The Shared Taste of Heartbreak
The Shared Taste of Heartbreak
An Essay by Juanita Tovar
Juanita’s laugh. Her outrageous laughter. How she doesn’t care about her surroundings or who’s watching. How she kisses me, deep in passion, encompassed by my desire for her. How she pours herself into me. Eyes closed, mouth and lips consumed by mine. Intoxicating flavor of wild berries and desire. The addictive taste of her salty skin, the feel of my palms cascading down her body. The way her eyes curve into a half moon when she finds herself trapped in my embrace. Her quiet smile. Her soft caresses, warm body, smooth skin. Her gaze into me. The deepness. The emotion she transfers when she looks at me. The complexity lying within, the myriad of feeling. I think I LOVE, Ahem, I LOV, Ahem, I LIKE how I can read everything through her face and gestures, her emotions, what’s she’s thinking. Her tenderness. Her hands coming to cover my cheeks, gently, when my mouth gets lost in hers.
When I think of Juanita certain instants come to mind. The moments of casual intimacy in which I have drained my insides in front of her, told her about my sources of shame, the poor background in which I was raised back in Estonia, the odd jobs I’ve taken to support myself. That moment back in high-school when my classmates found out that I was gay, the tears I cried that afternoon as I heard people calling me lesbiyanki with disgust down the school halls.
Juanita’s reaction, her physical response to this anecdote, colored this affection I have for her. The way her fingertips kept touching mine under locked glances, how she silently focused and patiently waited for my story to unfold, these simple actions spoke of her compassion and kindness.
Those moments shortly after waking up, last week, this Monday, last night, when she grabs me with her small arms, tightly encircling herself around me first; kissing the back of my neck, my back second; that tingling sensation sensed when her fingers are running through my hair, playing with it, moving it so her wet touch can reach my ear third.
There’s so many reasons why I’m edging this void, so many memories that make me fall deeper into the abyss of her, of her expressive face, curvaceous figure, dark, wild hair.
I know that I shouldn’t, that we’ve only been seen each other for three weeks, that I have tried to stop myself from feeling these things for her, but I can’t seem to find the strength to remove myself from her life. I know that she can’t give me what I’m in desperate need of, because I have been confronted by those cold eyes, by that jaw clenching, before telling me with cold precision that our relationship is to remain casual, whatever that means.
I want her. In anguish, I hopelessly wish for her to desire me in the same way I yearn for her. Pain fills my voids, burns my guts, cuts my heart open. I want to know, I have to tell her, I need to ask. I must verbalize my emotions this Sunday when I see her, but deep down I know that I don’t want to hear her answers.
I want more. I want to be ripped in two. I want to call you, Vita, at odd hours at 2, 3, 10, 11am. I want you to drop it all, I want you to stop whatever it is that you are doing. I want you to walk, no, to run, to come meet me. I need you to burst through the door and push your lips onto mine, I want you to kiss me. Hard. All I need is for you to take me, to make me surrender, for my vision of the world to shut down for a second and give myself to that moment, to our bodies meeting in passion, to our palms coming together, to our minds drifting, our problems dissipating onto the reality that rushes outside my window.
The truth is that I can’t do that.
I know that I’m the one that is stopping us from getting closer. I’m the one that promised my boyfriend, Karl, to keep things casual with anyone I date. I know that I wasn’t meant to feel these things, but fuck it, I do, I know we both do. I hate myself for letting it get this far, from breaking’s Karl’s weave of trust.
I hate the thought of losing you.
This is hard, it hurts. Your messages constantly lighting up on my phone, asking to meet me, are a constant reminder that I want more, that I want you, that I need you. That the option for me to fight for us exists, that I could leave my boyfriend, ask you to be with me during the day, at odd hours, in the middle of the night.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, the sex I have with my partner is wonderful, is good, it great, but it is not what I have with you.
With you I let go of myself, I become someone else, I metamorphosize into someone I didn’t even know existed within me. With you my experience of sex is raw, is fed by your inner anger, by your hatred of me, of the fact that I can’t be with you, that what we have can’t last. Our kisses, your touch is intense because it is not going to lead anywhere, because it doesn’t have to. We act freely behind closed doors, because we are bounded by our mutual desire for each other, not by the possibility of a future together…..although that isn’t true, what I’m saying is bullshit. What I have with you and I don’t have with my partner is desire, it is passion fused with intense emotions, with the feelings I’m helpless to have for you.
I don’t know if it’s our time to come to an end, perhaps it is, perhaps it will be on Sunday, tomorrow, the day of forgiveness, the day in which sinners obtain redemption, that I will tell you about this struggle, this inner conflict.
I am very scared of how relaxed and calm I feel when I’m with you, of how I yearn to spend hours, days and weeks by your side. I’m terrified by the desire I feel whenever I’m back home to still be trapped inside your arms, not Karl’s, away from all that grounds me into my life, that connects me to my responsibilities
I’m here trying to distance myself from your memory, to repress all the reasons why I want to be yours, because whenever I see your pale face, whenever I catch a glimpse of your white smile, of those facial expressions outlining joy, I die.
I die in desire, I die in lust, I die in my need for you. I die in my powerlessness to have you.
The sun has fallen. Dragged down by the flow of time, it has faded into the horizon. Domingo, Sunday is almost gone.
With excitement and anxiety, I have seen time unfold, advance in the form of seconds, minutes and hours. I’ve felt its weight, I’ve sensed how its progression has pushed my body into this couch, sinking it in, making room for my shape and form. I have felt time’s pressure on my eyelids that keep on dropping while I look into this tiny white screen. The clock standing on top of my television keeps on changing, it reads, 5, 6, 7. The closer it gets to the time my kiss will meet your lips, the more agitated my pulse becomes. 7:40, 7:50, 7:55.
Fully clothed, I walk into the night, I see the city dimly illuminated by the burning lights of the bars that stand next to my apartment building. Heart is chasing, it’s racing, it increases its pace as I walk, quickly, to surprise you, to meet you at the top of the subway station.
The excitement. The fear. It builds, it ignites my senses, it makes my muscles tighten. To see you, to talk to you, to kiss you once again, perhaps for the last time. I anticipate the pain of not having you. How strange. I know I must stop myself from wanting, from needing you. I must end us. The time is here. It will happen today, tonight, in the next few hours.
Left, right, left, my legs move. And suddenly the mental image I have constructed of your thick brows and roundly shaped nose, deep inside my brain, comes to light, it materializes. It sees you in the flesh.
There you are on the other side of the street. Looking down, preoccupied with the light that shines bright on your phone. Black leather jacket, black pants, black hair. It is you, I know it from the mechanical way your feet move when you walk, to the quick way in which your fingers run down your long hair to get it off your face. The moment is here. You lift your head.
Glances lock into each other. Identical emotions are mirrored in both our faces, cheekbones moving upwards to reveal a smile, eyes burning in excitement to recognize each other once again. Limbs moving quickly, governed by instinct, by the desire to become intertwined, by the longing to be skin to skin, face touching face, heart to heart, to be close, the way it’s meant to be, to be together.
Bodies come closer, approaching, inches away. The moment is here. Feet and legs stand in perfect symmetry facing each other, torsos come forward to close this unnatural space between us. My head tilts upwards, yours downwards, almost reaching. Mouths closing on the space that separates them. Time dissolves, time stops, time evaporates. Liquid desire overtakes the senses. Your taste of peppermint and cigarettes ends me, overtakes my thoughts, corrupts my sense of time and place. The joy. The excitement. The beauty of this moment that will later perturb my mind.
Memory forms right on this corner, while people keep on moving against us, encompassed by the shrieking laughter of the city that is all around us. Memory shapes while the streetlight that is north of our silhouettes, inches away from us, directs the movement of dozens of cars, of bicycles, of people. My lips devouring yours, your essence being poured into my mouth, how it smells, how it tastes, how it sounds. Arms keep us tightly close to one another, they protect us from the judgement of others, from the opinions of people getting passed us, grazing us. Shield us from the human traffic that flows within our proximity.
Suddenly your hands turn away from my back, they stop pushing, pressing onto me. You take a step backwards, re-drawing a physical distance between us. Lips close, jaw tenses up. Movements that tell me the moment is done. That bring me back into the present, into sensing and hearing this moment, away from tasting your scent, touching your smell, smelling your sounds, back into feeling my tired figure standing on the hard asphalt, into sensing the winter winds clashing onto my back.
We walk and walk, reach the bar called Nightcap, order a drink.
First. Get this mind inebriated, fill it with the courage needed to say what I must, to gently draw boundaries, to speak of what I can’t give you, to be clear, to let you know I can’t have you. Drinks rush through, their wet touch builds me up, gives me the strength to bring it all up. I look up at you. Our mouths stop. Your throat tenses up, you know it’s coming.
“I have to tell you something,” I say in a soft soft murmur. You look up.
Fluid courage materializes.
“I guess that I just want to talk about what we both want…..ahem...we started this as something casual...and I want to make sure that that is still ok with you.” My jaw drops in defeat, slightly, involuntarily falls down. I feel our shared sadness vibrating through this room.
Head stays down, eyes not knowing what to do, where to look, afraid to meet your gaze, awaiting for you to speak.
“Ahem, yes I actually wanted to talk to you about that. With all the texting that we have been doing, especially yesterday, I guess I wasn’t sure what was happening, if perhaps you wanted something different. I was just confused,” Vita says.
My chest and neck harden. I must be clear here. Shoulders tense up, I can feel the fire of dread burning through my stomach.
“I want to be clear because I don’t want things to end badly. I really care about you, and I want us to be on the same page, but I guess I just wanna know if you still want the same things.”
“It’s all fine. I mean us being casual is fine with me.”
My hand moves over the table to reach yours, to lay on top of your cold hand.
In relief and anxiety of the things that have not been said, we resume our conversation, we keep on drinking, erasing the words that have fallen off our lips. Inhibitions start to break down our walls. Inner thoughts that scream of caution are repressed.
You ask for the check. We leave. Reach my house.
Inside this house, on top of this bed. I feel it. The need. The rush. For you. To feel you, to run my tongue down your body. To have your fingertips rushing through my thick, dark hair, pulling it, moving it off my face, so my cheeks, my ears can be touched by your tongue. Flowing desire brings up instinct, makes my mouth open to experience the taste of sadness. My saliva mixes with your flavor. Anxiety. The feeling. The premonition of knowing I can’t have you, I won’t have you tomorrow, the reckoning with knowing that I’m losing you, that our time together is finite, that it is disintegrating right before our eyes. Mind pressed to stay in the moment, to sense it all, to live through my senses in the now. Mind away and inside these four walls, thinking of your absence, presently missing what you are giving me right this second. Senses overtaken by this uncontainable need to devour you, to taste your salty flavor until it’s all gone, to hear your expressions of desire through my ear, to kiss you, to hold you, to let you, let me, let us ascend, build up, reach that place that I can only get to with you.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday have rushed by in a blur. This whole week has been devoid of you. I’ve woken up in your absence. Disciplined my thoughts not to drift towards your memory, to keep you locked up, repressed, hidden, to conceal the emotions I have for you.
In between dreams I’ve heard that you reconsidered our fate, I felt your love and sensed your embrace. I’ve let myself be lost in your touch. I’ve stopped feeling the weight of time crushing the possibility of us. I’ve heard the clock stop ticking in our relationship. I’ve seen how it would feel to hold you today, tomorrow, deep in affection, for the rest of the year, forever.
It is Friday. Meetings and closed captioned short conversations fill my day. The numbers and words engraved in bright yellow letters on my black screen encompass my consciousness. Bugs are fixed, algorithms are resolved, lines and lines of code are written down on my computer until the clock hits 5pm.
Brain stops being pressed. Thoughts flow in freedom, your memory once again floods my mind.
I text you. Make sure we’re still meeting at 6pm. I dress up, put a dark navy suit on, slide a black tie around my neck. Leave this office. Rush to meet you.
At your favorite Latin bar we meet. Blocks from your house, I’m waiting inside, dying for the moment that my gaze can lock into yours. Nervous, excited, I wait. Drink one cocktail to brush off this nervousness, this dread for the unknown. Sip it until it’s done, until I can feel this stress, this tension about my own powerlessness, fade.
I see as you walk through the narrow entrance that separates us from the city shrieking outside.
Your hair molded by the touch of tonight’s wet air is wild, curly, beautiful. Tight canary yellow dress pushes onto your breasts, delineates your small waist and large hips, closely tracing every single one of the curves that make me weak, that make me crumble to my knees. Subtle black eyeliner, carmine lips, shiny brown hair light up inside this room’s darkness. Your delicate features and feminine shapes move in contrast to the shadows of people circulating inside this bar.
I can see heads turning, people intently watching you as you walk towards me. I can’t help but stare, to see all of you. Soft facial expressions, a warm, white smile. A stare fixed on my eyes, completely unaware of the dozens of people you pass on your way to meet me. That fixed look, that loving stare that makes me think I’m the only person in the room, the only one that matters, the only one worthy of your attention.
Distance closes, narrows down. I’m within inches. She jumps, legs go up into the air, arms lifting, looking to meet my back, to form a hug. Lips coming closer, approaching, they trace a kiss filled with zeal, colored by the affection we both have for each other. Eyes shut, mouths busy, preoccupied with acting on feelings felt. Senses light up. Spine electrified by her presence, her jasmine scent, the strawberry flavor of her lips. Hands intuitively find each other, without any visual cues or guidance, they hold onto each other.
Face to face we drink. Mouths talk about simple things, our weeks, our jobs, about mundane little problems we’ve had since we last met, a fight I’m having with my housemate, an argument that you had with your boss over the week. I can sense the soundwaves pulsating around us, through us, circling around the matter, the topic that matters most to me right now.
Mind drunk, lost in your smooth skin grazing against mine, as we dance side by side, out of tune, with steady steps. Bodies moving. My limbs fastened around your hips. Feeling the circular motions they make as we dance to the beat of this song, this music which lyrics I can’t understand.
In between drinks you tell me that you have to leave town tomorrow, for a while, a few weeks. That you care about me, that you want to see me again, that perhaps it would be best if we were just friends when you came back.
A shiver travels down my spine.
My torso pulls away. I walk towards the other end of the room. Not fully understanding what had just been said. Deep inside a pool of distress, disconcerted by the ease with which the words Just Friends fell out of your mouth, casually, with a relaxed expression, as if they weren’t charged with meaning.
Moved by instinct, you come close to me. Arms try to reach out to meet my back, but I resist. I don’t speak, in anger, in hope that you say something else, that you fill the empty soundscape between us. Nothing happens.
We get another drink, and then another. Slowly, I let you approach.
Alcohol brings all of my walls down, vulnerabilities start to burst through, push out, past me, I can’t hold them back any longer. Without looking at you, looking down, feeling your palms with my fingertips, I break through our silence.
“I just don’t understand...this connection...hmm….this connection that we have is so special...what we have...is so hard to find,” my voice breaks.
There was so much more I wanted to say, but was so afraid to yell out, to ask, to beg for. I’m here, waiting for you to finish my sentences, to fill in my silent thoughts, to break down this distance that separates us.
“Vita, I care so much about you...you are so special...but...but...this is all I have to give. I’m yours right now, tonight. Can we enjoy each other tonight?”
I can sense your hands pulling away from mine, I can hear your voice slowing down, your tone creating sentences that are crisp and precise. All I can sense is your rejection. All I can feel is that I’m alone in feeling all of these emotions.
“I really don’t want to hurt you….I just can’t do that... I can completely understand if you don’t want to spend the night with me. I really don’t want you to do something that you’d regret”
There’s a tremor in your voice. Words come out cracked, bruised. Quietness follows. Nothing is left to say. Still standing in front of each other, we avoid each other’s gaze. My sight shifts in your direction. I can see your sad eyes, sad lips, sad face as this bar’s lights keep on quickly turning on and off. In the intermittent moments when darkness gives way to light, I can make out your eyes blinking and blinking, trying to push back the wet emotions that want to stream down your cheeks.
We both walk towards the front of the bar, get another tiki cocktail to sweeten the night, soothe the senses, numb out our thoughts. Repression of the recent present follows, of your silences that cut off my breath, of your disregard of my emotions.
Suddenly I find myself trapped in those arms, cozy, with your face buried in the space between my neck and shoulders.
You pull me closer.
I can’t escape.
I let go.
I feel the rhythm of your breathing pulsing against my skin changing, lips opening against my neck, not to kiss but to say “You are so wonderful” as you come closer, as you press against me, as your body speaks in volume of everything I yearn for you to say to me. Electric awareness of this moment. Of this touch and these actions. Of your embrace. Of your body refusing to release mine.
Those four words breathe life into my hopefulness.
You take me home. I follow.
Steps moving in unison, to the same tune. Minds building up desire. Fingertips reaching for each other as we walk the blocks that separate us from your door. Excitement. Anxiety.
Dissolved awareness that I must make these hours count. Fading hope that this inherent need that my skin has for you skin, my sense of smell for your scent is shared by you, with you. My tongue, my senses furious to have felt, seen, tasted you, only to lose you. Grievances of what you threat to take away. Emotions building in this twisted darkness as we walk, dissolve into this tenderness, this affection, this love that takes me hostage, that makes me crumble.
It is the way you look, the way you feel when you touch me, it is that gaze of wonder you give me, that makes me think I’m safe, that makes me feel whole and accepted, that destroys any doubts and hesitations I have about us, that makes me come meet you, that makes me act against all my better judgement.
We reach home. Guard has completely fallen to pieces. I am yours, you are mine. In these brief instants, in this succession of seconds, minutes and hours, pores release the scent of fear, mouths come together to mix the shared taste of heartbreak. We breath loneliness. We breath fear. We smell anger. It intensifies the experience. Hands, limbs, tongues roll, move, and act in passion, they express what cannot be said. Warmth, darkness, stillness. The mutual addiction for each other intensifies. Contours of shared desolation color the night. This loneliness that we both sense side by side, skin to skin, heart to heart, paints with blue hues future memories, memories being formed in the present, remembrances that I’m sure I will later struggle to forget.
Both our bodies collapse in exhaustion, crumble in this bed. I arrange my limbs around her body in order to become cocooned. Entangled, snug, secure. We both sleep at once.
Last night’s dream dissolves into a nightmare. Saturday descends upon us. I wake up to find you packing for your trip, telling me that you have to go soon.
Physical motions follow those cold words “I HAVE TO GO.”
Nothing else is said, nothing changes, no certainty or security is verbalized.
All brittle hope that was left vanishes, shatters and breaks through me.
I leave the bed, put my clothes on, get ready to do as you say.
In this moment I resist all desire to speak to you in my sorrow, to plead for you to feel the same way I do, to ask you to kiss and hug me without restrictions and limitations, to give yourself to me the same way I want to empty all of me into you.
I fight every single temptation to show myself to you in the raw, to uncover this sadness ebbing within, this void wanting to colonize and consume me. I combat any desire to cling to you, to touch you and be touched by you.
A hug, a kiss, a goodbye follows.
Mechanical motions that feel rushed by you, that seem to end before they can properly begin, that are defined by the unspoken, essential need for our bodies to separate, for our minds to become disconnected, for the idea of ‘us’ to cease to exist. Actions that are only a shadow of last night’s tender caresses and loving kisses.
I’m here sitting, seeing the subway flowing through one, two, three stops. Unable to hear you, to taste you. Incapable of seeing your face, your figure, while I sit here, on this hard metal chair, powerless, not being able to figure out a way forward. Hating myself. Angry at my actions, at my inability to reject you sooner, to stop myself from feeling.
I look for your memory, retrieve it, have you talking to me within thoughts, whispering, caressing, kissing me, near, close to me.
I make a promise to myself to destroy any trace of you still left within me. In this instant I vow to burn it all to crisp the moment reality awakes me tomorrow.
With my body folded, sitting, resting on this yellow chair, I can feel fear pressing onto my chest. Hard. I can feel a pain that numbs my mind, that detaches me from the world, that gives power to my powerlessness.
I desperately want for you to hold me, to let me sink into you until this melancholy lets go of me, to comfort me, to alleviate and soothe this pain, to weave a veil that covers this void, this piercing hole inside my stomach. I want to bury my face inside your wild, curly brown hair, I want my eyelids to fall. I want to smell the scent of jasmine that emanates from your hair.
I need for you to pick up the millions of pieces that I’ve crumbled down into.
My empty eyes watch the sea of people gesturing inside this subway, the blank faces talking, whispering, yelling, the mouths leaving their voices burn up in the air, making smoke all over the place.
Trapped inside the four metal walls that contain me, I’m drifting, deep in my thoughts, completely gone.
I’m left here wanting the sweat of anxiety that is sliding down my breasts to touch your skin. Wanting to taste the emotions that you say you have for me. Needing to feel how my body affects yours, how the sweet taste of your mouth mixes in with mine.