It begins before any of it starts. It begins in how you ask for it. It begins because you ask for it. You say why don’t we? Yes now. We won’t be long. We’ll be quick. Smile when you say that. As though you said something clever.
Be the first one to unbutton or otherwise remove an item, but only one item at first, and then when you are wearing something pretty and secretive and rare—then, when you are wearing almost nothing, steal out of the room for a glass of water or a candlestick or under the guise of putting a record on. Do this in an effort to be seen.
Now, if the room is warm and it’s comfortable to be there inside it, make time into an elastic band and then take the elastic band and stretch it the length of an outstretched arm through your chest down your thigh and into your toes. Do it gently. Stretch here with all of the laziness and luxury you can muster. It isn’t a tired stretch or a runner’s stretch or the stretch of muscles that are burning or sore, it is a unnecessary lengthening, a drawing out. It is meant to paint a picture about couldn’t-care-less; about ease and something that isn’t unlike a type of positive boredom. It’s a movement of confidence and nonchalance, because if you can look as though you believe in everything and nothing, you can believe in everything and nothing. And everything and nothing is what you came here to do.
Above all, do not be bothered by time or what will happen next, but around this point in the exercise, you will need to take steps to move the action along. Here, now, remove whatever covers your partner. Hold the part that needs holding. Touch the things that are not usually touched.
Begin to use more of your body and less of your mind. Reach into the place that is thinking and draw the curtains, bar the door. Turn the lights down inside there and as you do that, turn up the part of you that has connected with the part of the other. Turn the part of you so that it turns the part of them and let the movement that you make together be like a song played backward on a German phonograph at the wrong speed.
The song should have a verse and chorus and a verse and a chorus. It should have a rhythm that is like that rhythm that everyone in every village by every river under every sun is born knowing. Play this song, backwards, with the obvious parts—the bone in your hip and the strength of your drawn up shoulders—but sound the instrument of your elbow, sound the instrument with the back of your knee.
Whether or not you feel the end of the song coming, sing louder when it is time for the song to end. Refer back: confidence and nonchalance. You must believe in everything and nothing. You must believe in the ending even when you have no evidence that the end is near because the secret of the end is that it will not come until you call it home.
But when you do call home—perfectly with pitch and tone and verse and chorus and the delicate bow of a lover’s arch, you will know: The ending never really ends. Not as long as you can hear the message in the backwards singing and the rhythm of the multilingual supine hum. Not as long as <em>you</em> started it. Not as long as you keep believing, not as long as you keep playing along.