I wake up to a cold, disheveled room, finding myself huddled under a tiny blanket. I realize I’m lying on a carpet floor and I fondly register that there’s an arm around my waist before the pounding headache starts to take over my thoughts. I turn around to see his face and he’s still deep in sleep, snoring lightly but no other signs of consciousness as I turn around to face him. I remember we fell asleep with my head on his chest, and now with his arm around me, I realize we shifted positions during the night. I realize that somehow in a sleepy and hazy fashion, he must have noticed we were no longer cuddling, and made the effort to regain our previous arrangement. I feel safe.
I gently get on my feet and start to gather my belongings, tiptoeing across the mess of the hotel room. I chug half a bottle of water and find my still heavily soaked clothes from last night’s adventure in the Jacuzzi. I’m wearing the clothes he let me borrow, an old college t-shirt and some boxers, and I consider putting my own wet clothes on. I remember him saying last night that I could keep the clothes, but I feel like that’s an imposition I’m not willing to make. I resolve to change into some dry clothes in my own hotel room and return his later, when he wakes up. I take one last look at the room, and I smile as he mutters incoherently in his sleep.
As soon as the door shuts behind me I realize I’ve made a mistake; I should have left his clothes there. I text him because I don’t want to wake him up to tell him that I have his clothes and that I can return them before I leave. I wait. He doesn’t text back. It’s time for me to check out but he still has another day in the hotel. I go back to his room to return the clothes. This was a bad idea.
The lights are all off and it’s obvious he just woke up, but there’s a smile on his face. I apologize profusely for waking him up, trying to explain that I texted him. Then I wonder why it’s such a big deal. He says thank you and takes his clothes back, makes a joke and some small talk. He’s lying in his bed now and he says he thought I left already, and I tell him I’m about to go. I lean down and kiss him as a goodbye. It feels strange and I walk away wishing I hadn’t come in.
I’m sad all day but I figure it’s just because I’m hungover. On the bus ride back to my town, I get a text from him telling me to have a safe trip, with some other nice words thrown in the mix. I start to cry. It’s not because I’m hungover.
I’m sad for no particular reason at all for a week or two, but I know it has something to do with the one night stand. I think back on the night and consider the fact that it was the first time I’d gotten laid in over 8 months. I should be ecstatic, I just had some decent sex after all. Instead I think about how his arm draped around my waist and how he kissed me on the forehead before we fell asleep. I think about how it made me feel cared about and protected, and I realize that’s worth more to me than an orgasm.
Months later I still catch myself thinking about him every now and then, and I wonder whether things would have been different if he didn’t live in another state. If we would try to have an actual relationship, but I come to the conclusion that it’s better this way. It hurts a lot less to think we aren’t dating because of our locations than to know he simply doesn’t want me. I think back to that night and how we talked about our favorite authors and things we had loved. And I remember thinking for just a fleeting second, that maybe he could be someone I loved.