WAYS OF WANTING (the things you can’t touch) AND BEING CLINGY

“I clung to your hand so that something human might exist amongst the chaos” –HÉLÈNE CIXOUS

I’m a clingy human. I want this morning to last forever. I have the moment sitting in my lap, the hours clenched in my fists, the dewy sweet candle smell clinging on my skin, coffee staining my mug and teeth, crumbs from my toast sticking to the plate, and an album I never gave enough of a chance to before now ringing in my ears. I retreat under the covers as long as possible, breathe in the scents and sounds, try to hold time still while it’s in front of me, while I cant still touch it, because I shouldn’t have let so many other moments go. I want to linger in this morning because I can no longer linger in any of the others. I want to pull on these sheets until someone has to drag me out and away, because I should have let so many other days get to that point, because now I’m left wanting too many things I can no longer touch.

I remember when I was little, not even little enough for this to be considered cute rather than desperate, I was probably 8. Anyways, I remember my dad would come tuck me in and read with me or talk with me or tell me a story until I fell asleep. He would lay down next to me and promise not to go til I was sound asleep. I was scared of the dark and would wake up in the middle of the night terrified of everything and I would reach for him or anything besides myself to protect me? Calm me? I don’t know what I wanted from them, maybe nothing in particular, I just craved something or someone to be there, just to be, just to prove I wasn’t alone with my fears (I still do that sometimes, except instead of reaching for my dad I reach for a friends hand, or more so lately, that boy with the greatest smile). But I remember falling asleep and vaguely telling myself that if he got up I would notice and wake up and make him stay. Of course I was wrong, and he really did wait until I was sound enough asleep for him not to do that, but I would always wake up later after he was gone in a panic, wishing I made him stay. So (this part is secrete and maybe embarrassing) the most logical but terrified 8 year old me, started pinching a small corner of his t-shirt between my fingers before I allowed myself to close my eyes. I held it there while it was there to touch and I thought my two 8 year old fingers pinching that tiny corner of his t-shirt would keep him there for the night. It didn’t, but I slept sounder, and I learned holding on to things, people, etc. is never enough to make them stay. They will go when it’s time for them to go, and I’ll always wake up in the terrifying empty dark and have only myself. That sounds much darker than I meant it to, and what I really meant by that was other people can only be there to ease your anxieties for so long, before you have to pull yourself together and drive on the highway alone and pump your own gas and take care of yourself etc.

I still hold on to things though, and when I don’t, I wish I did. I know later today when I’m driving to school or trying to pump gas by myself for the first time, I’ll wish I held on to this moment longer and didn’t let myself let go of the moment under the covers while they were still in my hands. Just like every time I say goodbye to someone I panic a few minutes later and reach for them and they aren’t there and I wish I held onto a corner of his shirt and refused to let go, like terrified (but logical) 8 year old me, until I had to be pried off by force. I want to kick myself for letting him get away to where I can’t touch him anymore. That sounds highly possessive and clingy of me (clingy in the most literal sense) but it’s different than that, I just hate wanting things I can’t touch. Not just people, physically, but those moments that come with those people, of safety and comfort and simplistic happiness, effortless fun, no sense of time. So maybe in the case of the guy with the greatest smile, it’s true that I can’t keep my hands off him when he’s where I can touch him, but when I get that itch to reach for him when he’s nowhere near me, it’s not to touch him, not just that at least. It’s to grab him and make him listen to some overwhelmingly exciting and rambly news that maybe only I would find exciting. Or it’s to squeeze his hand to prove that he’s real and not just a message on a phone. Or it’s to cuddle up against him and forget what year, season, day it is and to not care at all. It’s to laugh about all the life things making a mess in our heads and to ask all about his day in-between kisses.

It’s a hard thing to explain, and I feel like I’m not doing the best job of it, but it happens in other ways too. When I go to the beach there will be sand all over me and I won’t be in any rush to get it off and after I shower part of me will miss the salty smell, and in a few days I’ll wish I took some sand home with me, or that I just never left, and maybe I’m clingy for the beach, or maybe I just want to feel careless sunshine and reckless waves and to forget the time, and to feel tiny and huge, and nothing and important, all at the same time. And when I wish I could touch the sand and I can’t and it’s so hard, it’s not just because I want to simply touch the sand. I want to touch all of those other intangible things and feelings and moments that I left along with it and hold on for as long as I can.

And when this morning has to finally end (it will be noon in 7 minutes) and I have to shower off the sleep and fold my blanket and then let go of it and blow out the candle and brush the coffee off my teeth and wash the mug and am off being alone and terrified pumping my gas, I will be back to wanting something I can’t touch, and it will be hard, but it will be more than wanting to touch it. It will be wanting to feel sleepy and peaceful without worrying about being productive and fully clothed and responsible. I might be clingy or I might just want a lot of things I can’t touch.

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