We talk in random fragmented lyrics, relevant to whatever preceded it, but random nonetheless. Today alone I have retorted with T.I., Miranda Lambert, Doris Day, Nikka Costa. And he’s caught every reference.
I watch him when he’s not watching me, memorizing the rhythm of his gait, the way his mouth forms the jokes that have had me laughing all day. Without my permission, my skin recalls how his now smiling lips felt against my bare skin. I shiver. And smile.
We’re drinking, and I, in true La fashion, am making friends with the bartender, a tiny gorgeous thing from California who’s new in town. I give her some tips I wish someone had given me; where to live, where to get the best Mexican food, where not to club. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him watching me, and pretend not to notice. She leaves to tend to a couple she has long neglected for chatting and taking shots with us, and I turn my attention back to him.
“You’re staring.”
“I am.”
“Stop it.”
“I’m a grown ass man. I do what I want.”
The bartender meanders back over as his phone lights up, a call from his best friend who’s going through a rough break up. He puts him on speaker so I can say hello and then excuses himself to the patio. I stare at him as he walks away, barely blinking, smiling at the concerned look on his face. He’d apologized earlier, during a flurry of text messages back and forth between the two of them, for being distracted during our time together. I didn’t have the words to tell him that this is one of the tiny things I adore about him; his dedication to the people he loves, the way he seems to be able to carve out a space for them to exist in stillness even in the chaos of his life. Instead, I just tell him it’s okay.
I have hardly begun to explain the way the highways work here for the bartender before the couple she just left beckons her back. It’s only been a few minutes, but he shows no signs of coming back so, placing our drinks on the lower lip of the bar on the other side of the olives and lemon slices for safe keeping, I go to him.
He’s standing on the far edge of the patio, his back to me. I sneak up behind him soundlessly, wrapping my arms around him when I reach him, one hand snaked lazily around his waist, the other pressed against his chest. He puts his free hand on mine. Every molecule of air around us smells like him. I breathe in so deeply I get dizzy.
If I left him, tonight, right now, I wonder if I would ever stop looking for his number to pop up on my phone. If I would ever be able to smell is cologne in public without stopping short. If the memory of the melodies of his voice would ever grow faint. I wonder if my skin would ever forget what it felt like to warmed under his hands.
I don’t even realize he’s gotten off the phone until he turns to face me, sitting down on the low railing behind him and drawing me in between his legs.
“Where’d you go?”
“Just thinking.”
“No, you’re not. You’re thinking ahead.”
My only recourse is to smile, as we both know he’s right.
“Isn’t that the very thing you told me not to do?”
“Yes,” I reply. “But it’s totally different when I’m telling you than when I’m, telling me.”  He laughs at me, loud and low.
“I am who I am.” He stares at me expectantly. “We can’t do this forever.”
“No, we can’t.”
“That doesn’t bother you?”
“Every day.  I know it’s coming. But I try not to focus on that right now.”
“So, what do you focus on?”
“I focus on now. Not what might happen, but what is happening. I focus on making you laugh. And buying you drinks. And feeding you so you don’t get cranky. And making sure I don’t tangle your hair when I play in it or pull it. And just… enjoying having you to myself, while I can.”
As usual, he says all the right things.
This is my struggle every time he comes to town. Staying in the now. Not being overcome with the projected melancholy that will settle over me when he leaves. Memorizing the particulars of him so that when I roll over and he’s not there, I am not seized with sadness, as I usually am. I try my mightiest to not worry that we both know this arrangement is untenable, and threatens to break every time we test it. I fail often.
But for now, I resign myself to being Here. Slotted at his center, his arms circled around me, warming me despite the dip in temperature that belies the changing of the seasons.
He will be gone by Christmas. I know this in my heart.
But for now, we are two people, deeply in the throes of things that are new, drunk on shared laughter and inside jokes, for whom sleep seems less important than journeying deeper into intimate conversation. For now, we are here, tangled around each other like vines, kissing in the moonlight.

4 thoughts on “Present

  1. #pause

    I meant 'and yet you make it sound so sexy'

    The other comment sounded a little tambourine(ish) lol


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s