I miss skin.
Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely have skin, it is completely attached to my whole body, and all of that is awesome.
But nobody touches it.
I am currently single and my job does not afford much opportunity for physical contact, certainly nothing with skin. My mother and I kiss each other’s foreheads, and my step mom holds my face in her hands before she kisses me, and I appreciate all of that. I get obligatory impersonal handshakes from church people I don’t know well enough to hug. And even hugs, wonderful rare treat that they are in my life, work hand-to-back/shoulder/side, all of which are usually clothed.
Recently, a friend casually touched her finger to my bare arm and it STAYED with me. That touch became a moment bittersweet and fleeting: drops of water on withering tongue, healing salve to neglected SKIN.
And it isn’t about sex.
Okay, sometimes it is definitely about sex. But mostly it’s about closeness. The heart-fatiguing grind of disingenuous conversation and invisible boundaries – never broken by the rhythmic defibrillation of hand on hand comfort, fingertip exploration, leg wars and foot victories, security arm replacing security blanket, and soft-snore lullabies – if left unchecked, will surely be the death of me.
My heart will work too hard at pretending it is all. only. skin.
A small but growing part of me is convinced that I am secretly meant to be alone and, God hasn’t had the heart to tell me yet. That I’m just a little too…or a little not enough…or the wrong kind of crazy to have a life compatible with anyone else’s.
I’m proud of my life. But it’s taken me so long to get to a place of function, and now that I’m here it takes all of my effort not to slide back into oblivion. I’m not moving forward. In the ocean of life, my epic odyssey is a doggie paddle to keep head above water.
I can’t help but be envious of the team rowers and the synchronized swimmers who don’t seem fazed by wind or wave. That’s right, in this analogy we’re all in the ocean. And I’m the one who is not-drowning.
You know that kid, right? That one who is swimming ok until she unexpectedly splashes water into her own face and assumes she is drowning. She will flail against her own flailing until she realizes she has never been in danger, and announces more to herself than the unconcerned crowd that she is ok. She’ll scan the horizon for one expression of relief to connect with – one SOUL who cares that she is alive – one SOUL to be her MATE – because she believes that is EXACTLY what a spark of eye contact on the damp surface of her unstable existence would indicate. She’ll find the horizon empty every time.
Spaz in the water.