WHERE SWIPING LED TWO SOULS

One name each, two shared interests and five pictures apiece. Our matching energy led us to both swipe in the right direction, and after a few messages, that bounced the right kind of words between us, we met and then guided each other through the eighteen hours that would give me my first touch of intimacy in eighteen months. The first I allowed into my life since the pain, from a love that was torn away, had caused me to close myself off from that.

Both of us knowing, before even meeting, that his flight out limited the amount of time we could share. Before the profound awareness, that came by the end, of time shared in another life. For this one, we both only had this to give.

For him because he’d built his life to be lived wild and protected the freedom he worshiped. Sustaining it by living in two vans that were moved to every corner of the countries in which they were stationed. Then, when not in them, he crossed continents to reconnect with souls he’d met along the way. Traveling through every type of wilderness the world offered; he photographed all of it, including the strangers across it that spilled their life stories to him. While they spoke, he led by example, showing how one lived free of the binds that he thought limited life’s experiences.

For me because I’d already connected with the one man who ran deeper than even a soul mate, and I’d stopped fighting my faith in him. The one I couldn’t see because of the blocks separating us, but could always feel as close to me as I was to myself. For now, while that one took the time needed to heal his soul, I chose to take a break, from battling the blocks inside of me, and let this wild soul into my life.

He came with a promise, from me, to act as his guide, so he could capture the beauty of NYC’s east side as seen through the eyes of someone who called it home. Walking up, as I sat outside the coffee shop I had typed out the story of my life at, he carried the equipment he used to photograph his. Standing a full foot taller and bristling with a long beard, the kindness of his soul quickly shined from his light blue eyes, as he held out his hand to say hello. The hand that would later show me what my hard work, clearing out everything weighing me down, had led me to become.

I planned to show him the small park a few blocks over. The one whose wild nature spoke to me every morning, as I reveled in the beauty of its trees while contemplating the flow of my life.

Before starting our joint wander, we sat down, and I opened up. Comfortable sharing the depth of my thoughts with him within minutes, neither knowing what we would share in the hours ahead. It started with a mention of my reminiscing, while I’d been waiting, over the writing I’d done in the spot we were sitting. That led to me reading, and him listening intently, to some of those words that had flowed from my soul.

After his private reading, we stood to walk, passing through the community garden that he lamented looked like one losing its life. Surprised by what he saw; I had intended he see the heart of the locals who cultivated it. Those who were celebrating the life of one of their own, at that moment, across its dusty surface. He took a few shots inside, and then one from the out directed up at the fading masks, created out of life’s recyclables, which lined the top of the fence circling it. His wildness spoke up against the way my city strangled the life out of its nature, and he couldn’t understand how anyone could live near so little. My heart spoke about what bounces between all of the people, that are its biggest source of energy, and how that’s what drew those here that chose this life.

Walking into the park we were drawn to the sound of people composing a spontaneous rhythm, as they instinctively beat their hands on top of drums they had brought there. We sat in an open seat, and while squeezed between its iron arms, we felt the energy being drummed into the air, and I let the goodness of his envelope me. That’s when I decided I’d let him through the barrier I’d constructed, and would enjoy touching my lips to ones that didn’t belong to those of the one man I still wanted mine to touch. I knew this wouldn’t feel the same, but I wanted to feel it, so I opened myself up to wherever my time with this man guided me.

We rose so he could take a few shots as we weaved through the blocks neighboring my park; their walls colored over to bring towering scenes to life, and make one stop in wonder at the beauty free-flowing out of people into the world. His camera memorized the pieces nature would wash away, and then the chilling air drove us inside to share a few small plates while a glass of wine each warmed us. The depth from early on came back and led us both into our authenticity. He shared stories of the parents that had raised him to wander. The childhood started next to the sea’s cliffs in England, before crossing over so he could grow to cherish the raw landscape of Canada, and then instilled a love for the natural beauty living in Africa. He spoke of his profound connection to the mother, whose death, in his 20s, killed his 9–5 life and drove him back to Africa, where he lived a year in solitude, surrounded by everything else that was happier living wild.

He explained his unrestrained ways, but also spoke of the three women he’d been connected to, at each of their own times, across his life. His lasting love for them shined through, and led me to describe mine to him.

The unconditional love for the one my heart told me to hold out for, until he could grow free enough to feel it again, but that would preserve its place even if he never chose to show his for me again.

Halting in the telling, I made sure he knew this wasn’t stopping me from seeing him as a man. He understood, and we accepted each other’s truth.

Having grown close sharing our lives and our food, I invited him back to the quiet comfort of my apartment so we could continue our discussion over cups of tea. On the walk over, I stopped to explain my intentions more clearly. I let him know that no decision had been made, one way or the other, on what would happen once we were alone, and that going in wasn’t a signal. I went on to add that I would choose in the moment, but if he wanted more, then he should get some protection with the chocolate he was about to pick up. Admiring the bluntness he let me know he would respect whatever I decided.

We drank our tea, as our voices spoke thoughts we agreed on, and I felt the energy between us heating. The kiss he leaned over to give me, the first I had wanted in over a year, felt like I had expected, but I’d already decided I wasn’t ready for anything requiring protection. I didn’t want to go that far, but I wanted to get closer to him and connect with the part of myself lying dormant.

We went far enough for the sound that came out of him to match his look, as he roared like any wild bear would. Far enough that it shifted the block of fear inside me that was keeping me from getting close to a man again. The shift in energy shook my heart; picking up on it he switched his tone while wrapping me up in gentleness. The feeling that he was a man who could end up hurting me tried to come up and overwhelm me, but I refused to let fear take over; running it out through the tears that fell. Holding me in the safe space we’d created, he told me what he was feeling. Freely, he said — “I love you.”

I felt his truth at that moment, and then later I tapped into what his eyes saw while looking at me. The beauty I had transformed into, by stretching and twisting out all of the painful energy that had been trapped inside of me, was shining through in every move I was making while with him. I told him he was helping me see myself, so he started tracing all of my lines while voicing what each of the moves I’d held with growing power, during my yoga practice, had sculpted. We shared in this intimacy until we grew tired, and then agreed that he would sleep over, so we could wake up next to each other.

With no pressure from either at night, the morning was free of regret, since everything shared was clear of any influence.

Tented in a moment of brightness that he constructed by pulling the whiteness of the sheet up high over and above us, I was taken back into a feeling. I couldn’t remember where, but I felt a glimmer of the two of us together in the exact same way in a completely different place.

The moment, which I realized was from another life, came on and then passed by quickly. I told him and, for reasons of his own, he believed the same. I understood our deeper truth then. We were two souls that had agreed to meet again briefly, at a time when it would give us each something we needed. What I gave him is his truth to know. Mine is that the gentle soul of this wild man helped me see my power to create beauty and free myself from the last of the fear blocking my love.