One of the most significant changes that come with intimacy with another person is the disruption of routine. Once you allow another person into your life, it ceases to be “business as usual”. We remain alone and come to enjoy being alone, especially after moving past a great disappointment – a heartbreak, a job loss, the collapse of a business. We fall into a comfortable and selfish cadence, one that only we dictate, cutting out our own smooth groove within time. Unrushed and unhurrying we go through each silent and solitary moment, savouring every second with ourselves. And then it happens, ‘The Thunderbolt’ as Mario Puzo puts it, strikes us. It is never a gentle drizzle that slowly engulfs us. It is a deluge that drowns out our own thoughts and voices. To keep it simple, I will call the collective of such times love. Time, as we think we understand it, then becomes shrunken or drawn out as our emotions dictate.
Our balance shifts; we are shaken and thrown off. That swaying before regaining a decent footing is exciting. We are consumed by our lovers as we allow them to consume us in return. A silence, a ‘disappearance’, a quiet moment taken for oneself becomes an egregious sin. The ‘I’ and ‘me’ are slowly strangled out and replaced by ‘we’ and ‘us’. Everything from then on ceases to become just our own. We are forced to share, modify, or even abandon the things we do, to accommodate our social-romantic-sexual interests. And just as our own time goes, so do our spaces. We move to one side of the bed, we sit at one end of a couch, and even our mental spaces are occupied: we think about them, even think about them when we are not thinking about them, we fantasize and daydream and include them in our future plans.
We may work towards a happy compromise, or merely a convenient one: a willing dance, a sensual tango, or a safe and boring shuffle. Sometimes we do not, nor do we want to, choosing instead to bear the friction, doomed to ever explain ourselves constantly like wayward children to scolding adults. Even through all this, there is a part of us that yearns for those gone days where we got to dictate our own pace, the part that expands with glee when our partners get angry at us and there is the risk of being left. Left alone. We would do almost anything to recover a semblance of that prior freedom and the feelings we had those times when we were beholden to no one but ourselves, when our time and our space were only ours. This is the fear for me, giving up time and space, my time and my space, for another person. I have fallen deep into the groove.