I shouldn’t have answered the phone two weeks ago when you called me late at night. I was lying on the couch after a mediocre first date watching “Call The Midwife” in my pajamas when you asked if I wanted to hang out. Yes, of course I want to hang out. We’re caaaasual. Late night calls are what we do and you are a pleasure to be around during the brief conversations that occur before and after the kissing. I change into less ratty pajamas and make sure my messy bun looks a bit messier. Mascara, lipstick – I was just lazing around like this I swear. And in you walk with a 6-pack of very good beer and a new haircut that I tell you makes you look like a hot Macklemore. You’re offended. “HOT. A hot Macklemore,” I assure you, taking two beers out before putting the rest in the fridge. I take my place next to you on the couch and hand you one. We both take long sips and you ask me how I’ve been.
It felt different than the other nights. You didn’t make any moves, didn’t reach for me once. Instead you told me things I never would have guessed about you. Your secrets poured out and I indicated my gratitude for your openness by sharing my own. I felt like I was meeting you for the first time. Something fluttered in my stomach. Fluttered all the way up to my heart. It tightened, it beat fast. And suddenly, I recognized what was happening. I realized my growing affection for you. I willed it to die as fast as it began but with each fascinating word that came from your mouth the seeds of affection continued to thrive. You instinctively reached for my hand and I pulled away. While this sort of contact never mattered when I felt nothing for you, it can only lead me down dark paths of false hope now. I met your eyes and saw a flash of hurt in them. “I’m sorry” I said weakly. I dared not offer an explanation. You folded your arms across your chest and continued talking and I talked back and let you under my skin and all too soon, the sun was up.
I didn’t expect to see you again so immediately after. Before our rendezvous were infrequent. Once every few weeks, sometimes a month would go by before we decided to get together. But then, just a few days later, you asked if I wanted to hang out again. I tried not to get excited, but I really couldn’t help it. I said yes. I said yes gleefully and may have squealed and reflected for a moment on the gloriousness of being able to hide one’s feelings over text message. I wondered for an instant if the feeling was mutual but quickly pushed such musings out of my head. Don’t get excited. Never overthink. Just let things flow and go or else I’ll be shooting what could be right in its fragile, infatuated foot. But when you showed up at my door again and we found ourselves engaged in heavy discourse over a bottle of wine, I had to actively stop myself from asking you if you also felt like something had changed between us. But I don’t want to be rejected and I don’t want to shatter the misty romantic illusion that feeds my imagination while in your presence. I’d rather just stay in this moment and push my wondering out of my head and feel your existence next to me like tiny little stitches in my heart.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since and I hate myself for it. I found half a cork on my living room floor this morning that must have rolled there some time during our last visit and it struck me like a heartbreak. I desperately longed to live in that moment again, next to you on my couch, refilling your glass while you let me inside your soul. I’m worrying that it will never happen again. That it was a one or two time thing, that I won’t hear from you again for another month and then it’ll just be a plain old hook up like when we first met. And when it happens I will say “Sure come on over” instead of “No I can’t do this anymore” because I have become such a fool for you and your presence alone is enough to get me drunk.
I hate feeling like this. I hate the way my bones turn to mush under my skin when I’m anticipating your call. I hate that I can’t distract myself. I hate sitting here staring blankly at the pages of Simon Mawer’s “Trapeze,” turning them, comprehending nothing. Because you have unwittingly invaded my mind. I thought I was safe. You and I were casual. We had fun. We’re both intense people, both high-strung, both spending our days trying to undo the knots that wind up our brains, and our laid-back fling made a lot of sense. The good couples are the ones that balance each other out. We only encourage each other’s bad behavior. Common sense told me that there was no way I could have a lasting romantic relationship with you. And yet here we are. Here I am, rapidly emptying glass of Malbec in one hand, phone squeezed tight in the other. I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing but my heart is sinking because I know it has nothing to do with me.
I feel like a teenager, pathetically consumed by a crush that leads to nowhere. I jump every time my phone goes off. I agonize over whether or not to contact you. It hurts. This strength of feeling is hurting my heart and my head and I just wish I could escape you. I try to write you out. I hope that beating up my keyboard and putting to words just how I feel about you will make it all drain out through my fingertips and far away from me. It’s not working right now but maybe I’ll try again tomorrow, just a little girl writing in her journal about how her heart feels like it might explode and it’s not really fair that feelings can be so physically felt. It won’t work. The way this ends is you stop talking to me and I am allowed to forget about you and move on. My brain tells me this is the inevitable path but I am not ready to let go of the hope that you feel something for me, too. The hope is what’s going to hurt me in the end but I am the most stubborn of romantics and I am not ready to abandon it just yet.