Sometimes there are these beautiful moments where two thoughts wander from the furthest reaches of your consciousness and meet inside you together at the same time. They unite, like providence. They find their other component and together they surrender and form something more beautiful than either of them could have alone.
And it’s a comfort. The greatest of reassurances; that something so lonely and cold and small can just awaken and fixate in your mind and find another. Be united by you; the vessel. It’s the closest I’ve ever known to equanimity. This harmony. It is perfect.
Today I met my boyfriend’s family for the first time. Beforehand, I was nervous. Not just because it’s an important step in any relationship but perhaps because I thought, on some level, that they wouldn’t approve of me being with him. That no matter how much I wanted to fit in, I’d be on the outside. That they’d smile and accept it but that, deep down, they’d always wanted him to be normal and that my intrusion was just another reminder that things hadn’t worked out as they hoped.
For how could any family even deny that thought? To want their children to have it easy, to be able to avoid the upset and the anxiety of having to confront the feelings of being so undeniably different. For all the love in my life and all the wonderful people around me, you still get those chilling moments now and again when a total stranger decides to single you out as not belonging, undeserving of acceptance. I’ve seen that kind of cultural rejection happen so many times before to people a lot less different than me. Part of me felt like a fraud for even hoping for their implicit blessing of our relationship.
I’m watching him. He’s still; motionless. Numb to the world, almost. And somehow this is the real him, the true self, to me. Asleep, he becomes the empty shell with which to fill my memories of a friend. The boy I’ve known all this time, just as I’d expect.
The events of the evening become fleeting errors of his character when I look up to see him lying there, breathing softly under the blankets. It scarcely seems possible that someone you know so well could come adrift from their identity; driven solely on impulse and fear and fail to even recognise the sound of your voice, begging. As you fight with them for their own benefit, try to stop them unbecoming themselves, they resist you. A different they, someone else. Or the same self that has become Other. It is the same body, the same hands, the same eyes that I’ve long known but the movements, the frustrations are alien.
In the morning, when he becomes himself again, he will struggle to align with this new person he has become. But until then, he sleeps. And I watch. I watch in fear of him changing again, unable to do anything if he does. Every breath, every flinch is a flicker of instability within him.
For now, he sleeps. He remains himself; silently. The boy I know.