Tracey Emin, Everything is Possible, 2019
When I say closeness, I’m actually referring to a few constituent elements: proximity, both physical and emotional, as well as mutual empathy, shared context and shared experience. Some of my earliest memories as a child revolved around wanting closeness—I often fantasized about having a twin, or at the very least a sibling close in age to me. I didn’t really know how to interact with other children, but I knew that I wanted a best friend very badly. I felt isolated from human connection. Then I got older and made friends and started dating and it seemed for a period of many years that I could stop thinking about closeness, since clearly I had it. But recently I’ve realized that I still lack some certainty about why I want it and what it means to me.
Let’s start with platonic relationships, since they’re the easiest. I have five to ten very good friends who’ve known me anywhere between two and seven years, and I feel extremely happy and supported in these relationships. I have many friend-acquaintances with whom I am varying levels of close (probably could be closer, I’m working on it). Family-wise: I love my parents and talk to them often. A goal of mine is be closer to my younger brother. So in most parts of my life I think I have clarity about what level of closeness works for me.
In romantic relationships, however, I think I desire more closeness than most people do. I think I also feel it in certain friendships (you know the kind I mean—life-changing friendships). I always remember that Joan Didion line about how for many years she didn’t have a thought without saying it aloud to her husband. I’ve always found that aspirational, for better or for worse. I have some friends who are couples who also work together, and that’s always been something that’s appealing to me: heavy entanglement. I think of it almost as a desire to share consciousness. If I had to elucidate the appeal of extreme closeness, I’d probably describe it thus: I find it both thrilling and exhausting to be in my own mind, and sometimes I want to share the burden of it. I want you to know everything, to share the inexhaustible accumulation of experience with me. I think that’s why I write, quite literally.