It holds a different meaning to all of us, a word so estranged, that none of us can put our finger on it. We each define it so uniquely that it’s no longer a signifier for one particular emotion. It’s an amalgamation of physical and emotional needs that we all mix with different formulations.
As I’ve recently discovered; intimacy is far more complex than the most basic of primal needs – sex.
Yes, sex can be (when done right) an earth shattering experience that makes you feel alive in ways that no other experience can, but it’s also highly focused on being connected – literally. The act itself varies via gender, but either way, bodies are connecting in ways that only sex can achieve. Is that intimacy? Not knowing where one body ends and the other begins?
Why do we associate these two concepts so intrinsically to one another?
I want to call intimacy out by it’s name, pull it out of its haze and centre it on a stage.
Let’s call him J.
As soon as I met him, I felt instantaneous chemistry. It was physical, intellectual, emotional – potentially even on a cellular level. We had moments together that were considered both sexual and emotional, but I would refer to it as fun, rather than intimate.
One night, after an intense Shibari class together, he placed his hand deep on the inside my right thigh. Looking at me straight in the eyes, unwavering, with full conviction he said “I can feel your heart beat”. His fingertips laying flatly across my femoral artery, the artery that was pulsating even quicker by his touch. It was in that moment that I felt intimacy, not in the moments we spoke for hours, talking about the trauma’s we’ve experienced, not in the moments when he made me moan so loud that I became a different woman. It was when he focused in on my existence and made a point of it. He saw me. He focused on me, on my life force, the literal beating of my heart.
The reason this moment with J is so pivotal in my understanding of intimacy is in the realisation that it is an experience that cannot be felt without the body – ideas and thoughts can be documented, they can continue to exist even after we are gone. The body cannot, it is the one symbol of life.
There are so many people in this world, so many lives lived, we begin to feel as though we’re just another brick in the wall. This entire human existence makes us, as individuals, feel so insignificant, so futile, but when someone really looks at us, really takes notice, that is intimacy. The acknowledgment of our existence, telling us that we are here, we are noticed, we are alive. It’s a moment of vulnerability, a slap to reality, to the enlightenment of all we are and all it took to get us here. It’s a homage to our evolution, our place in this vast universe and expansion of time.