We allowed ourselves to drift in a half-sleep that was fully awake. Standing on the top floor in the afternoon, watching the rush hour traffic go by. We were slightly mad. Mad with our own daring.
Mad with the unknown. Mad with worry– though we would never admit it to each other.
We never talked about our fears. We never spoke of being afraid of being broke forever. We never spoke of the possibility that something would go wrong. As though if we did not speak of the dangers, they would not touch us. It is often like that. We pretend that the danger is not there. Like children hiding from monsters beneath their blankets. I used to be so convinced that just as long as my attacker could not see me, I would be safe. I would tuck myself into as small a ball as possible beneath the covers, or lay as flat as possible and barely breathe. And I would sense that the monsters were there and I would be quiet, heart pounding in my chest. And they would pass. They always passed. They did not harm me.
As if invisibility can truly bring safety for long. As though we are ever truly unseen. As if not speaking about the dangers and the fears could erase their existence from our lives.
The rooftop at sunset was gorgeous. We would face west and watch it sink down between buildings and down into the street and finally, when it was altogether gone, we would sit there and bathe in the twilight. Always with cigarettes dangling between our fingers.
My throat began to hurt from all the smoking. After the days of travel and walking and seeking, it was inevitable that my body would show some toll. Not Eve, though. She must have been invincible. Either that or she simply did not notice what pains may have been in her body. Or she refused to acknowledge them. She must have treated them as I treated the monsters as a child. Be very quiet, and hide, and breathe slowly, and they will not hurt you.
I thought she was indestructible. She seemed like it so much of the time. So resilient. She was a goddess. People will speak of their lovers, call them goddesses. Very few actually mean it. A cliche to be tossed around to show some intensity of appreciation. I meant it with everything that I was or would ever want to be. I meant that I believed Eve was the source of some kind of life, some kind of light. Some kind of energy that the universe could propel itself upon.
So many people felt it. It was impossible not to feel.
When we walked past that diner and saw the “Help Wanted” sign, we were elated. We knew that it would be ours. Eve knew and I could feel it through her. That we had found our pass. That we had found our way. We waited the next morning in front of it, unsure of when the owners or managers would arrive. The woman who walked up was tall and thin, with curly hair that was long enough to weigh itself down into a slightly tamer wave. She was blond.
Her eyes were kind on us. Eve’s smile must have melted her before she even learned our names. She took us into the diner, warm brown leather booths along the walls, a few tables in the center. It was not a large space. There would be no giant wild parties there. The walls were painted a forest green. I felt so much comfort in that space. Like I was in a forest, a vibrant forest from a vision. The moment we walked into that diner, a few days after we had arrived in this city, we knew that this would be a special place to us. We knew that there would be something special there. Someone special.
Blond, wavy-haired, kind-eyed Mel looked at us knowingly. We must have exuded the aura of runaway lovers. Her eyes twinkled at us. Eve’s twinkled right back, and I just sat there, feeling small and strange, watching their exchange with a pleasure tinged with jealousy.
Eve was not a jealous god; I was a jealous zealot. I did not take their immediate warmth well though I knew that it was to be expected. But I worried that Eve’s love would not stay with me with this woman to explore possibilities with.
How foolish are the worries of the insecure heart. How foolish and how persistent. How infuriating. How destructive. The thoughts ate at me. Gnawed at my faith in myself, gnawed at my trust in Eve. Gnawed at the edges of my smile as we stood there trying to get work.
Mel asked us where we lived, and what we were doing there, and how much we could work. Our answers were nearby, living, and as much as she needed. We sat together in one of the leather booths. It seemed slow to warm up to my flesh. The leather was new. The walls were new. The diner was new. How appropriate that all of us found each other at that particular time. It seemed so serendipitous. As though there were always a plan all along. That we had been drawn into one. That we had become a part of our destinies.
The feeling of rightness came through again. The rightness of being there. The rightness of that moment. The rightness of the two of us arriving in this city with vaguely empty pockets and hearts full up with wishes and hopes. That was it.
There were many moments like that with Eve. The right place and the right time with the right mind. Though how could anything feel wrong with the goddess of easy spontaneity leading the way? She charged forward with a purpose and certainty that made every situation seem planned.
And I was there, along for the ride, laughing and smiling at her, with her. And worried that at any moment, she would no longer choose me. That she would tire of my worrying and my anxiety, that she would feel my insecurities and become frustrated, that she would leave me. Simply, that she would stop loving me.
It was that simple. The fear. To live without love is difficult. To live with a constant fear of losing love is utterly destructive. Fear has a destructive nature. It is insidious and it does not forget itself. Once incited, fear can only be vaguely assuaged. It returns again and again.
Those thoughts and worries about what was between Mel and Eve, what could be between them– the seeds were planted that day, that very first day as we sat and talked. There was an ease between the two of them. Blond Mel. Brunette Eve. I could see them communing. I could see that they would be friends in a different way than Mel and I would. I could see that I would soon be forgotten, set aside, abandoned.
Yes, I had those thoughts. They were not the most logical nor were they founded. There were things that I did not remember, did not take note of, did not think to take comfort in at that moment: how Eve sat close to me, her hand on my thigh or holding my hand the entire time. Her shoulder against my shoulder. The way she looked at me as she spoke to Mel. The way that Mel acknowledged that we were an “us” with pleasure in her eyes. The clarity of her gaze. She was not making designs to harm us, but I could not see that in my fear.
How fear can corrupt us so easily. How weak we are in the face of loss. How strong we must be to bear the burden of certainty. Of not being afraid of losing all that we love. It is not foolish to be certain. It is not foolish to simply be.
I worried that I was somehow ill-equipped to tend to our love. That there were so many qualities I did not have. That perhaps Eve would be better off if I left her, if she were left alone and could grow her new adventures on her own. How could I be so afraid, so deeply terrified that I would lose her when she was doing so much that showed me that we were together, and would be?
I was not myself. I was not yet myself. I was so concerned with who I was to her, who we were together, who I should try to become, that I forgot to simply be. To be the person she loved. It should have been easy, and wasn’t.