This morning, I awoke with a song snippet floating through my head.
It wasn’t completely random; I had heard it playing earlier at the Chic Hotel Bar as I sat drinking champagne cocktails with RA and later PR Jr. and another girlfriend.
The song is . . . disturbing. It’s a love song and overtly stalkery:
Is this the end or just the start of something really, really beautiful wrapped up and disguised as something really really ugly?
So, as I am in bed in the darkness of early morning, that’s the song I hear in my head.
There is light floating in through a clerestory window in the vaulted ceiling of LP’s bedroom. He’s asleep next to me.
I can’t sleep. I never can.
But he’s asleep, fidgety, as it’s too warm in this room and we’re under a down comforter. I am ailing a bit, as I’d been at six full hours of drinking and eating and singing and having the best evening imaginable when he reached out via text.
My hangover was starting to kick in and I was anxious because, frankly, it was all a little awkward. Unlike the last time I slept in bed with him, we were disconnected as we slept. We had a long intense talk before we fell asleep — about family and heritage and philosophy and it was lovely, but not romantic. We were naked and we’d fallen asleep wrapped around each other, but I felt distance from him.
I started to think about the other two men I’d dated since we broke up following the last time I’d been in his house: PR and the Bon Vivant. I actually started to miss BV because his physical presence is so intense. When we’re in bed together, he can’t sleep without being wrapped around me. I’d always slept in PR’s arms, and then, the last time, he slept holding my hip bone. LP, on the other hand, who I’d recalled fondly as a sleep cuddler, was mostly tossing and turning apart from me, our backs to each other in this queen-sized bed.
It wasn’t just him. It was me, too. We were awkward and disconnected once asleep in a way we hadn’t been earlier.
My day had been spectacularly good: great work things, and an excellent plan to see my girlfriend RA at the Chic Hotel Bar, then everyone at a different party, and then a last minute invite to a swank awards event at the historical hotel with C and her boyfriend.
It was such a great day, I texted LP mid-afternoon to say:
Me: In the middle of an excellent day, I wanted to share some joy and positive energy. Hope you’re doing well. 🙂 2:48 PMLP: A few smiles 3:14 PMMe: glad to hear you have a few. 🙂 3:15 PM
The unspoken message in that was 1) I am having a great day, and 2) I kinda don’t give a fuck about being with you anymore. No question about rescheduling, no thought about the future. As such messages between us go, it’s rather dispassionate. And that was my affect as I sent it.
I had decided over the course of the week that I needed to expand my dating pool. In fact, I’ve had this conversation with many of my friends, saying, look, if you know someone who would be good for me, let me know, I am now available to start dating for real, as LP is very much not in my life.
I was still so hurt that he canceled and did not reschedule. That I made an offer to take him out for drinks for his birthday and he accepted and did not schedule that either.
So, all week as I went to events and openings and hung out with friends, I mentioned, by the way, I am now single and now looking for something real.
I also have been celibate since YBF, which is nearly a month, I think, and I am missing human contact. That sort of makes me long for BV, only because he had propositioned me and it’s a low-stress operation.
In getting ready, I threw on a navy blue sheath dress, as I had no idea how formal the awards event was to be and figured I’d look “work appropriate” and chic and just not worry about it. I hit the CHB early and checked in with my first glass of champagne. RA was close behind and then our new girlfriend. We did some quick catching up on everyone’s love lives and I was in the middle of telling the new girl the PR story and was at the moment when PR and PR JR were the first people we saw . . . when PR JR walked up.
Which was awesome.
I love PR JR, and I just don’t see him enough. He was great. He’d been having a rough day, and wanted to grab a drink and saw that I was there. He’d texted me, but I wasn’t looking at my phone and missed it. I love that he just showed up. I wouldn’t have felt that way about everyone, but it was great. Also, seeing PR JR at the Chic Hotel Bar . . . hilarious. He’s such a hipster . . . I mean, he lived in Portland and he’s a cyclist. He’s like the prototype hipster. But, when he realized, we’re there during happy hour, and it’s cheap with great food, he got it.
RA took an adorable photo of me and PR JR which she posted this morning. We really had a blast. And drank . . . a little too much. RA and New Girl and I head off to a party where I am meeting up with C for the event and everyone else is staying. As I leave, I hand off 40 drink tickets each from C to FM and SD who are each holding court. It’s clearly going to be a great night for everyone.
C and I take a pedicab from the party to the historic hotel because we were running late. A cab would have been so much cheaper and easier, but whatever, we get there after a scary ride and the party is great: great food, open bar with good liquor, and we’re settling in. I like her boyfriend — he’s a good guy and they seem to be doing well. After the party winds down, we head over to the VIP after party at the same venue where Hot Blonde and Tattooed Brunette and I had been for a show the week before. It’s awesome. We get there right as food is coming out, so we continue eating and drinking very very well. Lamb ribs are among my favorite party foods of all time: delicious and easy to eat standing up.
As we are enjoying ourselves far too much, one of my favorite people in the world comes strolling in — Hot Neighbor, who no longer lives next door to me, but who I’d dined with the night before at PR’s super chic new restaurant during their soft opening.
[Yes, my world is a funny place.]
I hang with HN and some of his new neighbor friends for a while and I get invited to a big party they’re all throwing in a couple of weeks. One of the women is a woman I’ve long admired in the food scene, and we were both really excited to meet. [I have some food cred here locally, for reasons I find mystifying, but essentially boil down to 1) I eat out a lot, 2) at the best restaurants, 3) I have friends who are restauranteurs or investors or chefs, and 4) I have an excellent palate. I don’t often make food recs unless people ask, but when they do, they are usually quite pleased with the experience.
Anyway . . .
I decide that it’s time for me to go. I have friends all meeting for an after-party to the first party C and I left, so I wander off in the direction of that party with my excellent goodie bag (which included great liquor and smoked sea salt, among other treasures). When I walk in there are about 18 friends and friends of friends gathered and having a blast. They tell me that they volunteered me for a song when they saw I was coming, so within 10 minutes, I was on the mic, with two acquaintances, and I call an audible: singing Love Shack instead of Rock Lobster. It was amazing and so much fun.
I sit down and I am talking to a couple of people when I get a text message from LP.
LP: Thinking of you 11:29 PMMe: Thinking of you, too 11:30 PMLP: Mmm 11:30 PMMe: Need to feel you 11:31 PMLP: Naked 11:31 PMLP: Are you in bed? 11:32 PMMe: Always 11:32 PMMe: Actually I am heading home. Where are you? 11:33 PMLP: My house 11:33 PMLP: In bed 11:33 PMMe: Want.company? 11:33 PMLP: Yes 11:34 PMMe: Could be there in 7 min 11:34 PMLP: Yes please 11:35 PMMe: Getting a Cab now. What’s your address? 11:35 PMMe: I’d love to see you right now. and by see I mean kiss. etc 11:39 PMLP: [address] 11:40 PMLP: Front door is open 11:40 PM
Needless to say, I left so abruptly I didn’t really say goodbye to anyone. I told FM I was leaving and that I was not coming home tonight, but I would be home to take the dog for his morning walk.
Then I walked until I found a cab.
It was 7 minutes at most to LP’s house, which is a beautiful cottage with a guest house he just had built. My cab driver missed it, so I got out and walked back up the hill, uncertain if I were at the right place. I rang the bell, and I was so excited to see him walk from the back of his house in a long robe to the front.
He opened the door and we embraced and immediately started kissing in the foyer. We are generally crazy about each other — and generally crazy — and it feels exactly the same as it always has. We hold hands and walk quickly to his bedroom where I get out of my dress and into bed. We kiss, we fool around a little, but that’s not why I am there. I am there to hug this man and to sleep next to him.
We have an intense conversation about family and philosophy — literally, philosophy, we discuss the nature of truth through two writers we’d been reading — and it’s all very intense. He clearly doesn’t want to have sex, though we’re naked in bed together, and we talk a little bit about why he doesn’t want to.
I never think about his perspective on it. I am confident in my sexuality, and sex is not that serious to me. I don’t really sleep around [last month nothwithstanding], but if I am following my rules then I am okay sleeping with someone I’ve slept with before without it meaning a whole hell of a lot. It’s not deeply imbued with meaning.
For him, it sort of is. He says, I don’t sleep around, as part of our conversation, and goes on to say that if we sleep together, he’ll feel guilty — I think because it’s been so long since we were together. As he is saying this, I am laying on my side facing away from him and he’s curled up behind me. We’re holding hands. It is a lovely moment, but I am a little frustrated because, again, the sex is not that important, unless we make it important.
He tells me he’s chosen to be happier and tells me about the meetings he’s had with his therapist for the past two years. It’s very warm and it’s clear it has meant a lot to him. I nearly interrupt to ask if he’s told his therapist about me, but I think better of it. We make vague plans for the morning, he wants to take me to breakfast and then drive me home.
We nod off, and I wake frequently, watching him sleep.
I am fitful and it’s too hot and I don’t feel well. I get up around 330 and use the guest bath, find my phone and charger and plug it into the kitchen, and then head back to bed. By this point, he’s rolled to his own side of the bed and I start thinking about all the other men with whom I have recently shared a bed and I kind of miss them.
This is not going well.
If I am missing the Bon Vivant in the middle of the night, this is not going well.
I am becoming deeply depressed and uncomfortable and I think to myself, I could just call a cab and go home, but I know if I do that he will likely never speak to me again. This internal debate rages for longer than you’d imagine.
I continue to drift in and out of sleep, mostly out, and he is having active dreams. I am sort of not liking him at all as this is going on, wondering what the hell I am doing there and why I’ve been so unresolved in my feelings for so long.
This is really not going well.
I know him and his schedule so I am surprised that he sleeps past his coffeemaker turning on, past the hour I know he is normally at the office. He finally gets up around 7, grabs a cup of coffee for himself, which apparently was terrible, and then comes back to bed. He grabs his blackberry and reads his email, lazily tracing my breast with his other hand.
I am quiet, as I know what he’s reading — the daily newsletter outlining the wins and losses in his industry — and he chuckles as he’s reading. I slip my hand into his robe and I am stroking his chest, still without words. When he’s done, he puts his blackberry down and then starts speaking, but I don’t realize he’s speaking to me right away. We cuddle together and his hand has now migrated down to my hip, and mine follows suit.
We start fooling around a bit and it’s nice, easy, comfortable. He’s not entirely into it and I watch the battle among his body, his heart, and his overclocked brain. He stops me, pushes me onto the bed and then pulls me to the edge of the bed and all of a sudden, he’s inside me. It’s by turns delicate and tender and hyper-aggressive, but it’s mostly soft and lovely. He kisses me softly, kisses my body, and connects himself to me. It’s not about completing the act . . . we don’t as a matter of fact, and neither of us thought we would, but we are together and he is touching my face and my shoulders and looking at me. I am looking at him and I am a little surprised that he looks as old as he does.
He has aged over the past year since I’ve seen him, and I know it. He looks older, his facial wrinkles are more deep-set. He is a handsome man, but I am surprised he looks his age. He is — for the record — 4 years my senior, which means 11 years older than PR and 14 years older than BV. He looks it.
We stop and restart a few times, I even climb on top of him, but we stop finally so that he can get ready for work. I offer to shower with him “multitasking” I call it, but he needs to get ready. When I see him walk away from me, I realize that naked — he and PR and BV all have the same general shape, and his body and size is nearly identical to PR’s in every way. It’s disconcerting.
I realize that I am far more sexually driven than he. That’s okay. He is older, he is stressed, and he has worked hard to tamp down his libido for healthier hobbies.
So far, the morning is great. We are joking around and having a lovely time. He pulls himself together and he is transitioning into work mode. I stay in my bra and panties as long as possible, for his benefit, which he appreciates. We talk about the decor of his bedroom, which he is changing, and it’s nice. He has exquisite taste and a lot of money.
I zip myself back into my dress, gather my things, and we wander off to the center of the house as he pours himself more terrible coffee.
He shows me some of his paintings, and I recognize the city being represented. He mentions casually that he is taking kid to Europe and that he doesn’t want to come back. He muses about keeping his kid in Europe and the penalties for doing such.
What he doesn’t know that I know . . . his ex is also going on this trip. She’s been talking about it for months. It may well be that he is taking the kid and she is meeting him and the kid there for a longer trip (or vice versa), but I know that there will be some overlap.
LP seems happier and healthier and more balanced than before. To anyone else, he would seem extremely stressed out, but I’ve known him for years now and I’ve seen him cry in front of me, in bed.
As we leave, we walk up this garden path to where his car is parked . . . and there is a new garage, office, and guest house that was not there before. I ask him, sweetheart, what the hell is that? He argues with me a bit, insisting it was there the last time I was there. But it wasn’t. It’s been that long since I’ve been at his house. More than 18 months. He can’t — and doesn’t — believe it. I do not argue the point.
He tells me he has a rental car, as he was in a car accident a week ago, damaging his year old very expensive sports car. He’s pissed. I asked him as I climb in “are you okay?” I meant physically, but he mini-rants about his irritation over the whole accident. It’s amusing.
We head off to my place — some 12 blocks away on the same main thoroughfare on which each of our neighborhoods is situated. The traffic is bad coming back into town, and I realize I should have taken a cab home, especially when he tells me that he he has an 8 am meeting. And it’s 8:08. He’s not stressed about it though.
We had a single moment of tension: he was telling me how bad things were about something and I reflexively responded “I know.” He interrupted me to gently say that, I really don’t know, and he feels it diminishes him when I say that I do when I couldn’t possibly know.
He’s right of course. He goes on to say that he understands it’s a verbal tic and not an insult, and I tell him, with appropriate emotion, that I am sorry, I meant no offense and I would be more careful. He says, he understands he’s hyper-sensitive about it, but that it bothered him.
What I love about this moment is that we did not fight about it. He did not take such offense that he shut down or attacked. Nor did I. We’ve both done each in the past. Instead, he told me, I apologized, and I pledged to better and we moved on.
He kissed me tenderly and asked me to . . . the chef’s restaurant, which we’d discussed earlier. He said he meant it, that we’d go to dinner.
I have no idea when, and it doesn’t really matter.
I came upstairs, with the smell of his cologne on my skin and the feel of him inside me. I changed out of my dress and into a nightgown, as a very excited dog jumped up and down in greeting.
Now, hours later, I am physically exhausted from lack of sleep. I am bloated from too much salt from too many rich dishes. And yet . . . I am remarkably happy with how things went.
My concern has always been whether at some point LP and I could actually deal with each other as the people we are — complicated, stressed, public, active, spoiled — on a regular basis. We did for months and then it fell apart for external reasons. Since then, we’ve been in a shadow relationship, affecting everything else we’ve been doing.
We know this.
I am more careful with him than I’d been before, smarter about how I handle him, and more sensitive to him and what he needs.
I think that we are on the cusp of normalcy again. Normalcy for us will never be the same normalcy for others. He’ll not be my escort socially to the myriad events I attend weekly. He’ll not be having dinner with me and my friends. Instead, we will spend time together once or twice a month, likely during the week when he does not have his kid. We will go out on dates, but, even more often, we will decide that we should spend the night together after we’ve been working late, not so that we can have sex, but so that we can talk about art and music and philosophy and the books we’re each reading.
We have been slowly building up to this over time, and he has become a more regular part of my life. We have been talking more regularly, responding more regularly, and integrating each other back into our lives.
I am cautiously optimistic that we’ve come a long way in our own lives that we can handle an actual relationship. I don’t know that we will and I am taking it all day by day.
But those dark thoughts at 330 am had faded by 7 am and our conflict resolved so easily that I think we might have a shot this time.
Only time will tell.