I started writing this at the beginning of June and never finished it, so here it is belatedly.
Recently Evelyn came over and we talked about our lives over the past year. They discussed some suspicions of abuse in their family and how it was affecting their relationships, and I talked about the fall-out in my life from an evil thing an ex-friend did, and how I am still sort of in shock from all the loss that resulted.
We also talked about the song-portrait I made of them and their thorough, analytical, and emotional response to it (which I find very beautiful). They said they were tempted to make a document of all the lyrics and highlight the ones that especially resonated and include a cover image, which I had literally almost done (according to my guess of what would resonate) before giving it to them and really only didn't because I was impatient. I told them about how I used to do just that in my music sharing posts, and that I had always wanted someone to respond so thoroughly to a mix I made for them. They covered their face and said "don't say that!" and then I worried that I was being too effusive or too intense and asked if I really should not have told them. They reassured me that they were just having an emotional reaction but that it was fine to tell them and they wanted to know.
I told them that I love how analytical they are, which embarrassed them but I think pleased them also. They said that they think of it as being a bad thing to be so geeky and I wryly pointed out "you're talking to someone who makes spreadsheets for fun." Then they enthused about their latest geeky infatuation -- creating a kind of alphabet of gender symbols (if I understood them correctly -- it was difficult for me to follow without visual examples).
Earlier that week I had asked what they would like to do when we were together and they mentioned feral play, which I also wanted. So after talking for a couple of hours we went to the cuddle room to play (so that I didn't have to fret about breaking anything) and wrestled without hands, head-butting and body-slamming, sniffing and nipping, laughingly trying to pin or throw each other. It was delightful, but short, because it was difficult for them to stay in a non-sexual space. We stopped, and they said something to the effect of having forgotten why they made that decision and not wanting it any more, and I told them that since when they said no they were sober (as in, not feeling an immediate craving for sex), they would have to be sober again when they told me yes. They expressed gratitude for that response.
We talked about their reasons some and about how they found it difficult to refrain, and I talked about how I had been through periods of non-sexual romance with several of my partners and said that I was good at sort of de-escalating sex if it had been decided against by one of us. They asked if I thought I had always had that ability or if I grew it, and I said I thought I always had it, but later I realized that they were really asking if I thought it was a skill or an innate ability which is a different question. I think the skill of de-escalating sex is almost the same skill as de-escalating anger, and I learned to do that long before I ever had sex.
Near the end they told me that they had thought about me and even considered my past advice during the time we were apart, which surprised me. If I had been thinking fondly of someone who I knew wanted to be with me, I wouldn't have been able to resist reaching out to them, so I had just assumed they had shut me firmly out of their mind or that they thought negatively of me in the times they were not in touch. It filled me with questions and made me wonder about other people who tend to flake out of my life for chunks of time.
They also told me recently via text that they wanted to be a very close friend to me, someone I can rely on for help without fear of losing. They said they want to really know me, "from the birds eye of years of intimate accumulation." That they want to be family, or in my terms, they want to be one of my lifesharers. This was something I desperately wanted them to want last year, and hearing it now feels surreal. I told them:
"what you say you want with me makes me want to cry. I can't choose to have faith in that yet because it would really be too much to trust in that and lose it. I want it so much. But I can try to have faith right now that you want to know me and you want to be my friend. I want those things and vice versa. and I want you to want to be known by me also."
I also told them (in very brief terms) how my prosopagnosia makes it really important for me to have access to photos of people I love, and they just started sending me photos of themself. It means the world to me and it makes me feel a lot more connected to them. They also have made a point to let me know when they expect to have delayed responses, so that I don't worry that they have just cut contact. They have told me how they want to see me again and made an effort to set the next plan at the end of the first two times, which is very affirming.
I felt more loved and attended-to by them in the past few weeks than I have in all the other time we spent together combined. They are sharing parts of their life with me that bring them joy as well as the parts of their life that are stressful. They text thoughtful replies to my questions and ask questions about my life, sometimes even initiating conversations.
The next time I saw them we met at a hookah bar, which was still good conversation but it was loud and felt the opposite of intimate. We talked about the kinds of connections we want to create and cultivate, and when I talked with them about intimacy practice, I realized I hadn't done it in over a year, maybe 2 years. Last time was a workshop I ran at Southern Fried Queer Pride, with a bunch of strangers. It works so much better when it is a group of people who have set the intention to invest in each other and learn about each other. I still feel like that is far out of reach, and I feel a mild sense of dissatisfaction at the various silos of my people, where trust is non-existent and not fair to even ask for at this point. I just hope that all my little seedlings of friendships can grow into a single garden of mutualistic symbiosis.
Most recently when I saw them they had just learned something that had them very stressed out, so we spent most of the time discussing it. It wasn't anything new, but I feel like they're listening more now than last time we were in touch. Still, I know they have a series of intense stressors for the next four weeks so I expect diminished contact for a bit. In the back of my mind is a worry because I am historically terrible about discerning the difference between behavior due to a pattern and behavior due to a situation. I just have to stay in touch with my feelings and not let myself get in that place where I start feeling responsible for...
and that's where I stopped writing, on June 8th. Since that time at the hookah bar over three months ago, I haven't seen them and have exchanged only very minimal texts. I think they are back in that uncommunicative rut but I think and I hope that they are making effort to get out of it. I recently had a conversation with them about how I think they need to prioritize their own health and well-being but I'm not sure it got through. They did take some positive steps afterwards though so I have a little hope.