Intimacy. The state of being intimate, innermost, essential. Honesty. Sexual relations, especially when illicit. Ability to make commitments to others, and to love. Erikson's sixth stage of human psychosocial development: intimacy vs. isolation.
But here's the catch: if you choose isolation, you will die.
And here's the reassurance on the heels of that warning: if you are reading these words, you have already chosen intimacy. There is a thread of passion between us. I am crouched here in the glow of my computer screen whispering, writing, fashioning my story. And you are listening. Maybe if I put my worst face forward, I can scare you away. I find sunsets boring. Housework? I never do my share. I don't own a hairbrush. Even small crowds make me nervous. Yes, you'll have to get used to my cussing. What possessed you to buy those shoes?
Look, I am mean. I am crazy, weak, bitter, and blind. No, wait. Come back. I can be courageous, too. And yes, I can even be kind.
Follow me. There's no need to mention the ripped screen door. I know, I've been meaning to fix it. Just keep walking. Come inside. I'll show you my unwritten books, nicotine withdrawal symptoms, scarred veins, the chemical remnants of antidepressants, my secret penchant for celebrity-gossip rags, the tattoo I had removed. And there's your jacket--the one you left on my floor last spring.
Hush, I already know there's a name for this, a diagnosis, a fitting song, a Web site, a 12-step program. But I don't want any of those things. I just want inside.
Maybe we can find a comfortable spot here between memory and possibility. We can pick things apart over warm sake. I'll pour yours if you'll pour mine. Can I get you anything? Put on a favorite song? I'm glad you came. Just, please, leave no more behind than you can help me sort through. Tell me your stories of unsimple suicides, severed relations, the tantrums you threw because you were too well fed. Show me the paths marked by acupuncture needles, the hole in your heart, the unnamed streets that cut a labyrinth through the subdivision of custom homes. We'll trace our way back through that neighborhood.
You'll forgive me, won't you, when your favorite songs make me cringe? They remind me why I left a long time ago. Put on something else and I'll follow you now. I'll wear white like the bright bone of my promise. I'll speak in whispers, wear blue and blend into the dawn. I'll walk tall, wear red so the blood won't show.
I won't be lying when I whisper, It's beautiful here.
I won't abuse the power if you won't.
I'll call your bluff if you'll call mine.
I'll trust you, even if you do not trust me.
Remember: if you choose isolation, you will die. But it's still tempting. Sign off, close the magazine, tell all our friends it was the other one who got scared.
I know we'll be back.
Here we'd imagined it was the fear of death that was driving us all these years. Should we be relieved or horrified to discover that it was in fact the fear of life? Of intimacy, intimus, within.
These interior cities and subways are earthly places. How long can we stay? I'll hold your hand if you'll hold mine.
Ariel Gore is the founding editor of "Hip Mama" magazine and the author of "The Hip Mama Survival Guide" (Hyperion).