Last night The Neighbor came over a little past 10. Peyton was soundly asleep and I was at my kitchen table doing some work.
I was tired, but happy to see him — a new morning gig has me up at the crack of dawn every day and 10pm more feels like 4am. I just looked at him with an open expression. He felt silly and made to leave. I told him to stop and to come closer and put his bubble butt “here, in my hand.”
He came closer and I discovered he had on tight workout clothes. Unacceptable. “What’s all this?” I asked.
“Oh. I tried to workout tonight, but my leg hurt, so I had to stop.” I rubbed his legs. “I think I hurt my knee yesterday on the stair climber.” I kept rubbing. “I’m going to go lie down now,” he said then and disappeared to my room.
I followed him, thoughtful. Hours earlier, I’d gone back to my writings of March of last year and reread them all. And I was mortified.
I ached for the woman I read on the pages. She was so confused, in a lot of pain, and wrestling with burgeoning feelings for her neighbor who told her repeatedly their affair would soon end and he would date the woman of his dreams, his future wife.
I read how he’d taken the-girl-who-wouldn’t-touch-him to his best friend’s birthday party and my stomach had clenched. This year, I was resoundingly not invited to the same best friend’s birthday dinner.
Immediately I thought back to the night several weeks ago when he told me 4 am girl and his ex girlfriend were different from me because, as he said “They were his girlfriends,” and I am not and I felt small and silly and misused.
I wrestled with the proverbial kick to my gut. Had I not just written an essay about how I wasn’t afraid of loss anymore? That I was in charge of myself and my feelings?? I dug deeper.
It wasn’t a fear of loss that was twisting me up. It was a feeling of being less-than, not as important, being tucked away in a dark corner. Not right.
I entered my room and took off my pants and climbed into bed with him, my mind in a flurry. “Just so you know, I’m too tired to fuck or get sucked,” he said. He reached out his arm to me and I sighed and snuggled into his nook. “Here,” he said lifting his shirt.
“That’s ok. Me, too.”
I giggled and pressed my nose to his warm, clean skin as I would a bouquet of fragrant roses. He smelled of strawberries and skin and love. “Mmm,” I purred, shoving thoughts from my brain. “My favorite place o be.”
He pulled the covers up over my head and I was encased in a strawberry scented biodome. We both giggled.
We cuddled then and I tried to forget about that girl from forever ago who was so easily allowed into an important part of his life when I am not, but it still bothered me.
And there was more: there were two other conversations we’ve had recently that had lodged in my skin like splinters. Splinters that I strained to ignore, but became inflamed last night.
There was the chat a week ago when I asked him if his best friend knew who I was yet. The answer is somewhat ridiculous: the best friend knows that TN’s fucking a woman named Hyacinth and that TN is close friends with his neighbor. The best friend doesn’t know she’s the same woman.
At the time I was in our usual position when alone: in his arms. “Well, that’s weird,” I countered playing with his chest hair, my feelings bruised.
He became defensive.
“It’s not ‘weird,’ Hy. He doesn’t care and neither do I.”
I felt sucker punched.
And the second talk took place two nights ago when I shared a disturbing dream with him.
We lay in bed, naked, and I was filled with embarrassment and dread. He was going to propose and I didn’t want him to. Like a sunrise I was unable to stop, he drew out a little chocolate cake-ball and inside — I knew — was the ring he’d painstakingly chosen for me.
I acted surprised and grateful and slipped it on. A round solitaire, big, but not gaudy. I told him neither yes or no, but asked for some time. In truth, I needed to figure out how to turn him down.
I didn’t want to marry him because I didn’t want to inflict him on Peyton; a man who’s sworn he could never love another man’s child will not be invited to be in my child’s life in that way. Though, you’d never know it by watching them together — he seems to enjoy and care for my baby –but I figured he’d forgotten about Peyton’s existence. Our time together is rarely a threesome.
What I shared with him was that he’d proposed, I wasn’t happy about it, didn’t really trust that it was him, and then the lengthy part of the dream wherein my mother lost her shit on me and co-opted my feelings.
I knew immediately it was a mistake telling him. He tensed and seemed strange and I could hear the wheels spinning in his fat brain. I knew what the dream meant and it certainly wasn’t the desire for a wedding with him. It actually represented my growing sense of closeness with him and the inevitable decision I am going to make for the safety of my child’s heart, which is to leave. Pretty simple. But what he heard was, “HY DREAMED I PROPOSED TO HER.”
And so last night, in my strawberry bubble of sweetness, I felt compelled to bring up the best-friend-birthday-dinner-thing to ward off a an early attack of the 90-day-Hy-freaks-out schedule (I’m due in April, in case you were wondering, so these early scrambles are actually like clock work).
I told him how I’d read my old journals from a year ago and I’d discovered the note about the girl. He explained that she was actually a part of that circle of friends and that’s why she was there. Where’s my dunce’s hat?, I wondered. What an epic fucking fail on my part.
As we talked he pushed my hand down his pants, but his tight shorts were restrictive. “Take these horrible things off,” I said. He raised his hips and slid them off and pulled down his underwear. His erection sprang free and he placed my hand on it. We kept talking.
“Are you weirded out?” I asked.
“Yeah, a little,” he admitted.
“I felt I had to tell you how I was feeling. I’m trying hard to communicate with you. Are you still freaking out about my dream last night, too?”
“Yeah. Wouldn’t you?”
“Why?” I asked squeezing his cock.
“Because, it’s a little upsetting!”
“But why? I never get inside your head. You have to tell me how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking.”
“Wouldn’t you be?” he said evading the question still.
“No, because I said clearly that I did not want to marry you and that I was upset that you’d proposed in the first place, but all you’re focusing on is the proposal part and not the rest!” I sighed. “I swear, I’m cool. I don’t want to marry you and I don’t want anything to change.”
“Ok, but you have to understand how that could freak me out because of the nature of our relationship.”
The “nature of our relationship”? What did that mean? Holy fucking shit. He still thinks we’re not together! All the breakups we’ve ever shared flashed before my eyes where we cried and my heart was ripped out; his icy blue eyes looking directly into my darker ones and saying, “I do not love you. You will never be my girlfriend.”
I cringed and took a deep breath, pretended that I totally agreed. Of course! The nature of our relationship precludes any kind of commitment or long-term feelings, therefore he has every right to be freaked the fuck out that I was dreaming about marrying him.
We cuddled a little longer. I felt stupid and like finding the nearest rock to climb under instead of basking on top of the warm rock of my lover’s body. He stood up and got dressed, tucked me in and gave me a long, easy kiss goodnight, his heart safely behind steel.
Countdown to Freakout #6 continues… also, how human am I?