Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 117 in February, 2009.
During my most recent hookup I bit my tongue for a moment in deep thought before agreeing to spend the night but before doing so he kept nudging me to take off my shirt, his shirt actually, the one he lent me, his favorite from some Rochester strip club where he went to college but why he’d offer me pajamas if he wanted to sleep next to me skin on skin I have no idea and I looked at him sideways like buddy I already gave you a peep show when I took up my bra and my breasts will be rolling around all over the mattress all night anyway but in the end I slid my arms through the holes and his hands crept up over my hips to tug it off over my head and as he kissed me and I could feel his dick harden through his boxers against my bare thigh I thought what the hell I need to get over my ex anyway.
I can’t shake out of my head that tone of voice his innocent earnest pleading and as I rode the subway back downtown the next morning with all the other groggy Saturday night survivors my memory fuzzied him into a somewhat surprising romantic, because, hey, in all honesty I can’t remember the last time a guy felt content with me in his bed, not restless or anxious or demanding, but kind of flippant and sexy and disconnected, a guy who liked foreplay and hand-holding and didn’t bullshit me to get me into bed and let me go the next morning without sulking and why aren’t there more upstate transplants in New York, farm-raised family types with those kind knowing smiles like they grew up reading the supplemental recommended reading lists during their high school summers and watched BBC for fun, learning about migration patterns and root formations.
My old roommate from Albany has a brother like that, this sweet shy boy who let me fall asleep in his bed watching the History Channel together and it reminded me of one of those lazy childhood Saturdays in February where I would make myself a batch of hot chocolate and watch Bill Nye reruns all afternoon.
I mean, I love the dating scene in New York. I love the high heels and strong martinis and the scarves of perfume I wrap myself in while getting ready, creating that feminine illusion and walking into a bar and turning a row of heads and I smile like I don’t know the power of my own appearance like a coy lingerie model on a billboard who seems completely comfortable being thirty feet tall.
But my friend’s brother, her whole family, actually, they offer a whole different world to me, holidays where no one fights and everyone shows up, the dining room table so crowded we have to pull metal folding chairs from the garage and the kids eat in the kitchen and I join them like a cool young aunt which I wish to become someday anyway since I don’t want to bear my own children and I don’t let myself have any more store brand sangria because her brother keeps standing too close to me and I can’t put my hands on him here not like last night while UConn professors droned on in the background about zodiac signs and constellations and maybe time travel I think so why does he keep teasing me like he doesn’t know what he’s doing so I stay quiet the whole afternoon but in my mind I have my arms around his neck and I’m screaming please please please fall in love with me and marry me if it means having more of this, to have a family that will give me a hug and a kiss every time I walk through that oak door with the oval window and brass knob if it means erasing all the memories of holidays in my family where the abundant leftovers prove the remains of another failed year, who wouldn’t eat what.
I mean I would scrap my single girl’s whimsy, I would buy flannel long johns and ski pants and move back away from the black city smog and even ditch my successful photographer almost-boyfriend if it means more meals like this, more mid-morning back rubs and breakfasts and afternoon naps with our legs coiled together like jumper cables. He didn’t even mind I kept my shirt on. I think he liked the challenge.