In Protest of Intimacy. In Protest of Solitude.

A man in the northern lights

In Protest of Intimacy. In Protest of Solitude.

Tonight the sky was alive with the Northern Lights. It seemed like I was staring out from within a campfire. The lights were white and fiery, stunningly fast, like the translucent trail of a geisha’s robe in the swift and patchy animation of an art film. In a moment a quarter of the sky was illuminated, and in the next it faded to a star-speckled black. I swear I felt their presence, almost believing they were spirits rushing across the void.

I chased them. I walked away from the trees into the naked road. Drinking them in, I stood mouth to the heavens, between the yellow stripes centred upon the asphalt. It strains the neck to look up, so I decide—what the heck—to lie down beside the road. I bet I was adorable/odd-looking: my head padded by two hoods (I wore a onesie under my clothes to ward the chill).

Aurorae always bewilder me. So powerful. The stimulus is unlike everything my mind has adapted to, making it hard to process as real. My eyes keep scanning for the borders of the screen I’m viewing this fiction on. Skull to the earth, my brain struggles to contextualize the image of a living sky occupying my full field of view. I must constantly reassure myself “this is what I am seeing.” Such hijacking must have tripped my existential hyper-awareness and for a moment—a fleeting, delightful moment—I am not the least bit lonely.

True, I wish you were here with me, shoulder to shoulder, hand clenching mine in a tapestry of fingers. I feel your absence on my right: an uncomfortable asymmetrical gravity. I wish I led you here: prodded you to not to miss the spectacle, forced you to lie by the road with me and together choke on the bizarreness of reality. Here in the sunless grass my body has warmth for you. It’s been constantly emitting it into the atmosphere, trying to draw you in, pulsing slowly through the air, propagating across the planet until my quiet call becomes lost in the noise. It’s more detectable here on this lonely forest road, but still it is so soft you would need to be right beside me to feel it. Accordingly, I also have sensors, like ghostly tentacles, that wander through the night for your own warmth-call. Here they are finally free to stretch, for they most often pool in my bed confusedly searching for you there, their thirsty fury tormenting my night.

Yet there on that grass, it was better to be alone. Hear me: it was better to be alone. That moment was so strange and glorious in its seclusion—an entire campsite of friends and strangers slept about under plastic canopies and trailers, oblivious to that diamond night being submerged by the future. For this gentle portion of time I did not need you. I truly did not need you. Maybe you would have lost it for me, broken the fragile sublime by speaking (for it lives only in a sacred silence). Maybe your presence would distract me, and I would forget how wondrous it is to be a man alone: to have only one set of eyes from which to see, to glimpse visions that set you apart in the stream of beings flowing from time-immemorial until apocalypse, to have memories and experiences that are only your own. Oh how precious it is to have a self, to be able to trace the edges of something I can call “me.”

And yet, this only becomes evidence of how I require you. Even this satisfied privacy I wish to share with you. Yes, I think about you often. In fact, the thought of one day finding you is the pigment that dyes life’s daily monotony with meaning. I yearn for you, and am beautifully missing you from my heart.

But now I am reminded there is more here than my need. I want to give to you. My body has warmth for you; I want myself warming you as much as you warming myself want I. My mind has celebration for you; I want to discover your brokenness and kiss it. I want to hold you when you weep and to make your shame into a palace. I want to drink your beauty and swallow your ugly. I have so much for you. So much, that I’ve made a pantry in my soul where these gifts are all stored and preserved. As I build my life, I pack new inventions in there. Sometimes I visit it only to peek at these parcels and tremble, wondering whether you’ll cherish each one or dissolve their preciousness in an aloof blink. Regardless, they are yours.

I am readied to give from every tender part of me. But, in this grass, on this night, I want us both devoutly facing the sky: not the least bit compelled to turn to the other, content to hold in our souls an overwhelming reminder of how we exist singularly and separate from each other and be washed in the light of that powerful truth. And still, somehow, I want us simultaneously pointed also toward each other: spurning the sublime, ignoring the wonders around us, content to forsake our cosmic individuality, to let go of every unique experience that crafted our pearl of self, to drop it into the dark ocean of another soul just because we finally have the courage to lose it.

I want both from you. I will continually wander alone and dare the skies for more of me, and dare you for more of you to learn to love.

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