Can we play?

The question came out of the blue — and I didn’t know how to respond.

I remember the circumstances quite distinctly. It was about a month into life with Mark in the fall of 1999 and we were beginning to get comfortable with each other. Rainy weather had returned to London and the nights were drawing in fast — as was also the case where I lived. On this particular night, it was chilly at my place — and there was nothing compelling on TV. So, rather than turning on the heat, I went to bed as soon as it was dark.

Mark and I lay in our respective beds enjoying the sounds of rain outside our respective bedroom windows. I thought he would just go to sleep, as it was well past midnight in London — but instead, he waited for me to settle and then posed the question:

“Can we play?”

I just lay silently wondering what he meant.

“Can we play?” he asked again.

I still didn’t know how to react.

Then I felt him grab both my hands — as someone does to drag a reluctant person onto the dance floor — and the next thing I knew, I was being whirled around in an imaginary space — like he was an ice-skater spinning on the spot and I was his dance partner. Then he let go of my hands — and I went spinning off into space — only to find him there to catch me and playfully pinch my nose. Then we went to sleep.

We found we could amuse each other in all kinds of silly ways. He was flying somewhere for business that week — and I thought it would be fun if he looked at the window — and saw my face peering in at him — from outside at 30,000 feet. I banged on the window as though I wanted to be let in — and I did such a good job with the projection and was so funny with it, he erupted with laughter — just as a flight attendant was attempting to hand him a drink.

We went a little mad with projections for the next couple of weeks. Mark liked to sit in the first seat of the first row in my classroom during lectures — even if there was a student actually sitting in it! And I pretended to drive a small go-kart around his office. But the novelty wore off pretty fast. For one thing, it’s mentally exhausting – projecting an image onto the other person’s mind for the brain to perceive as a hallucination.

It’s been many years since we “played.” But I was reminded of it as I walked to get the bus this morning. I tend to walk at a very brisk pace, and Mark makes fun of my habit by pretending to have to break into a run at intervals to keep up with me. It feels like I have a small child in tow!

But right now, he’s leaning on me to wrap this up, post it — and get a glass of wine!

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