I've been thinking about intimacy, those moments of understanding between two people where no words are, or need to be, spoken. I've been thinking about inside jokes between friends, new and old. I've been thinking about still being in my pajamas at noon, sitting toe to toe with another person, forgetting to eat, dissecting the lives we lead and that we want to lead. I've been thinking about intimacy that comes through sex and intimacy that develops outside of it. I've been thinking about roommates and lovers and family, relatives and strangers and even enemies.
I know what intimacy is. I've enjoyed it in any number of permutations.
I sit with a group of women in a circle of mismatched chairs: a rocker, a ladder back, an upholstered wing chair, weathered and worn. The women are 20 and 40 and 80. I haven't seen them, or even exchanged emails with some of them, for a year. We cannot pull ourselves from the room. We share story after story of the year gone by, the life gone by, and the futures that may lie ahead. In this circle, there is no age; there is no distance; there is no race or class; the superficial falls away. There is just that moment, amongst a dozen writers who come together every year to write and talk and revel in the intimacy that every day life often doesn't allow. They are the kind of relationships that developed instantly out of one common trait—the love of words—and that have lasted indefinitely.
My husband and girlfriend and daughter and I (or my father and my husband and my sister and her girlfriend and I) sit on the floor of our family room and play a board game. The competition is fierce and friendly. The hours disappear. And we are saddened when the game ends and wonder each to ourselves, "Why don't we do this more often?" We clean up the board. We put away all the pieces and we congratulate ourselves on giving the answers to the questions we never imagined would be asked. The questions on the cards that someone at Milton Bradley or Hasbro conjured up perhaps with exactly this sort of "togetherness" in mind, the kind where everyone gets a turn and everyone wins, if not the game then the opportunity to enjoy one another.
He is my waiter at a restaurant and I am far from home. There are few diners that night and he pays me more attention than he otherwise would. But it's not just the empty dining room; we have that strange connection that makes us barrage one another with questions and wish it was another time and another place where we could fantasize about a future where all of those questions might be answered. But for four days, in a hotel in nowhere, we are lovers. Maybe not the ones crossed by stars. But certainly the ones we will remember and be glad for and maybe even long for on some night when the restaurant we are in is empty but our hearts long to be full.