It was years ago, at the start of March. It was cold, and my phone was about to die. Leaving my late geology class, waiting for the damn G train, then the mind-numbing walk to the bar. The whole time, my fingers are becoming numb from constantly calling the friend on how to get to the bar.
But I didn’t care.
Love feels like speed. And a gentle floating feeling. It was a weird feeling being played out on two different levels. Externally, I was cold and miserable and cursing why I’d ever moved to new York in the first place. Internally, I was on cloud ten, because nine was already taken.
Anyways, the bar was two-storied. Looked around on the first floor. Didn’t see him. Walking up to the second floor made my legs practically melt. Looking around on the second floor. He was all the way in the back of the bar, with his back facing me.
And I think, that magical moment that I’ve always imagined like, it hit me. Like, if this were love at first sight, this is what it was. It was almost like the first time I had met him, and I just knew I had to have him. My mind had exploded, and then became frazzled.
And we talked and talked. We had a lot of physical catching up to do. The distance had put a strain on us. I had spent years wondering if I had just stayed, and spent an equal amount of time wondering if he felt the same.
But I dampened my excitement. I didn’t want him to know what was brimming underneath the surface. He knew, but he had. No. Idea.
And then, we went to a party in Greenpoint. I think it was a loft. There were painted shirts on the floor and weird art hung on the wall. A mixture of rap and 80s music played on a loop.
He hugged me again. We danced a little. He was hopping around like a mad man, and I was the wallflower. I felt frozen.
There was a pile of wooden planks by the wall. He cornered me there. Leaned over me, with his head and hair pressed against mine. Was he going to kiss me? I wondered. Over and over again. I could smell the cigarette smoke on his breath.
The memories. He was the reason why I loved (and hated) smokers. And why I love strawberries and wine. So many things I loved were because of him.
But all of that was background noise. It felt so good to be in that moment. That present moment.
He didn’t kiss me but went down the block to smoke a cigarette. I was disappointed. Went outside and someone offered me a buzz from their bong. I happily obliged, but didn’t feel anything (little did I know I was doing it wrong. For years). The buzz I felt was coming from my heart. I felt drunk with love.
And then he and I and his friend and his friend’s friend all crammed up into his car. We were going back to my place, just me and him. I was excited. He had no idea what he was doing to me when he called me by my nickname.
It was such an intimate name, that. So intimate that I winced whenever anyone else said it.
I held his hand on our way up the dark staircase, just as he had held mine as went to his bedroom, years ago. I lit a few candles on the top of my bookshelf. I told him I liked the light, and that I wasn’t doing this because it was “romantic.”
He smiled. He was calling me out on my bullshit.
I asked him if it was ok if I could take off my clothes, slide next to him wearing only my underwear. I noticed he was wearing boxers. He used to not believe in underwear. I pointed this out to him. I got on top of him. The air mattress sighed underneath me. He told me I was very eager. He thought we should wait, let the tension build.
I kissed him. Told him no. I’d waited years. There was already tension. I didn’t know if I’d see him again, if ever.
He sighed. Asked if I had a rubber. It didn’t last long. Said it didn’t feel right and he wanted to wait a little longer. Changed his mind minutes later and slid it in me. Gave a few thrusts before giving up. I don’t know if it were from old age or he resented my not wanting to wait.
I thought about getting pregnant. Flying off to the other side of the earth to tell him the news. Giving college the finger and teaching our child how to live off the land. Having a nanny watch the baby as we walked around on beaches, me in an orange sundress, he in man clothes.
I watched him sleep. Played with his hair. Smelled the faint cigarette smoke all over his body. Earlier i’d told him that I had missed him. But I meant I loved him.
Damn words were stuck in my throat.
Next day, he met me in Bushwick, by the train station. He said Bushwick sucked. I bristled. It was cold. We walked to a bar but it was full. Went to the bar next door. He ordered vodka and lime. I ordered vodka and grapefruit juice. I kept drinking his drinks. He said he wasn’t going to babysit me. I kept fiddling with my shirt and my bra was to tight. I wanted him to take it off right then. He ordered a sandwich from outside and commented on my shirt.
As we were walking home, he hurt my feelings. Apologized. Said he didn’t want me to get hurt. We tried again. Lasted a few minutes. He held me as we fell asleep.
Before we woke up, I put his used condom in a bag and put it in my treasure box, along with my parchment paper and ink.
And then he left. And I never saw him again. We were supposed to meet before he left but we never did.