preying mantis looking for samba partner

Anyone who has known me in or before college is surprised by the fact that I now love dancing. It’s not that I was bad at dancing (which I was… I had NO rhythm or sense of movements which in anyway complimented a song’s structure), but more that I honestly hated the sense of participating in a group of people who were all watching each other do the same thing. I remember being 12 or so at my aunt's wedding and when she told me “Come on! Dance!”, my response was “How?” I remember looking at a sea of people, all who were sort of doing a similar thing, and wondering where they all got their notes from. How did they all know what they were supposed to be doing? I didn’t. (It is not necessary to note, but worthwhile to mention, that there was a large animatronic rhino in the corner of the room.)

Who knows how my movements work out these days, if they’re good or bad, but I’m like a bird flying blindly into a window over and over again; I feel strongly a sense of direction and I head that way. Regardless of glass.

In Budapest, there seems to be a shortage of men who just like to dance. The vibe on a dance floor is of a bunch of vampires scanning a room for prey; bulky men or men wearing too much axe body spray or something that smells like someone shoplifting from a Sephora only to trip during his escape and face plant in the parking lot among 1000 small cologne samples. 

I get asked if I’m a “homo” a lot, but not in an inquisitive anthropological way, but a way which seems to imply that my masculinity was checked with the many umbrellas by the door. And I always wonder in those moments, what the game plan is of the man asking me. Is he a closeted man, hoping that me — in large woman’s sunglasses and bright tank top — would possibly blow him in the bathroom? Or (and, this is, I believe, is the true reason) is he bolstering his masculinity by questioning MY masculinity? Luckily I’m tall and sometimes laugh like I’m completely insane, so it’s easy for me to disarm these situations. I just make a flying bird motion with both of my hands, yell “DOVE!” (it’s a bird of peace), start laughing manically, and begin to chase my imaginary bird. No one usually makes many follow ups after that.

But there are moments in places like this where I have danced with a woman and created a moment that is pure bliss. The moment before a kiss. The moment before walking to their apartment. This moment involves movements that look like a preying mantis cartoon walking through space or trying to catch a frisbee with his feeble arms. Or the woman and me trading overly large smiles, while the other one picks at their teeth like a dentist. Two people in a glorious forgotten moment. A moment, that when it stops, finds us surrounded by a room of perplexed people; perplexed people who wish they were dentists, too, for a moment.

I guess my point is, that dancing is sometimes better than fucking. Way better.

when silly flirting actually reveals something better.

A while back I was in a bar and a woman started talking to me. She was pretty and had an easy laugh and she asked me about my family. I told her a bit about my parents and then said about my sister, “she’s a more beautiful, better version of me”. At the time I think I thought it was disarming and charming, which let’s be honest, it was, but I’ve caught myself over the past year or so, always describing my sister like that to people that don’t know her. My little line that I thought was so clever, is actually just the truth. My sister and I were both blessed in our lives in many ways. I think the goodness that I could be, though, is ruined by the fact that I can get so caught up thinking about myself. My sister on the other hand, takes all these talents, wisdom, empathy, and love and shares them without really thinking about it. Her generosity is an extremely moving thing to watch in any of the relationships she has. 

Where I get stuck obsessing, she readily moves forward.

And it makes me want to hide letters to her about how much I love her. Because the idea that she should open any door, window, or drawer, and find a letter that marvels and rejoices in who she is, is almost better than her actually getting a letter from me.

Some people get described as forces; forces of nature. It implies a dominance of a room or an almost unavoidable relationship with someone. My sister is a principle. As in something foundational that makes the world. Like an electron. She is a principle of someone present. 

When I was a kid, my sister started leaving letters for me around the house. She would sign them “Kerry The Letter Fairy”. Fuck… I actually don’t remember how she spelled Kerry. Maybe it was with a “c”. But she did this for years (or a year?… my memory is a bit foggy), telling me all about her home in the clouds and the things she did with her day. My mom and dad helped in the charade so that I could leave letters anywhere, and they would magically disappear, with a response arriving within a few days. I truly believed in Kerry.

On planes I’d look at the clouds and wonder which one Kerry lived in. My world was full of letters. Waiting on every window sill. Waiting behind every door. Each filling me with a sense of belonging and being watched over and cared about. 

And so I stumbled on this phrase about my sister, and it makes me think how much I hope she feels that around her is a world full of hidden letters all written from someone who cares deeply about her. 

She is a more beautiful, better version of me.

two cups and a string

There was a woman that got on the bus as I was going back to my friend’s apartment today. She had blonde hair in a ponytail, and was pretty short. I don’t know what it is about short women, but they always get to me; I fall for them immediately, especially if they have nice collar bones, and a nose that is a bit different than your regular fair. I think the majority of women I’ve dated have been under 5’7”, which is pretty close to the height of the average american woman. Which maybe makes me the average american man? I don’t know.

There have been about 2 women that I’ve dated that have been really tall, and I sometimes caught myself drifting into long meandering thoughts about the length of their femur or ulna; I couldn’t stop thinking of the size of their bones, particularly if they were naked next to me. I never asked them if they thought the same thing about my skeleton, since I figured telling a girl I was thinking about her skeleton when she was naked maybe would come off as creepy or not very pleasant; nobody relates their beauty or funny personality to their structural elements. 

Anyway. I didn’t really know exactly what stop was my friend’s apartment, but in noticing this woman on the bus, I started to pretend like someone who didn’t know what stop they were looking for. There is an important distinction between not knowing what stop I should get off at, and pretending to not know. While pretending to not know — glancing at passing signs and quizzically furrowing my eyebrows — I didn’t actually read any signs or look for important landmarks. I was acutely aware of my distance to this woman and the role my face played in the construction of this distance. But playing the role of someone not knowing, meant that outside of this role I should know where I was going. Which I didn’t.

I missed my stop. Obviously. Since in my role as “person trying to find important landmarks and information”, I was only worried about the orientation of my head to body, and the contortions that my face was making. The rest of my mind was drifting to thinking about where this woman came from, and where she was going to, and what sort of music she was listening to on her phone, and if she could feel the distance to me, like fog on fall mornings. 

And it was strange but I suddenly had the memory of the first time I told a girl I loved her. I was in my parents house at the top of the stairs and there was this wood railing made of cherry, or something red/brown, with these small brass screws holding together the various parts. There is carpet (gray?) under foot and I say the words and she smiles, and there is a pause, and she says “am I supposed to say it back?” and I say “it doesn’t matter what you say”. 

At the time I think I said that because it made me sound like a fortune cookie, which at a young age feels a lot like being wise. But maybe I was onto something where love is like the distance between my row boat on an ocean, and a beach that I can see on the horizon. Or the distance between two stones at the bottom of a harbor. Or the distance between particles that jump in and out of existence. Love is the sensation of a distance, and once that distance is known, there is no changing the perception of what it is in that moment.

I love people that don’t love me back. I love people that hate me. I love people that have soaked through my skin and wrapped my spine and ribs in something that feels like honey. And I have felt the distance to someone suddenly disappear; they are an object in space, as am I, but there is no way to measure how far or near we are to each other.

I walked to my friend’s apartment, having overshot his place by a couple stops. I started thinking about what had happened as I watched the girl disappear on the bus. 

I wanted her to see me as I saw me. But it made me realize there is a balance to examining my own sense of self. If I dig in deep it can suddenly be like when I hear a top hat in my favorite song, and suddenly the song is only the clap of that top hat. Everything suddenly becomes infuriating and flat. 

There’s something to write here about balance between experience and introspection. About seeing things out of the corner of my eye. But instead I’m just going to try to stop paying attention to what my face is doing.