I was back there again. Back there as a little girl facing my father and that same dilemma that is with me now like my own breath, my own heartbeat: fight and die or freeze and save yourself.
I couldn’t feel her the way that I used to, couldn’t feel her body in my body like a baby in my womb. Instead I felt energy clutching and churning and pulsing in me, and I knew that I needed help.
I did all that I could do — I reached for P.
“Will you come closer?” I begged him.
“Sure, LB,” P said firmly. He wanted me to know that he wasn’t wavering, and he moved his chair right against the couch, just to my left.
“Is this okay?”
I nodded, ready to fold. Ready to buckle and fall.
“Would you like me to hold your hand?”
The landscape of my whole body changed in an instant: I grew still and vast and brave. I pulled my sleeve up and away from my palm, and placed it into his waiting hand. It was hot and soft like he’d harnessed some life-sustaining energy there, the heat from his body pooled.
He held his fingers like some ledge I was meant to hold onto, or like a gate, and he wouldn’t relax them. I wondered at his intensity but told myself it wasn’t like him not to be aware.
He must have known how strongly he was holding me there. Either to him or away from him, I wasn’t sure.
My hands in his were cool and dry. He told me after that he’d been quite comfortable, but it was me. I was. I held back the urge to run my fingers across his palm like tracing the contours of a globe. I felt playful and completely at ease, new yet so, so, old. A harmony of my history and some new hope.
I lightly glazed his fingertips with my own.
He told me that he could only hold on for another minute, but after some moments I told him that he could let go. That I was ready for him to.
“I’ve been so stuck lately, P. So frightened and boxed in, and now I can’t help but feel this expansiveness, this urgent need for exploration,” I said.
“Do you understand?”
“I think that I do, LB,” he said.
But I could feel his distance; I could feel that he was lost in his own thoughts and trying to process what had just happened between us. All these years I’d been expressing my yearning, my need to be touched by someone who knew every bit of my story and wouldn’t turn away. And now we’d done it. And now what?
The filtered light at the window blazed. The walls made themselves known. The air between us heaved beneath what we didn’t have time to say. There were only a few minutes left.
Since our last meeting, since our touch, I’ve been firmly grounded in my own reality in a way I haven’t been in a long, long time. There are things in my life, in this precious life, that need cleaning up. I want to root around for what I need to carry on, to move forward.
But I’m tired and frightened and tending to sorrow right up on the surface of my worn-out body. Tidying up will have to wait. As for P, I’m giving him space, giving myself space. There’s a snowstorm coming this weekend, so it’s likely that I won’t see him again for a long time.
I don’t dare write to him or let him linger in my mind for too long.