Some mornings I wake up at J’s place in need of a hair tie and I know I’ll find one scattered around his bedroom. To this, a sense of unease overcomes me. I think about how many other women in his life who’ve thought the same, done the same. Women who must have left purses, socks, compact powders, receipts, lipsticks, and found them where they needed them just as easily as I do now. Women who’ve spent evenings and mornings with the ease of being able lose things (after all, isn’t it only in relaxed states that we are able to let loose, and let go). When we are asleep, J’s body is entwined with mine, and many times in the middle of the night, in a daze of half-slumber, he would stroke my cheek, kiss me on the lips, and tighten his hold on me. Intimacy is such a double edged sword.
Our familiarity with each other has given me an immense amount of happiness, a familiarity which has resulted in a willingness to share each other’s private spaces. But this happiness is doubly negated. First, it makes me feel insecure to imagine just how many women must have felt the same as I do now—just how many of them knew which particular corner of the room the hair ties would be in. Second, I am threatened by the next woman who will feel the same as me, or perhaps, even more. As Barthes wrote, Love makes me think too much.
This pain is self-inflicted. Through the framework of the critic and political theorist Fredric Jameson, whose primary method of analysis was to “Always historicise!”, tracing history is how I understand, and eventually, how I accept. In this relationship, I understand that J has seen many women, desired some of them, and even loved a few before he ever knew me. But in the same cruel logic of capitalism, I think: is his love a finite resource, a quarry of precious materials that have since been exhausted, and all that remains for me is the residual silt? Again, Love makes me think too much.
I look at J and remember this quote from The Unbearable Lightness of Being: “He kissed them all alike, stroked them alike, made no, absolutely no distinction between her body and the other bodies.” I am paralyzed by my own frailties, my shortcomings. And then I think about how many bodies J has loved before—how many of those bodies took desirable shapes and forms– and I find myself even further into paralysis. My body takes an undesirable form, and no amount of deprivation, overexertion, or expulsion would lead me to think otherwise. Sometimes I wish love were enough to mold my body into desirability. Perhaps I can recite a litany of platitudes– I am loved. I am beautiful. My body is good. My body is good and beautiful. I am loved because my body is good and beautiful. I am beautiful because my body is loved. Maybe if I say these words often enough, and exhaust the variations of which I can repeat it, I’ll start to believe it.