Several of my coupled friends have a proclivity to pass gas in front of each other.
"It's natural," some say. Married ones shrug, "Why not? S/he's stuck with me now."
I've never been this way.
One of my close friends Joe and I were discussing this subject over brunch on Independence Day. Joe is 23, an accountant, and Jewish. Growing up a small town Christian girl, he was the first Jewish person I met (in Manhattan/anywhere). When we bumped into each other at a bar four years ago (yes, he was there illegally), my first question was, "I understand why you don't have a Christmas tree. But why not Rudolph?"
He has tried to edify me on many subjects over the years, the most recent being: the passing of gas between romantic partners.
"It's a bridge that brings a relationship from casual to serious," he said. He explained how once you're comfortable with someone, everything's fair game. "That's real intimacy."
I disagree. I think being this comfortable is the end of romance. Therefore I've always been extremely clandestine about all bodily functions. But maybe he's right maybe this is why Nick and I decided to stop dating and continue on with a platonic friendship after I returned from Southeast Asia.
"Did you two in front of each other?" Joe asked.
A disgusted look furrowed my brow. "Absolutely not."
"Well there you go."
Nick became my best friend during our three-year relationship. He has seen the worst of me. With his unyielding guidance, assurance, and admiration, he brought out the best in me. He says I did the same for him. That, to me, is intimacy.
Even so, some people aren't meant to be in a rigid relationship. We are both creative people (he a filmmaker, me a writer) and both have fairly ambitious life goals, none of which include marriage or babies. Therefore amicably, mutually we decided it was best to technically break up and see other people.
Since that teary evening three weeks ago, Nick and I have gotten dinner to talk, gone for walks in Central Park, and watched a few movies. Atypical as it appears to others, we want to maintain what we've always had: a supportive bond.
"It's not going to work," friends, including Joe, have ascertained. They argue that our friendship will end once someone meets someone else. I'll admit: this will be difficult when the time comes. But both of us want the other to be happy, no matter how that happiness is sought. This, too, is intimacy.
I believe there are many shades of love. It cannot be measured or mapped. It is the great intangible.
It's tempting to think of love as a progression. But as history time and again proves, love is not a ladder we climb rung by rung, leaving previous steps below. Or if it is, it's not going up. It's just moving forward, wobbling here and there, as life inevitably must.
The word "love" can be as soft as a heartbeat. Other times, apparently, as heavy as the passing of gas. I will always love Nick. I hope vice versa. We will always have that kind of intimacy.
Sarah T. Schwab is a Sunday OBSERVER contributor and Fredonia State graduate. Send comments to
or view her Web site at www.SarahTSchwab.com