I love those moments the morning after when you’re both hovering in the doorway, teeth unbrushed, hair a mess, and they lean in, hesitant, to kiss you.
There’s something magical about doorways, they’re an in-between, not going, not leaving, like a space where you can live immobile for a few minutes. Those kisses are special because you’re not quite there yet.
Doorway kisses don’t often happen when you’re already in love—those kisses happen on the bed, in the kitchen, in the bathroom with a toothbrush still in your mouth.
Or there’s unfamiliar kisses in a club, drunk, outside before you get on the bus. But doorway kisses, they’re on the bridge between unfamiliarity and comfort. They’re awkward but passionate, vibrant, full of potential. They have a slightness about them—the way your hand gently touches their chest or maybe caresses the line of their jaw just before their ear lobe and neither of you are sure when it’s supposed to end or if it’s gone on for too long, or if either of you want it to end anyway.
It’s the kind of kiss that leaves you excited, that leaves you on one side and them on the other as you say goodbye. It’s the kind of kiss that tells you they’ll be back again, that it wasn’t just a one-time thing, that there’s room for this to grow. It’s an invitation for growth. Together.
And when the first doorway kiss happens after you’ve finally moved on, there’s something strangely haunting about it. For the first time since the heartbreak, you think it might really go somewhere, but the ghost of the lover-past is still lingering around you.
I think about how each relationship begins as a doorway kiss. How there are actually many doorway kisses before they come permanently into the house; the living room; the bed. And I can’t help but wonder how many doorway kisses they’ve had now that you’re apart. How many bodies they’ve touched in the past few months. How many lips they’ve licked.
I wonder when it is that we stop feeling them after someone new passes through. I wonder when I’ll stop comparing the way they laugh, talk, touch, listen to my stories the same way they did when we first met.
I wonder when they stop becoming someone I still long for; I didn’t know how good we had it until it was gone.
When do we slip into the room, together? How many semi-awkward dates and drunken hookups does it take for the distance to become familiarity? How many hours of conversation and text messages back and forth need to happen before they go from stranger to partner? Until their name becomes almost as regular as seeing your own, until they’re the first one you think of to tell anything to, until you stop telling your friends things about the relationship. When do two become one? I don’t remember exactly when that all happened with our relationship, one day it just kind of did.
I remember when my first big-time love called me his girlfriend for the first time. He’d just picked me up from the train station and we were sitting on the subway platform and he was telling me a story where he had told someone he was picking up his girlfriend from the station. Then, he stopped himself and said, “I hope that’s okay, I called you my girlfriend.”
And I wanted to smile so big because it was beautiful and amazing and definitely more than okay but I still wanted to play it cool, so I think I shrugged and said, “Yeah.” I don’t really remember because that’s one of those moments where whatever is happening inside is way way bigger than whatever façade you’re portraying on the outside—you know, because we can’t let them see over the top of the wall just yet.
I don’t remember exactly when I knew I was going to fall in love, either. I kind of do. But it’s impossible to pinpoint one moment, and I don’t really believe there’s one moment where you stop and go, “It’s happened; I’m in love!” But if I’m going to be honest, I knew I was going to love from our first date when he was standing behind me at the bar and there was something so natural in that moment there. I just felt like we were going to be good together, and I could see it all laid out ahead of me.
I think that’s what I’m waiting to happen again. That aha moment. This is it. But I’ve come to learn that slow is good, too. That I’ve got to give people chances and get to know them.
But with that relationship, that was magic. That was love. Right from the goddamn beginning.
Sometimes, it feels like someone’s dove into a lake and the water’s still rippling ever so slightly. If you sit and watch it closely, you can see the movement still there, fading out across the surface. Kind of like waiting for them in a doorway, waiting to be kissed.
*Details have been slightly altered. Excerpted from Naomi’s upcoming book, Time Below the Surface, available for pre-order.