here was an email from New Zealand. Mike was coming to L.A. Would I have some time to see him?
That’s all it took.
The monstress awoke.
She who doesn’t give a shit about anything or anyone, the past or the future. She who decides something in the moment and then goes about getting it with the utmost disregard for rules, expectations, others.
I felt her wake and draw her sword. She slashed effortlessly at the house of cards I’d built for myself. All the lies I’d told myself to coerce my body and spirit into a relationship that kept me profoundly frustrated.
I felt her wake and demand flesh. The lover was on his way and she was going to take him in.
Mike told me where to meet him for lunch. It was a restaurant in a sweet yellow cottage in Santa Monica. Felt like a home. I walked in, my heart’s drumming covering all other noises while I weaved between tables to his, then sat in front of him like no time had passed since the first day we had done that in Christchurch, six years before. It was wonderful to look into his eyes without the filter of my shouldn’ts. We were both smiling, possibly idiotically, at each other and at the recognition that there was something between us, something undeniable and quite powerful.
We lingered. I blew off work. We ambled to the boardwalk. I could feel the heat of his body on my side as we walked closely. His hand brushed mine a few times. Then he deliberately took it.
A dam broke. A wild current ran up my spine. Suddenly we were two bodies of water, meeting, ineluctably merging—we would have been incapable of separating, if we’d tried.
I believe we kissed.
I remember being overwhelmed by the complexity of sensations my body was throwing at me moment to moment. The monstress cared nothing for the fortress. She used the surge of current to power her sword and danced wildly on the shattered bricks, each swing shining light onto the lies I’d worked so hard to conceal.
Including the now obvious physiological fact that my body functioned perfectly well, thank you very much. It was ready and willing, determined to go where this current would take it.
That moment on the Santa Monica boardwalk became imprinted in my memory: people milling about; bright, tight fitness wear; roller-blading; exercising; eating . . . and us two, embracing, and me, flooded with a vitality I had convinced myself was out of my reach forever. I surrendered, free of fear for an instant, and in absolute wonder of my body’s ability to come alive—an ability I immediately credited Mike for. I was awash with relief. I am alive! Come what may, I am alive!
I somehow made it back to the office and called my husband to tell him that Mike was in town just for one night and that I was meeting him for dinner.
But instead of heading for a restaurant, I went to his hotel.
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