I don’t realize it until probably the fourth time I wipe off and reapply the same sheer lip gloss; I’m nervous. Nervousness is just one of many emotions I am not adept at managing, as I am generally not prone to it. But here it is, uninvited and rude, ricocheting around my stomach and filling my mouth with copper tasting saliva.
I take off my gloss and reapply. Again. I fuss with my hair, which is determined not to cooperate in being pulled up off my exposed neck and shoulders. I pick at my face, completely certain I am getting a pimple and maybe my eye makeup is too KISS and not enough be kissed and is that a stray hair in my eyebrow? and should I wear a bra or go without ? and is this perfume too much? and what the fuck is wrong with me?
I tear myself away from the full length mirror, lest I be found here very shortly in a weepy ball on the floor from ripping myself apart. Even if I am unsure about my makeup and my hair and my bra, THIS at least I know is not the look I’m going for.
Sitting on the sofa, I use one hand to text a friend and the other to tug nervously at the hair at the base of my neck.
Bitch, I am a mess.
LOL! I figured it would come sooner or later.
Wtf is this life?
This is all the shit you put away but didn’t deal with. As usual.
Look at all this shit I didn’t ask you. Just look at it.
Just surrender to it. It’s still today. Right now. This moment. Just surrender to that and leave the rest for later.
Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do surrender well.
Especially when I have no real idea what I am surrendering too.
I turn on SportsCenter and check some emails, send some texts, checking to make sure I have everything I need for the evening and slowly getting my rapid fire nerves under control.
When he texts to tell me I have to let him in, I thank God that at least he can’t just pop up on me in the middle of some neurosis driven self-preening. I finally see him at the end of the hallway after he sent me the wrong way and before I even realize it, I’m smiling, and even though my mouth forms a smart ass comment, my head is loud and clear; this is a terrible fucking idea.
We talk easily on the way to the concert, smart ass comments and hearty laughter volleyed back and forth over the gearshift with Jill Scott supplying the underlying soundtrack. Finally he, we, begin to feel like we’ve been friends for almost ten years, and not like, well, whatever the fuck else is going on with me. I take a deep breath before my head explodes and silently will myself to retake hold of my trademark cool detachment.
We arrive and make our way to the amphitheater, traversing a combination of expansive parking lots and steep stairs. At some point he grabs my hand to help me navigate the stairs and my towering wedges and long maxi dress and the crowd and I wait for the jolt that usually accompanies someone you are unused to invading your personal space invading your personal space. It never comes. Instead there is a familiarity that whispers in my ear why haven’t you been doing this all along? From behind his back I cast my eyes up to the sky and say to the universe, please don’t do this to me.
We settle into our seats with drinks and I am done with my first almost before I can sit back and get comfortable. I go off in search of our next round but really, just in need of a minute to get my shit together. At the time, getting a stronger drink the second time around seemed like a good idea. By the time I make it back, it’s almost time for Jill, and I give my attention to the stage and try to ignore the fact that my entire right side where he sits is ten degrees hotter than everywhere else.
No seriously, I say to the universe again. Please don’t do this shit to me.
We make friends as we usually do, me with the people to the left, him with everyone else, and spend the rest of the show whispering jokes and comments into each other’s ears while I try carefully not to touch him. Somewhere around midshow, a song comes on that used to remind me of him, way back when we’d lost touch. Before I even realize it I’ve blurted out this very fact and I am so mortified I want to sprint to the exit. I vow not to say another word for the remainder of the show.
Afterwards we make our way back to the hotel he’s staying in, winding up on the couch talking and drinking beer and watching TV and listening to music. We’re debating if we are going to go back out and somewhere around the time we end up with my legs draped over his lap, we decide we aren’t. As we talk, his nimble fingers kneed the bare skin underneath them, trailing from my toes, up my calves, disappearing under the fabric pooled around my thighs. I keep my face passive, my laughter warm and peeling from my lips in waves, but my skin feels hot underneath his palms. At some point he moves like he is going to get up, lifting my legs out of his path as he has done a couple times since we’ve been situated this way, but instead in one deft motion he’s parted my thighs, slotted himself between them, and slid me down further beneath him, his weight on top of me both new and familiar. I wait for the standard feeling of awkwardness to being with someone you’ve never experienced to settle over us but it never comes. He snakes a lazy trail from the thin sensitive skin of my neck, to my parted lips, kissing me through a sigh I didn’t even know I’d emitted. He moves over my breasts and down my stomach and I shudder when his lips find the flesh on my thighs. I struggle to find somewhere to put my hands, my legs, grabbing for something to hold on to, to anchor me to this spot. I struggle to ignore the fact that we could very well be ruining years of friendship because of curiosity and liquor and Jill Scott and bad decisions. I struggle to surrender and even though I don’t, can’t, I want to. So badly.
I don’t know how much time passes before we finally fall away from each other, sweaty and exhausted, the muscles in every inch of my body dancing to a rhythm I can’t feel anymore. I pull myself together enough to make it to the bathroom and I stand there in the darkness all awkward and uncomfortable and wondering, what the fuck did I just do?
I come out, giving my eyes only to the floor and wordlessly slipping into bed. I pull myself over to the farthest edge, hoisting the covers up over my bare skin like armor, afraid he’ll reach for me and afraid that he won’t.