Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Intimacy

By the third night, I knew the routine. I slipped off my shoes outside the door, entered his spotless second floor condo, and found a comfy spot on the leather sofa. He offered me food and drink, which I declined, and then settled his six foot frame in a nearby chair. I tried to conceal my excitement behind a cool and casual exterior, but I'm sure he saw through me. After a brief pause, he looked at me and said, "Start".

And, so I did.

Seamlessly, we continued from the night before when a rapid interchange of verbal and non-verbal shorthand developed, rules established, contracts sworn to, and the boundaries of our alliance outlined. Tonight began as if no hours existed in between. Those hours had been a breath, exhaled again right here and now.

The first night was at a jam session at a local bar. He looked out of place. Maybe I did too. Two middle-aged people alone in a college bar on a Sunday night. He braved an introduction and bought me a beer. I knew he would. Women know these things; or maybe we make them happen with our secret unspoken language. The next day he would casually mention that when he talks to women in bars, he only chooses the most beautiful woman in the room. He was smart to wait on that cheesy line. Had he used it the first night, in a bar full of hot little college co-eds, our conversation would have ended before it had begun. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that he hadn’t chosen me. I’d chosen him.

He was handsome, but pretended to be shy and insecure. Although his height and broad shoulders gave him a presence, it was the combination of ash blond hair and hard brown eyes that was most striking. There was no tenderness in those eyes, but they weren’t cold or cruel either. They were intense, sharp, and determined.

As we chatted over a beer, half-listening to the music, we tried to be honest with one another. Talking to a stranger in a bar is either lies or half-truths designed for impact or self-protection. For us, we chose the half-truth path, and even dared to travel dangerously close to real truth. By the end of the evening we’d agreed to meet again.

The second night I met him at another bar. This time he brought his guitar. He’d been playing for two years, but had never performed in public. The jam was good. The wannabees hadn’t come around yet, and the better musicians were still hanging about. During a break, someone came off stage and asked him to play. I mouthed "Do it", and he finally agreed. He was good for a first-timer. We left shortly after, while he apologized for his real and imagined mistakes.

His condo was like him: tall, clean, well organized, distinct. Off the main room and kitchen there was a music room where he composed and recorded. He showed me all the details of the room and played a few of his songs. The entire apartment was wired. With a single remote control, any of several thousand songs could be played from any room. While he showed off this technology, I searched for other evidence of him in his surroundings.

A poster from Burning Man, 2002 was framed on the wall. Two expensive guitars hung above the television. The décor was black leather and glass. It was a crisp, sparse modern look. There were no photos of people, other than one of a younger version of himself on a motorcycle hanging over the toilet. I wondered if he liked looking at it every time he took a piss.

After the tour, I sat on the leather sofa and wondered what would happen next. He sat in a nearby chair and continued to talk about music. The conversation took on a quick-paced rhythm of twists, turns, circles and returns. It felt more natural than talking in the outside world. After a while he stopped and said, "Has it ever been like this for you? Have you ever been able to talk with someone like this?"

I knew what he meant, and I couldn’t remember having done so. Finally, we discovered that we both had ADHD and that might have something to do with it. Two brains that don’t operate according to the proper way of the rest of the world, not having to compensate for our deficits. Our engagement was intense and passionate. Neither of us wanted it to end.

We seemed to talk about everything: family, relationships, the criminal justice system, music & art, addiction, career choices, and sex. At 5:30 am I forced myself off the couch and insisted that we adjourn. He made it difficult to follow my plan when he stood behind me, held my shoulders and softly kissed my neck. It’s hard to walk out a door when you can’t feel your knees. Somehow I managed, even though I didn’t want to. An important meeting and an overactive sense of responsibility won out over desire.

It was the third night. He said, "Start".

And, so I did.

This time there was no introduction. We started in the middle where we’d left off. I began with a question, and the hours melted away.

Sometime around sunrise he joined me on the couch. He took off his shirt and stretched out. We were both exhausted. I sat on the floor and touched him. This was the first time I’d done so. He said that only one woman had ever touched him that way. I asked him to tell me about her.

He described her face and body. He assessed her qualities against a superficial standard of beauty. It was in that moment that I recalled that all the women he’d told me about had been judged the same way. His mother and sisters were beautiful because of their physical attributes. He’d valued his ex-wife because her body was perfect. He missed mornings with her when he watched her get dressed. All of his former lovers were described according to a continuum of external attributes. I had no idea who these women were. Did he?

He was half asleep when I quietly let myself out. This time he didn’t tempt me to stay. Maybe he knew that I wouldn’t. Maybe I had become a real person, someone who couldn’t be described in a superficial way. Maybe he was simply too exhausted to try.

11 Comments:

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I accidentally stumbled onto your blog, but I wanted to mention, I love your writing style...

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger Larry Jones said...

I can't tell if this is a happy ending. Surely his superficiality will change if he has any more nights with you, so that might be happy. But you leave it vague as to whether he will get that chance. By the way - my guess is he did end up with the most beautiful woman in the room.

 
At 2:03 PM, Blogger Chick said...

Lovely.

I notice you did not describe him...physically...not really in detail anyway...did he become real to you? Too real? Too superficial?

 
At 4:50 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Anon - thanks

Larry - This all happened last August. He left one voicemail message on my cell wondering how I was. I left a messge in return, but never saw or heard from him again. BTW - you are the BEST!

Chick - For me, after the first 5 minutes, I barely notice the physical stuff. Even though I still wonder about him and value the time we spent together, I never really decided if I liked him or not. I wouldn't settle for someone who could only describe the outside of me.

 
At 7:45 PM, Blogger W. S. Cross said...

Really lovely, and very fresh and original. Too often this kind of writing cuts right to the sex, but you've postponed it in a fabulous way.

 
At 7:18 AM, Blogger Al said...

hey kiddo,
you certainly do know how to capture a moment! Passed on your blog to a co-worker - I think he loves you.
Alos thanks for your kind words.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Aaron the Truck Driver said...

I was GOING to say... At least he was honest. At least he didnt ACT like he was interested in something deeper.

But, that is only looking at half of half of the story.

It sucks being middle aged.
I say date people 10 years younger!
Or 14 years younger.

Its like a very obsessive but seductive 48hour interview - (if you count the total hours spent together) - two people "dating", in in their late 30's or 40's or whatever.

Its madness!

Go for someone younger and it still might be as annoying, and you still might be thinking 12 million times.. "this isnt going to work". But at least its just YOU doing that!

Good luck T

 
At 10:27 AM, Blogger Jay said...

Totally off the subject- But if Lu (or Theresa or any readers) has suggestions on chosing a psychologist I'd appreciate some help.

Email JayAllTheTime@Yahoo.com or comment on my latest blog post
Jay Flying Solo: Depression- Anybody Know a Good Shrink?

Thanks,
Jay (of JayLovesKitti)

 
At 10:36 AM, Blogger Kyle Stich said...

I can't help but wonder if this guy was trying to avoid sharing too much for fear that it might chase you off.

I find once I start getting into too much depth about past lovers, the current one starts to feel uncomfortable and mildly jealous; anything that occurs after seems intended to one-up the previous lover. The genuine fades away.

Not to imply this is what always happens, but it's common enough for many people to worry about. Actually, isn't there some "dating rule" that states one shouldn't talk about past loves with a new one?

At any rate, I think the following line (clipped from your post) deserves serious consideration as being simultaneously the most cliche and most romantic words posted on the Internet to date:

"It’s hard to walk out a door when you can’t feel your knees."

Sounds like a great title for a song, if not part of the chorus. ;)

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger theresa said...

W.S. - It was a challenge to capture an entire relationship of this nature in one post. It was such an intense and unique experience. We teetered on the edge of intimacy, and might have made it if it wasn't for that one thing. Once I got to know him, it became too important to me to overlook. Thank you for your comment. From a writer like yourself, it means a lot.

Al - Thanks for the comment, and the referral to your co-worker. I'm all about the love, babe!
I'd have you linked already, but my computer won't let me edit my template.

Hey everyone! Go see Al's blog. It's new, and he's one smart cookie!

Aaron - I like to think that my experience with this guy wasn't a failure just because we didn't end up in bed together. I actually feel like I know him better than some of my past lovers. I also don't know that the decision to not have sex wasn't mutual.
Also, this happened almost a year ago. Presently, I'm doing much better ... the kind of private stuff that doesn't show up on the blog. Thanks for your well wishes and happy thoughts.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Kyle - An excellent point. First, I'll say that we talked at length about jealousy and other such issues in relationships. Also, we both were experienced with, and at the time, preferred having multiple relationships. That being said, I'd be much less threatened about a previous lover if he'd said she had a great personality than if he said she had a perfect face and body. You're right about the dating rule, but from my perspective, I often ask such questions to find out about him, not her.

Thanks (I think) for the comment about the knees line. That was a questionable. I remembered standing there feeling paralyzed to the point of almost laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Jay – I’m on it kiddo!

 

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