When I Dreamed Of You
When we met, I was tired, but you didn’t know that, and there were things I didn’t know about you either; all those invisible complexities that we didn’t want to vocalize in this strange, exotic place where nothing less than serendipity had brought these exact individuals to this exact place and exact time. I think it was only a week, maybe ten days, I don’t know; but this little group we formed, it felt like something I could have left everything behind for, like I could have put down all those big city things that hurt to adventure with you, and these people. I didn’t want to upset that feeling.
I was so insecure then. For the first time in my life I was dealing with acne — white girl problems, right? But in the heat and humidity and on the backs of motorcycles and at the beach, in the pool, and sweating, dancing until the early morning hours, there was nothing I could do to hide it. There was no make-up to save me, to hide me, and you accepted me anyway. You looked at my naked face, and I was self-conscious at first but you made me feel like it didn’t matter when you laughed at my jokes and when I kicked your ass at pool. Like I was OK.
I liked you; I don’t know if you knew that, but I think you did. It was pretty obvious. In the afternoons when I’d lie in a hammock and read, and I’d catch you out of the corner of my eye at the far corner of the courtyard, returning from your day, it was hard for me to concentrate. That was my favorite part of the day.
It was all over before I knew it, and with you in your distant home and me in mine, I wished for so long that you had kissed me. You stayed in touch online, and you made your confessions. When you told me all the things that had happened to you, those things we didn’t talk about in that other country, I understood that you couldn’t have, probably never would, kiss me.
So we’d play Hanging With Friends and the missing you wore off fairly quickly; it became nice just to hang with you, my friend, in this way.
It’s almost a year since last September when we met, since we last saw each other, since we went back to leading totally separate lives on different sides of the country. But the other night, I dreamed of you.
I dreamed that you came to New York. I dreamed that I didn’t work for a week while you were here, that every night in the suffocating city heat, we drank, and sat close so that our thighs were touching, and our faces close together, temples damp with perspiration, told each other all our secrets and fears and dreams. I dreamed that, inexorably, we became closer every day.
I dreamed that we were at the airport. I dreamed that I had to leave you because my family was waiting for me at Gate D. I dreamed that I tried to kiss you and I dreamed that you pushed me away because of your complicated life. I dreamed that I walked away, left you to catch your own flight back to the place you came from.
I dreamed that you called my name; that I turned, my hair whipping around my shoulders in cinematic slow motion. I dreamed that with one look you told me everything I had ever wanted to know. I dreamed that you strode toward me, lifted me into your arms and kissed me. I dreamed that I wrapped my legs around you and kissed you back. I dreamed that we kissed the most important kiss that had ever been kissed. And I dreamed that you told me you loved me.
Then I woke up.
I could still taste you on my lips.
Still feel where my thighs had been pressed around your waist.
Your hands in my hair.
You loved me.
I rolled over.
You weren’t there; but you were. You were in my bed, and then in my shower, then in the subway with me on the way to work and all day you sat beside me until we rode the subway home together, ate dinner, and climbed back into bed where you kissed me that morning; it was so real.
I didn’t dream of you again.
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Even as I write this now I am debating whether or not to erase it all together.
When I say I’m in love with you, I mean I love the story I can tell to my next lover, about my ex-lover, about how beautiful things were, how intense, how storybook, what a couple we were, and how you gradually, inexplicably, painfully, bit by bit, disappeared.
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
I was 24 and, while not gay, ever since college I had been getting more attention from gay men than from heterosexual women.