By Alan Semrow
We lasted two days. On the first one, I came to you in the early afternoon. You introduced me to your sister, the one that was living with you (is still living with you) in your basement, the one you referred to as “really mean.” We spent hours on your bed, talking, watching some show that I decided I liked only because you did. We fucked around with the Alexa. She played us hip-hop.
By mid-day, I was starting to think it could happen. I do that sometimes.
It’s the spaces between the conversations that we all balk at. What do we say now? How can I get through to this person? How will he see the traits that I cherish, but am, for whatever reason, hiding? We lay there and, eventually, we kissed.
You said, “Let’s go to the garage.” And I thought, that sounds like a GREAT idea.
You lit your pipe and handed it to me. I took a small hit and explained that you can’t let me have too much—that if I did, you’d see the exact version of myself that I didn’t want you to see.
I sipped from a cider bearing the same name as you. We laughed about the fact. You took another hit and you took me back.
In you, I found a certain naivete—an unrelenting dorkiness that I could get behind. You were aware of your qualities and you owned them. You’d achieved things in your life that you were proud of. And now, at a certain age, you lived your own life in this really nice house that, it was clear, you had worked painstakingly to put together—that was still in the process of receiving its final touches. You weren’t sure about the paint in the kitchen. You weren’t sure about the knobs in the bathroom.
As afternoon quickly turned to night, we sat on those metal chairs and you puffed on your pipe. Every so often, in between your hits, I’d take one. And, with each one, I think the two of us would reveal something new. Peeling the onion, I suppose.
You told me those personal tidbits. You took me into exactly what was happening in your life. And, in no time, the onion was peeled down to the core and you sat before me, vulnerable. I wanted to tell you something, too. Something that would assure you that things would get better. That everyone would get along again, but I couldn’t. I didn’t have anything, in my current reality, that matched it. Instead, I just listened. And attempted to apologize for others’ behaviors without coming off as patronizing.
What you did was tell me about the things that people don’t see in a person upon first-meet. And, for that, I’m grateful. You were high as a kite and maybe even drifting from the purpose of my being with you that day. But you were also offering something that not everyone gets.
Your eyes, red and hazy, they met mine. You took another hit and sucked in. In that little half-voice, you said, “Come here.”
I knew what you were doing and I was pleased with it. We leaned into each other’s faces and I opened my mouth. You blew the sweet smoke inside of me. I inhaled. And I exhaled.
“No one’s ever done that to me before,” I said, half-laughing. “But I always wanted someone to.”
You grabbed my hand and said, “Come here.”
You took me through the backdoor, out onto the grass. It was the time of year where summer was starting to turn into fall, so in the dark of evening, our feet were cold. You began walking in circles. You said, “Doesn’t this feel amazing?”
And it did, the grass did feel nice. You told me that what most people do is cut too much of their grass off when they mow. Instead, what you should really do is try leaving it long, to cut less. It’s better for the health of the lawn.
Above us, the moon, it was almost full (or was it full?) and, below us, I guess we had some exceptionally healthy grass. I felt like a tiny kid again, being introduced to the little things—it served to remind me that sometimes, the focus needn’t be on the large.
We went inside and had sex.
Cleaning off with you in the walk-in shower, I said I was hungry. You said we should go for a drive. That was how we wound up at the custard stand in the dark of night. In the car, you stuck a spoon into your barely-eaten bowl of cold chocolatey goo and raised it to my mouth. You said, “This was a great idea.”
I licked the ice cream from the spoon.
It’s moments like this that can make a person nervous. Everything is good, things are new, but you don’t know where it will go—if it’ll last. I didn’t know what you were thinking or whether you’d made a judgment call. All I knew was that this was nice and exactly what I needed that day, that time of year—after the year that I had just had, all the things that I had put myself through. It’s something to be nervous about, but it’s also something to rejoice in. Stop this moment in time right now, I thought. Just pinch me before we have to go back to being something else.
I see you since we’ve faded. The night you were at the bar, drunker than me. I looked at you with hunger when you came to say hello. I gave you that look. You said, “What?” “Nothing,” I told you. I gave you the look again. You said, “Why are you giving me that look?” We made out right there, next to my friend, Mike. It took me back. It always takes me back, seeing you. So, I guess, it’s clear there’s a point to a lot of it.