The Gentle Symbiosis by Wendy C. Ortiz in KNOCK 2/1, 2005, Antioch University Seattle

Name another pair of writers in this decade--hell, I'll raise you a quarter-century--that are at such odds with one another as this pair. And who also share a bungalow or two. And who are known for their slight eccentricities and their vibrant natures, equal to none but themselves.

By now you must have heard of X & Y. With X's first novel, A, it was clear that there was a formidable presence peeking out somewhere from behind the nuclear glow of Y, who exploded onto the literary scene with her memoiresque, B. Is it right to say I caught up with them at their Silver Lake bungalow?--there's no catching them, really, unless you believe you can harness a wildfire and ask it to sit, stay.

On this day, Y wore her infamous light-blue button-up shirt, a pair of form-fitting black slacks and she was missing her signature tie. She was barefoot.

"Are you going to mention what I'm wearing first?" she asked with a smirk. "Because if you are, this interview is so done."

X jumped in. "Why fight it?" he asks of us both. "Why not just mention what I'm wearing?" He tipped back a dark green bottle of imported beer and set it back gently on the white patio table. "There you have it," he beamed, "equality."

And it's true. I sensed the shimmer that many people have encountered, a near-combustible energy that seems to inhabit the space around these two--dare I say--talents.

"Okay, okay, I was kidding," Y says, taking off her mannish black-framed glasses and giving the lenses a spot-cleaning.

I start to ask about X's new novel and Y interrupts, her wine-colored toenails attached to smooth brown feet suddenly on the tabletop next to X's beer.

"You mean, you're not going to start out with questions about us?" she jokes. X delicately removes her feet from the table and places them on his knee. He's wearing clean khakis and sturdy sandals, and a white thermal shirt that hugs his tan skin. I notice the thick black wristwatch that seems so present in Y's recent poetry about her self-described, 'love of my life.'

"Well, yes, I can do that," I stammer, not wanting to disappoint. I see a look pass between them and my eyes search the area for sharp pencils, weapons they are known to carry, especially during interviews.

"This forum seems to bring out the worst in us," X says, somewhat brightly, and throws his head back in a hardy laugh, part mad doctor, part sexy bravado. I watch Y watch X closely, like he's some exotic flower that just sprung up before our eyes.

"Speak for yourself," she retorts, and turns to me. "Is this romance of epic proportions yet? What can we do to facilitate this?"

And it's clear that I, interviewer, am suddenly absent--an insect on a leaf, waiting, watching—

"We could commit a joint suicide," X offers.

"Or just get married and dash everyone's hopes," Y says.

"Including our own," X replies. He turns to me--I'm still here!--"We don't subscribe to the paradigm of marriage."

"Or sanity," Y says, showing her teeth. Oh no—

And thus begins the afternoon, which will pass with me watching, fascinated, the lascivious and preternaturally intelligent banter race amongst these two (they will cover Marxism, elementary physics, geology of California, and Kant), and the much-discussed sexual/sensual nature of their very beings cohabit a space--a window into a markedly thick, wild, creamy world of eros that some only fantasize about. By the end, Y will be perched on X's lap, and they will use passwords, codes, that clearly speak to their vibrant eroticisms healthily displayed before me, a stranger. And yet, no boundaries are pressed--they are, in fact, PG-13, and the only photos our photographers capture are wistful, plaintive. Here, Y stands next to a cherished trellis of ivy. On the other side of the trellis stands X, and their pinkies are locked against the foliage. Tenuous and jungly, much like their presentation. And another: her hands cupping his face, his eyes closed resolutely, as she told him, "Later, later--" post-password. She exudes control. Yes, it's all true, but in his presence, she is also bending like a willow, her love unashamed, in fact, happy to stretch, for his sake…

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