I remember the night we met.
As is so often the case with me, the connection was instant. You were lit up with a fire that burned brightly, no matter how dark you might become at times. It was intoxicating, but in a way that made me feel like I could see more clearly. I wanted to be close to you immediately.
That first hug we shared, I melted into you. No – I didn’t melt. We merged. Breathing in and out at the same time as me, you showed me what it was to really connect with full awareness, to become light, to become love. You showed me what it was like to be held, your masculine presence enveloping me, opening my inner eyes to what it felt like to surrender into my feminine. I wouldn’t have even known what that meant before you. A suburban shaman, taking me on journeys into the depths of the universe, without us ever leaving the room. You were my teacher from day one, starting with that beautiful hug.
It’s something I’ve gone on to show countless others, including my last love. It was the reason he first opened to me, that belly hug you taught me.
‘No,’ I said, as he went to pull away too quickly. ‘Wait. Take a breath with me.’
Holding him as I felt the resistance and tension drain away, the desire to be close rising to the surface, we took first one, then a second breath together, energy mingling as we allowed ourselves to synchronise. I don’t know how I knew he needed it, but it felt important to hold my arms out, to wrap him in them, to slow him down with an inhalation. He experienced a similar sense of surrender I did with you, and I felt him release into my arms. Little did I know I was the first person to come so close to him in well over a year. We merged, and I knew he would become important to me. The magic of oxytocin, the magic of someone willing to hold you tight. The magic of that belly hug, dissolving the strongest barriers to love, a decade after you taught me how to do it.
I wonder what you’d make of all this recent heartbreak. I think the you of years ago would have a different thing to say to me than the you I last spoke to.
We were similarly frustrated that day. Both feeling out of place, like we were the only ones seeing things clearly, while everyone around us was in denial. Feeling crazy from it. An indignation that the love and truth we’ve always tried to be the best conduits for were being misconstrued. Dishonoured. A sense of impossibility, a desire to be free from all the anger, yet feeling like we needed it to get through. You opened my eyes even still, sharing wisdom as you always did.
It didn’t occur to me to be worried about you. We were doing our best to free ourselves of expectation, finding ways to stay true to what we were learning, ways that would take less of a personal and spiritual toll on us, and that process takes time. A lifetime, maybe. Talking about it with our friend much later, I realised I should have seen how close to the edge you were, but if you were more worked up than usual, you were still making more sense to me than most everyone else around me. Ever a beacon of bittersweet truth, saying the things we might not have been ready to hear, but doing it from a place of love, to serve the greatest good.
Back then, you would likely have used that sweet little boy voice of yours to prepare me gently, and then given me a spiritual slap of the best kind, undeniably bringing my own actions to my attention. Never blaming or shaming me, but giving me the tools to change the situation myself. Just like you did the night you told me my sexual energy was like a leaky balloon. One of the many things I loved about you was the way you’d cut straight to the chase, but always in a way that felt like you were serving me. I don’t even know how long it had been since we’d seen each other, and we’d barely had time to say hello before you were placing your hand on my womb, telling me that I needed to learn to channel that power for myself. That I was weakening myself by giving it away so readily. That yes, you understood I was a sexual healer, but it was time to turn the medicine inward. To the outside world, it might have sounded crazy, but I knew exactly what you meant, and you were right.
You always had that remarkable ability to hit me straight in the psychic gut with your insight. I might not have liked what you had to say in the immediate moment, I may not have known how to use your insights until much later, but I could rarely say you were wrong. You had a commitment to sharing the truths you were privy to, and that was something I, of all people, could understand all too well.
One night, early on, as we sat on the steps sharing a cigarette, you told me you weren’t the one for me. Just like that, out of nowhere. The breath rushed out of me, I felt like I’d been punched. I was totally naked in the face of your awareness, stripped of all defences – because it hadn’t come from nowhere, of course. You felt my unformed thoughts before I could even think them. And I realised you were right. Unaware then what I know of my heart now, I couldn’t guess that there would never be a ‘one’ for me anyway, but it was more than that. You could see the way my love was motivated by a need to be understood and seen so deep that, despite its magnitude, despite all the ways we met each other, it wasn’t pure. Yes, we had so much to share, a lot of it as lovers, but without the ability to see myself as clearly as you could, I couldn’t meet you as an equal. I’ve only just been learning the full extent of how that need has been controlling me in subtle and unwanted ways, but you could see it way back then. You were a lover, more than once, but first and foremost you were my teacher. So you were not the ‘one’ for me, it was true. But as I came to understand, we had a lot to offer to each other nonetheless.
What was it like to be met by you? Fire and earth. Boundless. Eyes bright in the darkness, always, a galaxy in your gaze. Feeling so totally held, directed, yet free. Breathe with me, inhale now…a sharp intake of breath, an expansion unlike any I’d known. At once primal animals and higher beings.
Settling for the ordinary was out of the question, complacency a cardinal sin. You encouraged me to look deeper inside myself, but also to see what was shining on the surface. You gave me confidence in my ability as a dancer, as a musician, as a writer – as a human with gifts to give – and you contributed your artistry in any way you could. Generosity doesn’t even describe your attitude, which was most simply about turning up, with whatever you had to offer, wherever it was most needed, whenever you could.
Yes, there were times when I felt hurt. There were times when I thought your words or actions meant something other than what you intended – maybe you were even a little wilfully ignorant. Times I turned up expecting something, based on what I thought you were offering, and it turned out I was wrong. I felt disappointment. I wanted to be closer to you than you were ok with sometimes. But never once were you untrue to me, or to yourself, and I respected you for that. Now that I have a better idea of what it’s like to feel like you must, even when you can’t, I think I understand how those misunderstandings occurred. Yet you provided a haven for me when you had next to nothing left to give – and your next to nothing was still more than most people’s quite a lot.
I can tell so many stories, sharing all the ways you impacted me. I can talk about the epic insights, the silly adventures. The friends you brought into my sphere, the ideas you planted in my mind. The parties. The meditations. The projects. The music. Obscene, profound, profane, divine. All this and more. And the best part is that what I have to share about you is the tip of the iceberg. What we co-created is a drop in the ocean compared to how many you collaborated with, how many souls you touched, how many hearts and minds you expanded. How many you loved, how many loved you.
I wasn’t surprised when I found out, even if I wish I’d heard the news some other way. I understood, maybe a little too clearly, the feelings you’d been trying to contain – the information, the weight of knowledge, the pressure to keep it together when you just wanted to soar beyond it all. And in the days following, something beautiful started to happen. I felt you with me, felt you closer than I had in a long time. I felt you as a smile on my lips and laughter in my heart. Quiet conversations in my mind, a sense of support. So any sadness I feel on a personal level, for myself, and for the ones left trying to fill the void of you, is quite frankly overturned by the power of you I felt once you’d broken out of that container.
My friend, you have taught me so much about the world beyond me and the world within me that you have become a part of me. You are there in the way that I breathe, the way that I move, the ways that I love, my sense of personal power. You’re in my music, you’re in my knowledge. You’re there in the way I hold people close. Every single day. And for that, my friend, you not only have my eternal love and gratitude – it means there’s no reason for me to say goodbye.