Metamorphosis of the Heart
Monarch, Pt. I
I am on the dance floor, eyes closed, feet jiving from left to right. I let my arms flow along with the rhythms, shoulders pulling and releasing with the sound. I swing my head, grooving to the hard-hitting bass, the quick burst of the hi-hat and resonating disco strings. The French DJ & producer Yuksek is playing a familiar track, One True Light by Crazy P.
I move erratically through the sonic landscape. It’s pure bliss.
Then, a sudden tap on the shoulder.
“Hey!” A tall-ish man says to me. His face is beaming.
I wave him away and say, “Not interested, I’m just here to dance.”
It’s true. I don’t want to interact with anyone or anything but the music.
“Oh! But me too,” he replies.
After some intentional silence he asks, “So, If I can’t dance with you, can I dance next to you?”
“Sure,” I say. As long as I’ve got my space.
Going out dancing by myself, I realized, is a necessary way for me to recharge. It has become an important healing ritual in my life. Kind of like a mini-vacation.
Enthused by my realization, I turn back to him.
“I know it’s kind of weird, but this is my version of alone time,” I say.
“Interesting…,” he says, seeming genuinely intrigued.
We don’t talk again for the remainder of the show. I just keep on dancing.
When the music stops I thank the DJ and make my way out into the street. I pull out my phone to call a Lyft. For some reason the app takes forever to load. I suddenly remember that I’ve run out of my prepaid high-speed data for the month.
At that moment, the guy from the dancefloor reappears beside me.
He starts talking at me. I look down at the app. I toss out one word replies half-heartedly. I look at the app again.
With nothing to do but wait, I begrudgingly entertain the conversation. It turns out he is giving his roommate some time with a girl he took home.
I find that, naturally, I am easing into another activity that I’m quite good at: delving into the worlds of others.
I learn that my new friend, Garrett, was born in South Africa. When he was five years old, his family immigrated to the United States. News that the cargo ship carrying all of their possessions had sunk didn’t reach them until they had landed in Tennessee, with absolutely nothing to their names.
I thought about how far his family had come and feel a soft kinship towards him. Moving across the world to a new place was a brave and terrifying thing. My mother and father did it. I did it. And so did he.
Time passes and after some stories shared, the rideshare app finally recognizes my location, and I order my ride home.
A homeless man walking past us starts to give Garrett bad relationship advice as my ride pulls up. I say a quick good-bye and make my way to the car. But he runs after me and we exchange numbers. I give him a fist bump and hop into the car.
Jiyun and the Tarot
A week passes since I met Garrett. We have hung out a few times since then and I feel comfortable with him. We haven’t slept together.
Cradled by the soft darkness of my room, I can’t help but think of him. The chemistry I feel with him is explosive, like a neutron being fired at a nucleus. Every time we kiss I feel my body erupt in flames. I feel myself pulling away from him, even when I don’t want to. Unlike the beginnings of other relationships in my past, I stop to ruminate over the deep hesitation to engage romantically with him.
“I need your guidance,” I text Jiyun, a close friend of mine who I met in the United States, who was then deported to South Korea a few years ago. To me, she is like a sister and a sage.
“Of course. What’s up?”, she asks.
“Another human has entered my life. I feel very intensely towards this person. I’m afraid that it’s just sexual. But it doesn’t feel like it’s just sexual. It feels karmic. Could you pull a card for me? Something in me wants to connect deeply with them, but I feel fear, a hesitation to delve deeper. I’m not sure why.”
“What would your exact question be to the Tarot?”
I lie in bed with my eyes closed, staring at the space behind my forehead, between the eyes.
Focus. Release. Breathe.
“Am I following my greater truth by choosing to connect with Garrett on a more intimate level? Or are my emotions and actions being tested by my hedonistic tendencies?”
“Hold on,” Jiyun says.
Five minutes go by with no response. Time stretches like silvery silk encapsulating my heart and mind. I know exactly why I’m afraid. I know why I hesitate.
In a few weeks, my long-term partner, Arda, is returning to the Bay Area, and we will depart on a month long trip together touring the world. I am afraid to fall in love with another person before the trip. Will these new emotions distract me? Will I start to feel distant from Arda? I am already comfortable with my capacity of loving more than one person. As someone who has been actively practicing alternative relationship styles for nearly six years, Arda and I feel very secure in our relationship. From day one we established ourselves as open and non-monogamous.
But this feels different.
My phone buzzes. I jump to read her message:
“I have consulted the Tarot. There is a lot of fire energy coming from you. It seems you’re sure of what you want from him. At the same time, the Tarot seems to suggest your fire is at its maturity. You can certainly handle the chemistry between you and him without over-indulgence. It seems you also want to create a foundation with him of some sort. The purpose of the encounter with this man is to learn to tap into the wisdom within you by yourself.”
Yes. Of course it is fire. When he and I are close, it feels like our two flames come together, enlivening us. But it is also a destructive force.
From destruction comes creation, I think to myself.
I let the fire incinerate my worries and drift off to sleep.
The Whirlwind, or, Enjoying Every Second
The few weeks Garrett and I spend together before Arda’s arrival are absolutely perfect. He picks me up after work in his beat-up, white Volkswagen Jetta that is missing its hubcaps. We buy groceries, open a bottle of wine, and make dinner together. He is house-sitting for a friend and we have taken over their home for the next two weeks.
It is peculiar how close we've become. It feels like we’ve known each other for a very long time. He pulls me close, wrapping his arms around me. It feels so good to feel desired. When we have sex, it feels like a spiritual union.
Focus. Release. Long sigh.
Our orgasms are cathartic, as if our souls are being released from our physical bodies. I allow myself to love him. I choose this path. Every deep kiss we share, each time I catch myself gazing into his eyes, the way we sleep nestled together, makes me feel wrapped and safe in the soft cloak of our love.
We both know it has to end soon. Our time together is waning. Tears sting my eyes when I think about our inevitable parting. This is what I want, right?
One night before bed, we lie facing each other in the dark.
“What if we existed elsewhere, in some parallel universe, where I stay with you?,” I ask the space between us. He holds me close. “What if we pretend that’s now?,” he says.
Monarch, Pt. II
I have just a few days left. But I don’t want to think about that.
“Let’s go dancing”, I say.
It’s a Tuesday night. I ask him if he has ever tried MDMA before. This would be his first time. The event is called Sound Pieces, a recurring weekly showcase featuring local talents in Californian bass music.
We descend into the basement of a club called Monarch. Dark purple and red lights flood our vision. The crowd is eccentric, as if they have just stumbled out from a rave in a forest. Psychedelic patterns and colors cover the walls. Everyone is swaying, moving their arms in smooth, geometric motions, pulsing to the reverberations of the bass.
We join the crowd, letting our bodies move as they do to the sound. The coming-up feeling is not new to me but I watch him slowly shut his eyes, and that lovely smile of his takes over. We are caught together in the blissful sensation of being one with the music. We look at each other and smile.
“Isn’t it funny?,” I say to him, grinning. “Looks like you got your dance.”
“Claire”. He pulls me close. “I’m so glad I met you. This feels like the first deep breath I’ve taken in a really long time.”
“It’s kind of like a mini-vacation, right!?”, I say to him.
“That’s exactly what it feels like,” he says.
We hold each other on the dance floor, feeling the bass pulsing through us, eyes closed, embracing the moment and never letting go.
Afterword: A Map, A String, A Light
“In sleep, you go where you want to go. In love, you see what you want to see.” - Yvette Young
Is love a kind of resonance? I feel it as I dream, like a river of color and light dancing in the space between my senses. So close I can grasp it.
Our love started as subtly as a rustling of leaves in the breeze. I am lifted by the momentum of life on the road. I drift between coasts, continents and cultures.
Like a seed in the wind, I’ve learned how to flourish where I am planted. I’ve learned how to love deeply with all of my being. I’ve learned how to let go.
The vivacity of being here and now is a spiritual path for me, a new way of life. All I am left with is the overwhelming feeling of gratitude for trusting in myself, and sharing love with another.