His face was attractive from a distance - he looked quite handsome, in fact.
However, like most faces, upon closer scrutiny with an attentive, dispassionate
eye, it revealed its flaws and the minute lines where life had left its traces
and taken away some of the beauty. Too long unshaven, hair too dark for such
a transgression to be left unnoticed. The lips were pale, though they were not
so pale as to fade into his skin. The baseball cap - "Ray-Ban Sunglasses"
- made him look like any American boy, and belied the fact that he was here
in Germany, without his family, who had remained
behind in Bosnia.
I looked for traces of war in his face but found none, none that my own imagination
could not itself have etched. Did he look older than his years? For we know
that war children always do. And did he have the requisite sorrow and experiences
beyond his years in his eyes? All I saw in his eyes were moments of awkwardness
and the occasional suggestive glance that was at the same time almost embarrassed
of itself. What German he spoke, he spoke well. But his words were halting and
his store of them too small.
His hands were not the hands I would imagine of a lover. I could not imagine
them caressing, they were too utilitarian. I had the sense that love, too, for
him, would be utilitarian; bent toward a purpose, not something to be lingered
over. Tenderness because it had to be there, because it was expected; not for
the sake of itself. His quick stride betrayed him.
And I caught the desire, too, that desire which did not know where to put its
hands and placed a kiss on my lips so very quickly before I left. The desire
that was met with someone it did not quite understand. American girls are easy.
At least that much can be understood. I wonder if he has heard this, believes
this. Or if he does not want easy. But I do not understand how it could be anything
more, if the words are not even possible between us. What is play, and what
is for real? We do not have the words. Languages differ; expectations will clash.
He seemed used to the lead role, playing the man's part, but I never knew how
to play the woman's role and did not want to. It left him at odds. Because I
said I was not cold; I was not afraid. If she does not ask for comfort, where
do you enter? The hands stayed in his lap, but I was aware of their tension
and their openness.
And the kiss before I left, I did not expect to feel so pleasant. Because this
will not be a lover; even if there is intimacy, it will be sex, not the languorous
and passionate enveloping of pleasure that marks lovers. I believe I know this,
although I could never be certain. But because American girls are easy, I don't
want to be. Still, just a kiss. Curiosity more than attraction impels me, curiosity
and the need for physical affection. For just a kiss, even just a kiss like
onward, around, in circles