I’ve had several dates now with a man who’s kind to me. He says things to me like “how do you feel about that” and “tell me more, explain that to me, I’m learning something new here” and “this will only work if you’re comfortable, if we’re both honoring what you need.” He asks me what I need. He tells me what he needs. He’s curious about my boundaries. He respects them. He lays out plans when the boundaries aren’t working or when they require more clarity. He leaves room for course-correction. He’s committed to a path. He’s partnering with me in this, whatever we’re doing. I don’t know what to call it, I don’t know what I want. He stays open. He says he’s willing to take the risk. He’s willing to be disappointed. When he says this, I realize I’m not. I’m not willing to be disappointed.
He kisses me and sometimes it’s passionate, and sometimes it’s slow and soft. He is simultaneously familiar to me — it seems we’ve done this before in a different lifetime; and unfamiliar to me — I don’t yet know him, I haven’t learned him and he hasn’t learned me, I’m self-protected and uncertain about who he is and maybe even about who I am.
There is no ache.
It was after my second date with David when I noticed there was no ache.
And I ached for it. I ached for the ache. I ached for the familiarity of it. I ached for my parents, and I ached for Greg. I ached for the family I never had. I ached for home.
This tips me off to the fact that the ache reminds me of home. It reminds me of my parents and of my losses. It reminds me of the people I’ve loved, and the people who’ve gone. It reminds me of things never being quite right, despite hard work and the best intentions. It reminds me of Greg and the way I felt I was coming home the very first time I visited his place. It reminds me of the way I still miss him sometimes. It reminds me that I want to go home and I can’t.
And the ache is the place where my addictions live. It’s the place that can’t be satisfied, the hole that never leaves me, the simultaneous wanting of more and also of less. It’s the place I want to escape, and it’s the place where I want to go and stay. It’s the knowledge that I will never really be home again. It’s a place I’m learning now to carry with me and to welcome. But it’s hard when it comes. It brings sadness, and I feel a little lost, and a little lonely. I cry tears that don’t make sense to me. I try to welcome them. I’m learning.
And so I wonder what life would be like with this man, where there is no ache. There is the unfamiliar and the excitement that brings. And sometime soon maybe he will be familiar to me. I don’t know. But I don’t think I’ll ever ache for him. We will learn each other. Maybe we will go our separate ways. Maybe we won’t. Maybe we’ll stay together, and maybe my appreciation for the things he says to me, his questions and his partnership, will feel good and right instead of foreign.
I never imagined this life for myself, the one I have today. I’m still losing old parts of myself, shedding them quickly as I tear down and rebuild my ways of being. And I’m not sure yet, but I’m wondering if in that process, maybe, eventually, the absence of the ache won’t be so achey after all. And I worry because I don’t know. I don’t know if I can stay away from the ache.