If you look closely at the photographs, you could almost trace it with your finger. As we raise our tequila–filled shot glasses and excitedly toast our new friendships, you must look carefully to see it. Between the lines of our arms, where our sleeves roll back toward our shoulders and our watches slip around our wrists, you have to squint to pull it into focus. There, in the negative space of a seemingly shallow tradition, in the background of what is quite obvious, is the outline of something more honest. In that gap between our physical forms, darkened by shadows and secrets, is the place where our lives intersect.
The shapes blur in and out of focus, but if you colored them in with a pencil, they’d look like groceries bags full of heartache and laundry baskets overflowing with laughter. The moment I loop my arm around my new friend, a photo is snapped. The shape of a boat (a life raft?) appears between our torsos. When another of us doubles over in laughter, a hand is placed upon her shoulder. In that negative space between their touching forms are the images of a favorite dog, a broken promise, and one hundred snowy Christmas mornings. We really barely know each other. Yet at any place where we physically connect, the negative spaces tell our truths.
You’ll never appreciate a negative space unless you have the courage to create it and the patience to let it appear. It develops between our consciousness and our collectiveness, along the links that form a human chain. The spaces fill up and break apart like oil rolling through water, providing just enough buoyancy to allow us to rest shoulder to shoulder in a crowded elevator, or stagger arm in arm along a cobblestone sidewalk… or even, if you’re lucky like me, drift down the aisle holding hands with your handsome forever and always.
As soon as I got home, I looked for him. I needed to feel the negative space between us, the one that appears as an hourglass when I’m wrapped up in his arms. The tighter we hug, the more we squeeze the funnel shut- and I imagine that we’re beating the system, having hedged our bets long ago that the sands would pass too slowly for us to ever notice.
But I do notice, and I see now how much it all matters- every physical connection, every human link, every negative space- they all create the continuum of our existence. And these precious moments are temporary, ever changing, and hard to recreate.
Man, that was some really good tequila.