I can feel it here, the little girl longing to crawl on Daddy’s lap, the lover who wants to be slipped a room key. I notice his hands first, my favorite kind—broad, strong, long-fingered, used here to gesture and turn pages, but capable hands that could hold a sheep’s legs while shearing, gentle enough to ease a lamb out of a stuck birth canal.
I want him to focus on her, the woman beside me with the aquiline nose and unlined skin, the glossy black hair and thin limbs, adorned in skinny jeans that end smartly at high heeled boots. The woman who knew the origin of the quote, “a beautiful woman is invisible,” from the movie Elegy and made me realized that I too had reduced her to merely an archetype until she read her writing about hiking in Bhutan among magenta rhododendrons and ended a piece with, “I am not beyond love and love is not beyond me.” He’ll show her Florence, they will read Keats and lick creme fraiche off each other’s bodies. Beside her, I sit, dressed like a pre-schooler, wearing a terry cloth cranberry hoodie and a long turquoise skirt, thick woolen socks over thick woolen ankles.
I want him to choose her because for once, I am not interested in being a muse. I want to be friended, fathered, grandpapa-ed, Zeus-ed, Jesus-ed, God-ed. I want Poseidon to snatch me from my salty swims and steer my vessel to safer shores, away from the Beach of Self-Loathing, with its rip currents and circling great whites, where I gather shards of self-doubt.
When I touched him upon greeting his back was warm. Under a royal blue shirt and woolen vest, it surprised me, his physicality, him once only occupying a postage stamp photo on a book jacket, suddenly in four dimensions. Required for me, they are: first, a generous voice; second, the way a man carried himself; third, humor and intelligence in his eyes; and fourth, does he reach for the slimy and silken Sacred.
As much as I want him, yes, to be the woman he described as having a five hour lunch with, yes, to be ordering room service after making love, more I want his life—the stack of authored, deckle-edged books next to his reading glasses, his editor who gently guides his manuscripts to perfection, the personal affection with which he spoke of Robert Bly and Ellen Bass. I want a place at his table. I want to stop toiling alone at my desk, wondering if I am wasting my life.
I have been desired, yes, for cheekbones, for the ardor in which I take a man into my mouth, for car keys and allowance and tuna sandwiches and back rubs. And now, I want to be wanted for this, this curse and blessing I cannot shake off—scribe, court stenographer, this thing I cannot not do, worship and whinge on the page. Some call it writing.
I have for some time now been stringing fat, fringed marigolds into garlands. I am aching for permission from a teacher, mentor, guru, guide, my own self, to place them on the neck of the Beloved.