Words by Freya Lauerson Art by Freya Lauerson
What is intimacy? Is it holding hands? Because I can think of far more cool things than some clammy struggle in the name of romance. Google offers no help, by defining intimacy with even more ambiguity: “a close familiarity or friendship” or “a cosy and private or relaxed atmosphere”.
If intimacy were a person, I’d tell it to work on its obvious identity issues. Who and what are you?! Why have we given this heavy and complex word such a narrow definition?
Not long ago, I embarked on a therapeutic exploration of what intimacy means. For me, that took the shape of an overseas tinder date-turned-one-night-stand – accidentally might I add. Not your most conventional experience of connection.
We met at a tiki bar just south of Presidio in San Francisco, a dreamland town lined with pastel, doll-like houses. Under bright neon palm trees, we shared one, then two, tequila punch bowls and I learned he played bass and drums in two separate bands, was learning German (badly) and had one of those names where his last name could also be his first name or vice versa. Six blocks of uphill panting, three bus stops and one ciggie restock later, we reached the next bar where intimacy was about to get real.
Rebel Rebel pumped loudly through the speakers as we joined his friends throwing their heads back and necking $2 beers. It was the kind of place where one had to either yell or lean in extremely close to be heard and, unsurprisingly, the latter proved the best option. My date carried a very fresh scent, more sweet than clean. Think recently washed linen worn meets a very juicy peach. Needless to say both he and his plant filled bedroom made quite the “cosy and relaxed atmosphere” for me.
The problem is, when it comes down to intimacy, you are the sole decision maker. You may have also loved his sea-shell-shaped bong screaming “I surf”, or totally hated it. Neither me, nor Google, can determine what makes your deepest sensations stir.
So, how do you locate a feeling that’s own definition implies the absence of effort? Trial and error folks. I’m not saying to get up close and personal with anyone or everyone… unless you want to! The truth is, if no one can tell us what intimacy is, then you’re going to have to get out there and find it yourself. But be warned, like any great voyage of discovery, you will inevitably get a lil lost at first.
We don’t have many words for the opposite of loneliness but I think one would be intimacy. Whatever its source, intimacy is characterised by a joint respect for openness and affection. I think Google really fails to understand the intricacies of intimacy. Like all things worth having, an intimate relationship isn’t always easy, there’s an unavoidable vulnerability that comes along with it. It entails taking off a mask many of us hide behind. We all fear what might actually happen if we voice our thoughts and desires. But scary can be exciting.
Intimacy isn’t just sex, it’s all the things in between.
It’s discovering a whole spectrum of relationships, from a rich meeting of the minds, to the deep bonds of friendship and, of course, the blinding ties of love.
Intimacy can be as simple as shared interests, a feeling of closeness made by mutual interests. Who knows how brutal my date would’ve been had I not known he “loves to love” and listens to Ariel Pink.
The most important relationship we have is with ourselves and that’s where we should start. Trust your instincts and fill the gaps where your knowledge falls short. Let’s use our vulnerability and make intimacy visible again! You’ll feel freer and more alive than ever.