Today I tried “put his picture in a frame on your desk at work” on for size. Tried on for size this token of a normal relationship.
So far it feels hollow, cave-like.
I can look at the two of us in the picture and notice the tense arch in my back. I’m slightly pulled away, pushed back, safe distance, while he tries to wrap his arm around my waist and pull in. I resist the control of it like a flood. I’m a child, he’s a grandparent clawing at my cheeks for kisses.
There’s happiness too, though.
“See?” I’m saying. “I’m here with you and we’ve documented this day of shopping and snapping silly pictures in mall dressing rooms. And isn’t this a kind of love?”
He’s wearing a skull cap with the tag still on it and a flannel shirt I’ve picked out. I’ve hand-crafted this version of him. The resulting picture, kid’s macaroni art on a refrigerator, a wall.
“See?” he’s saying. “I can be exactly who you want. I can be anything. That’s love, too.”
Maybe it doesn’t seem like love on the surface. The arch and the art of a black and white dressing room photo. But it kind of is. There’s love in the trying, in the hoping.
Still. My cheeks are tight. My teeth are clenched in my mouth.
And I guess I’m still trying to figure out what kind of love that is. Even now.