are, as good as they are. You try to cheat and figure out what it is they’re going to teach you, if they’re going to fall from grace, if you’re going to play a part for them that you never thought you’d play before. You try and pull patterns and threads of meaning from the conversation or the way they looked at you the first time you met; what they did, what they offered. An apple stolen from the bar. Notes from a guitar. Pitchers of free beer. Pieces of bark with writing on them.
You cherish snippets of them; paste them up in your memories like old faded scrapbooks clutched to chests for generations. Their skin glows black and white in your head. They star in the little short films of your life that sneak up on you when you’re not looking. Like the walk to the South End for dinner on a quiet corner. The feel of the sun beating down on you both at an outdoor concert. The way they ordered wine on your first date. The slow swing of a hammock near a lake. The back seat of their car.
You can see yourself with them in the future you can’t quite see. You build apartments outfitted with all the right kitchen supplies and the perfect bed with two nightstands, each piled with books and magazines. You wait for them patiently while they chase their dreams; they wait for you patiently as you chase yours. You sit in bed eating dinner late at night, drinking tea and wine and whiskey as you tell each other all about the chasing. You create adopted dogs and cats; you have awkward conversations about money; you put up with each other’s crap. You see what they look like standing at the end of a candle-lit aisle in your grassy front yard and wonder if you’ll make it to the other end to meet them or if they’ll just end up in the scrapbook clutched to your chest or flickering on the screen in your brain.