I like to think myself as seeing people as they truly are, looking beyond labels. This morning I realized just how shallow I can be.
I first heard about Sam a few months ago. He is one of my neighbor’s brothers and she told me he was getting out of prison just before Christmas. At the time I didn’t give it much thought, just conversation. She was excited she would finally get to see him again. I was happy for her, ’cause I’m such a caring, compassionate guy.
Today she was coming up the stairs while I was on the balcony, Sam was behind her. She introduced us. I remembered the conversation from months ago and realized he had just gotten out after an 18 year stint.
We talked for the next hour or so. About his plans. About how his life had changed in the time he was “away.” He was smart, articulate, positive. He owned his choices and was quick to point out life had been more than fair to him. He paid the price for the choices he had made and he believed he would also pay the price or reap the reward for the choices he is making now.
He’s a guy I could hang out with and have a good time.
But here’s what it showed me about myself I didn’t like. When I went back into Area 51 after our talk, I was surprised by him. Without me even realizing it, I had in my own mind a “picture” of what an 18 year ex-con would be like. Seeing himself as a victim. Unintelligent. Negative. Angry at what the world had thrown at him.
It made me wonder how many other “categories” of people I dismiss without realizing they are “people” not just a category. Political affiliation. Religion or lack thereof. Skin color. Geography. Socioeconomic status. Job.
In 2017 I’m going to attempt to see more “people” and less “category.” That might be the best Christmas gift I could receive. Thanks Sam.
Sometimes it’s hard, fighting you for you.
Wrestling not against my error but against your fears.
Sometimes it’s hard, discerning thoughts you can’t verbalize.
Reading your mind without the gift of clairvoyance.
Sometimes it’s hard, giving you unlimited space,
to find the you I’ve already seen and know.
Sometimes it’s hard, reminding you of the good,
when all you can visualize is the pain and hurt.
Every time it’s beautiful, to share our lives,
seeing the joy and the pain together.
Every time it’s beautiful, the love we share,
enjoying intimacy beyond the simple physical.
Every time it’s beautiful, the mundane of life,
being someone at your side who is companion, cheerleader, friend.
Every time it’s beautiful, seeing your joy,
sharing private moments of victory no one else will see.
Every time…it’s wonder, an awe and contentment for me.
Sex is an itch you can scratch.
Love is an itch in that part of your back you can’t reach and you need someone to scratch it for you.
For two years now She had been His joy.
He was working through a difficult time. Walking through mud. Business was picking up, His long hours were beginning to bear fruit, emotionally He was tired.
They were seeing each other less to give Him time to right His ship. She had come to His last weekend and it was delightful. Monday at 6am they waved goodbye and He was back to work.
When He knew they would be apart He would take down His pictures of Her. The wallpaper on His phone and computers changed from Her smile to something that didn’t immediately remind Him of Her. Pictures that didn’t create the longing to feel Her pressed against Him, tightly encircled by His arms.
Today he put them back up again, maybe only for a day. He needed the energy, the peace, the touchless embrace of Her smile.
And for the first time this weekend, He felt joy.
I try to understand the words you’re not saying,
the soul buried deep beneath the veneer of smiles and laughter,
avoiding my gaze that sees you in spite of yourself.
Hiding is an art for you, a skill from a lifetime of practice.
You only reveal to others what you want them to see.
The confident, the wise, the controlled.
Somehow I read the tea leaves. Seeing glimpses of real.
The distance of text messages and phone calls made it easier.
No eyes on you.
Gradually you let me in. Testing the waters. Scared yet hoping.
Someone who might see you, love you as you are.
Yet waiting for the second shoe to drop.
You surrendered your body, but it was just a body.
You had surrendered it once before without being seen.
An anonymous placeholder.
We navigated together the revelations.
The hurt. The misunderstandings.
Mishearing words never spoken.
“You only pursue me because I run” you said.
Not realizing the truth:
I pursue you because I see you.
It was past his bedtime, an hour past. He couldn’t sleep. His chest ached for want of Her.
They had made a considered decision: His business was flagging and needed Him to make it a priority. He would spend less time with Her and more focusing on His business. They knew it meant the weeks of living together would be put on pause, but in the long run it would mean He could move to Her city.
They had now been apart for most of a month.
Tonight He longed for Her. He longed for Her in a way that transcended sex. For the last couple weeks porn had lost any appeal. He didn’t want sex, He wanted Her. All of Her. The intimacy. Making love. The holding after. Waking up together the next day. The Knowing.
Tonight the emptiness of His arms screamed loud.
He pulled a pillow into His chest and willed it to become Her.