I found him charming, but I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was his strawberry shaded stubble that glittered in golden hour, his boyishly handsome good looks, or his impressive stature… But no. It couldn’t have been any of those immaterial things because I had been drawn to him before I saw any of that. We had met in the dark and our first date was a blind one, I knew nothing of his dapper looks, or his candidly contemplative face.
Our first date was one of those, once in a lifetime, practically perfect happenings of chance, just the universe dancing with the details of our evening. Shaking things up just enough to enchant us with one another, and leaving us infatuated. When I related the (ordinarily) shocking tale of the Suburban &the Surfboards to explain a few of my many scars, he countered with his own tales of woe, having been struck by 3 vehicles in his lifetime, he still is the only person to shoot back at me with such close fitting stories.
He seemed slightly out of place, but I had to admire his willingness to maneuver through his strange surroundings with an eagerly curious, yet altogether patient bewilderment as to how the night would unfurl. He was a Yes Man that night, acutely aware of his surroundings and obviously fluttering at my closeness. It was adorable, delightful even, to see him so unnerved and yet so composed at the sight of me. I’m not one to relish in attention, but I found his gaze somehow alluring, one might even say, flattering.
Our lips didn’t touch this first evening which, in my humble opinion, only made the whole caboodle more captivating. I’ve never been one for titillating tales of love and ravishing romances, and I didn’t leave his side that night with galaxies in my eyes and butterflies in my gut. I’ll spare you anymore details of this most winsome date, but suffice it to say that there was something about this one that I felt compelled to explore further, and so on I went, into the dark unknown.
He said he wanted to see me again. Soon. He made it sound urgent and exciting, and being as it was that we had confessed our mutual fondness the evening before, I agreed to see him. I had no interest in a boyfriend, but I was blithe with anticipation of what a second night with such a creature could hold. We had done so well the first time around, what could be the harm in a second outing?
We lived a fair distance from each other, so he drove his Triumph out to pick me up. I grew up on motorcycles and they have never lost their appeal. I feel like a kid again, bouncing at the idea of a ride, positively wiggling with expectancy. We rode fast in the cold night to a restaurant that would soon become our usual. We ate on the patio and discussed topics predetermined by the boy himself. I found it strange how much thought he put into the content of conversation, whilst saying and answering a precious little himself; but instead I chose to take it as a complement that he came prepared, with good intentions of a pleasant evening.
The next time we saw each other we had a full plate, I took him to beaches and bookstores galore, coffee filling every pore. I dressed nice, and we ate locally. We hiked to the panoramic vantage point of Calavera Hill, racing the sun. Barefoot I trekked, in my dress up the side of that tall hill, but it was worth every step to see my kingdom from the sky, with a boy becoming more significant every hour. After dinner we found ourselves on the beach yet again, parked near the sand, making music together by the waves, we sang & we laughed & we kissed, but just a little bit.
I could tell this boy would be dangerous, and after 10 dates he proved to be just that. We had so much potential to be the power couple, scaling mountains, climbing thousand foot faces, waking up with the sun in the cozy bed of my truck with a JetBoil full of liquid gold in the brisk morning air, slowly regaining our consciousness, bracing ourselves to take on the world again. Our future was a budding accomplishment, with a shaky base.
I thought it was a neat ideal, but I was never in love with the concept of taking on the world with this same human always beside me. Our honeymoon phase lasted 10 dates. 10 dates and then the monotonous tragedy of hollow dreaming came out to play. I never felt very connected, but I saw so much potential for future kinship. And so I stayed and agreed to that cadaverous cage of ‘girlfriend.’ I’ve always been vehemently against the idea of being owned. People shouldn’t own each other, it isn’t right. I don’t belong to anybody and don’t ever try to tell me different. I wasn’t giddy about saying yes to my first *shudders* boyfriend, as so many young girls are. I was shaken and stirred and completely out of sorts, wondering without pause, what on Earth I had just agreed to.
Yet, it seemed the logical next step in a string of dates, and kisses so long and close together it was becoming difficult to keep track. I’ve always been a logical sort of girl, and I thought perhaps this discontent I was experiencing would gradually fade and be replaced with the excitement and pure bliss of being exclusively enjoyed by another human, constantly.
Well, that didn’t pan out.
It also didn’t help that as so many guys do, he sort of gave up chasing me, once he believed me to be his. He didn’t try so hard to impress me, or to know me. He was endowed with a constant, endless stream of sweet nothings. Which was all well and good, but as the nature of the thing suggests, it amounted to nothing. He was completely taken with me physically, and deeply enjoyed exploring that realm with me. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy sexual physicality, but just as with sweet nothings, the acts of physical closeness mean precious little unless accompanied by an emotional, intellectual intimacy that quite frankly, we never tapped into.
He was a sweet young thing, but still very preoccupied with himself. Too much of the time I found myself an afterthought, an apology, or a nuisance. I never felt like he enjoyed giving me gifts, paying for my meals, or driving us around, he was silently reluctant, and dutiful. He wanted everything on his terms, and in his timing, but I am a strong, stubborn person too, especially when dealt with carelessly. We butted heads and wills in small ways, and dealt with it with passive aggression and mood swings. He was insecure in common and natural ways, but this translated into small attacks on myself in the form of rude, over the top, negligent and repetitive teasing over trivial, commonplace mistakes and mishaps. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed to have made these missteps, but the way that he went on and on as if my blunder were the most comical joke he’d ever heard and I was always the punchline.
And that’s when it hit me. I was dating my dad.
He wasn’t a bad guy and he wasn’t always or ever terrible to me. I’m sure he didn’t have anything more wrong with him than any other man I’ll ever meet. The problem was that his shortcomings were my comfort zone bad qualities. I knew I had to end it. I knew it for a long time before I got up the nerve, and found the timing to do so.
We were sitting in his house, in relative silence, as we had been for the majority of the day, it was blazing hot outside that day and I didn’t have the motivation to do much of anything except read. I knew this was the day, and I was completely preoccupied with the logistics of such an event. I finally decided that I really had no control over how any of it would go, so I would just proceed the only way I knew how, with opening lines of little eloquence and even littler sense, a brief and blunt piece of my mind, and pause for dramatic effect.
His parents had both left, he was about to shower and was trying to be flirtatious, but I was resisting. He pulled back from me, looked into my eyes, and asked if I was happy, with such sad conviction, that I visibly winced. My eyes darted to his and back down to his chest, where I pushed him back, and said, “Go take a shower and we’ll talk when you’re done.” He dejectedly acquiesced. I grabbed his guitar, sat on the couch and waited, helplessly picking at the strings, a gloomy melody playing in my head, translating poorly into the atmosphere.
He came and sat beside me with his guitar, and taught me some chords and strumming until my fingers were sore. It really was one of our more enjoyable interactions in the whole of the relationship. In that moment, I was happy as I looked into his eyes and followed the up up down up of his strum; only for a few seconds at a time until I would break rhythm.
We put away the instruments and he pulled me over to lean on him. I breathed deeply against him, knowing this would be the last time. Finally, I braced myself and we both felt it coming, I sat back, grabbed his finger, looked into his eyes, and did it.
He looked up at me, leaned in, and slowly, slowly kissed me. Calmly, he leaned back and said, “Thanks for letting me down easy.” Before he melted back into the couch. I still held his finger and I shyly, softly stroked it, glancing up at him every now and then wondering if there was more than this. I couldn’t tell if he would act cool and unaffected, or would want to talk it over, so I waited.
More moments pass.
He takes a deep breath, smiles halfhearted and crooked through sad eyes, “So, do you want to just make out for a while?” I laugh. But he’s serious, so, “Sure.” I say. And that’s what we did. We kissed more meaningfully than ever, with processing breaks. Each time our lips touched, the sensation was more wistful & heavy hearted than the last. We both cried that night, knowing more of our loss every minute. He still told me sweet things even as I was breaking his heart. He didn’t ask me to explain myself, but he did ask me to stay. I told him it was better this way, for both of us. He deserved someone who could be wholly his, excited, giddy at the idea of getting to keep him. I couldn’t and wouldn’t ever be that girl, and knowing that, I refused to let attachment grow. “It’s better this way,” I reiterated.
He walked me to my truck and we kissed goodbye, he said he didn’t want this to be the last time we kissed, he didn’t want this to be the last time he saw me. I said it had to be. He pulled me of my seat kissed me against the window, and said, “Promise me, you’ll save a kiss for me someday.” He held out his pinky, and I took it. “I promise,” I whispered. I didn’t know if this was right, but I was too fascinated to resist. I got back in my truck and told him to go inside, he stood on the curb and waved as I drove off into the night, back to my beachside paradise.
I camped that night up one of my favorite mountains, because being outside at night is, and always will be, one of the most soul soothing experiences. I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing the hard part was behind me and held my breath for the vague sense of loss that set in. I was relieved and comfortless in the same breath, and I had no words to describe the twisted, disconsolate, free & weightless feelings I had spinning around in me.
That night I vowed, once again, to never become involved with another man. “For their own good,” I tell myself, “for his own good…