With you away, I have plenty of time to think. About time, about the nature of love, what little I understand of that nature. Fully half my lifetime has elapsed since then, but I still stick sometimes in the mire of sixteen, an awful place where I came to understand that I would never be good enough, that sooner or later I would always be passed over for a more appealing girl, prettier, quieter, not so terrifyingly tall. A girl more conventionally feminine, not driven by applause, not wielding with relish her ferocious word-power. Even though I know that this was half my lifetime ago, even though I know that boys back then were boys, and men are different, I am still braced.
I remember how it was at first, when we had afternoons when we let all our plans go in favor of spending our time staring into each other's eyes, or simply touching one another's skin -- I will never tire of the shape of your shoulders, or the feel of your woolly knees. There will never be a morning when I will see you dressing, see the light fall upon your knees, and I will not want to rub my lips against them just to feel the soft hairs brush my mouth. And yet we don't do these things anymore.
I wonder if it's better now, the deeper familiarity, the confidence in mutual presence. Sometimes I fear that, in the natural progression of love, in its firming-up, we have lost something precious. I remember watching you pack in that hotel room -- I was so tired, and yet I couldn't sleep, because my eyes refused to close; I had to watch you. I physically had to; I could look nowhere else but at your solemn movements, your hands folding the shirts you had recently stenciled with your blood type, your broad mouth in a quiet, pale line. I remember thinking, This is only a chemical in my brain. This is a chemical reaction stimulated by all the sex. I am on a fantastic drug -- hormones, just hormones. But I still couldn't look anywhere but at you.
I fear the loss of that chemical reaction. I didn't ever want to come down from the high. But on nights when you are away, even in the hazy margins of sleep I realize how often at night you clutch me to you, even now, when we both have found more productive ways to spend our afternoons, how often you tangle your warm legs with mine, breathe onto my shoulder a warm coin of breath that heats and recedes with the rhythm of your sleep.