Two weeks ago a man wrapped his strong, loving arms around me and tears slipped down my cheeks as my face pressed against his shoulder and he pressed his lips to my temples. I felt his breathing as his belly pressed against my own then fell away. We stood locked like this for many minutes outside the college bar, swaying, murmuring to one another, me crying. Bar patrons had to walk around us.
I met Tony when we were 21. He was fresh out of the army and I was in my senior year of college. He and another army buddy replaced me when I moved out of my friend’s apartment which I’d subletted for the summer. Tony was tallish, fair-haired, and bespeckled. His mouth pulled up in one corner and he was painfully shy despite his dashing good looks.
He cussed like me, was shy like me, and laughed like me. I was instantly drawn to him and him to me.
We drank beers on their dirty couches on his porch overlooking the city scape for years. Played games, wrestled, did cocaine like it was 1978, but we never got into a relationship. The closest we ever came were the two fateful occasions over the next handful of years which found us drunkenly getting his big penis into my writhing, willing body.
But we didn’t handle it well.
The first time he seemed to really lean in my direction and I bolted, but because we were so youthfully bonded, like childhood friends, we were able to right ourselves and party on.
The second time it happened the night before my boyfriend did a 1, 2 punch to my chest and shoulder. When I got the boyfriend to finally leave the next day, terrified for my safety, I called Tony to come stay with me, but it was his turn to bolt. He never called me back and two months later he knocked up some chick in his hometown 2 hours away and he disappeared for 11 years. Until Facebook in 2009.
That night with him and his old army buddy was a turning point in my life. I had been sexually and emotionally starved for 6 years by then and when he saw me and said, “Daaamn, Hy!! Look at your curves!!” I was shocked. I might have looked over my shoulder. Never shy with words he lavished me with compliments. His hair might have disappeared, but it was still my Tony, crooked smile and all.
The three of us drank all night until the friend left just before dawn. Tony and I looked at one another and we were transported to the filthy couch on his porch once more; we were all over each other.
Hands, mouths, kissing and smacking, clothes flung and ripped off.
We didn’t fuck, but when I awoke in my marital bed with a man who wasn’t my husband I moaned and tearfully I sent him away.
When my husband came home from his business trip I described to him how miserable I was and how we needed to change something, anything, so that I didn’t feel so alone and neglected. I suggested he sleep with other women while traveling so as to gain confidence and perhaps a swagger that might trickle down to me. He agreed and then upon further reflection offered me the same not knowing of my tryst.
Over the next year Tony and I got together 4 or so times. Each time a gorgeous show of pent-up sexual frustrations for the both of us. He was an overworked single father and I a neglected housewife. It ended when I realized I wanted and needed even more than what Tony could ever give me. We were only ever any good on that porch anyway.
That unrequited love relationship so early into being a woman epitomized me as a romantic being. Where I am capable and experienced sexually, I am terrified and incapable romantically. When Tony wanted me I couldn’t handle the attention and when he didn’t want me I was ravenous. Even eleven years later as I sensed him coming closer to me I backed away to focus on my own life rather than an “us.”
And then there was that Tuesday two weeks ago. “Hey Hy. You busy tonight??” his text read.
We agreed to each drive 45 mins to a half way point from his business conference, a little college town known for its partying students and cold, lazy river. It was 10 pm before I got there and Tony had been caught in traffic.
I fought tears as he walked up to me, arms spread. I’ve had this reaction to him ever since we unofficially ended our affair 8 years ago. He’d pass through town with his daughter and we would hug and I would cry or I’d stop at his on the way to see friends and the waterworks would happen in his kitchen instead. I can’t seem to control myself.
He knows me. He loves me.
We exchanged hugs and pleasantries and then he said, “So, I’m going to have a baby boy in 3 weeks!” I thought he was joking, but no, poor Tony had done it again, only this time at least she was a grown up woman with 3 other healthy, stable children and a nice career. “Yep! I sure know how to make life harder!” he laughed.
But he loves this new woman and they go to church together and he’s determined to make this a better decision, a better family than ever before. He showed me picture after picture of them together until I saw a flash of flesh.
I made him go back. It was his pretty dick. So I sent some pics as I had done for years before this other person ever entered our universe and we sat in our comfortable place of closeness no one else could possibly understand.
“She doesn’t know about you, Hy,” he confessed. “I don’t know how to explain you.” I hugged him and told him it was ok and we rattled on about something else and time stood still. We laughed and talked and fought (we always fight) and then the bar shut down at midnight and we found ourselves not wanting to let go.
And so we didn’t right outside the door.
We stood and swayed and I smelled his sweet scent and breathed him in and my heart broke with loneliness.
“I don’t want to go yet,” he announced gently. “Lets go take a walk.”
We walked, nearly hand in hand, around the town square where drunk and rowdy college students spilled out of the various bars ringed around what I can only assume was City Hall. We laughed at how that was us 20 years ago and we recapped our sad and stupid story.
If only he had answered the phone, or called me back, our lives might be completely different.
“I was having feelings for you,” he admitted and not for the first time.
“I know, Tone Bone. I know.” He took my hand as we crossed the street and I even let him hold it for many strides until I broke free and took his arm instead.
We found a bench near a bar and sat with our legs pressed against each other from knee to hip and I curled into his nook as we blatantly watched the beautiful, young people stumble and bumble past. We rated butts and boobs and watched while one plaid-clad young man took a piss behind the car parked directly in front of us.
And then it was close to 1 am and we both had to go. I held back the torrent of tears I felt pressing against my eyes only long enough to hug him fiercely and give him a kiss on the cheek. I drove away with much less constraint and sobbed for miles as I followed the streaky red tail lights ahead of me all the way home to my empty house and home and the new art on my bedroom wall.