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The Way You Fall Asleep

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"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once."
-John Green

We have spent the afternoon curled up together on his old armchair in his lab. My favourite place in the world is no longer Gorky Park, or that old cigar room on Half Moon Street. It is no longer Lake Como; with its water so blue it is the very essence of blue, the font from which all blue takes its inspiration. My favourite place in the world is this old armchair, tatty and worn. People say the heart of their home is the kitchen, the place of nourishment. This is my heart, my place of nourishment. This is where we sit together, inextricable, in comfortable silence, and we read for hours, feeding that which is paramount to us both.

We sit in such a way that it is impossible to decipher who of us is on top and whose arms are around whose neck. He rests his head against my chest and from where I am, gazing down at words on pages, I can smell his hair, which is clean and soft and smells like a mixture of my shampoo and his own scent. I think if I lost him it would be the loss of his scent that would eventually kill me. I would haunt the house searching for the last traces of it until there were no more traces of it and then there would be no more reasons. I do not know why I experience love and loss in conjunction or parallel. I want to smell his hair and experience infinity; instead I experience the entire infinite spectrum between love and fear. Love is weakness, he says; to which I add: only insofar as loss is its eternal companion.

His hand goes slack; his breathing deepens. He falls asleep slowly, and then all at once. Sleeping, not sex, is the most intimate act. I lower my face and kiss the top of his head and he is the source of scent and of reasons. He says I create tangible worlds in my head and I am sure that is a symptom or in the very least a lingering proof of psychosis, of my neurons and synapses all muddled up, so mundanity and mythology are one and the same. Still in this moment I feel like both his mother and his lover, and perhaps also a stranger. But mostly his Other. There is a warmth in my chest which radiates from the contact point between his temple and my sternum and I am unsure whether it is purely psychosomatic or if it could be electricity from where his fabric is trying to connect to mine. We are all stars, we are all atoms; there are no sharp lines and boundaries, not really.

The ever-present urge to consume him takes over and so I put down my book and I wrap my arms around him, engulfing, embracing. I am mythologising again, but isn't that what we are, in the end? Mythologies? We look back on our actions with a mixture of flawed memory and nostalgia and we assign mythologies because that is how we make sense of the chaos. Our fathers and their fathers and especially their mothers knew this. Think of all the gods and goddesses, and all the hamartias and hubrises, and all the heroes and all the monsters. Think of all stories, all the stories we tell, the real and the fiction. We tell them with words. They are mythologies. And we are infinitely capable of them all. There is no such thing as monotheism or polytheism – there is only chaos and the cloying compulsion of our mind to organise it.

He, in his state of intimate sleep, lifts his head and buries his nose in the crook of my neck. My chest almost aches and what should be a moment of love echoes with clarity – of endorphins and dopamine and all other sorts of names of things which sounds like ancient gods: the reality of us as pools of chemicals. I refute it and stroke his hair. I fall asleep slowly, and then all at once, cocooned in the comfort of this old, worn-out chair, which I know nothing about. It is without a history to me; it is simply my heart. It is the All-Chair, I think, as I...

[How wide and dark the sea. How wine-dark. Scylla and Charybdis. Öd und leer.]