dancing_on_squares_of_the_nightI met Celeste when I was nine and she was twenty-seven.  Granted it was a wide age spread, but I was in my prime and had enough naiveté under my small belt to know that wisdom has little to do with life experience and much more to do with that intangible, inexplicable thing that fates two people to know each other deeply before they have ever met.  There was an attraction between us that was more than magnetic and slightly less than psychotic.   I knew I was too young for her to legally or ethically love me the way I desired.  I also had some primal and absurd notion that when our ages converged to a more reasonable span, we might consummate our feelings in a physical realm.

Celeste was a family friend and since I had a knack for relating to adults, she took me under her wing to hang out at her lake house for weeks on end.  Celeste was British, intimidatingly well educated and hysterically funny.   To make matters worse, Celeste possessed a seductively sexual visual that motivated all sexes to hit on to her in every social situation she visited.  Spending time with her was like being a groupie or roadie for a band, but never getting to have sex or move equipment.

I fell deeply in love with her.  I memorized her poetry, having heard it only once, still able to recite it to this day.

I was painfully aware that I couldn’t have her.  I had nothing to offer.  Occasionally I could talk her into allowing me to massage her in a strictly platonic manner.  I drank her skin with my fingers.  I watched her dress like a privileged voyeur.  I was her secretly jealous confidant, confiscating every word she said about various male and occasionally female lovers, while my heart quietly shredded at the seams.

She and I lost touch when I was thirteen.  I was devastated.  I wrote tortured poetry about her all through high school.  Eventually I fell in love with available people and had reciprocally satisfying relationships.  Sounds sort of boring when I say it that way.

When Google became a verb, I searched for Celeste on the Internet yearly.  Though my web sleuthing continually failed, fate acquiesced, delivering her to me one afternoon at a lunch I hadn’t planned on attending.

Beaming from the center of Chaya Venice restaurant I spotted a stunning woman appearing as if professionally lit by a party planner.  Was I hallucinating or was she eyeing me from across the room.  I looked around, confused.   Was there someone behind me she was trying to flag?  There was no one attuned to her gaze.  This woman was definitely checking me out.  I considered maybe I had slept with her before, but surely I would have remembered.  I started to panic, having no idea who she was exactly, even through the salute of goose bumps exploding across my legs and arms.

She approached me as the rest of the world faded in a synchronized vanishing.  It was a disorienting moment that shifted all my senses into a nearly fight or flight response.  My hearing became acute, but only to the words she spoke.  My mind pieced her face back together from years of mistaken imaginings.  Yes, she was still as exquisite as I remembered, but all that was insignificant to me.  My attraction to her was encoded in my DNA.

We gripped each other like long lost lovers.  Our age span finally reaching something plausible.  We had hit that parallel world where we looked as if we might even be the same age.

It was weird enough that she recognized me after twenty-three years.  The painfully ironic part arose as we were trying to catch up on decades of life experience in the middle of a packed lunch crowd.   “I have a girlfriend.”  She blurted out as if it was a disease.  To me it felt like one.

Celeste was now admittedly and totally attracted solely to women, and in a happily committed relationship with one.

This couldn’t be right.  Who wrote this script?  This was not what an audience wants to see.  This was not my love story.  I had not waited two thirds of my life to reunite with an unhappy ending.

Somehow I maintained an element of denial instigated by my survivalist lizard brain and asked her to meet me at my house the following day, spiraling into a frenetic fantasy world and concocting a plot to seduce her.  This was not as dubious as it sounds.  I wanted us to love each other again, but in an adult way with all the delicious things that grown-ups get to do.  Okay, it still sounds creepy.

Celeste showed up at my domicile a half hour late.  She said she misplaced her keys and we laughingly dismissed that obvious denial and symbolism.

I offered her a drink and she said she didn’t do that.  I began to assemble the perfect Chopin martini with a pre-iced glass and Castelvetrano olives.  This was a huge ‘tell’ for anyone that knows me.  I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage at home since I was in the womb.  I also don’t drink during the day.  In fact, I will go for weeks or even months with out as much as a sip of alcohol.  Yet suddenly, after rediscovering the female blueprint of every attraction I ever sought to posses throughout my life, I was a daytime martini drinker.  Two olives and dirty!

Celeste looked great.  I could see she had even applied some make-up for me.  She spoke at length, filling me in on her fascinating life that involved travel, children, and philanthropic humanitarian efforts.  I quietly worked up the nerve to interrupt her obviously nervous rant, addressing the over fed elephant in the room.

“Did you know, . . .?” I said channeling my younger self, “that I was in love with you as a kid?”

She smiled widely.  “I probably knew that.”  She said, finally snatching some olives to take the edge off.

We stared at each without speaking, stewing in that unexpectedly dangerous sexual vibration.

I guess we were silent for too long because she breached it.  “My girlfriend and I discussed you before I came over.  She asked if I was attracted to you.  I told her I am.  She asked if she should worry.  I said, why worry.  It won’t help one way or the other.”

Celeste placed another olive in her mouth.  That mouth.  She earned a long silence.  Then she continued, “Anne and I watched your film Bar Girls, in bed this morning and it really turned us on.”

“Well that’s just great.”  I said, “You two probably fucked all morning to my movie.  Not what I would have hoped for exactly, but okay.”  I could feel my heart trying to kick box its way out of my chest, too many emotions trying to coexist in such a small space.  I poured another martini.  Fuck it!  This time, three olives.

“Actually we don’t have sex.”  Celeste volunteered.

I nearly did a spit-take.  “Come again?”  I said, regretting my poor choice of phrasing.

“Anne is incredibly spiritual.  She’s into meditation and ascension.”  Celeste explained.

I nodded patiently, carefully appearing non-judgmental while grappling with the interior explosions from this new information.  That, and the word ascension happened to be beyond my comprehension, so to avoid looking dumbfounded I decided it would mean alchemy.  Maybe I could turn her girlfriend into  a set of jewelry and make sure her pieces were never reassembled.

Celeste continued to explain.  “I think if some attractive and domineering character, like the cop in your movie came into her life, Anne would get swept up and would probably go for it.”

“What if that assertive cop character swooped in to your life?”  I asked, finally feeling the warm bravado of alcohol charting my path.

She laughed loudly breaking the room tension before we could build it again.  “I’m incredibly shy.”  She answered.   “I have never picked up on anyone.  Others have always had to make the approach.”

I intuited this to mean she wanted me to be more forceful.  I threw on the kind of music that makes foreplay seem redundant.  I casually asked her to come see my bedroom.  If I could convince myself it was an innocent request, she would have no reason no doubt me.

She followed me through the house to the room that’s really just a ‘front’ for the bed.  I was both terrified and thrilled by her obedience.

“Well, this is my room,” I said, introducing it with an odd Elizabethan gesture.  She was charmed by my awkwardness.

As if by rote, I lifted her up in my arms, gently lowering her on the bed.  I crawled on top of her like an animal, hovering above.   I could feel her energy resisting me.

“I can’t kiss you.”  Celeste said trying to convince herself.  Her hands clasped my back, gripping me closer while paradoxically holding me at bay.  “I want to, believe me I want to.”  She continued almost begging.   “I’m very loyal.  I would have to tell Anne first.”

“First, second, . . . it’s a fine line.”  I argued futilely.  “You can’t tell someone first because nothing in life would ever happen that way.  Besides, you did tell her that her worrying wouldn’t solve anything.  That’s a tacit admission that things would happen.”

She let the weight of her silence mirror my words.  I rolled aside sighing frustratingly.   I could see the daftness of my reasoning.  There was no way I was going to con this precious and lovely friend to do something that wasn’t good for everyone involved.  I wriggled back on top of her and we grasped each other tightly, painting each other with our body brushes.  Smoldering in the inevitability of our predicament.  It was obvious we were destined to love and crave one another without ever fulfilling ourselves sexually.

I walked her to the door as Celeste endlessly rooted through her bag for her keys, neither of us desiring to part.

“I hope you’ve lost them again.”  I said.

She eventually found her keys hidden in that compartment every woman must own in case they need to disappear.  Gripping my front door handle with some doomed finality, she mistakenly locked us both in.

“Okay, that’s enough.”  I said, spinning her around.  It happened without warning.  We ravaged each other in a heated burst that would last forever.  Nothing else mattered because it didn’t come from anywhere and wasn’t going there either.

After she left, she called me from her car.

“I just had to hear your voice again.  I’m so attracted to you.  You are so sexy and smart, . . . that smile, your eyes, . . .Ugh!”

“That sounds horrible.”  I said.

“It is.”  She agreed.

“You know I am going to be insanely hot for you for the rest of our lives.”   I said.

“I’m counting on it.”  She replied.  “At my funeral, as they’re lowering the casket into my grave, I expect you to pounce on top and dry hump it.”

“There will be nothing dry about it.”  I assured her.