It’s a cold January night. Work is going well, new projects are coming in, old projects are slowing down.
I’ve been back at my folks’ place for the past weeks. And I’ll be here for another 3 months or so. It’s been a little bit too much if I’m being honest. I’m trying not to complain too much about this temporary situation and accommodation: after all, I’m saving about a grand each month, there’s food on the table, the laundry and chores are being done, and I have no bills to pay. But what I had to trade, what I knew I was getting myself into, was relinquishing my independence, my life in the city, and most of all, the capacity to just drop by in town whenever I wanted, within a simple and short five minute walk.
Late last year, just after moving back, I caught up with a friend whom I had lost contact with for about 10 years. Nearly a decade after high school. We used to be close, back in the day. With a healthy dose of ambiguity — I had tried to go after her at the time, but nothing had happened in the end.
That first time catching up felt great.
She told me I haven’t changed, and to be quite honest, she hasn’t really either: she was more beautiful than ever, sharply dressed, and looking at me with those piercing crystal eyes. In a funny way, it made me feel bad about myself: with my tired eyes, boyish charms, lack of facial hair, and streetwear-inspired outfit — put us next to one another and you have a modern Beauty and the Beast situation. I’m exaggerating slightly of course.
We had a few drinks in a little secret bar I go to every now and then. My little local secret hangout. I had a great time catching up with her. After a couple of drinks, she told me that she would be meeting a friend of hers. We still had about an hour to spare so we shared a pizza in the streets, sitting on a bench.
This part, talking on a cold December night, sharing slices of pizza just the two of us, away from the other people in the street, almost felt like an intimate and romantic date. It wasn’t, of course, and I would soon learn that she was seeing someone at the time.
Nothing happened that night, however, we’ve continued to see one another, sometimes with other friends around, and sometimes just one-on-one.
Then came the winter break, the sacred time around Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I was away for just over two weeks. She was gone for ten days too. During that time, we started chatting regularly, almost every day, despite being abroad and chasing after Wi-Fi hotspots whenever we could find them. The asynchronous nature of it all made it so that I was almost always looking for a tiny bit of connection in the hope that I would receive some of her messages, no matter how small the responses could be. I started realizing that I was smitten.
We came back a couple of weeks ago, which now feels like months. She’s into fitness and working out, and I’m partially making some changes in my diet, being tired of my malleable stomach, I offered to train with her every now and then. Workout buddies. To this day, writing these lines, this still hasn’t happened.
What has happened, however, have been a number of encounters at the local pub with friends, and a couple of visits to her small city house. She invited me a couple of times, to have dinner, watch movies, or talk for hours… And each time, I left her place in the early hours of the morning. 3am, 4am, 5am, even 6am once —it was funny bumping in to my own mother that time, having breakfast, as I entered the front door, said Hi!, and went to bed. But for all these times, I never stayed over once.
Working for small businesses, in marketing & customer-facing positions, I’ve learnt the hard way that communication, in business and relationships, is key.
At some point, after one of our many encounters, I decided that I would be frank. And after getting back home on a late night encounter, I mentioned to her that I was attracted to her. That I was hoping she had noticed. And that eventually, I was too shy to make a move and couldn’t figure out whether she was interested in me that way.
It’s a funny thing, to be extraverted enough to chat with a random stranger at a conference, or in a bar. Or eavesdropping and joining a conversation while you’re queuing up with other people around. And yet being unable to express yourself vocally or physically, in the presence of a romantic interest.
After another encounter, while the conversation hadn’t quite moved, I thought I would be honest enough and let her know that my regret, that evening, had been not to have managed to make a move to kiss her. Our conversations continued, and after a while, she mentioned that the affection was mutual.
A few days went by, and we saw each other again, staying late at night, and watching a show together. She held my hand that time, and I started feeling lighter. Though nothing happened that evening and I went home in the dead of night, once again.
Throughout our texts, I mentioned that despite my attraction towards her, this situation, moving slowly and taking a closer step at each different encounter, had a sort of addictive and non-frustrating aspect. All these times, I wished for more, of course, but there was something incredibly attractive and seductive, about taking things one slow step at a time. Usually, I would have been frustrated pretty quickly, possibly giving up after a few unsuccessful encounters with a romantic interest. But not this time, not with her, somehow.
Eventually came another night out to the local pub. We would be going with a friend of hers too, so I thought I would be picking them up on the way. Before that though, we had a light dinner at her place, and some wine to get the evening started.
We went to the pub, and randomly met some friends of ours. You always meet people you know whenever you go to this place. Once the pub closed, those friends told us of a dancing bar nearby, where one of their friends was DJing that night. So we decided to go there, continuing on a fun yet cold evening. We drank, we danced, and it looked like everyone had fun.
At some point during the night, less people were dancing, and she walked towards me, and grabbed my hand. She started dancing against me, with my eyes locked on her face, my hand caressing hers and my free arm moving around her. This occurred multiple times that night, including one time towards the end of the night when most people had left and I felt like the only one out there, with her.
Around 4.30am, the club shut down and anyone left was being asked to go. I dropped her friend home, and then drove to her house.
It was cold, silent, with some music in the background. We arrived after a quick 10mn drive, and I parked in front of her house.
As she unbuckled her seat belt and got ready to leave, she hesitated to speak, looked at the clock, and said, out loud: “Oh, it’s quite late… — I’m gonna let you drive home.” She then went for the French goodbye: kisses on the cheeks. Unlike the previous times saying goodbye to her that way, though, this one sat in the corner just above my lips and hers. Then she left the car, and closed the door behind her.
Before leaving my parking space, I messaged her, simply letting her know that I had noticed that hesitation. And that I didn’t want to impose. Then I turned the ignition and started driving on my way home. About ten minutes later, she responded, telling me that she wouldn’t mind having me over for the night. Needless to say I turned around at the nearest roundabout, and made it back in half the time.
It was close to 5am when I showed up at her doorstep. She let me in, and was making herself a late-night snack. We chatted a little bit while she ate, before turning off the lights and getting ready to sleep. We laid down facing one another, but with some space still between us. After saying goodnight, I took whatever courage I could master in the darkness, and at that time, and kissed her on her forehead, very slowly. Then nothing, for a whole minute. Possibly the longest 60 seconds I had experienced in several years. Then, she moved in the dark, her lips looking for mine, finally getting to kiss her at last.
That simple kiss was the one thing that pushed me over the edge. It had been a long time coming, a long time hoping that I would get to taste her lips. And it did not disappoint. Whenever she kissed me that night, I instinctively had to go after her, responding. I was hooked, and hypnotised, almost instantly addicted.
One thing led to another, but a gentleman doesn’t go into such details. What I can say, about that evening, however, was how strong the chemistry that I’ve felt was, between the two of us. Being with her that night felt very natural, instinctual almost.
That night, we fell asleep holding each other. She laid her head down on my chest, and I felt like the proudest and strongest man alive. It was immensely soothing.
I woke up after a couple of ours, her back turned away from me, and I took the opportunity to caress her with my hand, and kiss her in the neck, gently. Unfortunately, I soon had to leave in the morning, due to some family plans later that day, so I couldn’t quite share the beginning of the day with her. Despite all of this, though, I woke up feeling lighter, happier, and more alive than I did in a couple of months.
At the time of writing, it’s been 10 days since that night. By the time this gets published, it will have been close to ammonth. During these first 10 days, I’ve tried to focus on my work, on my life, my friends and my family. On getting her out of my head, out of my system.
In those ten days, a lot has happened. A few days after our night, she messaged me to let me know that despite having had a great time, she wasn’t quite ready to start a new relationship. That she wanted to stay single a while longer. That it was something she had thought about for the past few days, something she wanted, and something that didn’t have to do with me, apparently.
I can understand how she feels. Coming out of a long relationship, when we’re in our mid-twenties, it’s tempting not to settle and just “play the field” for a while, having fun and making new experiences.
But the truth is that for the first few days after this exchange, I was confused. I didn’t get many other messages from her then, but it was enough to leave me feeling lonely, rejected to some extent, and feeling mellow.. I’m still holding on to some small hope, though. I’m not ready to give up on her, especially as she will be meeting me abroad, when I travel next month.
But it’s been hard to mix my desire to spend some time with her, with the restraint of telling myself that I may have to settle for a burgeoning friendship over a romantic involvement, no matter how casual. It’s been strange, uncommon, and definitely keeping me on my toes, just… not in a way I could have expected.
Looking back, I think the hardest thing for me is related to the idea that I view her as incredibly beautiful, sensual, and that I couldn’t believe that she would feel this attraction towards me too, were it not for our spending a lot of time together in the prior weeks.
It feels hard having to work for several weeks to try my chance, and attempt to seduce her. All for one night of bliss, before everything felt like it was already crashing down. A real rollercoaster of emotions.
Recently we’ve been talking and she’s made it clear that no matter how good this night has been, it “shouldn’t have happened”. I’ve tried, I’m trying, and I will try, to get her out of my head. But for now, the hard work continues, of trying to keep this memory somewhere in my mind, while acknowledging that it was just that: a memory, a moment in time.
To this day, at the time of writing this, I’m still chatting with her multiple times a day, and I’m still planning to see her and spend time with her. But in all honesty, now more than ever, I have no idea what this future is made of. And day by day, I’m trying to focus my attention elsewhere, on something that won’t leave me confused, in shambles, or in the unknown.