Since being smacked across the mouth during sex a few months ago (and liking it) I’ve recalculated my intimacy parameters. Romance has become an inconvenience. Neglect has become the norm. Sincerity is now sinister. I held his hand from across the bar table once and that was the last time I gave permission to such grand perversion, an intimacy reserved only for those who are truly capable of hurting me. This is why walls are built. Not because of the fucking or public bathroom indiscretions but rather the weight of their hand in mine, palm to palm, true closeness. I haven't made love since I stopped believing there was a difference.
I drove past his house twice; once by force of loose intent and then again by unbridled instability. I wasn’t running early to work, but I wasn’t late either. There was just enough time to fulfill both my predatory desire to do something wrong and my unmatched need to hate myself. Possessed by sunrise I was starved for a glimpse of his shitty truck and his shitty house and the shitty life that I would have liked to be a part of. This was a momentary lapse in sanity, although not my first run in with losing control or silent pledges of passion. I came to a stop just after the driveway, craning my neck to see if this particular, erratic still life was as I left it. It was. Except I wasn't making my early morning escape down the patio stairs, smoothing my bed head, smiling like an idiot with a secret. Instead, I lingered and stared from the passenger window (also like an idiot) waiting to be magically transported to the bed in the room behind the very walls I found myself lingering and staring at. The semi truck behind me halted to a confused stop and let out an exasperated sigh of smoke or steam or whatever it is comes out of the tops of trucks, hissing impatiently. My uninvited voyeur trance was broken and suddenly I felt as though my parents had just caught me masturbating, ashamed but mostly frustrated that I wasn't able to finish. Morning sun spilled over the house and quickly fell out of view as I jerked the car into drive, a speckled mess of goodbye.
So I adjust. We adjust. We fill various emptinesses with people, pills and parties and pseudo comforts so at the end of our day we feel like we might matter. It's not cowardly to hurt someone just because you've been hurt. It's learned survival. It's sad, yes, but it's survival. Not of the fittest or smartest but survival of the broken. We share in our battered pasts, silently comparing bruises and scars under hazy bar room light, wondering if our bodies will make room for more.