This is the second post in a 3-part series: Making Honest Love. Read Part 1 here.
The details had grown fuzzy with our distance, like the black and white ant static festival that crawls rapidly across the TV screen when you can’t find the channel. For an instant, I thought maybe we were two different people now, separate in whom we were becoming.
I didn’t realize you had been working out so much. You told me over the phone that you played racquetball and did the circuit occasionally, but you had obviously dropped at least 20 or 30 lbs. You looked great.
We were giddy and lovesick in an instant, hugging closely, pushed along with the crowd to the awaiting coach bus. We sat closely in the back of the bus with all our friends talking excitedly while we didn’t quite know what to say except “I love you,” “I missed you,” and “you look amazing.” I wondered later, in all my attraction for you, if maybe, you and I had become two people who wouldn’t ever know each other as completely as before.
Our minds move outside the car, outside ourselves. I watch a couple of surfers brave the dark, cold water in their wet suits. Summer doesn’t really start until July in the North Atlantic. I guess these guys just couldn’t wait. It is late May. And I want to be one of them, a risk-taker: crazy and telling the world off while I do it.
Two days together nonstop is getting to be too much for us. The sexual frustration is high. I checked us into this romantic hotel where we would be in two rooms next to one another. Two twin beds in each room, but separate rooms. Each room’s view is amazing—the rough, turbulent white-capped water racing back and forth in an ancient tidal rhythm under the heavy sky. Through the window’s glass, the surf rushes, surge after surge, and in the roughness, I find some calm to ease the tension that is welling up in me. It’s surging in my veins.
You and I had become two people who wouldn’t ever know each other as completely as before.
Later, before dinner, I will take out my periwinkle dress I bought in Oxford for the trip. I got it because it is your favorite color on me. It will be wrinkled, so I will hang it on the shower curtain rod and will turn the water on hot for 20 minutes so the steam will dewrinkle it. I will sit in my room and you will sit in yours. The room will be dark, but comfy and lonely at the same time. I imagine you laying on your bed on the other side of the wall feeling what I feel. You were sleeping, you tell me later.
We have no idea what it means to be married. This trip is like a practice run. We are trying to be married without the sex.
When we were freshmen in college, I read you poems from The Book of Love, a tome of poems and readings, over the phone. You and I were approximately one dorm away from each other, but visiting hours and cold weather hampered our late night walks. You hated talking on the phone, but you humored me because we were in love. So you made lots of sounds into the receiver like you were listening on the other end of the line.
Through the window’s glass, the surf rushes, surge after surge, and in the roughness, I find some calm to ease the tension that is welling up in me.
My roommate Michelle was asleep on the bottom bunk. She slept through it all, or pretended to. We had one of those old beige corded phones that didn’t reach very far. The issue was privacy. I could either sit in the hall, phone cord under the door, and have people walking by and overhear my outpouring of poetic love to you, or I could stay in the room, and risk Michelle’s ridicule. She seemed like a heavy sleeper and was way too nice, so I went with the latter.
I would hunker down in the corner, my back against the door, and I would cup the receiver and read you sappy literary poetry in a hushed whisper. “Mmm hmmm,” “yeah,” “that’s interesting,” you would say. By the time we were sophomores, you would just fall asleep on the other end when I called you late at night. I would lay on my bed listening to you breathe.
Read Part 3: Finding Together here.