M always wore two gold necklaces that would get tangled up in each other. Her messy brown hair was always up in a bun and when she focused, she’d run her fingers through the bits between the bun and her scalp. Sometimes, she’d absent-mindedly let her hair loose and I’d catch myself glancing at her and quickly glancing elsewhere, only slightly mortified. M ran on caffeine; I never quite knew how. I know she didn’t sleep enough because on Monday mornings she was always coming off something or another but the caffeine kept her alert, or was it just her? Her brains were some of the brightest I ever encountered, her wit sharp as her scalpel, her fingers agile, her humour a bright chemical composition of self deprecation, dry as crisp wine and her skill honed to such a standard that she could do it in her sleep. I suspected, sometimes, she might have.

If I were to describe M in one word, it would be ‘intense’. She never did anything in halves; if she was in, she was in and the same goes the other way. She worked hard and played harder. She had this indescribable propensity to actually do things on weeknights and it still mystifies me if she ran on fumes, stress or both. Her emotions had a life of their own and they were, frankly, chaos mixed with some sense of longing which bordered on despair. I didn’t care, really.

M’s eyes were something else. Like dark chocolate lined with thick kohl, no matter the time of day. She enthralled me. The more I was in M’s presence the more I felt myself wanting to just be noticed by her. If she laughed at something I said, my stomach churned with that bizarre mix of nausea and bliss. The last time I felt that way was well over a decade ago and believe me when I say I wasn’t letting myself forget it at that time.

It wasn’t love or anything. I know love now. In its absolute depth and freedom and liberation and joy and appreciation of the mundane. Love, I now know feels safe and warm. I am cocooned by it and propped up by it every day. It wasn’t love but it was the hardest and fastest I’ve fallen for someone in my adult life. Me, a self proclaimed straight woman, falling headfirst into some dopamine laden frenzy for another woman whom I admired beyond measure and whom I really saw. Perhaps this is my only sadness; I saw her and I’m not quite sure she knew that.

Having a relationship with M now in any way isn’t something I’d contemplate for reasons I’ve never even said to myself out loud. If she texted me now, I worry for the perplexing insanity she might drive me to but mostly; I’m at peace where I am. I’m happy with the place she has in this small but significant M-shaped heart-space and I long for her to find the love in herself she so craves from the world around her. In my mind, she will always sparkle.

M opened doors for me that I never realised were even there to be opened. Life is a mystery and change the only constant. M made me feel something different and my body was made to feel. My bones and nerves and blood still fizz when I think of that time. I love it. For exactly what it is; nothing more, nothing less. Pure joy for what was, no regret for what could have been, from a place where I am a whole, complete and intensely peaceful.


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