This time of late night, early morning there’s hardly anyone out. We are flying down the highway, the moon roof on his rental open as far as it can go. It’s one of my favorite times of year, before it gets inconceivably, unbearably hot and you can stand to expose yourself to the elements. I lean my head back on the headrest, enjoying the breeze on my bare shoulders and thighs.
It’s there that his right hand has been occupied most of the drive. Lithely traveling the expanse from my knee to mid-thigh where his fingers, barely a few shades darker than the palest part of my inner thigh, rest comfortably at odd intervals. It’s equal parts soothing and erotic and possessive as hell.
I like it.
“This song reminds me of you,” he says, turning up Flashing Lights.
“Well I know it’s your favorite. But also… this.” He turns the volume up even louder.
“I know it’s been awhile sweetheart we hardly talk I was doin’ my thing. I know it was foul baby, hey babe, lately you been all on my brain…”
“Reminds me of us.”
“Hmm,” I purr under my breath, remaining noncommittal.
We lapse back into comfortable silence for a moment, letting Ye say it all for us. Him focusing on the part where you find your way back to someone you lost after realizing you can’t conquer the world without them by your side. And me on where I’m at right now…
“She don’t believe in shooting stars, but she believe in shoes and cars…”
I am not looking for a benefactor, but I do crave something more tangible than wispy edged fairy tales. And this, whatever it’s been all the years that have passed since a mutual acquaintance introduced us, since the last time we tried this and stopped speaking until we were set up again over the holidays, certainly has been a shooting star. Pretty and promising, but far away and elusive as hell. Coming and going so quick you find yourself wondering if your eyes are playing tricks in you.
But you still feel the memory, so you know it was real.
He brings me back to where I’ve gone in my mind with his lips, first on my open palm, then the delicate skin over the blue veins of my wrist. He leans further, one eye on the road, steering with his knee to kiss the curve of my shoulder. I shift in my seat to look at him, and remove my neck from the line of fire. I might don’t make it if he makes it there.
“It could be like this, you know. With us. If I move here.”
“Oh, no. Don’t do that. Don’t dream sell me.”
He laughs. “Not dream selling. Just presenting the possibilities.”
“Hmm,” I say again .
The iPod shuffles to a new song.
“This one reminds me of you too.” He’s quiet as the first few words of the song beat through the speaker.
“I know you’ve been hurt by someone else, I can tell by the way you carry yourself…”
“Did you just tell me a song by Drake, the Paddington Bear of the rap game, reminds me of you? No T.I.? No Outkast? No ‘Pac? Bah.”
He laughs loud and hard at me.
“You don’t have a single shred of sense.”
“When you’re ready just say you’re ready when all the baggage just ain’t as heavy…”
“It reminds me of you because I’d take care of you if you let me.”
“I don’t need a savior. And I’m not really big on the whole knight in shining armor thing.”
“I know. But you could use a partner. An addition to the home team.”
Now this? This gets me. He knows that. Because I am a team person. I believe in we. Equals. Building together. Partnership. No homo.
“But I get why you’re leery.”
“I’ve loved and I’ve lost,” I say along to the song, turning my face back to the window. He accelerates.
“Here is what I’m saying. No sales pitch. Just facts. You listening to me, La?” he turns down the music to make sure I get every word.
“I know how things ended with us last time. How I ended things last time. And I’m sorry for that. But there’s some reason why we keep getting back in touch. Or why we never really completely lost touch. There’s a reason why when we do wind up back together it’s like no time has passed. I dunno what that reason is. But I know for once in a long time, we are both single. Not nursing any serious old wounds. Ready for what we both want. And, for the first time, maybe in the same city.”
I struggle to keep my face passive despite the fact that everything he’s said is something I’ve already thought to myself without my permission.
“Look, I know you’ve been in this situation before…”
I raise my eyebrow at him, subtly warning him to watch where he’s treading. Because that foolish craving I had in a situation very much like this one, is still a bit too raw for him to poke at.
“But we are not that. Whatever this is, I dunno what it is, but I’m not that dude.”
Of course he isn’t. He’s That Dude. The one that bears an incredible, remarkable resemblance to the Prototype. If I believed in building people to my specifications or the concept of The One, he’d be almost unreasonably close to it. One of only two men I’ve known that carry that distinction.
That’s intimidating as hell.
I say nothing, determined not to give anything away.
“Just don’t judge me by the bullshit you went through before I fucking got here.”
“And then maybe you can stop holding against me what I did before.”
“And then maybe you can stop holding against me what I did before.”
“You wanna hug it out now? Or go back to the hotel and braid each other’s hair or whatever?”
“I’m just sayin’. All these feelings and whatnot. Thought we were friends bonding at a sleepover or some shit.”
“Yo, La, you are a real life asshole.”
We laugh, the spell of the moment effectively broken, as I intended it to be.
“Ain’t nobody trying to be your fucking friend. Though I wouldn’t mind a sleepover.” He looks me up and down, that cocky smirk on his face, just as alluring as the first night I met him. His gaze lingers on my exposed thighs. I may as well be naked. I squeeze my knees together and take a deep breath.
“I’m a grown ass man, La. I don’t have time for all them bullshit games you play with these dudes out here. Hide-the-feelings and shit. I know what I want. I’m not so scared that I can’t put it out there. It’s just up to you to meet me halfway.”
“You don’t live here yet. And you might not.”
“True. But ignoring it won’t kill it. You should know that by now.”
He turns the music back up, his hand finding its way back to my thigh, and I turn my face back to the window.
This is too familiar. I have been here. I’ve done this. And this too, isn’t it part of my pattern? Developing feelings for a friend because of what could be, for a great person whom I have intoxicating chemistry with who lives in some state that is not the one I reside in? With whom eventually, despite it all, the distance becomes the thing keeping us no longer just literally apart but painfully figuratively estranged?
It’s enticing, the idea that someone might be able to take care of you. That maybe there is someone who can fix all the wounds you’ve not been able to heal completely yourself. Especially when you’re weary. And feeling alone. But no one can “fix you.” And there’s a reason the credits roll once your favorite rom com heroine gets to happily ever after. Because ever after, after you’ve been “fixed” ain’t always so happy.
I know why all these things from my past are coming back. Because I moved on without resolving them. Most everything that’s come back around, I’ve been able to effectively sort out and put to bed. This though…