from METAMORPHOSIS, 2017. Art Directed + Photographed by Teff Theory

I See You

I walk away with a laugh and think to myself, “this man; he knows nothing about me and yet he looks at me different. He might even see me.”

by Stephanie C. Nnamani

I talk about anything and nothing, awaiting the moment the light shifts from his eyes, bellowing disinterest. Nothing.

He is present. And it commands me to be present, too.

However, I recognise this; this intrigue. It is not foreign to me. My magnetic mystery casts its spell. And as it is, people love a thing mysterious until it is no longer – to them. It satisfies the need to understand ourselves through the understanding of others. To peel skin, and shed. And for those who have yet fully met themselves, it is a havoc of a particular fabric. A fabric of which we are not careful, could result in a suspension of self. And, so caution follows this intrigue closely.

Months pass, I’m convinced I think nothing of it; nothing of his presence, of his company. I’m certain not to allow my uncertainty to bait him. To bring him to believe we are building love; we are making love. I tell him outright, “My desire is to be alone, and this desire is my own. It is not an insult to your company. I am not who you wish for me to be. I’m not sure when nor if I will ever be. You are of a rich, rich goodness. Your intentions are pure, and my only wish is to preserve You.” He communicates he understands. He neither applies nor extends pressure.

I ask for his patience. My commitments are elsewhere. With self, with school, with soul.

Competing with my commitments, was a subsiding, softening sorrow. Of a life lived prior. I had gathered its lessons and began to part from it, and bend it to the sound of a different song. Even then, I knew this pain had no place in this new breath; this new being.

I meet a man. Another man. He offers a warm body and a listening ear. It is just the medicine I need. So, I ingest. Months pass and the connection transforms into…something else. It isn’t romantic; it isn’t friendship, either. It occurs without explanation; it is immediately understood. And, it transcends. The connection, however, survives. because we acknowledged its shift.

I return, and the-man-who-looks-at-me-different awaits me, with the same vigour in his eyes; in his gait. He is intoxicatingly at ease when with me. I think: I may be his medicine. What will he do when he is cured?

Does this connection have the potential to evolve?

For women like me who heal and who are healing: know that you cannot plant energy, you can only expand it. We reserve this truth; rely on it as a guide to where energy is expended, transformed, and extended. So, if I find him pleasing, it is because he is a reminder that there is a goodness I, too, am capable of being; of producing; of attracting; of expanding.

He did not plant the goodness; he awakened it; strengthened it; emboldened it.

My joy is to meet him where he is. His warmth swells and extends a welcome, leaving its own residue in every diction, touch, action, thought. I am affirmed in the reality that this is a Being who knows himself; who has met himself. And, because he has seen him, he can see me; meet me.

I think fondly of the Igbo expression for “I love you”. It is “Ahụrụ m gị n’anya.” It has a literal English translation that reads, “I see you (in my eye)”. I love him in my language; I love him in his; I love him in languages that have yet been.

I am haunted by moments my mouth will form the words and make known what already is. I spend weeks rehearsing where, and when.

I find I require less to articulate. His presence met with mine seems to expand the Other, seamlessly. Additionally, I discover his pleasure in being something for me. It inspires me, to be something in return. I love him. And, I want to tell him, yet I fall back into my rehearsals. Until one evening.

We are seated on his sofa, eating late dinner on a Saturday. I prepared chicken marinara with a side of salad. HGTV’s House Hunters is on the television. We both share a joke here and there and one arises about his creepyness, and before I know it, I say the words: I love my little creep.

I continue eating, stiffening with silence as I grow deeper in the breath of being beneath the betrayal of my tongue.

He looks to me with unrelenting eyes, and I avoid. He looks again. I commit my eyes to his, and he asks me to repeat. Then, it hit me: all this while rehearsing, only to freestyle. Only for the words to fall from my tongue precisely when it saw fit; when it was ready.

When the Spirit recognises rhythmic resonance, it is of a magic that compels it not only to look, but to see. With seeing comes dutiful observation, consideration, and care.

The love that is allowed thereafter is not one that is found. It is a love that is made; that is built. That is the love that I know. And because I know it, I feel it. It is of me, for me, and in me.


Words and Image are my own. All Rights Reserved.