It’s hard to explain what drives temptation in human beings. Some say it’s a lack of self-control. Some say it’s selfishness. I say it’s a desire to be loved in a different way than you’re accustomed to, because consistency generates an itch for more. Routine is peaceful, until peaceful becomes boring. And no one deserves to live in a boring orbit of routine.
Maybe that’s how I justify walking down to my friend’s apartment lobby to meet him halfway.
I see him just outside on his phone, in a worn out grey T-shirt, black jeans, and dirty white converse. Really? I think, briefly glancing down at my lowcut tank top and my favorite jeans that hug me in all the right places. Pathetic.
“Hey you” I say, quickly dismissing my self-inflicted annoyance as the automatic doors slide open. He’s smiling before he even looks up. “How are we?” he says, following me inside. I always liked that he greeted me like that. On the phone at least. I’ve only heard people say “How are you” as opposed to “How are we”. And because of that, it feels special.
I gave a sulky smile to the doorman, who I nervously word vomited to about this situation just ten minutes prior. He raises his eyebrows at me and tells us to have a “fabulous night”. Smartass.
As we ride the elevator up to floor 12 I look up at the ceiling only to be met with my guilty reflection. I am almost positive he’s looking at me because he hears my racing heart over Charles Mingus’ I Can’t Get Started, but right before I say something ridiculous solely to fill the silence, he says “You’re even prettier in person.” I blush and look at my feet before saying “You clean up nice”.
It's so odd meeting someone you’ve never met in person, but are somehow extremely attracted to at the same time. We have been talking for a month now, virtually. Now that he’s right in front of me in my friend’s kitchen, I’m noticing details you only really notice in person. The way he pauses and glances up before answering a tricky question. How he smiles when I say something matter-of-fact, but more to himself it seems than to me. He’s so articulate, but goofy.
We talk for hours. We also drink for hours. Meaning we talk about everything under the sun, but I only remember about half. Meaning I am plastered by 11PM. The two activities seem to cancel out, in a way. Or is that me justifying again?
The heat of the night felt like cloud 9. We show up at the local bar laughing with his arm around my waist, and order two mojitos. How bold of us. “I heard they were having live music here tonight, let’s check out the outside” he says, grabbing my hand. It almost felt like we were supposed to be here in this very moment, together. My insides were smiling, but as my high wore off, my moral conscious kicked in as if the two were in a relay.
We end the night at his place, and for the life of me, I can’t determine how I’m here again. Not at his house, but in this situation. This exact situation I was in 2, almost 3 years ago. I mean, I know the logistics of how this situation came about, but how did I let it happen?
Do you want some water?
Oh, yes please, thanks.
I justified the last time I did this. He wasn’t right for me. I was unhappy. I was just scared to change.
I love spending time with you, I feel like I can talk to you about anything.
I love it too. I am so happy we did this, seriously. Long time coming.
Am I spiraling? Is this actually a cycle for me?
I don’t know when I’ll see you again.
We will figure it out, aren’t you coming to New York soon?
I know this is wrong. I know it. I’m just selfish, and unhappy. And he’s so kind, and so funny, and just so different then-
Hey, I think Justin just texted you.
I look down at my phone on his bedside table. As if the devil himself was working production, Justin Conrad was lit up on my home screen. I check it.
“Hey babe, I just want to let you know I love you so much. I think you fell asleep or something. I hope Rachel’s birthday party was fun. Michael and I ended up at a Cuban club. LOL. Talk tomorrow.”
I stare at my phone until the word’s became blurry from tears. I quickly blink and set my phone back down without opening the message. I kiss the lips beside me and say “Goodnight, let’s grab breakfast before you drop me off at the airport tomorrow”.
The next morning we go to this cute little diner, one I used to go to with my boyfriend when we first moved here. I get hit with a wave of guilt, then nausea, but I think it’s just all the red wine I drank last night. I sit there and recap the night with him as if it were meant to be, but am thinking to myself how I will never talk to this man again after this. I can’t keep doing this. No way. I sip my iced coffee and don’t offer to pay for mine, attempting to send a signal of disinterest. He doesn’t even bat an eye when he pulls out his card, as it seems like he was going to pay anyway.
He drops me off at the Delta terminal with a side hug and a kiss on the cheek, but as I’m walking through the double doors, something stops me. I turn back and look towards his truck, and our eyes lock. My heart drops, and there is suddenly a lump in my throat. He gives me a soft smile, as if he knows. He puts his truck into gear as he nods his head at me. I start to lift my arm to wave at him, but I stop. He lifts his and doesn’t. It was a nonchalant wave but it had meaning. This wasn’t a farewell. Something tells me our story wasn’t over.
And so the cycle begins again.