In Which We View Most Things As Omens For The Republic

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Heartstrings

by LINDA EDDINGS

He and I went away for the weekend. In that warm place, we made a plan to grow closer together. Here is how we did it, and all the reasons I am explaining it.

Say you start at a fixed point. We can call this point moonrise. At moonrise, shadows mean everything. Seeing the light reflected on the ground is an omen. Here is what the omen means, and all the reasons I am explaining it.

After moonrise: what comes into the world is a view of masculinity. The type of man I always said I wanted. Sometimes, I know, it is so difficult for me to be loved. I can’t stand it; it feels like clutches from which I must wriggle free or die. It bothers me that I get that feeling of affection for others so rapidly. If something (anything!) takes longer to develop, does that make it intrinsically more valuable?

Forget I asked. After what comes after moonrise were these little dates. I know it is going somewhere when I feel like the time together passes too quickly. I don’t know what other people talk about, but here is what I brought up and my reasons for doing so. Have you ever heard someone say the familiar expression, “I have my reasons.” Nine times of ten, the reason was sex. The other time it is money.

He likes to plan the entire date, which I regard as somewhat controlling. Inevitably we are to ride to the top of something. (His name is Paul, and he lived for two years in Antigua because of his father’s job. He still has a pendant from there.) Paul likes to look down on things.

On our third date, he told me about his ex-girlfriend. “How long were you together?” I asked. He said two years. “How much did you love her?” I asked. He said a lot. “Do you still think about her?” I asked. He said he did when he came across an old greeting card she made him. She liked to draw little pictures of them together, doing what they enjoyed.

The end result of the conversation was that I made him wait a lot longer to have sex. From this vantage, the air above massive buildings and structures seems insensate, porcelain. The wind is the breath of a most high god. The skyscrapers resemble an infection. The man and woman perched atop them have a long way to fall.

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Moonrise begins in the early evening, and lasts as long as we want it to. After awhile you forget the touch of a man, and what it means to you. I have a friend who still calls her intended a boy. What a waste of time for both of them. I know that Paul is not like that. He texts me in the morning, before I wake up, before anyone does. Usually it is a quote from Plato. (Sometimes he says, “isn’t philosophy wonderful?”)

In Antigua they have this kind of polenta. It really is not so different from what my mother made. Paul can also make omelets and other basic stuff. I asked him if he enjoys cooking. He said, “Whatever you want to hear.”

Growing so close with Paul does make me afraid. He is not the type to vanish, which makes me attracted to him. He is the type to keep some pent-up hurt beneath him, nursing it far past its natural life, which makes me wary of him. There is always a chance of stepping inside someone else’s anger. You do not even have to be sleeping with them. I know in my head there is that possibility.

Fighting with Paul is like pressing yourself softly against a brick wall. On occasion, part of the wall will give and unveil a secret room. Most of the time it is just cold and hard. Try forgiving someone of their most basic flaw. I did, and became a lot happier for it.

One of Plato’s iMessage remarks was this: “And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty.” People are such a fucking paradox.

Before moonrise, we know that we are in love by the shapes it makes. I knew what I felt that for Paul right away. Letting him grow accustomed to it is grimy, patient work. I was always used to realizing things before others. That is why I found out it was a weakness, not a strength, earlier than anyone else did.

When things are going well, I have learned all my important lessons. I wish to impart to you, so you can be as I am. Then there are times when I feel so precariously emotional, that even in my own happiness, there is a sense of pending dread. Is this how I will always be composed? Whatever the underlying feeling, it can be replaced. Whatever the pleasure, comes penitence. After the moon, so sweetly and slowly, rotates around the earth.

Linda Eddings is the senior contributor to This Recording.

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