As I fell asleep last night, I heard a desert rainstorm, and there arose a memory-image of another rainstorm, years ago. It was in the mountains, late at night, and the rain was battering a small cabin, as if it were trying to find an entry point or just flatten the wooden structure. Inside it was warm, and in a small bed two sleepy bodies lay wrapped around each other, bare skin glued together by drying semen.
One of those bodies was mine. The other was that of a woman I loved, and who loved me, but with whom circumstances precluded any kind of conventional relationship - romantic partnership, being identified as a couple. No one else knew about our involvement, which was part of the reason we were spending time together in this remote place, where the nearest neighbors were miles away and did not know us.
As we lay there in bed, her face in my neck as we held each other, I listened to the oceanic roar of the rain. It felt like we were cocooned and kept safe by the storm. It occurred to me that if the circumstances of our lives had been different, and we were “a couple,” this would have been a beautiful, perfect moment - two lovers resting peacefully together, cozy and safe, listening to a mountain storm. But the sweet reverie was diluted by the bitter reality that we would never have more than what we had right then.
And then I realized - What’s wrong with what we have right now? Why does there need to be a story attached, a story about who we are and what our relationship is and what will come next? We loved each other. We loved being together. And we were together right then, in a spectacularly beautiful setting. The only difference between us and other couples was that we were unable to tell ourselves a story about the future, which, always, is a fantasy. I realized that my discontentment about the present moment was because I could not fantasize about a future, and turn away from right now. I was sad because I was experiencing our relationship without a self-centered fantasy, a fantasy I greedily wanted.
I realized that if we had been a couple, identifying as partners, we would probably have spent our time in the mountains bickering - which seems to be a favorite activity of vacationing couples - because we would have had expectations and demands, a fantasy that we should make each other happy.
As it was, there could be no such story. And, realizing that, for perhaps the first time in my life I was actually with the person I was with. As the storm raged on, I was calmer than I had ever been, happier than I had ever been, experiencing, for the first time, genuine love.