While meditating on the best, most elegant way to segue into the second part of the most intense love story I’ve experienced in years, I realized I must first consider my target audience. Naturally, I decided to start with gratuitous shock value.
He was as good at sex-ing as he was at romancing. It was one of those perfect physical connections that are too good to be true, and usually come with the catch of a douchey personality, bad taste in music, GOP affiliations, commitment phobia, permanent morning breath, or an Austin Powers action figure collection. But not this one!
“You’re an empath, aren’t you?” he asked after the deed was done at his place on that night we slowed danced.
“Yeah, I do tend to feel others’ emotions rather easily. Why do you ask?”
“Well,” he smiled. “I just get the feeling you’re as much of a witch as I am.”
“Oh yeah?” I kissed him. “That’s why I rocked your world –and your bed – for the last half-hour, huh? I knew that gentlemen preferred blondes, but I see you prefer witches! I knew it since –“
“Nah,” he put his index finger to my lips. “You’re good in the sack – that has nothing to do with your psychic powers! I bet it has more to do with your… training!”
“Jerk! Calling me a slut,” I said as I hit him with a pillow.
The insult quickly turned into a pillow fight, then wrestling, then… even more intense, touchy-feelly wrestling – with proper equipment and protection of course.
The next few weeks were as intoxicatingly perfect as the first encounter. It turns out that we were extremely different, and much to each other’s benefit. He was strong in the areas where I was weak and vice versa. Perfect balance – like 69-ing… I’ve heard.
Will was a better shopper.
“Sorry, ma’am. My friend here saw a cardigan just like that – I think it was Calvin Klein, too – in the store across the street. And it was just forty dollars,” He lied shamelessly to the equally sleazy saleswoman at the L. A. Fashion District. “That’s our limit. Take it or leave it!”
I was a better loser.
“Yeah, yeah! You were right about the aviator glasses – they do look perfect! Now shut up!”
Will was a better chef.
“I’m no expert, but I bet the whipped cream I used on our desserts would taste even better on… YOU! Hey, don’t run away, you little coward!”
I was a better listener.
“Yes, I remember you liked Florence before The Machine liked her! You don’t have to show me your ten-year-old T-shirt to prove it!”
Despite our good chemistry, though, at some point I was beginning to believe that I was the boring one of the two. However, my more passive, sensitive role (as a person… not in bed… though that never hurt… in a bad way) eventually paid off.
One night he spent over at my place, Will was going on about some costume he made for his friend’s Alice in Wonderland-themed rave, “I know the Jabberwocky is a challenge! But I’m always up for one of those. Plus, the Jabberwocky is completely up to interpretation if you know the book! And my designing ain’t too bad. I had this other friend who was just an awful designer. I’m sure I could tear your T-shirt with my bare hands and come up with a better design than that guy. And I didn’t even go to fashion school!”
“You’re always so eager to show your skills. I wish I had half your confidence,” I told him in the dark room, kinda hoping he wouldn’t be so eager to show me his skills. “Anyway, why don’t we talk about something else? Maybe you could tell me the story of your –“
Before I could say the word life he put his finger to my lips, as was becoming his habit every time he, quite accurately, sensed I was going off on some fruitless rant, “You don’t need to talk all the time, boo.” He gave a sweet chuckle in the dark, and went off on a tangent. “I like calling you boo. It would sound stupid if I called anybody else boo – like I was a ghost scaring them. But with you it’s cute.”
I was about to smile and shut the fuck up when I realized it was the fifth time I had shut the fuck up that day. As you can tell by my blog, dear reader, I’m a bit of a storyteller and over analyzer by nature. I can shut the fuck off only for so long; if I don’t vent, my words just pile up until finally, I explode in a messy burst of pre-menstrual verbosity!
So I did what any independent, neurotic, loquacious woman in my position would have done: I took his finger off my lips, and said, “OK. I know that often I’m too much of a talker. And that sometimes I talk topics to death, and you’ve been right to point that out, Will! But this time I don’t think silence is appropriate. I like you, but I’m just a bit tired of you talking about how damn perfect and cheerful and good at everything you are!”
“I’m not…” he began, but without being able to see him through the darkness, I put my finger to his lips.
“Sometimes…” I hesitated for a moment, guessing what his quiet face might look like in the dark. “Sometimes you also have to tell me when you’re not doing well. We can’t get any closer if you’re only sharing the good things with me. What about your past? What about your sorrows, and childhood traumas? We’re not complete humans without those. I want to know all about you – the whole picture – not just how good you’re at cooking, and reading Tarot, and haggling, and designing Jabberwocky costumes!”
I took my finger off his mouth, but he remained silent. It was a bit awkward after two seconds so before he ran off my place and called the local insane asylum, I added, “Well, I guess that’s all I had to say.”
Then the strangest thing happened. He didn’t run away. I don’t know if I imagined this, but I thought I saw the gleam of a tear running down his cheeks as he began to tell me about growing up. How he was teased for being a chubby ginger. How his sisters were so mean they were worthy of a Brothers Grimm fairytale. How he not only loved musicals and science fiction shows I found silly, but also Frasier and other more intellectual forms of entertainment. How his ex stole some of his dearest, most personal possessions before finally leaving him and stabbing him in the heart like the Three of Swords in my Tarot reading for him. I obviously felt like two things: a wonderful psychiatrist and an awful, intrusive candidate for a boyfriend.
He finally concluded, “You know, the reason I don’t like to go on and on talking about serious stuff sometimes is because I can get really annoying. When you do it, it’s really cute and endearing, and you end up saying just the right thing! But when I rant on it just sounds like I’m showing off. I don’t do it on purpose; it’s just the way I am.”
“Well,” I said. “Don’t be surprised if there’s someone out there who finds you just charming anyway – rants and all.”
When we kissed again that night, it wasn’t fun anymore. It was beautiful. As was what I can confidently call genuine lovemaking, followed by equally divine sleep.
The next morning, when the sun’s annoying early rays woke me up, I noticed I was still being his little spoon.
“Good morning,” Will greeted me kindly, with that youthful tone of his voice almost gone, replaced by a beautiful, tired adult voice. “I can’t believe I slept with you in my arms.”
“Me neither! I have never been able to sleep while cuddling – one of my arms always goes so numb I wake up thinking it fell off. Not to mention that I toss and turn like rotisserie chicken.”
He squawked at me like a hen, and I hit his lips with a morning kiss. He smiled, but not for too long. Will’s face was suddenly more serious than I’d ever seen it, almost somber, “You know. It’s the first time I sleep like that with anyone since my breakup. And that was a while ago. I think you’re…” He hesitated.
“You’re making me believe there’s still good people out there.”
The goofy smile on my face after he said that didn’t fade throughout the day, even when he left and I went to my boring Medieval Literature class and to drop my boss’s clothes at the cleaner’s.
Sadly, after two weeks of not seeing Will and only getting monosyllabic text messages from him, the smile faded completely. I tried a healthy amount of restraint. Like the sane person that I am, I didn’t ask him what he had been up to. I didn’t ask him if I had done something wrong. I didn’t ask if he had been too busy. I didn’t ask him if he missed me as much as I missed him. After all, it had only been a month of sporadic dating and a two-week absence – he has a life of his own after all, doesn’t he? OH MY GOD WHY HASN’T HE ASKED ME ON ANOTHER DATE, I WANT TO KILL MYSELF! I shouldn’t have gone all desperate psycho-bitch on him that other night! Or so I thought at the time.
In any case, once I regained my composure, I got an invitation to get coffee.
Will started the conversation as I arrived rather strangely greeting me with, “I’m sorry.”
“For?” I wondered out loud as I sat in front of him.
“You all right, buddy?” I smiled with false hope.
He confessed, “I’ve been avoiding you because I’m not quite ready for a relationship, and I have found myself falling for you.”
Before I broke into tears, I pretended to be stronger, “that makes two of us. I’m scared shitless. But it’s ok – I don’t have time for love either. I need degrees, money, clothes, six-pack abs, self-esteem, and all those other things our society tells me to prioritize above love. I assume the same is the case for you?”
“No,” Will said coldly. “The only thing I need is a good foundation before I can love someone.”
I smiled with glassy eyes, “There’s no such thing. But it’s a noble goal. I shall be no impediment to you. If you ever get there or give up, and you realize that you’re perfect as is, give me a call. Or let’s be friends, but I hope you understand I can’t sleep over or make love anymore.”
“I do,” he said robotically. “And believe it or not it hurts. I don’t think I’ll be up for a relationship for a while – not until I get over some things. I just couldn’t give you what I want to give you at this point. What you deserve.”
I was about to nod and just go away with an untouched heart when I remembered The Fool card – with the guy about to walk off a cliff – and I jumped off it to kiss him, in hopes I secretly knew how to fly.
He kissed me back, and before he said anything, I went off into a speech again, like a worthy fool, “You know, I know it’s a long shot, but I say fuck it! Let’s just try it. There’s never going to be a good time for love. There will always be more growth, more childhood traumas to get over, more confidence to build. But there’s only one you, and only one me. And if life is to die anyway, should we just go ahead and fuck it all up, and kiss and break each other’s hearts?”
“Boo, life is not to die. Life is to live it – and you can’t truly live it with a broken heart,” he added with a smile.
“But life’s also about risks,” I started tearing up. “But it’s ok. I guess fear and caution distinguishes us from animals. I wouldn’t want you to lose your humanity on my behalf. Alright, I should go now!”
I ran out of the coffee shop and cried when I was outside, no one going after me. But I didn’t cry because he had said no, or because I was at the bottom of the Fool’s cliff. I cried because I was there alone. Just like I had been before meeting him. I’d have to climb all the way up once again, slowly, knowing that one day, I’d have to choose whether or not to take that leap of faith all over again. Hopefully to fly, this time.
A bird flew right past me as I had that thought, and I was able to smile once again, realizing that at the very least unlike a lot of people, I didn’t remain with the doubt, and I took a chance.