In honor of Valentine's Day, The Cut is publishing stories about "love as it's actually lived." Poet Eileen Myles, who seems adorably allergic to commas, writes about a long-ago relationship that incurred a forced waiting period. Her recounting of this period is both hilarious and powerful. An excerpt below, the full version via The Cut.
I met this really beautiful woman at an artist colony and we had a terrific affair and if you don’t know it colonies are good for work or no work and this was a no work summer. She lived with someone back in the city so the understanding was that after our time at the colony we wouldn’t be lovers anymore but you know I do kind of believe happy people don’t have affairs. I left the colony first then she did. It was October and we had still never spoken. That was the plan and I was okay with it. I’d take long walks with my dog and I told everyone I could about the wonderful beautiful affair I had had that summer and it excited me the telling but the thing was totally done. I went to the dog run one day and I saw a woman from out of town that I knew and I told her as I would tell anyone that fall all about my love. This woman was a martial artist so of course in her body and her mind she had wonderful powers. Her powers had something to do with geomancy and the earth and balance. She was kind of a warrior witch — and a writer too. She looked at me after I had told her my story and she said and you haven’t called her. She looked deep into my eyes. No I said. She tipped her head just slightly as if her whole musculature was a question mark that dug deep into my spinal column or something. It was everything I could do to stay still and not return that powerful curl. It was doglike and she was the master and we parted in silence soon after that moment. Perhaps that isn’t true. I walked up the steps of my apartment building where I still live and I called the colony lover at work. She was stunned and our conversation was filled with deep pregnant pauses and of course we made a date.
And soon we were at it again, that hot incredible love was on in full force and soon she left her girlfriend in Brooklyn and moved into an apartment close to me and we continued our incredible love. There was a path, just a paved trail between those tall apartment buildings on First Ave connecting my major block (First) with hers which was A and we called it the path because it was an eerie non urban feeling connection between my dwelling and hers, it was part of the fairy tale of our love and we would cross it at all times of day and night sometimes carrying food, sometimes just carrying us and even my dog who was deeply loved by everyone at this time. Rosie basked in our love. But wait none of this has actually happened yet.
First she got the new apartment and then a very good friend of hers who I want to describe as really really controlling suggested that before the lover began seeing me on the heels of her breakup with the other woman she maybe really ought to take some space. She should draw a boundary between one life and another. And that boundary would be marked by candles that they would light and they had a ceremony also it was marked by time. She should take at least two weeks before she saw me. You might wonder what business was it of this friend and what was her investment in keeping two such passionate lovers apart. Did she have a crush on her friend? Who knows. Sometimes people just love their petty power. The whole boundary thing which is all over the culture now at the time seemed pretty new and also pretty lesbian. We are always at the vanguard of relational concepts. You must know that politically correct is ours, uttered by lesbians long before anybody else and it meant people against say perfume in public spaces and boundaries were also like that. We got there first. Probably because of the intensity of woman on woman love we probably need such boundaries the most. Or the idea of them. I think most boundaries never really exist.
But she moved in. They did the ritual involving many candles and I couldn’t come over. Not for a while. The interval I think was two weeks. What did I do. I ran. This is my entire story really. And I bought her a pie. I got one of those really good farmers market union square special strawberry rhubarb pies for like twenty five dollars, a very healthy scrumptious bourgeois pie and gave it to one of the young male movers outside her building on that day and told him that a friend of mine was moving in and I wondered if he wouldn’t mind giving her this pie. That’s a really good-looking pie he said and I agreed and then I went home. And I didn’t hear a word from her.
What could I do. I ran. I lived two small blocks and one large city block away from her so I began a daily run of going north three blocks from my apartment and then heading about two big city blocks east of her down to avenue C and then I guess up to Houston and then turning around and doing it again. I did it until I achieved the three miles I craved (she loved my legs, she had told me once) creating kind of a heat pattern like my love I imagined a red sun burning the whole area and scorching on it a shape that was me circling her building, wild without her, craving her love and having no other powers than to become this allegory, a shape in the neighborhood that she could almost hear, a burning rumbling sound like my heart thumping at hers for ever more.
*Photo of Eileen Myles via lithub