In a moment I was leaning against his chest, with my heart flying miles above me.
The first time he touched me, I felt my skin evaporate around me, my heart suddenly weightless, flinging itself towards the atmosphere.
We'd been friends for years — but online, separated by the safety of pixels and fonts. Although in recent months we'd seen more of each other, the touching was minimal, if it happened at all. All of this was new.
I had been carefully climbing onto my third floor balcony from the roof next door. It was Halloween and I had stacked platform heels on my uncoordinated feet, clad head to toe in black vinyl, a la Michelle Pfeifer's Catwoman.
While I stumbled onto the balcony, he was steady. He wore a shapeless onesie suit, blue felt, with a giant red cape flying off the back. Super Grover. He held out a hand and caught me before I could scrape my knees on the cement floor, and pulled me against him.
It was gentle and quiet and certain. I felt the warmth of his fingers on my vinyl wrapped hips, and in a moment I was leaning against his chest, warm and comfortable and safe, but with my heart flying miles above me.
We didn't kiss. It was weeks before we kissed. Weeks of gentle caresses camouflaged as friendly hugs, pats on the shoulder, lingering too long.
My summer had been full of dread and panic. An ex-boyfriend was stalking me and I rarely left my house. Each day another letter came, threatening that the next day might be my last. I didn't call the police, I didn't look for help. I locked myself away because I didn't want to die and anything I might do to find help felt like making myself more vulnerable. So I stayed in and carried on friendships online, and sewed my Catwoman suit.
But on Halloween, Super Grover touched me, and it was everything I had never felt in a man's touch.
When he finally kissed me, it was terrible, and wonderful, and fraught, and tender, and frightening, and incredible. And suddenly, I wasn't scared anymore. I would run down the stairs from my third floor apartment to meet him on the street. I danced in the rain on the train platform.
I couldn't be hurt anymore. Not by anyone. Not by myself. I was free, immortal, weightless, spaceless, untethered by anything but the feeling of certainty that this was love. Not just because it was so tender, not only because it was so kind. When he kissed me, he freed me from my doubt and anxiety and gave me the world.
And unhindered by fears, with my inbox full of empty threats unread, I ran into the world with laughter on my mouth to catch hold of my flying heart, and followed it into the sky.