I was actually saying things how I meant them. They were coming out the way I heard them in my head. I was handing him little piles of words that were myself, without sorting through them first in case he wouldn't understand them. Because I knew he would understand them. How did I know he would understand them?
I'd never met someone so intentionally exposed. He was timid without being moldable; uncovered without being readable. I was sure he had running judgment that he spared me, but for the first time, I was not intimidated by authenticity. Instead of backing down to his, mine was stimulated.
His consciousness of self was everywhere; on the way he'd start to bite his lip, but never quite get there, because he had too many things to say first, in the way he paced when he had something to say, and in the way he stopped when he was saying it, but never long enough to finish the thought. He'd lose the rest of it in his overlapping steps, and I'd half-mask my smile at his struggle, because I despised it on myself, but it was dynamic on him. The way he held himself-or rather, did not hold himself- said he didn't give a damn about all the little things he knew behind his reflection. He acknowledged his flaws, but he didn't address them, as if there were more important things to do. It was intriguing. I wanted to know what more important things it was that he had to do.
And this strange, strange quality of honesty that was sprouting from myself looked so odd amidst all the deceit and denial that I normally accommodated others with. He wasn't patting me on my back. He wasn't applauding, wasn't praising. So God knows what encouraged this frank truth of mine so unlike myself.
I felt liberated. In his company, I didn't know what "expectation", or "misunderstanding", or "apathy" was. The recipe of his company was simply, I'll trade mine for yours. Silence was okay, because finally someone understood that it was about presence, and not words. His version of disclosure wasn't, "this is who I am", but rather "who am I? You're welcome to answer the question." And so we spent two hours admitting to each other and to the thin fog, that the joke was on both of us, because we didn't actually know.