We’re “Just Talking”

Johanna Mort
Johanna Mort

“Oh, him?”

I looked over at the handsome British boy in the corner of the room, magically swarmed by a group of four to five girls, all eager to ask where he was from or really anything. They were swooning at the accent, lost in his chiseled jawline. And damn, I couldn’t blame them. I was too.

“We’re talking. I think?” I nonchalantly responded to my friend who had been chomping at the bit, just waiting for a break to ask me who the cute stranger was I brought that night. He was still surrounded by a menagerie of women, all giggling and complimenting him on what an excellent job he did. We were at an open mic night and after a little bit of my encouragement, he got up and performed.

And sure, he was good. I guess? I was so enamored, it’s hard to tell if I was taken with his poem or just him.

I guess we were “talking” in that moment. I wasn’t sure what to call it. I was never sure what to call that kind of stuff. We hadn’t even kissed. But we were texting all the time. He would come over to my apartment and we’d watch Netflix or talk. Talking. We were absolutely talking.

There were moments we’d come close, moments when sexual tension would be palpable to everyone in the room and I’d side-eye my roommate, try to send her some telepathic message, “GO TO YOUR ROOM SO THIS GUY WILL FUCKING KISS ME!!!”

I formulated a plan. I do that. It’s funny how guys get this reputation for being the ones who plot and try to seduce, but I’ve got my game plan figured out from the get-go. How will I get him to my apartment? How will I set the mood? What can I say? How can I make this guy fall for me when I’m already putty in his hands?

We grabbed drinks one night and after, I drove us to the Hollywood sign. I thought it would be perfect. I thought, c’mon! There was just no way with all the lights (and super subtle, but sexually charged playlist I had playing on the drive over) and that god damn beautiful view that we wouldn’t kiss.

If there was any perfect moment to kiss someone, it was standing outside of my car, leaning against a fence, the lights of Los Angeles in the background. We talked about our families. He opened up, explained more of his background. There were certain details he’d glossed over before that he explored. I learned about his tattoo. I learned his story. All the bits and pieces I’d gathered from hints he’d dropped, but this time, he shared it all. He let me in.

I was so sure he’d kiss me.

But he didn’t.

I guess I was the only one making the plans to begin with. This tell-tale sign I always refuse to acknowledge. When you’re the only one making an effort, it should tell you something.

It should have told me something. And it did, I just ignored it.

That was usually how it went. When I became really interested in someone, I pursued them. I’ve just always assumed I like the chase, but lately I’m wondering if that’s exactly what it is. I ONLY like the chase. If I catch you? That’s terrifying. Then it becomes real. Maybe I’m the love poet so into caring about another, but so terribly afraid of being loved in return.

He did eventually kiss me. He took off his glasses, and I knew it. I knew the moment was coming. This kiss I had been dreaming of. Waiting for. Hoping and hoping would become a reality.

And there it was. A kiss. That turned into kissing.

Turned into months later, being on the floor of my apartment with the wind knocked out of me because I couldn’t face the truth of what was happening. I couldn’t face the reality of where that kiss went, and how he left me there. He left me with broken bits and not in a metaphoric way.

Just broken bits.

I wonder if I like the chase so I can fixate. So I can have something just out of reach to pour my energy into instead of focusing on the real scary stuff: my own life.

And when he kissed me that night, he became part of my own life. And though he no longer haunts me, being alone on the floor just waiting for someone to find me, does.

It does. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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