There was a time that I was different than I am now.
I was coupled -- for a while, with a husband, and at other times with boyfriends and lovers. My world, my space and even my affect were completely different in those days.
I see couples around me now and notice the subtle secret handshakes of this other world that I once inhabited. How they instinctively know where to reach for the other's hand. Exactly how much to upturn their cheeks to receive a kiss. The right angle for their arm to embrace their partner.
The intimacy, the presence of another person has become part of them, and the space around them bends to accommodate, to take in. The reaching, the adjusting isn't conscious. But it's there, a delicate balance, caught up with words and actions and sharing. Consummation, of a sort.
It seems to me that the whole point of the awkward naked stiltedness of early dating is to get you to this place -- of openness, of seamless fitting together, of knowing where to reach and when.
When I was coupled, when I was younger, when I knew and performed the secret handshakes, I too reached and adjusted and embraced. But it's been a really long time. I worry that all it takes to be in this world as a singleton of a certain age -- the keeping so much to oneself, the not getting one's hopes up, the readiness to do nearly everything alone in the end -- works at cross purposes with the emotional collagen needed to be part of a pair, to internally adjust and open. How to be hard, until you're needed to be soft? How to be closed, until it's time to be open?
If the opportunity comes again, will I be ready? Will I even be able?