Lying together tangled hot in damp sheets, the world disappears. Tempests could roar, civilisations could crumble, and we would be oblivious, entwined and in our own universe. It is as if the natural light in the room does not come through the window but simply from within us. The warm glow of two souls enraptured.
He taught me my body and I think I taught him his. The first time we enjoyed each other, he opened me like a flower emerges from bud. I had never been touched in such a way before. In such a way that my breath caught in my chest and my head swam. He doesn’t talk so much as murmur. He murmurs to my skin, to my tongue, to my folds. It feels soft. Sometimes it is warm, then it is cool, and the sounds he makes hum against the epidermis. Hairs on my skin rise up as if applauding his expertise. His expert tease.
He likes to look at me under veiled lids in our post-love repose. He thinks I am sleeping but I am not. He thinks I am not aware that I am watched but his slightly ragged breath gives him away. He observes me covertly and I feel the atmosphere of his arousal as a heady perfume. And when I roll over in the bed and our faces are almost touching, he whispers, “I see you. I know you. I am you.” With a finger he traces a line from my third eye, all the way down, over my lips and chin, down to the jugular notch which is often flushed rosy; he continues down over my soft belly to rest briefly on my pubic bone before finally sliding his finger over the dewy stamen and between my open petals. I bloom at his touch.
It was a rush of attraction at first sight. More than that, it was an absorption of each other at first sight. We drank each other in with our eyes, we consumed each other. I could be accused of being fanciful, but we talked over and over about this moment when we locked eyes and knew it was likely we would never look away again. It was a subject we returned to so many times, caressing the knowledge of it, the miracle of it, polishing it less as anecdote and more as the jewel at the very centre of us which must be cherished and nourished. We were not always exclusive with each other, of course, and that was something our friends couldn’t really understand. There was less fluidity about relationships on the whole back then. For us, however, it was a little like occasionally going on holiday without the other person but knowing that everything we saw, felt and experienced would be simply travellers’ tales to share afterwards safe in the knowledge that each would delight in the other’s sensual postcards.
I enjoyed different men’s bodies and sometimes my lover would be a woman. There were new flavours and textures in these passing affairs; a bit of abrasion, some sharpness and salt to add contrast. Sometimes I even fell in love and sometimes so did he. And these were genuine loves but just not the kind that he and I shared. In his Symposium, Plato has Aristophanes tell of the whole human which, severed in two, spends a lifetime searching for its other half. When the two halves find each other they literally weave themselves together and continue to grow as a whole once again. This, says Aristophanes, is love. And this is how we were, he and I, the two halves fused together again, self-woven into a tapestry, embroidered into love.
I had known men before I met him but with them making love had been an act, not a state of being. I think I probably put up with some truly perfunctory sex before we met; not bad sex, just very indifferent. The pattern was usually brief foreplay before penetration; a few different positions; my partner’s shuddering orgasm or occasional apology that they couldn’t get there; and sometimes I came and sometimes I didn’t. This goal-focused sex, this beginning, middle and end sex was a universe away from what he and I did together. We experimented with tantra, learning yoni and lingam massage. We tried out most things: power play, age play; the intricate techniques of shibari; we sought out different kinds of orgasm, cervical, anal, full body; but often it was just plain simple fucking.
This thing we had was a perfect blending of two souls; he inhabited my body and I inhabited his. Our lovemaking would last and last in a slow dance of sensation and arousal. There were moments of sheer transcendence; of course, it was probably just one kind of orgasm or another. But orgasms which seemed never to end. We were as shamans creating our own mythopoesis in which we devoured each other. It was a Communion.
For the two of us, each moment is as a lifetime together. Like those strange distorted dreams where you are touching something which is vast, limitless, and at the same time infinitesimally small and sharp. Our seconds and minutes were lifetimes, aeons, epochs experienced in the blink of an eye.
I may be sounding as though all our days were spent in a haze of carnality, sleeping, fucking, delighting in each other’s capacity for pleasure, but in fact we lived a pretty normal life. We got up, we ate together, we worked, we read books and sometimes, along the way, we had different travelling companions. In a sense, it didn’t matter what we were doing either separately or together, we were simply each other’s half. We were indivisible even apart. Woven.
But lifetimes eventually run out of time. He and I were not immune to the crumbling of once robust bones; to the drying and creping of skin; to sickness permeating and eventually destroying our bodies. Not once did we turn from the other in infirmity or illness when the ravages of time made one or other of us dependent on the other. There were no indignities, they were just deeper examples of intimacy. Dependence and frailty became gifts; more opportunities to serve each other in love. Our lovemaking never stopped, but it softened. The urgency felt by our younger selves slowed and warmed.
Ultimately of course we were severed by time and decay. When the day came, we lay facing each other, our hands clasping, for a day and a night, until the heat of flesh cooled and the heartbeat became just a memory. It is the hardest thing to lose the person who completes you. I remember we were holding hands, our faces so close that they nearly touched. There were no tears. “I see you. I know you. I am you.” The air from our mouths was sour but also sweet. We held on to each other, not wanting ever to let go as the breaths slowed down and, like a blessing, gently left. We had so many lifetimes, my darling.
The dark outside has crept into our room and shadows have lengthened. A sudden draught comes from the window to rustle the pale linen curtains. This, my love, is the air I have become. I am your half; I never left.
I lie next to him and mouth, “I see you. I know you. I am you.” Perhaps it is just my fancy, but it seems as if he smiles in his sleep.