Once Ike was gone, friends and family immediately invited me to every event possible. By keeping me busy, they kept me from walking back in to Ike’s arms. In reality, I was pretty done with the situation. What they did create was an atmosphere where I was forced to ‘fake it until I made it.’ Meaning even when I didn’t feel like getting dressed, showering for days, or brushing my teeth (yes, I was disgusting) I had to do it. I was humiliated enough that everyone knew I had the shit kicked out of me. I didn’t need to give them another reason to pity me.
A month after the breakup (August 2009), James (yes, that guy…) was having a graduation party. His mother begged me to go. If you’ll remember, we had close family friends. Obviously, we’d kept in contact.
Remember that I said we shared a love for humor. Our conversations were typically filled with witty one-liners. Most people didn’t understand our exchanges, but they knew they were special.
James became quite distant when I was drowning in my previous relationship (as did the rest of humanity), but he’d randomly check in with me to make sure I was alive. Although I was fond of our exchanges, I had no intention of attempting another horrible make-out session.
At this point, the last thing I needed was to fall for someone else. Becoming a lesbian (which I could never do…personal preference) seemed more likely. And, even though James was in heavy pursuit of me, I figured having all of our friends and his family in the same location would be enough so that he wouldn’t bother making a move.
He didn’t. But it was brought to my attention that he continuously looked longingly in my direction. I caught a few of those glances. We hadn’t spoken. We didn’t need to. For the first time in a very long time, I felt desired.
My ride was getting ready to leave, but I was having a great time. Surrounded by lots of people I hardly ever saw, it was easy to convince someone else to drop me off at my car later in the evening so we could continue our conversations.
James had a bit too much to drink and fell asleep on the porch swing. Friends took pictures and we all laughed. His hand was precariously positioned between his belt and boxers. His head was limp, hanging to the side. It was clear that he could be left alone there and be perfectly content. The party died down.
When everyone began to leave, a mutual friend asked me if I wanted to go to a near-by bar to continue our evening. James was going…he miraculously got a second wind. I agreed.
On the way to the car, James was stumbling a bit. It didn’t seem to be from drunkenness so much as being groggy from his nap. I waited for him to catch up with me, threw an arm around his back, and helped him walk to the car.
“You, sir, are incredibly drunk.”
With no warning, James swept me into his arms. His lips were warm and complimentary. This time our kiss was not terrible. Perhaps the jokes I’d made caused him to reevaluate his style, or maybe he was so tanked last time he had no idea what he was doing…but this time…he was great.
I surrendered to the moment and embraced his gentleness. I couldn’t remember the last time a guy held me so carefully.
“Hey you fucktards, the car is leaving! Let’s go!”
We both laughed, released each other from the entanglement, and headed to the vehicle.
That night we stayed at James’ house. When we got there, the two other boys staked their claim on spots in the living room. I, never having stayed in the house, wasn’t sure what my other options were.
I walked into James’ room to ask about my options. I found him taking off his shorts. At that moment, a quirky half-smile broke upon my face.
I knew where I’d be sleeping.