With just one hand held up high
I can blot you out
Out of sight
Peek-a-boo, little earth -Kate Bush, Little Earth.
When we last saw our heroine, I was celebrating the one-year anniversary of the finalisation of my divorce. Since then, the holidays came and went, I caught a hellacious flu from which I am still recovering, had a root canal and temporary crown installed, and I got dumped by a man that I really liked. He was my first date in 15 years. He was my first real, passionate kiss in over two years. While I didn’t have sex with him, I wanted to. I even asked him to be tested for STDs and asked my gynecologist to test me as well, because I wouldn’t ask him to do something that I wasn’t willing to do myself. After spending the night, the next morning he was distant, melancholy. He stared out the window of the diner where we had breakfast. I watched him intently, trying to engage-nothing. Later that evening he texted me and instead of long texts full of cheek and fun I got one and two word answers. Finally, yesterday I texted him, can we talk. I thought it all out very carefully and was going to tell him what I felt. That I liked the way I felt when I was with him. I never got the chance.
I can’t give you what you want. I shouldn’t even be dating right now, much less be in a relationship. I’m a one-date wonder. I’ve done this before. I wasn’t in a relationship for three years when I was in my 40s. I dated here and there and when I miss intimacy I can get a massage at one of those parlors. I need to get my act together. My work schedule is crazy. I’m a feeler. Sometimes, I feel things so intensely I feel nauseous. I saw the hint of sadness in your eyes and I just couldn’t. I’ve spent years, decades building my self esteem. I’m not going to be a sub for you. It’s not you. You’re great. You’re amazing…
He said he wanted to give me a full body massage. He said he wanted to make love all night. He said he wanted to tease me until I couldn’t stand it any more. He said he wanted to make love on the beach in winter. He said he wanted to make love on Mars. He said he wanted to fuck me in his van. He said I was a sexy minx. He said we were lovers at Versailles. He said if we’d met in high school we would have fucked each other’s brains out. He said I was a strong, badass woman. He went into great detail. He said a lot of things. And then he began to pull away. He said he wanted to meet my friends but when he actually met them he was visibly uncomfortable. I reminded him that he said he wanted to meet my friends and his response was, I did didn’t I. He told me he wanted me to cook for him but he couldn’t tell me what he wanted. He told me countless times how he wanted to fuck me but in the end he ran and hid behind it’s not you, it’s me. Funny thing is, not once did he ask what I wanted. He assumed. He assumed wrong. He thought I wanted commitment. I told him I wanted joy and pleasure and light. I wanted breezy and fun. I even told him that if he was seeing other people that was fine, so long as I knew where I stood. When bad weather kept him from visiting, he lamented that the heart wants what it wants. I’m not going anywhere, I told him. I wasn’t. And then he said, if you ever want to go for coffee, let me know.
I don’t think so, I said.
You see, if you hurt me you don’t get to be my friend. You don’t get to feel better about yourself. You don’t get to say, see what a great guy I am because we’re still friends. This has happened with every relationship I’ve ever had. He feels bad about hurting me but doesn’t want to be the bad guy so he asks if we can be friends. I say yes thinking it’s the adult thing to do when I’m placating him, putting his needs before mine. I find myself wondering if he meant anything he said, and I realise that I will never know. I will never have the chance to ask. He will move on from this and express relief that he got away from some broad who wanted to tie him up and spank him and wanted him to get tested for STDs.
At the end of our conversation I wished him well. I hope you find what you’re looking for, I told him. I hope we both find what we’re looking for, he replied. His toothbrush sits in my bathroom. I’ll put it through the dishwasher and try to return it to him. I’m classy that way. Otherwise, back to middle-aged obscurity I go.