“where does desire come from?” she asked. he made no reply, but she knew he was still awake. it was not an idle question. sometimes desire came on her like a hot wind, a hurricane, sweeping her violently along in its wicked vortex. it made her do strange impractical things, lose sleep, drive long distances, take terrible risks. yet she knew so little about it. where did it come from?
3:02. the cool light from the clock numbers painted the ceiling a pale blue. parachuting snowflakes spun across the window. she turned towards him to rest on her side, addressed his silent form. “I think,” she said, “it comes from completeness. when you know there is something out there that fits you, that makes you whole, you just have to have it.” the words sounded small and thin. she went on: “something in you recognizes it, and you just have to have it. and usually you can’t even say what it is in the other person that does it. there are so many good-looking people in the world, but when the desire comes on you so hard it scares you, it’s different. completeness. desire driving you to madness and completeness.” her eyes darted to the clock and then to his face. 3:07. his breathing was regular now, his mouth slightly open. she smiled.
she rolled onto her back again. once she had read that chaos is desire without an object of desire. incompleteness. emptiness. hunger. a hungry dog that can never rest. maybe completeness is the force that harnesses all the nameless desires that drive our chaotic lives. your whole life you’re battered, you’re beaten up by these invisible forces, these hungers and insecurities. after a while you don’t even notice it anymore: life is chaos and chaos is life. then one day you catch a glimpse of completeness in another person’s eyes. it doesn’t wave and nod politely. it grabs you by the throat and terrifies you. all those desires are brought to focus by completeness. sharp blistering focus. it can spin your head off.
she remembered that night, after the movie, after the wine, watching him play piano in the darkened lobby. she hadn’t let him finish the song. she remembered when she dropped into his eyes, expecting to hit bottom, and instead she kept falling and falling and falling.
falling is the right word for it, really. but when you fall in love, where are you falling from? where are you falling to? the blue light shifted slightly as the numbers changed. 3:17. she propped herself up to look at the swirling snow. she felt giddy and girlish and happy lying next to him. she had nearly crashed twice on the long drive up, deranged from lack of sleep, sliding in the snow. having so nearly slept at the wheel of a moving car with a screaming radio, she now was not sleepy in a warm bed next to this man. some radiant energy kept her mind humming. she lay back, drifting back into philosophy. falling in love is not like a rollercoaster or a skydive, she thought, where you see the plunge coming. it’s like waking up from a dream and realizing only then that you’re falling, that you’ve been falling for a long time. it was there all along, only now you know it. now you’re in it, swept along by the winds of desire. maybe it’s like the astronauts that fall and float at the same time. her stomach gave a tiny sympathetic lurch, which awoke an echoing yearning farther down.
there was a secret spot inside her body where the completed two-of-them came together perfectly. she learned this one humid night long ago as he thrust himself deep into her, held her so close she wanted to scream and not-scream. she held tightly to him, not breathing, adjusting herself to admit him as much as possible, the sweat rolling off both of them in great drops. from the confused swirling smoke in her brain came a sudden certain thought: this is where I belong, where he belongs. this is the center of the two-of-us. I want this to last forever. I must never forget this.
she never did. since that night, she thought of the secret spot, of how to join their bodies in passion, every minute of every day. she could make her mind go to that spot and feel the mournful waiting emptiness. punishing desire disordered the details of her life, but it gave strange calming order to her soul. as if: the chaos that resulted from her pursuit of this passion was not her problem. as if: she was liberated from the chaos that had mercilessly haunted her before. where is the center of the universe? where does desire come from? before, she had been one of those spinning orbiting clods, wandering, skittering, pointlessly disheveled and diverted by unseen forces. now, floating in free fall, she was at the center… she was motionless. she could see the sparking stars hissing by. she saw the brightly colored planets spinning around her in silence. but she was calm. she was completed by her desire.
4:01. the snowfall was slacking. he snorted in his sleep and made a small smacking sound, turned towards her. she reached out her finger and gently gently touched his lips.
sleep was coming for her at last.
she was grateful for that.
she was grateful for this man.
she was grateful for desire.