how deep?

Deep love. I am twelve again, and the song is okay. We can dance to this–not dance, but sway, hands on shoulders, sway, standing close enough to touch and not look. This is disco, yes, but not the gold chain shame that will fuel my swerve toward guys with skinny ties and short hair. No, this is make-out music or wishful thinking. It always will be.

I can fuck you. I can hold you, even with a song, and strip off all of my clothing, cradle your head between my legs as you lick me and reduce me to moans. Yes, I can bare myself to you this much, I can.

But this, this night fever, this is something else again. I laugh as I take the record carefully from its sleeve, blow off the imaginary dust and set it down on the turntable. The album is pristine, stored in a closet or a basement for thirty-plus years, never played maybe–a gift, a time capsule. I lift the arm, and set the needle down carefully while you watch me, this ritual of music so ingrained in both of us. It is a holiday, a lighting of candles, a chant we know by heart and not mind, even now, years later.

Adolescent timidity tries to invade my body now, too, tries to overtake my urge to swirl, here, right in front of you. You are the cute guy in the front row, and I have a crush on you. I blush when I catch you turning to look at me, your gaze terrifying because you might really see through me. You smile back, because you saw everything, and you know now. I cannot hide.

It is the same smile now, and I am damp, panting within seconds to this music. John Travolta walks down the street with a paint can. You take my hand, you–you must have been more leather than lycra, too–your cock hard as you pull me abruptly to you, the ancient rhythm pounding, the falsetto unforgivable, and yet we succumb to it. Years later, we find ourselves still resisting that beat, the flashing colors, the darkness. We no longer make fun of the kings and queens in their flashy clothing; we make fun of ourselves as we become what we once dreaded here on a makeshift dance floor. I am tempted to brush your hand away and start laughing, but I make a wish instead and give in.

We are bolder now. You want me. I want you. I know you will watch me as I step back. I let you, let your lust build as I watch you watch me begin to move, not moving my eyes not once from yours. I dare you, and you move in toward me.

I am stripped bare now, my heart pounding not from the effort, but from you, your steps into my steps, the steps I could not take when I was twelve, or sixteen, or even twenty-five. I take them now, we do, and I turn now, smiling, letting you watch me smile and turn and want you.

We are staying alive, yes, alive now more than ever before, alive from head to toe, the body electric, the past and present here before us, naked, the junior high bullies, the knowing truth at seventeen, the nights at home, the notes forgotten, later too, when this music fades, and we are bleary eyed in lost sleep and heartache, the chances in life that miraculously do come again, even now, even better, and my life flashes before my eyes, now transformed somehow as I see we are the same, we are here, we understand. And you are beautiful.

Yes, of course we are alive, and separate, we want, yet fear to want. And it is this, desire, is it not? Is desire ignited by anything more than it is by standing back and letting a breeze catch, looking from some distance and seeing not only skin and heat but context as well?

Deep, I do not know how deep rivers run, much less how deep love runs.

In all of us, in every way, it is deeper than we ever think it can be.

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