I am on my way to you.
Hard to believe that I am making the journey again, after all this time.
As before, as always, I look for signs, in addition to the now the familiar waymarks – the new industrial unit whose exterior is painted in a spectrum of blue, grey and white, so that whatever the colour of the sky, one of the bands will more or less match; the wind turbines and the chimneys; and the hilltop castle still managing to vie with the motorway for dominance of the surrounding landscape. The sticky-sapped and insect-strewn windscreen clears in the occasional rain. I overtake two tube carriages, each on the back of a large flat-bed lorry, presumably heading north for display in a museum, or perhaps to be put to some more imaginative use, a quirky residence or hotel set in deep greenery, into which setting I have the time while I am driving to imagine us.
Another flat-bed lorry is transporting a huge chunk of rock. I’m not sure that it’s a sign with which I can work, until I consider that perhaps the rock is for an artist to carve, to tell a tale in stone, a Rodin-esque allegory or love story, even. The magpie I see at one point is immediately cancelled out by another airborne bird, eyeballed within the statutory ten seconds which saves the viewer of a lone magpie from sorrow, according to what I remember are your idiosyncratic rules.
And then at journey’s end there you are before me, looking just as you always have, if not more so. Beautiful, vivid, alive with nervous energy. Your eyes of love, your eyes of innocence and experience. You come into my arms and despite my recently grown beard, the kisses are just as soft and telling and subsequently as greedy as they used to be, and we fall into one another, fall into the way we make love to each other. Over the course of the afternoon, I see your face, your body from all angles, and I am enraptured by you, I am full of you, and I can see in your eyes and in your mouth and in every movement of your body that it’s the same for you, that you are enraptured by me, that you are full of me. I kiss the swallows at your ears and bury my face in your golden hair, which was surely spun into its current burnished softness using enchanted straw from the plentiful, sun-baked fields of some country far to the south of our own.
It’s been so long, and yet we are unchanged; if anything, more relaxed in the relative novelty of each other’s actual company than ever before. You I love from the heart, you I want from the heart of my mind, where wanting seems to be processed with depth charges of firing synapses. And when we re-entangle our bodies in each aftermath, it happens so naturally, with an easy familiarity which belies the number of times those bodies have actually had the chance to entangle. When we talk, your voice sings and your words dance. You are a delight to me. You make me laugh from the belly, and that feels as wonderful as the kisses, as deeply necessary somehow as the liquid which pours from us both, and so I understand completely when later you say to me, I wish we could spend a day just doing something together, doesn’t matter what…
I am taking home a present from you, a gift from the heart of the love we have made, full of the kind of detail which is beautiful to me. I give you the bracelet I found in the street, downplaying it. You ask me to remind you of the symbolism I invented for it, knowing it, I think, but wanting to hear it again from my lips. You say how much you like the colour, and that you will keep it, though we both know you cannot wear it. I fetch out my lucky coin, and you renew the kisses you had planted on both sides before you gave it to me originally. These are the most heartfelt moments in a heartfelt afternoon.
We hold each other fast before parting, and we happen to do so before the long mirror on the wall. After lingering over one last kiss, we both look to the side at the same moment, and in the mirror see ourselves together for the first time, as we might in the photos which do not exist of us, the photos which we have never risked taking of ourselves. And we look good together. We look right. We look made for each other. And though I have no photo to prove it, I have the proof in my mind still, and whatever happens next, I will never forget that in each other’s arms, we looked right. Made for each other, whether one day that turns out really to be so, or whether it remains a notion contained only in the parallel life that I have no doubt we will go on imagining for ourselves.
When I get home, I find a single strand of golden hair stuck by electrical charge to the material of my trousers. Talking late that night, I joke with you that I’ll put it in a locket and hang it round my neck. And if I could, I would. Instead it now resides pressed between the leaves of a book large enough to house it, a page before the picture you gave me when I stayed with you for onewholedayonewholenight.
At the edge of memory is a story of a man who fell obsessively in love with a woman on account of a single strand of hair, or possibly with the hair itself. But I cannot pin it down either in my mind, or using the web. In any case, I am not that man. I love every strand of gold flowing free from your head, every downy hair on your limbs, and every soft red curl on your mound of Venus. I love every particle and thing about you, without question.