We walked through the upset sidewalks of Charleston back to where we had parked the car in front of a large old southern house. My tummy was full of Cotes du Rhone and foie gras. The city wasn’t loud but it was vibrant, with girls in dresses and boys in collared shirts walking up and down the city streets, in and out of bars and restaurants- giggling, arguing, whispering loudly. Your hand felt so big in my hand, and in my flats I was petite beside your tall, lean frame.
At dinner you talked about being a little boy. Do you think you had a lonely childhood? I can imagine you as a little boy, running around the neighborhood, squishing ants and collecting crickets. We went to the same elementary school for one year, but you were a year below me. Do you think we passed in the halls? I was 7 and you were 6. All I remember about that school is the sprawling cemetery across the grounds, with big, old tombstones engraved with Confederates and their wives. I wrote a story there about Batman that won an award and I read it out over the morning announcements. Did you like my Batman story? Did you pull the onion grass from the ground and stick it under other little girls’ noses?
We held hands as we strolled across the road under the Charleston streetlights. Your legs are long and I had to take quick little steps to keep up. The lights blurred a bit from the wine, and the breeze was cool on our faces. Back at the hotel I quickly got undressed and tossed myself in the huge, white bed. It wasn’t long before I was snoozing away even before taking advantage of a goodnight kiss.
I wonder what your first kiss was like. Did you laugh?
You said you had braces in high school. Were you embarrassed about them? I was. I didn’t smile in pictures for two years. I don’t guess you were embarrassed. It is hard to see you embarrassed about much. Your face stays calm and easy, your gait and body lack tension and stress. Very, very cool. It is hard to read you most of the time. By comparison I am a disaster. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my emotions all over my face.
When we first got together I was terrified of you. It was the first time in my life I met a man who was kind and mature, caring and secure. It was the first time I met someone stable and open to loving and exploring. I wanted to run so far away from this. And sometimes I still do, almost a year later.
In the morning the sun streamed in through the semi open curtains and the “do not disturb” card lightly slapped against the back of the hotel door. You seemed really far away in the boat of a bed so I curled next to you and kissed your head and neck softly. It was still and calm, and I put my lips next to your ear and whispered “I love you.” It was the first time in ten years and dozens of beds I was sincere. You were still, cool, and silent for a minute. Then, “I love you too” you said, pulling your arms around me and pressing your cheek to my chest.
Maybe American boys aren’t so bad and maybe it is okay to need someone sometimes?