My lover says it's all because of sadness.
It must have skipped a generation because my mother is just the happiest person alive. Me, I cry over nothing : dust, sunlight, perfume bottles.
I have a husband and a lover. But I'm in love with a third man. I know this is unusual but I have a lot of love to give. The sad thing is that the third man will not agree to love me back. I bound out of bed every morning and hunger for experience. My only problem is that it takes a piece of nothing to make me sad.
When I ride the bus at midday with the puffy-faced old women, all starched and perfumed, with the thinnest hair nets woven into their dyed hair, well I can just sob like a child. When I pass the schools and the children are running in the yard like they always have and always will, that alone gets me going.
At night, driving past the lit-up apartment buildings, all those lives stacked up so neatly, all I can feel is woe. All those lives unknown and forever unknowable to me. And I just know I was meant to know them all, to make them mine.
So, you can imagine I don't take well to really sad things. Like loving someone who won't love me back.
My lover is a good man who doesn't complain about my quirks.
My husband is a good man too, I have to say. He's come to accept the fact that I laugh hysterically when I climax. It's involuntary. I hear some women pass out or cry or curse but I just laugh. The first time it happened, before we were married, I think he took it personally. Now, he knows better.
I only wish that that pure orgasmic laughter could stay with me and destroy this malingering sadness in my soul. Right now it's all about this third man I cannot have.
If I could just lose myself on a crowded city street and slip into someone else's life. Or else, disappear, become invisible, I could escape this sadness. My lover says I should write. That way I could have anyone I please. I could invent entire communities of people who would willingly reveal themselves to me and withhold nothing. He suggests I create a character exactly like me, only different. This longing, like a long dull ache in my lungs, my character will not have it. This sorrow that fuels the pumps of my desire, it will be gone. My character will observe the world unattached, desiring nothing. All my sadness will be released, like ships from pilings, and float gently towards the horizon.
"Pencil," my lover says, (he calls me that because once when we were smoking Marijuana together he said I looked pensive and I thought he said, "You look pencil."
"Pencil,” he says, “Let's order in Chinese, and forget all this free-floating longing," for he is a practical man at heart and a good man who understands me and isn't bothered by my over-abundance of love.
My husband does not know about my lover, and certainly not about the third man, which is as it should be.
The third man is also married, and his unflagging monogamy is the central irritant in this pearl of my desire. He doesn't understand that marriage is only necessary for the greater good. He actually subscribes for personal reasons.
For him to love me we could not just go about our lives, walking through our days and dreaming through our nights. No. Something would have to happen. Things would have to change. Commitments made, vows exchanged, the giving up of spouses, all other lovers, possibly even friends. Furniture mingled, record collections merged, eating habits synchronized. For my third man, love is a force, inescapable as gravity, tangible as Isaac Newton's pajamas.
My lover says I am always wanting something and that I must always want something because it takes my mind off of my sadness. That this third man is just the latest in a series and that I don't love him as much as I am distracted by his discovery. As if he were a planet of his own and I have busied myself documenting his strata, ionosphere, layers and carbon. That I have conquered the xylem and phloem of his strangely familiar vegetation.
Well, if he is a planet, then he is my twin planet.
"But Pencil," my lover says, "don't you see? It takes a piece of nothing to make you sad. That's why you must keep falling in love. Desire is the only thing that saves you from the morass of sadness you tiptoe around so cautiously."
I am not one to argue. But this time it really is the man I want. He is animal, vegetable and mineral. He is my twentieth question.
Copyright 2018 Rachel A Levine