I love that bit of silence right before the needle hits the record. It’s an anticipatory type of silence, waiting for those first notes of music to bloom thickly into the air like cherry blossoms unfurling on the first day of spring. It’s a Local Natives record and I recognize the song immediately. Soft acoustic sounds trickle into my ear in a steady stream and tickle the bumps of my spine. I can’t help but giggle and cover my mouth with my hands. I realize my eyes are closed and neon lights are dancing in front of my pupils. I think it’s the drugs it must be the drugs because I open my eyes and the lights are still ballroom dancing on the ceiling, swaying steadily back and forth in a kaleidoscopic trance. I try to recall my last few minutes of sobriety. My mind spews forth images of a mug with John’s name engraved on the side – a souvenir I had brought back to him from Florida. On the side of the mug, a white Bengal tiger appears to creep forth from a cheaply illustrated rainforest. I recall John pouring a thick brown liquid into the mug and stirring it beneath my eyes – my reflection stares back at me through a muddy whirlpool. You’re gonna be fine, Jane. Shit, you’re gonna be a little more than fine. I’ll take care of you. You’re gonna fly, baby. You’re gonna feel the fucking stars in your hands. You’re finally gonna touch a star. I remember an almost maniacal gleam in his big brown eyes as he stirred the shrooms steadily into the liquid; it had even scared me just a little, although I would never admit that to him. But as the drugs set in, the gleam in his eyes was replaced by a look of euphoria; of an other-worldly sensation of pleasure. As the Local Natives song plays in the background, my eyes glaze over him in a stoned observance. He’s lying on his back next to the record player with his legs leaning up against the bed. His flannel shirt is unbuttoned, revealing a wrinkly gray t-shirt underneath. Stubble grazes the sides of his jaw, and the remnants of a badly shaved mustache are dotted above his red, full lips. He runs his hands through his thick, black hair and sings through a grin. All my silver dreams bring me to you. There’s something about John and the way his appearance could be so unkempt and almost dirty, and yet, he carries a light inside of him everywhere he goes that seems to shine through to everyone he meets. And the funny thing is, he knows it too. It’s evident in the way he walks through the city streets like he owns them, and smiles at strangers in a world where everyone is trying their hardest to avoid eye contact. And when John smiles at you, you always feel compelled to smile back. His gaze is so contagious, so captivating, that if you’re lucky enough to hold it for just a second on a New York City subway in a crowd of strangers, you won’t let go until he does. And if he doesn’t let go, he might even spark a conversation with you about the latest addition to his record collection, or the new light installation at the MOMA, or how he saw a cloud today that was shaped exactly like a lightning bolt, I shit you not. And then the train will stop and the doors will part, and he’ll pat you on the shoulder and leave you with that big toothy grin of his. The train will start to move and you’ll watch him head up the stairs in his beat up converse, pulling a cigarette from behind his ear. It’s that trance, that John Torres trance and I got it bad right now, baby. The drugs have us glued to the carpet like two useless slugs, with John singing in a voice that sounds slowed down about five paces, and me continuing to stare at him dumbly, telepathically willing him to offer me his gaze for just a second. My mental signal seems to reach him, because he turns his head in slow motion and faces me, still singing and still grinning. His smile is so contagious that it tugs at the corners of my mouth until we’re smiling together. I start singing along. Hold the summer in your hands, till the summer turns to sand. We were staring at our ceilings. Hearing my voice aloud for the first time surprises me, like it’s not really coming from inside of my body, but from a speaker on the wall that reverberates my voice throughout the room. The air feels so thick I run my fingers through it in awe. “Are we underwater?” I ask and John bursts out laughing. “Why are you yelling?” he asks me and he looks so adorable I can’t help but plant a big, wet kiss on his cheek. His stubble pokes my lips and I keep my mouth there for a little and graze it over his beard. His eyes meet mine and he turns his head so that our lips are about an inch apart. We’re breathing the same air, I think to myself as he exhales slightly and I inhale deeply, using his oxygen to stay alive in this big, cluttered room where all of the energy in the world seems to be centered on this one moment in time. His eyes meet my lips and rise back up to meet mine. “John,” I whisper, more as a means to remind myself that this moment is real, and not just some shroom-induced hallucination. He lifts his hand gently and traces the side of my cheek with his thumb, along my jaw, and over my bottom lip. The sensation of his thumb on my lip makes me smile. “Don’t smile,” he says, trying to stifle a grin of his own. The music is still trickling softly in the background, but somehow it seems to be happening in another place in time, somewhere separate from where John and I are now. Where we are, time has stopped and nothing exists but here and now. He licks his lips and plants a kiss on the corner of my mouth for just a second. I feel my heart begin to pound beneath my chest and I swear it’s beating so loudly that the entire world can hear its booming bass. He moves to the other corner of my mouth and kisses it, holding his lips there for just a second longer than before. He pulls away slightly and his big brown eyes look up at me; asking a question of permission with his gaze. My eyes only know one answer, yes, please, yes.
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