I’m sure Matty will know that he inspired this post, at this moment anyway. And he did. But the truth is, it’s one I’ve been meaning to write for years and could easily be dedicated to Myles, Charles, Amy, Kelly, Sadee, Erik, Sam, Scott, Sheila, Bill, or any number of other people who crawled under my skin and turned me on – whether they meant to or not. Whether we had sex or not. Whether we were in love or not. Yes, Matty, today, it’s for you. But really, it’s for all of us who are capable of touching each other, and doing something when we are touched by others. And who love to touch and be touched.
I’ve got a crush on me. It’s a double entendre of a sort, because Matty is the boy version of me – right down to fear of heights and open water, fondness for hair-pulling and an entrepreneurial spirit that won’t quit. Though we’ve sort of known each other for years, we kind of glommed on to each other in the last few weeks because we were (are) both going though some similar shit. What ensued was pure magic. Of an intimate and passionate sort – which, let me be clear, is not the same thing as sexual and romantic.
It has been, in every moment, a deeply alive and “turned-on” friendship. The kind that makes you want to do new things, try new things, become new things. The kind that reaffirms the things you believe you are, and introduces you things about yourself that you never knew.
It was a crush. Is a crush. I dunno.
But it is an idea that I’ve toyed with a lot. That crushes are vital, important, necessary and have nothing whatsoever to do with sex and romance. However, they exist in, and energize, a place so deep inside of us that they often get interpreted as a precursor to falling in love. But to pigeonhole them as “in love” is to not only cheapen them, but to forbid them from happening as often as they could and should.
More importantly, it gives the power of the crush – of that incredible energy – to the other person. And that’s not it. It’s your power, and you shouldn’t give it away. Share it, absolutely. But you get to keep it, long after the rush of the crush subsides into the steady support of friendship, or even disappears to a memory of a romance long past. The lessons you learn about yourself – what makes you feel good, what you want, deserve, need and crave in life – are your lessons to keep and use as you create your own future. Crushes are what turn you on and give you the energy to create that future.
Sometimes I picture myself as a fabulous Curiosity Shop. The kind you would stumble into, off of a cobblestone road in a dusty old city where the language is foreign, but undeniably romantic and alluring. The Shop windows are cluttered with just enough intriguing items that you want to go in, but no one, not even the shop keeper, has any idea what’s in there, or what you are looking for.
The shelves are stocked with everything from dusty old books to sex toys, magical paints to records filled with songs no one remembers, marionettes, mirrors, corsets and cast-iron skillets.
Many people walk by, a few stick their head in the door, and a very few come all the way in and play with what they find. Those are the ones that I get crushes on. Under their intimate gaze and through their personal proddings, I am reminded of the many wonders that exist inside of me. And those wonders, often long still and collecting dust under layers of emotional baggage, come to life within me. And I am turned on. We sit together and play with what we find. It’s exciting.
They will reach inside of their own curious selves and show me their toys. And we will play together. The dreams once forgotten will merge and turn into a future project. A fear long forbidden will be shared in the daylight of friendship and be shone to be nothing but a tattered old puppet. And as such, we grow. We explore. We become fully alive together, in a way that is unique only to us.
And it feels so good.
I have been blessed in general. The people who have wandered into my soul have been worthy of making art with, building businesses with – raising children with. And each of them have turned me on in a way that I could never do alone. And I can’t get enough of it. Though the relationships have, in every case, grown and changed, the gifts they have given me are still within me and make me who I am.
I often hear people say that we shouldn’t need other people to tell us who we are. While I understand that in theory, I just don’t buy it. We are all so big, and the eternal task of internal exploration would be both daunting and dull, if we did it alone. I crave the internal combustion that is the chemical reaction between myself and the people who touch me. That’s the stuff that turns me on.
And sometimes people show me things that I just forget, and they matter. My dear Matty, in the past 3 weeks, has somehow reminded me of some of the things I most love about myself and had tucked away. That I like to laugh, stay out all night, express myself fearlessly, be called on my shit, have long conversations about thoughts and feelings and sing along to the Social Distortion cover of Ring of Fire.
But also little things in him that remind me what I value in others. He shared a bottle of wine with me from 1969, the year I was born. I want to be with people who would make such gestures. He told me the nitty-gritty messy details of his heart and soul, hopes and fears as we wandered through life’s shit together. I value that more than I value gifts of any other sort. As he gave me these gifts, I felt such joy. Because he did, I am forever reminded what I want, need, deserve, and crave.
That’s why I have such a crush on him. It just feels so good – the things he shows me in me, and the things he shares with me in him. He just turns me on. As special as he is – and he is very special – there are lots of things that turn me on. People I have crushes on.
And it’s not a precursor to being in love, it’s the feeling of being fully alive and fully myself. The best people in the world are the ones who remind you why you have a crush on yourself. Why YOU are crush-worthy, intriguing, magical and powerful. That tingling feeling you have? It’s in YOU. It cannot be taken from you, because it IS you.
And the people who give it to you are the most generous people in the world.
So Matty, this one’s for you. Even though we will probably never pull each other’s hair, I am eternally grateful to you for wandering into my little shop of curiosities and playing with my puppets. I hope that I can do the same for you, and show you the many magical things on your dusty shelves. I’ll hold the door open for all who follow me in…..
And I’ll hold my door open also, because I have been reminded how good it feels to let people in.
A life without crushes would be pointless. May as well shutter the shop, hang a shut sign and burn the building down.