My sleep that night was filled with dreams. Visions of the day we just had, but slightly altered. We were at the ocean and it was warm instead of cloudy and cool. We wore bathing suits but we still carried all of our bags. We laughed together on the sand as though we had only just arrived. We threw our bags down and dove into the ocean. The tide was warm and gentle and Eve swam out to where it was calm and floated on her back. I stood where the water only went up to my knees and watched her. I wanted to go to her but I did not. I was afraid. I didn’t. I stood there and let each wave beat at me. Eve did not open her eyes and turn to me. She just floated there, the ocean undulating beneath her, lifting her up, letting her go down again. The clouds started to roll and I called out to her that it was time to go back to shore. She didn’t listen to me. She didn’t even acknowledge that I had said anything. I started to run toward her through the water, but the sea was so heavy. My legs dragged in the sand and water. The ocean crashed faster and faster and I could not reach her. A wave sent me tumbling, my legs went above my head and my arms flailing. My fingers clawed at the bottom and when I finally pushed my head above the water again, I couldn’t see Eve. I turned to shore and saw that the tide had risen and our bags were gone. Taken away on the ocean.
I felt helpless. Incredibly helpless. My lungs contracted, then filled with water. Panic filled me. I could not breath. I tried to swim, but I didn’t know where to go. Further out to the ocean to find Eve? Back to the shore to find help? I didn’t know what to do.
And then a warmth came over me.
And my eyes fluttered open. A kiss was laid on my cheek. “Hey, it’s okay” was whispered into my ear. And we were safe. Both of us. We were not lost in the ocean. We were not stranded in the sea. We were there, in that double bed, in our new room in our new city. Together. We were fine. We were fine. We were fine.
The rough blankets were wrapped around us both. The window was open just a crack, letting in a draft of cold air and the sounds of police cars passing by now and then. We’d hear a high-pitched whistle and wonder why anyone wanted that attention at that moment.
I laid awake a long time after that dream. Eve tucked her head beneath my chin, one leg flung over my pelvis, one arm curled around me under my breast. The hand that had been holding onto me tightly had relaxed with sleep. I looked at her with wonder at her peace. She had spoken soothingly to me for long minutes. She found peace so easily herself. Or perhaps it was exhaustion. She so rarely really slowed down except when she slept. Even when she stood perfectly still gazing out at the world, I could feel an energy radiating from her. That something was happening inside her. That she was taking in everything, cataloging each small stimulus, attempting to commit the sights, the sounds, the feelings to memory. Her memory must have been tightly packed with those moments. Her body must have been so tired with all of its taking-in. She probably did not even notice it. She noticed everything except her physical needs. She was attuned to everything else. She was all heart.
That night, I couldn’t shake from my heart the thought that something was wrong. I was disturbed. I pressed my cheek against Eve’s hair and inhaled. I struggled to find sleep again. Fear and panic leave a residue that is difficult to dissolve. Heightened blood pressure, heart pounding, breath short. Adrenaline rushing the body. I noticed how tightly I was clutching Eve and had to force my muscles to relax. I took deep breaths, hoping to slow down my heart beat. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to think of other things.
I was afraid, I knew. The nightmare had been the result of a strong anxiety. There was so much that was still unknown. That was exciting and frightening at once. I stroked Eve’s hair and tried to absorb some of her peace.
Shadows danced against the beige walls, flung through the windows from the streetlamps outside. They did not frighten me. They seemed to be keeping me company. They were not threatening. They were playful.
That night, I watched the shadows until my eyes finally grew too heavy continue. It did not take long. Once the panic faded, the exhaustion settled in. As I became drowsier and drowsier, it felt like Eve sank closer and closer into me. With her breath against my collarbone and her body curled around me, I slept.
I slept dreamlessly. Perhaps the dreams had quietly slipped away from me as the morning came. The sun chases the memories of the night away, drying them up and sending them off on the morning chill. I was not disappointed.
The light of our first morning brought us fully into our present. We were there. I learned then that no matter what time you arrive in a city, it is upon waking into the first morning that the gravity of your presence, of your existence in that place begins to press into you.
Eve smiled into my neck, kissed a “Good morning” into my skin in that tender way that made me quiver– the way she laid that kiss upon me made me feel so fragile. It was strange and exhilarating at once. Had anyone ever thought me fragile before? Had anyone ever come close enough to decide? Had I let anyone else ever come close enough to see? Had I ever trusted anyone enough to allow them as near as I allowed Eve? I did not only allow her; I invited her. I wanted her to come close enough to see me, to touch me, to know me.
I wanted her to know me because I wanted her. That was rare for me. To want anyone enough to want to reveal myself, to be vulnerable. To allow myself to be seen. And to just be. No performance, no pretenses, no bravado. Just me, bare and wondering.
She made it easy. I did not feel safe; there is no sense of safety in that first blossoming to love. There is immense danger. An immense danger that is worth all risk.