“Warm-heartedness reinforces our self-confidence – giving us not a blind confidence, but a sense of confidence based on reason. When you have that you can act transparently, with nothing to hide! Likewise, if you are honest, the community will trust you. Trust brings friendship, as a result of which you can always feel happy. Whether you look to the right or the left, you will always be able to smile.” Dalai Lama
I wake and listen as you breath, the dog is starting to get restless and I think he wants to go out, my glasses have fallen on the floor and the combination of darkness and blindness has left them hidden under or behind the bedside table. I am contemplating getting up and finding them, and you get out of bed, and you take my dog outside. Sometimes the scar that I have carried for almost four years is like a chipped tooth, I tongue it, feeling its roughness, feeling its unevenness, other times I revel in the new tooth, so to speak. I realize in my state of near wakefulness, in the moment of dawn hearkening, that this is perhaps the first time in my dog’s life that someone other than me has taken him out, without me asking. He is 12. And at no point in those 12 years have I lived alone until now. I roll over on my back, and I close my eyes.
You come back into your bed, and you do not immediately come to me, but as I turn away, tonguing that tooth, you edge over to me and put your arm out to me, and I turn to you and you pull me in to the strong warm masculinity of you. I relish these moments because with you they are far more rare than I would have them, if I could pick out your traits the way I do my clothing. I have come to love this about you, though it was hard won. In a few minutes you rise and bathe, and I can hear the sound of you feeding my dog. Again, I think, is this not one of the first times someone other than me has fed him, without me asking (if I was not out of town, or on vacation). I am not as sure of this one. But it strikes me as close to the truth.
You have finally begun to introduce me to your friends. Long in my life have I felt, at times, like a fish out of water, gourmet restaurants that for some reason make me feel like a sows ear though the food is good, amongst people whom I sensed negative judgment like a flashbulb on my retreating back, amongst friends who are like children in need of several sorts of intervention, I felt like the nagging adult. Here amongst these men, I feel none of this. I talk of frogs legs, and venison mincemeat, they speak of rabbits, and hunting, and turkey calls and fishing. And though you go away from me, and return, and you do not touch me, I feel the press of your knee on mine as you sit beside me on the bar stool. I feel the light of your eyes on me, your crinkled face, and approving smile. And when you hand me your new gun, letting me fire off three clips worth, and when someone else is shooting, you step forward of me, blocking the pepper of spent shells, I feel your affection.
I find it hard to put this affection I feel for you into words, how can I express to you how great the gift of your man hood is to me, the gift of your decency, the gift of your outspoken honesty, the gift of your teasing, and your less than frequent affection. I sit across from you and your hands which are wrapped around a coffee mug, they look like my father’s hands. The thick blue viens, which fascinated me on my uncles’ hands when I was young, make me smile. What you ask? Nothing. I tell you how beautiful the setting sun is as the rays shine through the lace curtains, over your head, on the golden hairs on your arms, and across your upper arm, and you lift a finger to me, gesturing rudely, I laugh aloud, hearty, for which you only shushed me once. My reply was, when I am filled with joy I laugh out loud. It was the first time we made love.
It is as though I was a homespun girl, trying hard to wear poor quality cashmere, or department store silk, but finding the care and maintenance, and the lack of durability, and the pretentious bits of it too hard to bear. Its hard to work in such clothing, and in the darkest hours of my life, I said, I want that homespun back, I want not the cashmere, but boiled wool, not silk but careworn cotton. I want it bad, it was like eating a diet of Sara Lee Cheesecake and tropical fruits out of season, and waking up one day and rediscovering garden fresh vegetables and homegrown strawberries and apples off the tree, oh yes this is what healthy feels like. This is what was always missing, that I sought, and asked for, and craved. And when I saw in you, the qualities that have always made the men I admire most, I found myself, a willing fly in your web. Only, its more like the bower bird, I see the nest you have built, I am drawn to your keen ability, your boyish charm, wrapped all up in your strong man, your common sense intelligence, your sparring humor, all the things about you that make you a treasure.