As usual here in Mexico I was drinking my coffee on the porch this morning. My little stalker trailed down the street behind his father. He looked up, met my eyes and automatically veered toward me. He took a few steps before his father noticed and called to him. He stumbled toward the call, watching me steadfastly as he moved out of sight.
That mindless turn from his path toward me was poignant and familiar.
How many times in my life have I left my path and turned toward desire, untrammeled by thought? How many times has desire washed aside all considerations on the way to disaster? Or have I wanted someone or something so badly I knew that life wouldn’t continue I if were thwarted? How often have I told myself that wants were needs?
I can no longer count the times and the ways I fooled myself into believing my own short stories. Or how long I believed that creating or satisfying desire was, in fact, my worth; that it made me real to myself and others. And of course, I can remember very few things that drew me like a magnet. But I remember people.
I remember falling in love with Sister Uzell, a traveling evangelist with a low raspy voice that transported me to utter belief in her message. My whole body would tingle with joy when her eyes swept the congregation and happened on mine. During her altar call she would break into “In the Upper Room,” and I would be transformed. She was saving the world and I knew I could do it, too. I’m not sure now whether I dreamed of being with her, or of being her. I was ten years old and she was my idea of salvation.
I remember my personal “Fonzie”, the boy whose family from California visited my older sister. He held my hand, he gave me my first kiss, and my fear of him and that kiss was eclipsed only by my breathless anticipation.
I remember the senior in high school who seemed a man to me. It was his game; to look deeply into my eyes as he passed me in the hall, causing me to drop my books, blush and stammer when he said “Hi”. I would lurk outside his classrooms, or the gym, or near his locker, hoping for a look or a word.
And then I fell in love. I remember having the absolute certainty that I would die if we could not satisfy the passion we had aroused in each other. We needn’t use sense or caution. Our desire made us deaf and invisible and assured us that we had no effect on those who couldn’t see us.
With maturity I learned that although we all have desires, we needn’t act on every one of them. The sudden sparks we feel when a long time friend enters the room don’t predestine a mad affair. What feels inevitable as fulfillment to our lives may do best as a dream held in abeyance. Many of the simmering attractions in our life form the basis of loving friendships that are not enhanced by physical satisfaction.
Now I know for sure that all feelings pass and all fires die out if the flames aren’t fanned into white heat. In a way I hate that. In a way it comforts me.
When I feel a turning toward desire, it is a path toward possibilities that will enrich me. The stirrings assure me that I can live a life of passion still. I recognize who I am; that I can enjoy titillation without attainment and that my inherent curiosity and eagerness can further my mission and purpose rather than taking me to places that are wrong for me.
But what of my little stalker? He may not remember his attraction to me, but I hope he remembers his feelings of success when he actually makes it to my front porch, and that his desires can lead to times of great joy.