Tonight was supposed to be special, and it was. But it reminds me of an ex from college.
We lived in the same run-down apartment building on St. Charles Street and met officially summer of 95, I think at a party thrown at one of the 4 apartments, but not hers and not mine. She was about to be a junior and I was about to be a sophomore. Summers in New Orleans are sticky hot gauntlets, and you learn to enjoy the steamy suffocation or go crazy. So we played chess by an open window and watched arty movies like Down By Law,
and one roasting summer windless night we made out on a futon in front of Caligula, which we had stopped paying attention to maybe 30 minutes in. I think we were also playing chess at the time and she very matter-of-factly asked me if I was going to make a move or not. She very obviously didn’t mean moving a pawn over a square.
We saw a lot of each other that summer, and she was always very matter-of-fact. For example, one heavy-humid night she turned on a bedside lamp, pulled it over, and showed me exactly why I was terrible at giving head. Then she made me practice. I say a little prayer of thanks for brash independent sexually liberated 90s college women every time I get there now, because of that night and subsequent remedial classes.
She had an air of superiority which was fine by me, because at that age the gulf between sophomore and junior was fairly large, and I felt lucky. Clearly I was lucky. That was the first girl I ever showered with, and I learned that showering with a girl isn’t actually very fun at all after the first minute of novelty and suds wears off. If unprotected sex is off the table, that is, and it was. My first adult relationship.
We also knew it would be ending. She was all set to spend her junior year in Spain. And she did. I got special air mail paper and envelopes and wrote her maybe once per month, along with her roommate with whom I’d become friends. I even sent a couple of tapes of my college radio show. But that was it. The letters never mentioned boyfriend, or girlfriend, or waiting, or love. I carried on like a college kid in his first apartment who now knew the secret to good head and I assumed she carried on like a sexually liberated college girl on her own in sunny Spain.
When she got back I arranged to visit her in her home town and help her drive her car back to New Orleans. I had missed her and was excited to see if we could start things fresh, maybe where we had left off a year prior. When I got there, that first night, she sat me down on my sofa/bed in her father’s basement and told me she had seen her ex since she’d come back. Her ex capital “E” Ex; and realized she still loved him; and that she was so so sorry but she could never feel that way for me.
Of course I was devastated. And angry. And what the hell could I do? I couldn’t afford a plane ticket back so I had to play nice with the family and be a chummy guy and then spend 3 days with her in her car and then FREEDOM.
The next night we went for a drive, she pulled into a motel, and we had sex. It was a little easier to deal after that.
Anyway, my point is coming up. We dated (ish) and then it was my turn to head to Europe for a year. At a certain point about 5 months into it she sent me a letter in which she blasted me for messing around with girls while she was in Spain. She was pissed. Eventually she got over it and we were cool, but that’s the thing tonight reminded me of: She forgot all about the “I can never love you like I love my ex” and the fact that a year apart with zero relationship promises means a guy’s gonna get some, and went straight to the blame and anger.
Something in the same family of experience happened tonight. I took a special lady friend to dinner at a very special restaurant that is now my official in-the-mood for romance cute spot (leave me a comment if you want the name, use a fake email, I don’t care, I’ll comment back). We’d had some fights and some hurt feelings, because while we officially were taking things light and easy and weren’t interested in locking it down, we were flirting with the idea privately, sans communication.
And last week she blew up, started crying, and demanded that we define exactly what we were doing. A demand she rescinded immediately. I had precipitated this outburst by being unavailable to hang out a second night in a row (tuesday) after she returned from a long trip away. Ok. So then it was weird cold shoulder and missed connections for about 8 days, during which time she visited her family out of state. To me this dinner was meant to be my “truce” flag and careful re-examination of the “what are we doing?” question.
Deep down I was prepared to “next step” this thing to monogamy if she wanted. I poured on the positive vibes and the wine and the compliments from the heart etc. In response, she told me she wasn’t ready, and moreover because I speak a different language than her primary one, I probably have zero hope of really understanding her in a meaningful way. Which is a situation she thought maybe she didn’t want to be in, in a relationship.
Well damn. Then on the way to the subway she pointed out that I seemed to be more interested in the train coming than seeing her safely to her platform, a signal which says “pay attention to me! prove you love me!” and which I found to be at odds with the overall takeaway of the night. But really, if you lived way out here and got a soft dumping, you’d be just as anxious to get your train home.