Monday, December 26, 2011

Prickles, Tingles, and Such

There is no mistaking its presence; you feel it in the spine, midway between the shoulders and the sternum, a tingle working its way up and down the spine, transporting the elation and excitement as though they were visiting royalty.  In effect, elation and excitement are visitors, bringing you news of the sudden connection of random particles within your imagination.

These visitors are soon joined by yet another visitor, one you chose to think of as a collision of audacity and mischief.  You were not expecting these visitors.  They arrive with no advance notice.  Nevertheless, you are far from disturbed or in any way irritated by their presence, even though the implications of their arrival are clear.  You are about to undergo a transformative ride.  To mix the metaphor, your interior furniture is about to be rearranged to accommodate these guests.

The aptness of a mixed metaphor makes perfect sense to you.  For one thing, you are about to fall in love.  For another, you are in all probability going to show off.  No question about the amount of coffee you will consume nor the nervous fidgeting, self-examination, straightening your posture, tidying places and things in no immediate need of tidiness.

The object of this response is a vision of a remarkable set of problems, dynamics, and behaviors, presenting themselves to you as an idea that wants your attention.  Although not jealous, this object understands the nature of its power, because its arrival does carry the accoutrements of power with it.  This arrival wants things from you in such a way that you are once again made aware of the second set of physical symptoms, beyond the elation and excitement.  These symptoms announce their arrival with prickles.  Prickles of anticipation.  Prickles of doubt.  Your spine and viscera become playgrounds for it.

“It” of course is fear. Fear you will not do justice to the idea.  Fear that you will screw this one up.  Fear that at last you have encountered a relationship with a concept so layered with nuance and texture that you will surely screw up.

One way or another, whether the new arrival is the potential of a relationship with an actual person or the arrival of an idea for a project or, and yes, this has happened, too, both, simultaneously, you know that both the dizziness of the elation and the prickle of fear are necessary if the relationship is to have any chance of success.

Of course you set forth with complete confidence.  Ah, what Dr. Kubler-Ross might have said, breaking your venture into component stages?  Would she not have noticed you showing off for the new arrival?  Perhaps a word or two, here and there, but a special word, something you don’t ordinarily use.  Perhaps an elaborate demonstration of risk to demonstrate how many resources you are bringing forth to be present for this remarkable arrival.  Every love and every story that comes to you is, of course, the most remarkable yet.  But just when you feel you have earned this chemistry, this stunning sense of attraction to this new love, the prickle of fear returns to remind you of the need to risk everything for it, to hold nothing back, lest it tire of you, become bored with you, seek other company, more intimate company, elsewhere.

Ah, congratulations.  You’ve experienced sexual jealousy before, but have you ever experienced sexual jealousy with an idea, a concept, a vibrant, shimmering idea that fills your being with responses you were only vaguely aware of and, thus, had not stopped to hone them?

Hurriedly you set up exploratory meetings, coffee dates.  Meals. Walks. Chores, even conflicts.  You are checking to see if there is a future, a way into the give and take between you and it where you set out to forge a language ideal for you both.  You wish to learn its language and impart yours to it.

A sudden return of fear, reminding you of all the failed relationships of the past.  Had these in fact failed because there was insufficient substance at the beginning, or was there some greater sense of you being derelict in your attentions?

You try for a time to think of the times the chemistry worked, where the elation and mischievousness blended with the fear, bringing you out the other side with something you had not anticipated.  But the fear reminds you, that was then; you cannot duplicate nor clone success, you must live with the tingle and the fear.  These are the necessary tools of your kit.  They keep you honest, neither arrogant nor self-consciously cautious.

Because you are an heterosexual male, you refer to the vision, the idea, the concept as feminine, thus you show off for her, you take a few risks, and she has not shown any of the signs you feared.  She is still there.  As though you were some improbable flying ace from a World War I melodrama, you push your goggles up on your forehead, bow with gallant exaggeration to the fear and the tingle, kiss your fingertips in dramatic flair, then leap into the unknown.

Moments later, even as you are falling, smaller versions of the image come to you.  In that great, falling prickle of fear, you unscrew the cap of your pen, then set it to the blank page, capturing first a word, then another, and soon, for moments, you are where you should be, beyond fear and elation, but no stranger to either of them, and for a moment, she is smiling at you, and this is how you think to spend your days.

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