Listening Blindly | Episode 3 | “River” by Bishop Briggs
Listening Blindly is a writing project that connects the emotion of a song with the visual of a story. Each story is written as if the song is playing inside of the story while it happens — the characters can hear it.
Turn the volume down, press play, and sink in.
It’s ironic. She told me a story about a guy she’d been talking to for a while. How he messaged her on Instagram and admitted that he’d seen her on Bumble. They hadn’t matched, but he just had to talk to her so he decided to send her a message through Instagram instead. What she didn’t realize at the time was that she was describing the exact way that we came to be sitting there, having that conversation.
She’s this thoughtful being; completely aware. She sees the world a bit differently than most and seems to enjoy spending time contemplating the nuances of life. When I picked her up on the corner of 1st and King she was a complete stranger that trusted me to take her on a weekend long trip, to a place she’d never been with a guy she’d never met. But by the end of the weekend I felt like I knew her.
When she first opened her mouth she poured out a stream of consciousness that sent me spinning into a whirlpool of my own thoughts. She was a sweet glass of cinnamon tea that I sat and sipped slowly. Giving myself the time to work through the complexity of the flavor that washed over my tongue. We conversed effortlessly yet we chose topics that required self awareness and reflection. When she asked me a question that I couldn’t immediately articulate a response to, she gave me time. She sat quietly and glanced at the water, as if she was deciding how she herself would answer the same question had I asked it to her.
The first date awkwardness somehow lingered in the air the whole weekend. Even after the first night which, to me, still seems like a dream. I got a little bit too drunk. We were sitting around playing Sorry for a few hours, laughing and sipping our drinks. Eventually we got tired and wandered outside to the deck where we blew up mattresses to sleep on. I’ve only broken memories from that point forward. I remember kissing her, feeling my fingers inside of her. Then I remember laying behind her with my arm wrapped around her, pulling her tightly to my chest, tighter than I’ve held on to another person in a very long time. Did I dream up all of these memories? Did we not even kiss? The only proof I now have of what went on the night before is her smile the next morning and the way she laughed at the fact that we had switched mattresses at some point in the middle of the night.
We spent the next day sipping drinks and talking. Learning each other and laughing about my inept ability to start and end stories. But then, when it came time to go to bed, she went upstairs and I went back to my mattress on the deck; worrying about overwhelming her with my desire to sleep next to her for another night, and hoping it was the mosquitoes that weighed heaviest on her decision to sleep inside. I idiotically sent her a text message half an hour after we’d gone to bed that simply said, “awake?” It likely screamed that I wanted to have sex with her, but I had a strong desire to sit with her in the pitch dark on the sand and discuss the deepest recesses of our minds. I stood on that sand by myself for an hour thinking about whether or not I should go inside and see if maybe she was contemplating a similar thought. But eventually the fear of making this beautiful stranger uncomfortable outweighed my desire for endless conversation with her.
We drove home this morning. There were long periods of silence and equally long periods of conversation. We sat in my car on the ferry and she played me an episode of Radiolab. An episode about the symbiotic networks that exist in root systems, that connect clusters of trees and other plants. A system that allows trees to talk with one another silently, the same way we were talking silently with our bodies while we listened. Hers said to me that she was tired, or disinterested. Yet her conscious actions said exactly the opposite. Can I simply not read her? Or will she really not want to see me again? Because that was the consensus I’d come to from overanalyzing her body language instead of just asking her how she’d felt about the weekend.
We sat across from each other at breakfast and things seemed to warm up. We laughed and shared some orange juice that somehow became sweeter after her lips touched the glass. She told me about her four trips to Las Vegas this summer, a trip I would probably never willingly take, and how she loves to dance. She told me there were nights in Vegas where she would rather have gone to bed early but stayed up to dance with her friends. It forced me to contemplate my hatred for bars and dance clubs, because if she were there, maybe I might actually enjoy them.
When I dropped her off I had a plan in my head for what I would say and how it would go. I would get out of the car and hug her, tell her that she had an incredible mind, and then ask her if she’d like it if I kissed her. But I didn’t kiss her. I didn’t ask her if she’d like it if I kissed her. The only thing I could really build up the courage to do was to hold on to her for a few seconds longer than I’d hold on to most people when hugging them goodbye. She walked away and said something to the tone of, “I’ll see you later maybe?!”
I think I said,”Definitely.” But then again, I could’ve just been dreaming.