(Originally published on elephant journal on October 15, 2013)
Artwork: Viscera by Jody Pham
What if I don’t want to talk about the weather?
What if, instead, I want to talk about the doubts that tiptoe their way up your spine, lodge between your vertebrae and soften your backbone? What if I want to ask about what keeps you up at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep and about the recurring loop-dream you’ve been having and what you think it means? What if I want to know about the pink scar on your chin and where it comes from and why you try to hide it with your scarf?
What if I don’t care about what’s on TV or the Breaking Bad finale?
What if, instead, I care about the secret song that lives in your lungs that nobody hears but you? What if I ask you to breathe it to me and I promise to listen and I really do? What if I’m curious about the last time you lost, the last time you grieved and is there anything in this world you would die for? What if I’m interested in your proudest moment, your most haunting regret, the face you thought you’d remember but that now you forget?
What if I don’t want to sit in a noisy pub and guzzle beer until the night becomes a blurry haze?
What if, instead, I want to sit with you in a park, in the dark, swallowing mouthfuls of moon and sharing memories of our mothers? What if I want to take your hand in mine and touch the bones that live there, the knobby joints, the rough patches, the creases at the wrist? What if I want to run my fingers up and down your arm, tracing the route of your veins, revering the blood flow that keeps you alive? What if—for a whole minute, a whole hour—I want to look into your eyes without flinching, to tour the truest part of you, that place that cannot die?
What if I want to break open your sternum and glimpse inside your tattered heart and tell you it may be tattered, but it is your loveliest organ and there is a blood-red garden growing there?
What if I don’t want to chat on Facebook and skim through your photographic highlight-reel?
What if, instead, I want to see your broken parts and blemishes? What if I want to strip away the layers and stand with you, skin and souls laid bare, bony bits protruding, ugly spots exposed? What if I want to place my head on your belly and listen to your liver communing with your spleen and feel the gurgle of your gut and the inklings of your instinct? What if I want to ask you the question that scares you the most and swear I won’t run away when I hear your honest answer? What if I don’t run away?
What if I’m choking on the artifice of it all and feeling like we’re missing out because we’re scratching the surface with the questions underneath the questions, but the veneer is thick and we have barely made a mark? What if we’re all here, on this perfect planet, at this time, together, because we are treasures for each other to discover and rediscover, but what if we’re too distracted by our Twitter feeds to notice?
What if I don’t give a damn about where you studied or what your job is or how much money you make?
What if, instead, I give a damn about the first time you found love and the way your cells shifted to make room for that new feeling that was more force than feeling? What if I give a damn about the tattoo on your thigh and why you have it and when you got it and did it hurt and do you love it? What if I give a damn about what turns you on, what turns you off, how you like to be touched and how you pray? What if I give a damn about the things that amaze you, that fill you up, that move you to tears, that move you to move, that make you wonder, that make you glow and go slow and look up and see the stars and feel the stars inside you?
What if I give a damn about you, remarkable, fragile, dangerous you?
But what if I don’t want to talk about the weather? What then?
Think we could be friends?
“Lie beside me and let the seeing be healing. No need to hide. No need for either darkness or light. Let me see you as you are.” ~ Jeanette Winterson, Art and Lies.