Thank You For Understanding

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here are those who are included, and those who are not. Those who are included feel the seriousness and possibility of life everyday. They venerate everything silently. They are the nurses who work double shifts in emergency wards. They are the social workers that bring first aid kits to unconscious abusers on cold evenings. They carry on tired without praise. Their humbleness is what allows them to see the subtlety of God’s glory in the nuances of personality that come from the beaten and bruised, that arise when the human spirit is tested with adversity.

In my early life I felt as if I were one of those who is un-included.

That evening I had that same, familiar sensation, and was scared like a child. I was nervous like when I was a pre-teen, when girls would look at me and I’d feel strange. It wasn’t entirely nervousness and strangeness, but a type of misunderstood and disturbing solidarity. I remember those days being ripe with warmth and undiscovered emotion, as well as coloured with guilt and derision.

I remember derisive laughter, and feeling confusion emanate through my body like a sickness.

Then years later, in that cold, small room, walled mostly with large windows, and dying trees and parked cars laying in a layer of mist outside, I began to exhale this fever.

It began with affection. I was drunk and I stroked his hair and I didn’t even realize for a few minutes that I was doing it. He didn’t react in those early moments.

‘Why are you brushing my hair back?’ he finally said.

I quickly withdrew my hand when I understood what I was doing. A flush of regrets reddened my body. I became silent and little and felt threatened.

He then got up, to make eggs he said. I could tell he was slightly disturbed from his original temperament, which was tranquil as we lay, sharing a single bed, watching a movie. It was there that I had committed my presumptuous act, and I then slid onto the floor, legs outstretched, looking remorseful. I awaited more reaction intently, to see if I had done wrong. Rather, I knew I had done something wrong, and was anticipating the impending consequences. We hadn’t known each other for that long. I was sure he was straight.

Before going into the kitchen he looked at me, stretching his arm, and said casually, ‘I guess that’s what faggots do’, in a manner that was indistinguishable between snide and accepting.

Nothing very drastic changed, however, when we both entered the kitchen. I watched him make eggs and we talked as we normally did. I put my feet up on the table.

I could not tell if what I had done was taboo for him, nevertheless I felt like I was beneath a shadow.

‘Sometimes when I look at people,’ he said, ‘even friends and acquaintances, I feel I can see through them, their outer appearance, their face and body, that at other times occupy me entirely and make me forget there is a soul beneath the body. Then sometimes I am deeply shallow. I judge everyone superficially, and feel as if everyone’s appearance in some way informs who they really are.’

I felt as if I was being x-rayed, but listened carefully all the same. ‘Does this make you lose any love or affection for your friends?’

‘Yes completely.’

‘That’s a shame’ I said.

‘Not really’ he said sheepishly, and I knew that he was viewing me in the simplest terms. But I didn’t mind.

I kept on thinking about acceptance, and the feeling of being a ghost inhabiting a body without a real connection to its surroundings. As well about what I had, as a child, bitterly thought of as God’s exclusivity, and came to think that perhaps this form of love that I was feeling was something God is simply not able to bestow.

‘Thank you for understanding’ I said.

He looked at me sharply and did not respond, but then nodded with a tepid smile and pretended to be distracted by his cooking. I wondered if at any moment he would tell me to leave, or make a more extensive remark, but he remained in weightless silence, while I felt like I was balancing on a bridge between two voids, trying to decide which fall would be deeper.

Then we ate together, sitting across from each other silently. All the while I wondered if the soul is gendered, and decided it is not. I thought also of the covenant, of how sacred marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman, and understood this to be an incomplete picture if it is incompatible with the desires of the soul. I was still unsure, however, if my love was anything other than a product of some repugnant perversion that occurred during my formative years, or worse still a punitive act of repulsion towards my self; or contrarily, if it is a purer love, being without the intricate differences of the opposite sex. For even the most inseparable bond between a male and female has to navigate the inherent divisions of gender, which infringe upon what could be an indivisible unity of spirit, mind, and flesh.

I think of a reoccurring dream, which I’ve had only twice, that varies slightly each time. It involves him and I, close, barely clothed, underneath white sheets, warm, always at the peak of daytime, under sunlight. We are practically in a cocoon, motioning over each other’s skin steadily with deliberation. There is gripping of sheets and also body, and squeezing and pressing, so that our skin twists and whitens, and folds in undulations like the kneading of bread, channeling euphoric pinches of sensitivity through our nervous systems, creating chills of hot and cold, making us close our eyes and fall into each other; our fingertips and lips burning. Feeling our pleasure grow over matter. We cover ourselves completely with sheets so that the sunlight dims and becomes shallow, and our breathing becomes more noticeable and hot.

During the days after these dreams he continues to run my mind constantly, making it difficult to concentrate or even sit still. At the worst I experience an ugly mixture of envy and possessiveness at the thought of him. At the best of times he is goodness, and a testament to the harshness of life.

I looked across at him and thought of my life as a contradiction, a fringe in the seams, which has, I suppose, allowed me to see the traces of blackish gray importance in the periphery of our vision, that to the untrained eye look merely like absences of light.

He got up and took my plate to the sink, whistling to himself. I started to smoke a cigarette, flicking the ash out the window into the wind. Outside it was damp and cold, and still foggy. I could hear cars driving on the highway a block away from the house, and saw the occasional porch light flicker on. If I listened closely I could hear the sky falling.

‘I think I’m in love with you’ I said.

He turned around.

‘You don’t want to be in love with me’ he said sincerely, and returned to washing dishes.

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