The only light in the Cessna came from across the runway just outside the hangar, which was enough to cause a lasting tactile imprint of the plane which, seatless has carpet that will always speak of gear and sweat and drop zone earth. Drop zone earth is the smell of my childhood which was about to wash into the background in a rush of unexpected hormones and the barest grasp of some innate understanding or desire I've chased my entire life; when found, speaking in a whisper, ' this is the best thing', and meaning it.
There was a hard line of demarcation between mostly clothed, joyful adolescent backseat experimental fumbling and completely naked on the floor of a Cessna, skin from face to toes, cradled by entirely certain hands. I asked 'what' enough times, he finally said, 'be still'. I was still. It's a lot like what my brain and body feel like after an hour in a deprivation tank; things have gone haywire at first because my mind has overstimulated itself and then released all those pent up endorphins back outward into my extremities until I am calm, but everything about me is heightened and super aware. This is a tangle of arms and legs and fingertips and I have lost myself in the smell, texture, and taste of another human being. I want to rip, and pull, and drown until I pass through him, coming out the other side conditionally more than myself but having left the reciprocal behind. I am partially flattened by the enormity of it and then it is over and I am slowly breathing back into my own body but still curled in tight, pulled in as close as he can get me. All that skin.
This is maybe the flip side of the bipolar condition that very few people openly discuss; part of the upside. I'm not suggesting it isn't a possibility for the neurologically normal to open all the way up; I'm suggesting if you lack a filter against the stimulation of what's coming at you, you don't get to choose what's pleasant or difficult and it's not necessarily likely to be difficult all or most of the time. People refuse medication for a lot of reasons. I haven't lost this but I'd think good and hard if I had unless the cost of being dysfunctional was complete wreckage in which case I'd mourn the possibility of this sort of connection most of all.
I couldn't stay in the plane. I would wake up too late and not be able to explain. I could sleep in the car where I was expected or find someplace else to sleep with my clothes on. I left the plane.
I sat on the ground far enough away with my clothing at my feet, out of the light and thought I could sit there until dawn if I had to. I need to process these things; I still do. There was something a little off for me that I couldn't quite get at. It was like an electric wire I wanted to grab about six inches out of reach and I couldn't name it but I needed to connect. It took several years before I realized someone was attempting to make an intimate connection with me and I wasn't able to meet him but I was profoundly aware of the possibility and just as profoundly aware that I was missing something I wanted. But the skin, I got it about the skin and being lost in another human being and I didn't intend to be without it again.
I chased the dragon for three years before I found it, or at least the possibility again. I had the option of all the skin I wanted but ran into multiple dead ends. One I kept for several years and by the time we were absolutely done I'd nearly given up but I hadn't forgotten; I was just starting to wonder if this skin and connection thing was limited to a single human being or maybe just a handful. The man in the plane was inappropriate and not likely to happen again but I wished for it, would have given up and done quite a lot for it. There were times when I got close to him in the next ten years, but only close enough for the memory of skin.
The first time I climbed into bed with Joe, well before I married him there was absolutely no clothing involved despite the fact that he had the expectation of resistance, at least in the short term; some sort of acclimation period. Why would there be clothing? When we went to sleep there was no clothing. Why would you do that? Why would you disrupt the intimacy of all that direct contact by putting your clothing back on? Any of it. Throughout our entire marriage there was no clothing. We kept robes by the bed in the event that children came into the bed or we needed to get out of quickly. I slept with my left leg over his right thigh for twelve years. It was inconceivable that it would be any other way. I thought the whole world was like this; something you grew into or finally understood at some point.
Joe connected that elusive live wire for me when I was nineteen. He was twenty-five. He has a way of looking at people which is extraordinarily intimate without being the least bit invasive. I think what he's doing is giving himself up unconditionally. 'Here I am, see me?' It's an invitation and it's very compelling to people who truly wish to connect. I haven't met anyone like him ever. Most people are guarded to some extent until there's some sort of safety established. All I understood was I had a man in a Cessna reaching out to me and finding a living, breathing, responsive girl who hadn't figured out there was any such thing as intimacy. I'm not sure, even if I'd had it defined that I'd have been able to get those particular walls all the way down. What was interesting is that after I was raped he was one of my only safe places. I didn't want to get back in the Cessna just then, but I did want to be held. I learned emotional intimacy slowly, a little bit at a time. Mostly it was about learning to trust and it was almost always about skin. Words and eye contact came later. I am more tactile than anything else but also tactile defensive, it can go either way. When I am upset or frightened I am most likely not willing to be naked in any way. That rule failed to apply nearly entirely only once.
I learned the cold, hard truth with my third husband well before we were married but certainly a good way into the relationship. Not everyone sleeps naked. Some people are just not comfortable having their clothes off all night. Some people sleep with a great many layers if they sleep on opposite sides of a very large bed. I was astonished that this was a possibility. He was completely astonished that I wanted this perpetual intimacy. I persisted. I insisted on close. I insisted on possession of his right leg; after all, I'd had possession of the right legs of my previous husbands and quite honesty just about any man I'd shared a bed with along the way. I insisted, dammit, on skin. Yes, all night, skin. Eventually he came around, for the most part, but he was bewildered. I acknowledged that he'd been married before and lived very differently. We worked on intimacy. We worked on that live wire. I noticed I was quick to cover myself when there was upset because it's hard to hold a door open by yourself. In the end he came around and I can remember lying close in the dark feeling the day wash away and telling him this was the best part of the day, and it was. I know that when he left this was one of the hardest things for him to let go of and part of the reason his leaving took so long. We don't talk, we need to not talk, but I hope he's found it or managed to cause it to be in his life because for him it was a huge part of being human, learning to connect like that.
I spent four years without skin for the most part and I shut it down. This isn't a hard thing to do; it's not all that hard for me or it's necessary I think because if I don't shut it down to something other than the memory of a possibility I lose my ability to connect in other ways because I'm to focused on what I don't have. It's sort of like choosing to be celibate. I remember talking to my second husband about this when we were first getting to know each other. I'd been intentionally celibate for close to a year which I'd found extremely difficult. He'd been intentionally celibate for some period of time, probably longer and hadn't had any trouble at all; he'd simply shut it down. How?! No explanation given. It took me some time but I eventually worked it out. It's easier this time; I've been here before.
But this last one was as close to the dragon as I've come plus that ever so connected wire. I don't think you ever find the dragon again, by the way. The first time all the lights go on defines the lights going on and that's just how it is. I expect if I'd ever gone back it wouldn't have been the same. Maybe. There certainly wasn't anything on which to build a relationship.
But this last one.
It's just going to take a while to let that all out of my skin; fingers, toes, eyes, ears, hair, he's just embedded. He'll go eventually.