the ecstasy of imagination

my dear


I lay in bed with another virgin last night. We did not have sex. We’d gone on a date the week before, and my overwhelming impression of him was nice. He treated me to dinner with perfect unassuming Mid-Western manners and a sweet, relaxed smile. His profile reminded me of a mentor I’d idolized and romanticized as a freshman in college, but he lacked his ferocity.

Being with him felt easy. He agreed with my politics, but did not take a specific interest in them. He spoke plainly and openly, but did not seem like he had need for secrets or hidden traumas. He adored his older sisters.

Of course, there is nothing objectionable about being nice. Nice. But so often nice is simply uninteresting disguised in decorum. Just as I recognize that virginity is a social construct and should carry no value judgement, I realize that nice virgins cannot satisfy me at this point in my life.

In less than a week, I will be in Washington D.C.

“Look me up if you’re ever back in Chicago.”

“Let me know if you move, I guess.”

He did not let me know when he moved.

Thanks to the beauty of the social media age, I figured out the location switch eventually. I was not shocked. My dear always aspired to be politicking in D.C. but I had expected at least a heads up.

Months later, I got my update from the source himself via Snapchat at 2am.

He’d switched phones and lost my number. He apologized. He charmed. He conjured the places, the thoughts, the feelings of our summer love. He offered a place to stay and a tour should I ever find myself in D.C.

My co-workers had been planning a trip for the Women’s March after the inauguration and the possible end of American democracy as we know it. I had my reservations about the march (mostly its neoliberalism), but the lure of my dear enchanted me.

In less than a week, I will confront the one lover whom I had ever truly, deeply loved.

I do not believe love to be unconditional or permanent. My love flashed in July. Now, I believed it to be living in gently shimmering embers. They could reignite with a gentle breeze or easily smolder out. As my departure approaches, I fear my love inevitably will expire.

My dear and I have always danced around our feelings for each other. In our recent sparse conversations, we’ve stepped dangerously close to saying something about the other that we might actually mean. Yet I wonder if our distance-induced imagination has brought us nearer to disclosure without bringing us nearer to truth.

I once read that people revert to the haircuts of their glory days when they are unhappy with their life. Despite all common sense telling them that three-story Farrah Fawcett bangs no longer hearken to golden goddesses, they insist upon living their own angelic delusion through the hair.

I am not unhappy with my life, but I recognize that the past few months have been rather unfulfilling. I have spent most of my energy on organizing reactions to the inane bullshit (e.g. mainstreaming of white supremacy and proto-fascism) currently consuming American politics. I am searching for a job that I hope will become a career. I do not feel intellectually stimulated by those around me. I have not been sexually stimulated by anyone in a while. Being drunk loses its appeal without my riders to indulge drunken adventures.

I am stable. I laugh. I do not suffer. I have goals, and I succeed in them. My life is nice. But I am not madly in love with any bit of my current existence.

Daydreaming about my dear allows me to fall in love and revel in the ecstasy of imagination. My mind replays a near perfect image of my dear – one without the harsh inconveniences and complex torments of concrete interaction. Our bimonthly playful texts and calls fan the embers. Brief contact gives us just enough distraction and encouragement to continue the fantasy without too much information to dispute any of the assumptions with which our minds take the liberty of filling in the gaps.

How deep are those gaps? Have we both filled them with the same stuff?

In less than a week, I will be in D.C. in the arms of my dear. I will either shatter our separate deliriums or confirm a shared reality.

Frankly, I am not sure which I fear more.


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