Hearing someone she once wanted with every inch of her body, although maybe not her soul, say that she was a four-month-long-guilt-driven-fling slammed her to the ground. Everything stopped. She felt like she was standing on one of those plates spinning on sticks, caught in a block of cement. She was numb, unable to move or breathe.
She pursued him for a year, then they went out for a month, then he hit the brakes, then he gave in and they went out for four months, then he shattered her heart and she cried harder than ever before or since, then he moved to her city and she fell again, full force, no hesitation, ready to start all over again. She wanted him. She always wanted him. But why? They didn't even have good conversations, which was always her metric for attraction. She was perpetually intimidated and nervous, and trying. Trying to win him over. It was a constant chase. And then she realized it wasn’t just about the chase. Crap. He was the only, or perhaps one of two guys whom she liked doing things to, not just what he did to her. He later said he felt he always gave more in bed than she did.
Early days...spent the last three nights with him. They talk and spoon and kiss till four in the morning. He actually calls and texts these days. She is scared of getting close and getting her heart broken. But she can't stop.
Beach. It's overcast, but nice. They meet at his place and he gives her an awkward hug hello. He is tall, very tall. She is not, not at all. His hugs feel forced. He sticks his chest out and it pushes her away. Tomorrow she will spend another night with him.
She: “OK I am going to kiss you now.”
She: “Stop laughing!”
He: “That was cute”
She: “Well I wanted to do that all day, but you started the day with that awkward hug...”
He: “When did I do that? Come here.”
He twirls her.
He: “Is that a little better?”
She: “You can't just twirl everything ok!”
He: ”But you are smiling”
Tomorrow they'll study together and maybe watch a movie.
And then he breaks her heart. He hits the brakes, delivering the news as soon as they wake up. It’s Monday.
Shameless pursuit. She becomes forward, determined, relentless, creative. She is hyper-aware of everything she does. She looks at herself through his eyes. Paying attention to how she walks in heels, how she bends over. Even the way she arranges her hands in her lap while sitting in the passenger seat next to him on the way to Salsa night is strategic. She is aware of how she laughs, how many degrees she turns her head, how she sounds while talking to other people when he is within earshot. She wants to sound kind and thoughtful, because thats what she loves in him. She sinks deeper into a marsh of mush whenever she sees him laugh. He closes his eyes so tightly when he laughs, like a little boy making a Birthday wish.
Thursday is salsa night. She lives for those nights. She gets hysterically tense when there’s even a shadow of a possibility that it won’t happen. She is amazing on the dance floor. He watches every time. She leaves the club with someone else. He sees it, she hopes.
Concert. Standing room only. He is behind her, his hands are on her hips. They are dancing.
Another Salsa Thursday. She dances like never before. Eight spins in a row. She is in heaven. People are asking him "who is that girl?"
She comes back to the table, out of breath, flushed, high, dizzy, beautiful, and happy. It's hot.
He: It's probably cooler outside. Shall we? He takes her glass of wine and she follows him outside.
He: “You looked amazing out there.”
She: “Thank you.” She could fly off the railing. Right that moment.
Wine and spins do not mix well. She feels sick. He drives her home.
She: “Can you stay with me?”
He hesitates a moment and then,
She gets back in the car so he can park. And, he kisses her. It's a good kiss, very good. He caresses her body all night, they have a good conversation and fall asleep. She still can't sleep when he is next to her.
On the dance floor again.
She: "You should stay over again"
He: “It's a possibility”
He doesn't. When she asks if it's because he is tired, he says mostly.
At a classmate’s party. She gets up to leave, he takes her hand.
He: “You are not walking alone. It's late”
He walks her. As they pass by his street, he says: "I'd ask you to stay over but I can't handle rejection tonight.
She: “Is that a backhanded invitation?” He doesn't say anything.
She: “Let's see if at the bottom of the hill I want to invite you over.”
They come to her door.
He: “Should I even ask?”
She: “Let's see”
He: “Can I come up?”
She: “What do you want the answer to be? Truthfully”
They go up. They kiss and talk and touch. Topless. It's not great. It's awkward. She doesn't want him any more.
Another night together. It's late and they keep dozing off. They get closer. She stops.
She: "It shouldn't happen like this. You mean more to me than this."
He: "We tried abstaining from each others beds, and it makes our relationship superficial. I don't like that. It doesn't make sense to spend the next four months in a superficial relationship."
She agrees. They fall asleep.
Morning. It's good. Very good. He lies on top of her, a lot. He offers to go out for coffee. To avoid an awkward conversation she declines.
She: “I should go.”
He walks her to the door, and kisses her. She is over him.
His place. It's getting late. Tomorrow is the 4th of July BBQ they are hosting at his place.
She: “Oh shoot, I have to ice the cake for tomorrow. Walk me home?"
Endless ‘sushi + movie’ nights. They never finish the movies. She initiates the end of watching every time. Every morning she wakes up terrified, almost holding her breath, slowly turning to look at him, ready to hear: ”I can’t do this”. The projected screech of the brakes is deafening.
Thursday night, post dancing. Ice-wine, his bedroom, he photographs. Then the camera is suspended from a ceiling fan and they are intimate. She is wearing red.
Thanksgiving. They go to his parents’ for dinner. She feels legitimate. He kisses her in his room. Two years later he will tell her that his family loved her.
Christmas. He takes her to a ballet. They have dinner at a Greek restaurant.
He: “Let us go darling. We have a show to catch”
She is floating.
Job offer. The job offer. She has to move. She doesn’t want to go.
He: "I’ll fold you with my own two hands, pack you into a box and mail you there, if you don’t go. You can’t pass this up."
She: "If things were different....?"
He: "What do you think?"
Her last night there. They have sex.
He: “It was as wonderful as I imagined it would be”
She moves. They talk less.
He: “I am not moving mountains and that probably means something...”
Three months pass. He comes to visit. Stays at her apartment with her. In her bed. She is beside herself, ready to pick up where they left off at the airport in New York. He is distant.
He goes out on a date while she cries in bed, harder than every before or since.
She: “I think I loved you”
He: “I think I knew”
A year passes. Their mutual friend: “Guess who is moving to New York!”
After sitting on her hands for a couple of days, she texts him. “Hey, welcome to New York. Let me know if you need anything.”
He: “Yes, a salsa club and a partner please :) ”
He remembers and brings up little things, inside jokes they used to have, some of which even she forgot. The one about the bed that would follow them around, so they would never have to get out of it. Or the one about the rule of ‘no clothes allowed’ when together. Brie puffs. He says that after she left, he used those as a litmus test for whether someone could make him happy.
And then a street corner and she is spinning, in a block of cement.
Email: Despite my stated uncertainty about our earlier relationship, I have no doubt in my mind that the smiles, laughter, brie puffs, beers, wine, walks, twirls and naughty bed behavior were all genuine, joyful and beautiful, from the beginning to the end. You had great effect, as you still do now. I share in delight in those memories as much as you do.
I admire at once your emotional depth, vulnerability and strength. I possibly failed at each of those last night. So I apologize again, first for being an inconsiderate and poor reflection of a previous intimate partner and more importantly at simultaneously failing to be a good friend. Though I don't expect and understand if you don't accept, I humbly submit my apologies.