It was exactly a day before it would be one year when I first kissed him. I should probably say we kissed, but in my memory I kissed him first and then we kissed. Also I did not remember the date on purpose, it stuck in my mind and I didn’t manage to forget it. My brain found a lot of small hints to make sure I remember it was the tenth of November.
This first kiss was followed by intimacy of looking at each other, of listening, of long conversations that always seemed short. By intimacy of laughing together. Laughing first with our eyes, then with our mouths, and then laughing with our whole bodies.
Once we were driving and he kissed my hand and I told him then that you could never be angry at the person that kisses your hand, because it is the less selfish kiss ever. And I was never angry at him. There was the intimacy of never being angry.
During one of our lunches he offered me to taste his soup. We were at a restaurant in Palo Alto that had very wide tables and very good wine. He had to lean forward over the table to give me the spoon and I tried it and passed the spoon back to him. After he ate another spoonful of soup he leaned over the table again and told me in a low voice that he just stole a kiss. He told me there was a poem where a lover steals a kiss by eating from the same spoon as his beloved. And so there was the intimacy of poetry between us.
And at another time, yet at another decadent restaurant, this time with a lot of velvet chairs and somewhat of a hunter’s spirit, we had our first and only argument. It was in the middle of winter and it was raining very hard that day and he ordered some warm food to share and I did not touch it since all I really wanted was roasted duck and a good glass of red. And we argued for a few minutes about the food. And I saw that he got upset. Not seriously upset, you do not get seriously upset over the food, but still upset and this was our first argument. And I wish I would just ate that food. And he said he was sorry. And at the end it was just funny. We always ended up laughing at everything.
A few times we saw stars together over the lake Lagunita. On one of our walks it was really dark, and there were no lights along the path that went around the lake. And we could see a lot of stars and then heard the sound of the frogs jumping into the lake and the sound of an owl flying somewhere near. And it was cold, and I would lose my balance when he held me tight and kissed, but then I did not mind losing my balance if I was in his arms.
And there was this huge oak tree on the top of the hill. We went a few times for a hike there and climbed that oak and sat on the lower branches. It was a huge beautiful oak tree, almost like a country of its own. With its cities and rivers. And one felt like a king and a queen sitting on the branches of that oak, you could not have a better kingdom than that. On those hikes we would tell each other stories from our childhood. And together with the stories the oak tree was from our childhood. And I loved his stories more than my own.
When I would not see him for a few days I would imagine how the next time he comes we would kiss each other before saying “hi” and how then I would ask him how he was doing and with a warm smile he would say “I am good now.” And we would continue kissing and I would hear his heartbeat just to realize that his heartbeat is all I wanted to hear. I never heard so much heartbeat before, at least not so clearly. Once when he came over he was tired and sleepy, and we took a mid-morning nap on my bed and my head was laying on his chest and I could hear his heartbeat. This is how I learnt the true intimacy of poetry. Not the one behind all the written lines, but the one behind the heartbeat of the person you love.
Once, in the early spring there was a beautiful almond tree in blossom on the corner of my street. I made a picture of this tree and sent it to him saying that this is what I always thought love was. It was a tree with tiny white flowers. Each flower is a moment of intimacy and beauty that you live through. First there is one flower, then a few, then a full branch. And then you have a tree full of tiny white flowers. And this was as close as I could get to the definition of what love was. Of course there were other definitions of love, such as kindness and care, and thinking first what he needs and how he would feel if I do that or say that, but still when I thought of love involuntarely a beautiful almond tree in blossom would come to mind.
My love for him, or better to say what my love for him made me go through, should also include all the week-ends and holidays that I did not see him, because he was married. And all the times we could not talk or we could not see each other. The moments when I missed him dearly and would have given five years of my life to just see his eyes and how he looked at me. The moments when I wanted to be there by his side and be part of his life and never could. And then at some point in April, and for some reason I want to think that it happened on a cold and rainy day, these moments tipped over our love, and all our stories, and the oak tree, and the poetry of the spoonful of soup, and even the heartbeat. And we said we would be friends. All those moments that made it tip over did not blossom as tiny white flowers and now it does not even seem that they belong to this story.
We were friends in summer and we were also friends in fall. We both tried hard. At least I tried hard, so hard that I never slipped into hearing his heartbeat again. We still talked and had coffee or dinner together from time to time. And there were still the same warm kindness and inability to be upset at each other. And we did not lose our laugher. We laughed a lot. And I received a lot of pleasure from seeing him.
And it was exactly a day before it would be one year when I first kissed him that we were planning to get sandwiches and eat them in my car after I finish working. But then something was going on with one of his friends and he had to cancel our dinner at the last moment. And I said that of course I did not mind. And I did not.
I finished my work and as I sat in my car I started crying. I turned on the radio and put the GPS on to see the traffic. There were a lot of cars on the roads at that hour, and I just looked at the driving directions and tried to concentrate on making the right turns. It was raining outside and I had tears in my eyes and everything looked blurry. And the only thought in my head was what the MMA coach had told me recently, “You have to follow the directions. You can win the fight, you just have to listen, not have any say, and follow the directions.” It was an empty thought but I held to it as to a lifesaver. And this night I did not get lost on the highways. The drive was long and calming. And I said to myself, “God, let me fall out of love with him, or at least not get hurt.” But then I did not really believe in God. And I thought that when people pray to God they are praying to themselves, to their own minds. And somehow this thought made me smile.
I was quiet as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. I do not remember if I still had tears in my eyes or not. But the yellow lights on the bridge were blurry. In any case I did not mind the tears since they were part of life that had an oak tree for a kingdom.