Was it a dream? Our first date, so many years ago, before either of us had ever really lived. We were innocent in our infancy, holding the deep, dark calm of our mysteries close to our chests until it was safe to explore the answers together. The world was an adventure, and we were conquistadors, the pair of us.
You wore red; I remember that much. Dark hair cropped in a mop of curls, cheeks blushing rose. When we hugged, you smelled like the bouquet I’d brought you, and your smile was brighter than the pearls around your neck. I’d have counted myself lucky if I could just impress you once that evening. But you were so electric with the aura of spontaneity like a halo around your whole body that I was terrified and second-guessing every choice I’d made. Was my suit too formal? Had my hair blown out of place? Would you enjoy the cuisine at the restaurant I’d chosen?
No, my boy. You don’t know well enough yet that every second you spend not focused entirely on her majesty is a second you’ve thrown to hungry dogs. Don’t worry about all that. Breathe and stay present.
We sat at our table, you and I, like a little island that is both a part of everything and apart from everything. When you ordered merlot, it was as if I’d never heard the word before. Like it never existed before you. Like I never existed before you. And the word spun around in my head while I drank in the dark pools of your eyes that stared at me like I was the kind of man that I knew I wasn’t. Intriguing, adventurous, fearless, passionate…
That boy was too young to understand that you, my lady, would over time, come to make him all of these things. Because he was too scared to admit it, but he knew innately that he was a soft and malleable clay, and your hands were those of an artist. You didn’t have to take him on as some project, and maybe you didn’t even mean to, but you did, and you molded him into the greatest evolution of his former self that he will never again capture in your absence.
Hold on to the moment, my boy. You’re losing it.
The merlot had stained your lips burgundy and smeared the evening with laughter and loose candidness. It had coaxed truths from our mouths and encouraged us to tell the things that make humans realize that they are not wholly unique, and in that, loneliness can be banished.
I listened to your stories and your philosophies on life, each word a revelation. I pretended that I was anywhere near as wonderfully complex as you. I wasn’t, at least not yet. What I was rapidly realizing was that in your presence I could be unafraid of instability and spontaneous change, that I could touch a flame and not get burned, that even death itself was merely a transition of chapters and not the ending of a narrative. What I didn’t know yet, was whether I’d be so lucky as to stay in your presence for any length of time.
You will, my boy. Just believe it. Just be you – it’s all she wants.
But boys, who are wonderous things in their timidness and false confidence, don’t stay boys forever. They might if they really try. Too often, the fruit soon expires, and the cold world of men takes its hold. And the boy that you molded, the one that beheld the marvel of your fiery eyes, soon dulls into the man who must pay tabs and balance accounts. He reduces the time you want spent together in a sea of blankets and secrets to work alongside folks he doesn’t like to buy you things you never asked for. And the days begin to blur together. And the nights are uneventful. Spontaneity yields to routine and adventure becomes a burden when weariness has its talons so deeply in his flesh.
So, you wait patiently and try with restless vigor to remind the man that the boy is somewhere inside him, trapped and out of reach. You consider running to a new adventure, but the strings of your heart are tied so tightly around the idea of him that the knots cannot be untangled. And the gray shell of man before you is too weary to find him, perhaps too bitter to remember he’d ever been there at all.
But my boy, when she is gone, you will remember. You will remember that she made a promise to that boy, and that she dedicated all of her perfection to planting the seeds of dreams and in your inattention you allowed the weeds to take over and strangle them to death. And you will mourn her touch and her wisdom and her voice and her perfume and her music and her love. And you will close your eyes at night and wish to be at a candlelit table, sipping a glass of merlot, waiting for life to begin.
My boy, you should have made every day with her a dream. If you only knew that one day, a dream is the only place you will find her…