When I tell people I’m here to write about intimacy and art people ask me: What kind of intimacy? And I don’t have an answer or, I don’t have one answer. But people generally agree that we’re having a crisis around it. They allude to “the phones.” They say, "it's changed. It means something different.” I don’t know that we, as a culture, have a working definition of intimacy. I don't know if we even have a broken one. I also don’t know that I’m the one to define it but to me, it’s always had something to do with closeness, proximity to another human, but not necessarily a human, maybe also an object or a landscape.
What characterizes it?
- living with someone
- a kiss on a cheek
- a story recounted to a man on a bench about the recesses of your autoerotic desire
- finding yourself in a voting booth alone, legs exposed below the drawn curtain in a muffled quiet
- removing things—layers of our own clothing, possessions from our aging parents house, emotional boundaries that have kept us safe.
To experience intimacy do we always have to lose something?
How frightening losing has become. Losing face, money, time, efficiency, jobs. How could we risk intimacy when we feel that the little we have is so precious and precarious? Or perhaps the opposite is true: we think we have so much to lose.
I lose things all the time in my life but have trouble losing people. I hang onto them like war medals or childhood drawings even after they’ve disintegrated into unrecognizable versions of themselves, or versions that fall apart when I touch them. But I can’t let them go. Or, the only way I know how to let them go is throwing them in the trash or giving them away to someone else and that’s always seemed untenable. Here’s what I told my friend recently, “There’s no out door on my heart. Once you’re there, you’re there.” But at what cost? If you’re terrified of loss, and intimacy requires a vulnerability which can only be precipitated by loss, what does that do to the quality of intimacy you can sustain?
A man started talking to me today while I was reading a book at 5pm at a Gay Bar on Pride weekend which, I thought, was the surest way to make sure no straight men talked to me but, it seems, I was wrong and along came John. When I asked him what the best thing about Cleveland was he said, "I'm from here." Then he told me he got somebody pregnant in Kentucky but then left because of her "post partum." Sounds rough I said. I didn't say for who. A crisis of intimacy. Maybe.
I'm alone now. I’m wearing a Kimono. I wish you were here. All of you.