Because I Almost Had You

I can’t decide if these dreams I have about you are really nightmares.

While I’m dreaming, everything is wonderful. Your hands are on my hips, and we’re dancing. You smile, I smile back, and your intentions for me are affectionate and good. We both want the same things: passion, compassion, affection.

Not just affection. Love. Real, human love.

Your hands are on my hips.

But then I wake up.

In a cold sweat, usually, because I’ve come so close to what I want most: you. Unequivocally. There is no question about my desires. They’re the same sleeping as they are waking, but I come closer when I sleep.

And so I wake up crying, because I almost had you, but I never almost had you.

And you never quite look like you in my dreams. Your lovely face is in shadow, the shadow cast by your partner, who is not me. Or you look like a stranger. But I never care. I know it’s you. And that’s all I want. The actual you, regardless of your face, your body, your age or your wedding band.

I cannot make my emotions calm down. I cannot control my dreams. My heart beats outside myself, in your hands, your beautiful ringed hands.

Waking, I feel stupid for believing it was really you in my dreams, as if you would actually put your hands on my hips. I feel stupid for falling for it, but I never feel stupid for falling for you.

And I see your photograph on my dresser as I sit up in my cold sweat in the late morning, and I admit to having regrets. Of course I have regrets. I have regrets that you weren’t real in my dreams. I regret falling for it, and waking up to nothing but an empty bed and a photograph of you on my dresser.

But I never regret falling for you.

I swear you had your hands on my hips.

And in the dream, I thought through all my longing, all my tears, all my joy, and I thought it wasn’t in vain, because you loved me too. We could dance forever. I never had to search again. I never had to spend another night lonely. A future of possibilities blossomed in my love-drenched vision. It looked like you. It always has.

It always has.

But I awaken to empty sheets, empty promises. I awaken to nothing. Just a photograph of you on my dresser, and the taste of coming so close to laying your soul down next to me the way I’ve always needed to.

I swear you had your hands on my hips.

I don’t know if I love the dreams, or if I hate them because I have to wake up. It’s not a nightmare when it’s happening. It’s a nightmare when it’s not.

I’ve been drifting lately, drifting from you. Straying. It hurts. I used to have so much faith. But when I awaken from these dreams, I remember why I lost myself in the passionless numb to begin with: it hurts to come so close to you, and wake up without your hands on my hips. The agony of the distance between us overpowers the bliss of the closeness I feel to you, sometimes

But, ultimately, agonizing bliss returns, and I have to love you. I have to love you.

Every man I see is a shadow, and you are real. You are the first face I ever understood. You have feature, and clarity, and you are so sharply defined. Every man is a substitute, an excuse. None of them built my empire, but you.

I have loved you since I was a child, since before I was allowed to love you. I didn’t care, and I don’t care. May you give into vice and time, but may you stay you, and I will still love you. I will still keep your photograph on my dresser, so when I wake up in a cold sweat, the first thing I see is your face, sharp and clear and undeniable. I will still keep your photograph where I can see it when your hands turn to smoke around me as I awaken, and I can’t feel you next to me anymore, because in the instant I’m no longer sleeping, you’re no longer next to me.

I swear you had your hands on my hips.

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