“Hey about what you said earlier.” He began with his back to me and mine to him. Our bodies were still shifting under the gray-bird comforter, struggling to relax after a night so long it was morning.
“Which part?” I replied. I’d let him get away with so much during our fauxlationship, but this was one conversation he’d have to start on his own, without prodding or sympathy from my side.
“When we were dancing.”
It was the only time we’d danced in the two months I’d known him. Lindsey, who I’d drunkenly put into my phone as “My New BFF” had gone to the iPod and clicked on folk-rock that was familiar but unrecognizable with a strong bass. Sean Allen was no where to be seen, so I grabbed his half-Samoan friend Mike. There was no question – just a firm tug – and soon we were flailing and grooving with the other cookie cut hipsters I wanted so much to know, to be part of. 14 years out of high school and I still yearned to fit in with the kids who were effortlessly cool.
Just like a high school dance, or in adulthood a wedding, a slow song came on and couples came together, arms out like flamingos, swaying and circling. Sean Allen swooped in on Mike, and in seconds his scarred nose was pressed into the back of my cheek.
“I’d forgotten I liked dancing,” he’d said right into my ear. “I’d forgotten I liked anything, really.”
“You’ve been busy,” I’d said. And he had been. Getting ready to move to Africa. Finishing his book. Doing uppers alone and downers with friends. Mulling over his ex. Saying goodbye.
“You must think I’m a jerk.”
“Yes,” I’d replied. “I do.”
So yeah, I knew exactly which part.
“Do you really think I’m a jerk?” he asked, our bodies now curled into one another instead of away from each other. I’d gone from sober to drunk and back to sober in the course of eight hours. Now all I felt was cold.
“You treat me like I don’t matter. Like I’m a piece of furniture. And I get it. I get why. I get that I let it happen.” Neither of us move anymore. We’re still two people almost as physically near each other as possible, but far as fuck away.
“You know it’s because I can’t get too close,” he said, the hint of meekness in his voice usually reserved for when I spoke.
“But that doesn’t make you less of a jerk.” I’m not meek right now.
With a deftness I didn’t know he had in him – there was still so much I’d never know about him – he pulled the comforter over our heads, blacking out the pink sunrise that traced the hilltops outside my window.
“Can I flatter you?” he asked. I flinched. I wasn’t sure if the answer was yes or no. It was too little too late, and besides, I’d already learned to hold him at arm’s length. His leaving wasn’t going to be as hard on me as he’d liked to imagine.
“You’re beautiful. You’re intelligent. You’re sexy as hell. I love that I can talk about writing with you. I love watching you talk to people you don’t know. I loved dancing with you. And I admire the hell out of you because you might be the only person I know who isn’t jaded. Despite everything you’ve been through, you’re not jaded at all. It’s impressive shit.”
In 36 hours, he’d be one more thing I’d been through. He was one more testament to my not being jaded. I hadn’t let anyone be close to me in a year – and he was one more of that parade.