He listened. Listened as I talked all night. Just held me in his arms. He listened to the waves of my past pour out, to be lost into the darkness, and merging with the waves of the sea in front of us. He never said a word as though each sentence was a sacred prayer. As the fire died he didn’t attempt to move so golden flame sunk to ruddy glowing coals. We had each other’s warmth and the blanket around our shoulders, just like the night before when he spoke and I listened. Nothing was spared, no truth tinted with hope of acceptance. The past was the past and needed to be spoken without response. Occasionally I would feel his lips kiss the crown of my head when a memory was too painful to be spoken without tears or there was a resonance with his own past, but he nothing except pull me a little closer. Stars moved across the heavens slowly. Words were fumbled, choked, lost in a moan or in sobbing. Slowly, one by one they were sent from my heart, to be brought into life by my lips, then finally set to fly out into the jeweled darkness of the universe. When all the words were spoken I took a piece of paper. Writing “No More” I signed it then he signed, our names one on the other. He rolled my past up, placed it in a bottle and it was hurled into the sea. We watched as my past slowly filled with salt water, sinking into the vast expanse in the grey, half light of that new morning.
It was important to us. The making of whole lives walked without fear. Both of us had been marked as broken in our own way. Stamped again and again by the world as too damaged to fix, and discovered too easy to use and manipulate as we were. We had both of us conformed and conspired with the view the world had of us But there in that place? There there could be no deception because there was the sea to eat our guilt, our fear, and soothe our wounds. To tell our whole truth, not in the crowd of a group session or to a confessor marking the sins against us silently, was a release. We knew the worst and so could take the rest of our lives to discover the best in each other. There was no judgement in that place, no censure, no correcting a reality because it might not fit. There was love of one spirit to another and nothing else. Before lovers we were spirit. I went to kiss him only to find his cheek turned towards me and felt a rejection worse than any I had felt before. Tears welled up and seeing them he pulled me close, held me tight and reassured me. He told me it was all right, nothing was wrong but he wanted to show me something. He took his thumb and wiped away the oceans that were forming in my eyes.
He looked at me in that clear, piercing way that sometimes crossed his face. I became for a moment the fish he saw in the river that I couldn’t. Instead of throwing his line in just the right spot however, he took out his pocket knife and counting out seven hairs cut them from my head. He cut the same from his own head. Seven black hairs and seven grey. Placing them together he looked at me and half smiling said “you went grey too early beautiful but it’s useful for the purpose.” Knotting one end he began to weave. Grey over black, black over grey he wove until he tied the other end and formed a thin band. Then he repeated the process. Seven hairs from each head were quickly woven into a rope but this time before he tied the ends together he passed it through the first band. Placing it in my palm he smiled and said “this is what my grandmother told to me. Two halves woven to form a strong whole yet still separate, still flexible, still able to be black and grey. Two bands linked, able to work independently but encircling each other. Neither greater or lesser that the other, neither losing identity because of the other. Both whole and yet bound. Links in a chain eh?” Finding two feathers on the shore he formed two wings with them by passing the shanks of the feathers through the rings of hair. Then taking it to the water he gently bent and set it sailing away. “When you can find them again you can stop kissing me ok?” he said and we kissed.
That beach has always been special to us. Whenever we had issues we would walk to the edge of the ocean and speak the words to it. Be it from confusion, anger, jealousy, or sheer pigheadedness we would stand hand in hand facing the waves and speak. One first and then the other. Then we would wait. If more words were needed we would speak those too but always to the ocean. It was fear that brought issues into our lives and fear could be washed away with water. Sometimes the ocean felt as though it wouldn’t be big enough. But it always was and that was the point. By the time we’d screamed, shouted, harangued, sobbed the ocean hadn’t filled up. The waves may have reached our knees but we were still holding hands. Then we would look at each other and kiss silently. There was never a promise of not having to return, that things would always be better. Promises made no sense to either of us and formed chains around us when we were expected to make them. There comes a point when too many made and broken to a person and they can never trust a promise again. So we didn’t. We knew when we reach antiquity we would still be coming to hold hands and get wet trousers. I once joked that when we needed wheelchairs we would have to ask for help or use a tin bath. That got me a flick to the earlobe and a kiss.
That was the thing. We have very little and yet we have everything. Our house is tiny, built by our own hands. Safely wrapped in gardens but with a view down to our ocean. My writing brings in money, his work brings in money too. It is never enough by others standards but we manage. The garden produces food, as well as, flowers. There are fruit trees, vegetables, chickens and ducks that lay eggs. All our needs are met and the excess finds its way to being preserved or distilled for winter. Chateau Neuf du Pape? Once in a blue moon. More normally it’s mead from the bees flavored with quince from the trees and lavender from the herb garden or beer brewed thick and deadly. Basic groceries can be bought and we like to eat simply.
But each meal is love itself. We can always tell if the other is having a bad day because of the taste so we always talk if needed. That way the meal is saved from our internal struggle and if something is seriously wrong like a family member was ill or in trouble the other would step in to save the meal. It’s symbiosis. We know when silence is needed, when talk is needed, when food, sex, a kiss, or just a cup of coffee and a biscuit are needed because we dedicate ourselves to the reading of each other. Not to become the other but to act like two halves of a glorious whole. I would be writing and find a sandwich placed beside me without a word. He knows I’m not good at eating regularly so food will appear. I know that when I see him walk into the garden with a determined look he needs to be alone. When he returns he will need a wordless hug and silent kiss before being led to the ocean to cry. I watch him, kneeling in the sand, his broad shoulders flexing as he pounds the sand and weeps. We both have wounds that the sinking bottle can’t heal. It offered acceptance and a starting place but we both knew we would never be whole in the world’s eyes. He needs to weep and pound the sand for the injustice and the pain. When it’s gone he will turn and walk back to me. I hold him kissing his snotty face and we will just be until he was ready to leave the place. Just as he does for me.
Picnics became the habit of love. One will take the other’s hand and lead them to the edge of the beach. A shelter would have been built where food and cold coffee would be waiting. The other’s preference met despite the fact the preparer might not enjoy it. For me it’s cold sausage sandwiches, pickled beetroot, and a flask of cold but not iced coffee. For him it’s salmon from the smoker, gherkins, and a beer. He doesn’t like his beetroot pickled and I hate gherkins. But we eat gloriously, silently, watching the rain or snow fall outside our little thrown together shelter and holding each other. I love the snow picnics and the fire that would be uncovered and lit when we had experienced the shivering and drawing closer. It’s the roar of snowflakes I love just as he loves the sound of rain. Some nights we would make love or just sleep wrapped in each others arms there. A neighbor might walk by in the morning and frown at us, but we don’t care. The act of tracing shooting stars reflected in each other’s eyes or hearing their heartbeat singing with the waves is all that matters. There is no more precious place to be, and no one more precious to be with. We know the other was there by choice and not because they need something. That for us is a measure of how much we have value and so we found self worth too.
It’s the little things which bring us closest. The feather he finds and puts in my hair, the flower I leave on his pillow if I have to head to the city early and he’s still asleep. The little things that over time mean more than any piece of jewelry or fancy set of clothes could. Things. That was what we came to call the trappings. We had nice things but they were always secondary and if we couldn’t afford something we don’t miss it. I would take his mince surprise over a fancy restaurant anyway. The little stones he found and gave to me as gifts because he couldn’t afford anything else in the early days. I never expected more because bought felt cheap to me. Every stone goes onto my writing desk, every feather into the box by my bedside, every kiss in lieu of a present treasured. We have craft skills and will use them but it’s the found which mean the most. It means the other has found something and thought of only one face. I read to him as we watch the sun go down and he will sing to me. Words spoken and sung as gifts too.
Words are a treasure and a gift too. For him more difficult and so I value his the more. For me easy and he values them for the choices I make. Selecting exactly the right one so that no doubt can creep in as to what I mean. That isn’t to say he’s stupid and I will kill any man who tries to say he was. Communication is hard sometimes ,and words having power, sometimes frighten him. But then that power frightens me too. So bit by bit we learned the secret of communicating transparently with the other. Sometimes I will have to go to the dictionary because he’s spent the morning looking for just the right word with the right definition to use. The day that he used the word “susurration” to describe how his spirit was feeling was a beautiful but surprising one. We learned when to trace a word with our finger on the others chest because we were too scared to speak it. When to whisper it and when to write it. We learned to see the eyes of the other and just know. Communication is precious and so we practice it the very best we possibly can. Sometimes we fail but there’s always the sea and a hand to hold as we scream.
Our love is constant. Not a straight line but a wave. Never faltering yet never having to be the same. There’s no dependency on being perfect just whole, which is entirely different. We aren’t fat or thin, we explore the new lines that appear on each others faces. We recognized that in the other there is a journey marked by time and experience. The ancient scars that cover my body are kissed. His lips taking away the shame and guilt that formed them. The same with him. We celebrate each new grey hair he gains with kisses and caresses. It’s an adventure and each sign of age becomes a time to rejoice that the other had made it that far. Passion always. Not the rutting of animals but the exquisite pleasure of finding something new that makes the other more than they have been.
Sex is where we meet and worship the sacredness of each other. No one else is a part of it, there’s never an attempt or need to look elsewhere because we have become imprinted on each others spirits. If one of us finds ourselves being flirted with we correct the person. We don’t wait to see if the other reacts. It’s enough to hear something said or a gesture made and it will be stopped. If the person persists we will take the other’s hand and leave. Mid meal with a waiter, in the bar, in the street. If we as a couple aren’t respected we will walk away. If we lost friends we didn’t mind because our rope was kept strong. We practiced the old ways. The need for protection wasn’t there because both know the other to be clean in body, mind, and soul. So when I climax my body becomes a part of him. We consider that the most sacred of our duties and gifts. The sacred is sweaty, writhing, and time consuming in the practicing but sacred still. Two bodies joined and no man or woman has the right to tear us asunder.
I could describe his long hair. The black now greying. His eyes that are two pools of universal dark that draw me ever in. There is a curve to his lip that makes me squeal like a school girl when he smiles and a slight roundness to his hips where my arm sits perfectly. All this doesn’t matter to you. You want to grade the outside, mark it down as too fat or not muscled enough. For me it is all I desire. The scent of his skin, the feel of his hair on my face. His girth growing in my hand may not meet with the pornography you choose to cheapen it to but that’s the point. We aren’t some clipped out model from a magazine and the roughness of us meets every need we have excluding any comparison. Porn stars are manufactured, lovers meet and know and never have to ask whether their eyes are squinty. So I will fail utterly in meeting your need for the physical description because it will always disappoint you. To me, however, there is no other like him.
If asked how long we have been together we will both answer the same. Seconds. Each moment is a new one, a chance to explore deeper and rejoice more. We take none for granted and treasure each one. We build slowly towards the final moment but don’t expect or fear it. We are together by choice and each moment we make a lifetime.