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  • I remember the first time I spent the night at your house and we slept like strangers in your bed.
    I believe the sheets were grey and striped.
    You showed me pictures that you had taken of girls in your life and I was insanely jealous that they were not me. I wanted you to somehow sense my jealously and give it immediate gratification. Remedy my jealously.

    To take your camera out from wired hooks in your closet.
    To find film and wind it in the dark.
    To hang your grey sheet against the wall to create a studio back-drop.
    To arrange outfits and makeup.
    To spend the time to set up the picture just so.
    Have me wrap the sheet around my body and allow me to get comfortable with the fact that I was having my picture taken by you. To let me lose control of the situation entirely, and let go completely.

    And trust. And feel. And be.

    Trust that you would tell me if I looked beautiful and sexy or if I was trying too hard. That you would photograph me in the exact way that I wanted to be seen by you. Natural and raw, beautiful and delicate.

    I’d wait in anticipation. Film to be developed, film to be hung in dark rooms and become saturated in monochrome over time. Film to take shape in slow forms. A nose, my eyes, the shape of my body wrapped tightly in a grey sheet, a look, a shadow of your hand that was accidently in the photo because you were directing me to do something differently.

    You would gather all of these prints and line them up in a row.
    Evaluate me. My shape. My form. My pout. My hips. My stare. My fear. My trust. Trust in you.
    The way my eyes are to the side and I am trying to contain a smile.
    The way that I look at you, through the lens, like I am screaming, “I want you, terribly.”
    Flirtatious and fun. Dark and complicated. Sad and forlorn. Drunk party girl.
    What look and sideways glance would communicate who I was to you, in the photo, in the best possible way?
    What variation of myself would you see me as?

    You would pick the one that I didn’t like the most and tell me that it was the best. You would give me reasons and help me see that it was a good picture. Calm my fear and insecurities. Tell me that it was okay for my nose to look like that, because I had a nice nose, even in profile. That my eyes seemed like they were telling a story in a genuine way. That I looked comfortable and that made the picture even more sexy.

    Then, without a word, you would hang this photo on your wall, and tell me by its placement there that I was special to you. And I would be able to see the beauty in all the other photos of women, but I would still feel secretly like mine was the best. And we would look at them all, lined up in a row, and evaluate, discuss, debate.

    Make up stories about what she must have been thinking when you snapped the shutter shut. What her laugh would have sounded like, directly after the photo session was over. If you went out for drinks afterwards and talked about it. If there was a funny story or a catch phrase. How the night started.

    How you decided to have a photo shoot. If she confessed how disappointed she was that 24 pictures had gone by so quickly. If she told you that she wanted to come by the next day to look at them. If you listened to music that night. What songs were playing on the stereo. What words were running through your mind. If you slept together afterwards in the bed I was in now. If the sex was good. Or bad. Or was too calculated and too sexy. If you hadn’t made it through the photo shoot because the anticipation was killing the both of you.

    If you directed her hand, touched her arm, and came in close to her. Close enough to kiss and press yourself against her. And said to her, “like this,” with your breath on the back of her neck. If you could see the hairs on her neck stand straight up. If she giggled and smiled, and waited with her mouth partially open for you to make the move. To swoop in and kiss her neck, touch her face, her jaw, and draw her face towards yours. To kiss and touch. To throw the camera down onto the bed and continue kissing standing up, then on knees, then onto the floor. To roll in blankets and sheets and make pillows for her head out of clothing - your sweatshirt and her jeans bundled together to set her up higher off of the floor. To kiss her legs and listen to her breath change.

    To have her tell you to come here.
    Lie on top of me.
    I am cold. I want to feel your weight and warmth against me.

    To look at each other.
    To finish and pick up the camera and take a photo of her smiling at you, flat on her stomach, wrapped in blankets, but obviously nude beneath.

    We would curl up in bed, in the sheet that draped me, and sleep. Still like strangers, but now more than strangers. Still like strangers, but now like friends. Or tension between friends. Or how electricity and water might sleep next to one another. Desperate for connection and to feel something coursing through their blood-stream. Scared to touch, knowing that it would be impossible to let you go.

    You would shift and stir in your sleep and turn your face towards the wall. We would sleep part of the night back to back.

    I would rise in the morning with your camera still in the closet. Never documented that I was there. We would awkwardly say goodbyes and see you soons. I would walk to my home in the cold frost of spring. I would see my breath and know that I existed. And was warm. I would curl up in my own bed and sleep a little longer. And rise a little later. And wonder what you thought about all of this.

    Come here.
    I am cold.
    I want to feel your warmth
    and weight against me.

    And we can remember all the rest of the times I spent the night.
    In their fuzzy details.
    Paired with an accuracy of how I really felt, and truly loved you, and remember clearly feeling this way genuinely, in bold flashes of memory, despite the wine.
    And in the morning, recognize sober
    These hidden, undeniable truths
    These desperate longings
    and fearful glances
    and long embraces
    and time moving slowly toward the morning.
    the sun in our eyes directing us back home.

    Never documented, but always present.
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