It's not all about the sex, you know. Actually, it's never about sex, though it is sometimes about making love, and sometimes it's about fucking, and it's always about intense physical and emotional connections that no one ever told me could be a part of what it means to be human…
Will looked at the words he had written, blushing even though he was the only one reading them (yet). He thought about scrapping paper and starting over, thought for the twentieth time about dropping the course altogether. "Relationships in Human Development" – what had he been thinking, signing up for this class? Was it not obvious that no good could come of unlocking his experiences of childhood and adolescence and relationships from the shelter of his subconscious?
Yet here he was, half-way through a course that demanded not only that he reflect on his relationships with others, but also that he share those reflections, with his teacher and with his classmates. Through writing. On a piece of paper. That others would then read.
It was mortifying.
Last week's assignment, on the role of maternal bonding in establishing healthy trust relationships, had reduced him to tears. This week, though, the assignment was less vexing: students were to write about what they considered the healthiest relationship each was in – with a family member, or a friend, or a partner. Even a pet.
It was a no-brainer, of course. Will was writing about Sonny.
Sharing the details of his relationship was tough – there were things he didn't like to think about, fears that he struggled to subdue, reactions that struck him as not-quite-normal. His perennial mantra – "I am such an idiot" – was one that Sonny was working on weaning him of, but he still failed to see why someone so wonderful – so balanced, so thoughtful, so loving, so sane – would want him for a partner.
But Sonny could take it, could handle all the insecurities and overreactions and neediness. Not just that: somehow, by some miracle that Will knew he would never understand, Sonny managed not only to tolerate all of his flaws but to actually frame them as attributes. Will knew Sonny found his over-eagerness adorable, saw his vulnerability as strength. It made no sense, so at some point he stopped trying to make sense of it. He just appreciated it, helplessly but powerfully.
Will knew he could thank the fates every minute of every day for bringing them together and he'd still owe the universe gratitude.
Will stared at the screem, tried to think on his own framing with this paper. In some ways, he suddenly grasped, this assignment was not as hard as some of the others. In fact, if he approached it right, it could actually be kinda fun. An assignment that compelled him to think about Sonny, to indulge those images that were always on his mind anyway? The thing could write itself, really…. But where to start? How to organize the many, many moments, some involved, some fleeting, that served to ground their relationship and help it flourish?
Will decided to approach the assignment systematically, using a "day in the life" schema. It made a certain sense: each day was, after all, one of the days of our lives. He took a deep breath, started typing:
I wake up every morning with Sonny's warmth on my skin. Usually his arm is wrapped around my body, though sometimes it's on my neck or my leg or my butt. (Note to classmates and Professor Smith: You asked for total honesty and openness in this assignment, so this is me trying…blushing, but trying). On those rare days that Sonny is not in our bed, I can hear him in the shower, singing off-key, or rattling around the kitchen, making coffee or breakfast for us. On those very, very rare days when I wake up and he's gone, he always leaves me a note on his pillow, apologizing and explaining. And he always, always writes "I love you."
Our mornings are perfect in their simplicity. We eat, we clean up, we stand side-by-side at the sink when we brush our teeth. As we get dressed, we discuss what our day will look like, where each of us will be and what we plan to accomplish.
Sonny owns a coffee shop in town, so that is where I often go after classes to do my homework and to study. One of my favorite moments every day is when I walk through the doors of Sonny's shop and first meet his eyes. The huge smile that greets me, the happiness that seems to radiate from him when he sees me – it takes my breath away. It's the most beautiful thing I can imagine. I would wish this for everyone: can you imagine how much better and happier the world would be if we could all glory in such a smile?
Sonny probably doesn't even realize how often he touches me, casually but habitually. When he brings me coffee, he'll kiss my cheek, or rest his hand on my shoulder. When he brings me a refill, he ruffles my hair, or puts his warm hand on my neck. Here's what I understand when I think about these gestures: that he has faith in me as a student, that he wants me to achieve academically, and that he does what he can to facilitate my learning. How awseome is that?
Will took a break from writing for a moment, caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror near his desk. He was grinning like an idiot (or, as Sonny would say, just grinning). This was definitely a fun assignment after all.
Sonny is so much more adventurous than I am – he's traveled the world, he loves to try new things. I tend to be more comfortable with what I already know, but Sonny and I both recognize that my approach to life puts me at risk of missing opportunities. So Sonny is constantly introducing me to things just outside of my comfort zone, compelling me to try new things. Yak Butter Tea. Rock Climbing. Ice Skating. Two-Stepping. All of these things have made my life richer, and all of them were initiated by Sonny.
Nights with Sonny – in this, I worry you'll think we're boring. We watch movies, order pizza, see shows, hang out with family and friends. Doesn't sound overly exciting, does it? What you can't know, though, is the incredible depth of fulfillment these activities bring me when I do them with Sonny. It's all the little things – the way he touches my lower back I walk through a door ahead of him, the way he tips his head back into my hand when my fingers are in his hair, the way he always leans forward for one more little kiss after we've already locked lips – these are the things that make me feel so cherished.
Will stopped for a second, took a deep breath. Laughed at himself for feeling a little teary. He sniffed, went back to typing:
As I noted earlier, I'm not going to write too much about the sex (ok, yes, we call it lovemaking, laugh at me if you must), but I do want to acknowledge what being physically connected to Sonny as meant to me. People tell me I am good looking and I suppose I believe them, but the lust with which Sonny sometimes ogles me is beyond dispute. I can make him hard just by pursing my lips a bit and wiggling my eyebrows at him, and I can't begin tell you how incredibly powerful that makes me feel. Sonny makes me feel stronger than I have ever felt in my entire life, and, for the first time ever, I feel comfortable in my own skin.
Will thought about erasing this last paragraph – writing it made him feel so exposed! – but then he realized that to do the assignment justice, he'd need to lay it all out there. And truth be told, it felt good to think about this stuff, and to share it with others. So many people had doubted their relationship – Sonny's mom and Will's dad among them – that each sentence Will wrote felt like a bit of vindication.
As Will re-read his assignment, trying to figure out how to conclude it, he felt Sonny's hand on the back of his neck. "How's it going, sweetie?" Sonny asked.
Will looked over his shoulder at Sonny, and smiled as Sonny leaned forward to kiss him. Twice.
"It's going great. I'm really liking this class, surprisingly," Will replied, his eyes moving from Sonny's lips to Sonny's eyes and back again. "I'm almost done, actually – can you take off soon, come home with me?" he asked hopefully. Sonny tried to decide what to do, feeling torn between wanting to spend time with Will and the work piling up on his desk. Sensing Sonny's indecision, Will pursed his lips a bit, wiggled his eyebrows. Sonny grinned.
"Yeah, sure, happy to. Let me know when you're ready," Sonny replied, smiling as he leaned down for a third kiss, and then a fourth.
Will went back to writing, knowing just what he wanted to say:
Why is this relationship the most healthy I'm in, and in fact, the most healthy I've ever been in? Because I can be myself, warts and all (Note to classmates and Professor Smith: I mean this proverbially. Please don't picture me full of warts; I am not warty. I do have a few moles but Sonny tells me they're quite sexy). This relationship feels healthy because Sonny brings out the best version of me, but he also loves me when I am at my worst. He's sexy and kind and perfect, and I can't tell you what a difference he has made in my life.
This was hard to write – do I sound like an idiot? You're already thinking I'm a sap, I bet, so I may as well end with this groaner: Before him, life was dark, but now everything is Sonny. The End.
That night, Will let Sonny read the assignment. Sonny laughed, then cried, then laughed some more. Then tackled Will on the couch and kissed him they were both breathless. Who knew homework could be foreplay?
A week later, Will received his paper back: "A+"