“Are you going to be writing about this?” he asks. “Do you want a notepad?”
He’s teasing, of course, but no, I don’t need a notepad.
“That’s not how it works,” I tell him.
He raises an eyebrow, mock arrogant. This one loves to challenge me. At times, his behavior even borders on being rude, but there is something in it that I love.
I think maybe it helps me to trust him that he doesn’t pretend to be nice.
But also there is a guileful playfulness to it; it’s a method used to avoid taking each other too seriously.
Which is my technique, actually, being used against me.
“Then how does it work?” he wants to know.
I distract him easily by asking after his own interests, and later he catches on and circles back to his original question, only to be distracted again.
Still, I like the question.
I’m curious too about how it works, about why I do it.
I’ve never given it that much thought. It happens without my even meaning for it to, the capturing of these moments that reach me for unknown reasons.
For their rarity, perhaps? Their beauty? Their soul-searchingness?
From that particular night, for example, there is one from just after I’d entered and thrust the wine bottle into his hands so that I could focus my attention on kicking off my black satin pumps.
It’s in the haphazard way they landed, so detached, transient, reckless, among his own neatly-lined shoes.
Perhaps what it says about us.
A second one of him as he sat across from me on the couch, smiling.
My being forced to recognize how little I know the appearance of his face, particularly in that repose.
A heart-crushing affection for the squareness of his teeth.
Another one in which he stands by the open window with a cigarette.
The hopelessness of the smoke being blown in rather than out.
“That’s why you’re attracted to me: because I’m Brazilian,” he muttered, in that moment, though I can’t place what led up to it.
“Brazilian?” I questioned, laughing, coming up next to him. Because he’s not.
And he turned to look at me straight on, with an expression of either disdain, or irritation, or perhaps just a left-out-in-the-cold sadness.
“Resilient,” he corrected me.
I’m attracted to him because he’s resilient? Is that even true?
On some level, it doesn’t matter. I couldn’t figure that out in the present tense even if I wanted.
Which is probably what I’m doing with the mental pictures, actually.
They are taken simultaneous to the experience occurring so that later, when I’m far away from him, when he doesn’t know I’m considering it, I can shut myself up in the darkroom of my mind.
I like the slow quality of this, of pulling the meaning out of the shadows.
As often happens, one of the moments from that night comes as a surprise. I didn’t even know it happened until I hold its negative up to the light.
It’s of me, dancing, in his dimly-lit living room, my tight, black slip sliding relentlessly up my hips.
“The thing about you is that you think that no one can figure you out,” he’s saying. “But you can’t get away with that with me.”
Scrutinizing this detail, I’m seized by a certain agitated excitement.
Do I think that? And how well does this one know me, really?
My thoughts hit now upon the photographer’s proverb.
Expose for the shadows. Develop for the highlights.