Tuesday, June 24, 2014

falling in love with soap bubbles

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I sat with a boy on a sofa and he traced his name on my fingertips as the soft glow of the living room warded off the dark night outside.
We talked about things like what the painting Starry Night would taste like. Surely, he said, it would taste like a plum. Something rich and dark, velvety and tantalizingly fresh. I complimented him on his poetry, which he credited to my whimsical influence, a complement to his comedic practicality.
His fingers traced a map on the back of my hand, glowing lily-white in the dark room.
And we talked the sort of poetic nonsense that makes the world keep spinning.
Sometimes, on a particularly awkward date, I think of that moment, when every word was spiked with laughter, and the mysteries of the world such as: the taste of Van Gogh's Starry Night were revealed to us all. And I remember with fondness the gentle sparring with words and the spirit of play that permeated the conversation.
When I think I could settle for a man who speaks solely in hackneyed platitudes, I think of the moment I learned that Starry Night could taste like plums.

Before that, some time before, when I was younger and a bit more callow, before I learned that the looks boys give their sweethearts are more precious gifts than any number of roses or rings or words that men may give, before I learned to hunger for the gaze of lovers, there was a boy who looked at me with stars in his eyes. If you've ever seen two people who are in love, the look that passes between them is electric. It is something palpable, something only they two can see. It unites them across a room of strangers, it ties them together, pushing everyone else away. You feel yourself to be keenly on the outside of their 'Shining Barrier'. But you don't really care, because the vision of warm unity that exists inside the barrier is so breathtakingly lovely, it is a joy to just witness its very existence.
The Boy with Stars in His Eyes didn't look at me like that. First off, because that sort of look takes two people, and the stars in my eyes didn't shine for him.
And if you asked me day after day why they wouldn't, I don't think we could ever find the answer.
He looked at me with a gaze that had an enamored shine around the edges. It was that look of absolutely undeserved and delicious adulation that truly smitten boys will cast upon their clandestine lady-loves.
I wonder why I never paid those looks--bursting with deep wells of affection--any mind.
Maybe, if I'd just stared at him long enough, I would have been infected with the stardust in his eyes. If only I'd returned the gaze, maybe I could have caught the feverish glow that permeated his irises. 
I wonder sometimes.
When I think I could settle for a man who looks at me like I'm an Interesting Dinner Companion and nothing more, I think of the stare of the Boy Who Had Stars in His Eyes. 

Back when the world was very young indeed, younger than springtime and newer than hope, I felt a boy's lips on mine. And it didn't taste like grasping, it didn't feel like a clamoring after something, but rather, it felt like gift.
When I think I could settle for the kiss of a boy who looks for himself inside of me, I think of the boy whose lips tasted like fresh-fallen snow and gratitude.

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