23. New Year’s Eve. 2010.

Three… two… one….  And the room goes wild.

He kisses me. He tastes like you think a man should. His arms are wrapped around me, clutching my back to shield me from the crowd. We are pressed tight, an ocean of champagne and shouting.

He downs the last of an enormous beer, crashes the glass to the ground, and rides us through the crowd, throwing elbows to get to the door. He has flown across an ocean to be here, and I am lost in something adolescent and amorous. It’s perfect.

Stumbling out of an Irish Pub in Boston, I grip his arm in the darkness. We laugh and slip in terror, gliding over the ice.
….

He climbs into bed. With his shirt off and my hand on his chest, I breathe a sigh of relief. Our faces close in the darkness, I am still.  The awareness of his skin, his heatbeat on my fingertips, the smell of him in the air – tells me that he is really here.  After nearly six years, he’s here. And when I wake in the morning, I won’t be counting the days to the next plane ticket, wondering if he’ll ever be here again.

I sleep.

I sleep clean through the freezing night.

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22. Fall

I’ve been doing everything I possibly can not to write about you.

I shut down my computer, I make more plans. I thwart my own desire to write.

I don’t tell friends your name, I won’t introduce you. I put your flowers on the coffee table and stuffed the hand written note into the top left drawer of my dresser.

Then I took it out and put it in my purse. Unbeknowst to you, for the last two weeks I’ve been carrying your words, your crooked K’s and I’s dotted far to the left, everywhere I go.

I know I’m falling for you. I’m fighting it every step of the god damn way.

21. He Says His Name is Nigel

He says his name is Nigel. It’s like I have a homing device for British men. I’m squirming, but he’s too drunk to notice. He has a martini in one hand, a stain on the shirt under his suit jacket, and I’m looking at chandeliers, padded lounges, and girls resembling porn stars. Anything so I don’t have to look at him.

His fingers curl around my arm, and he draws me in.

“Tell me a secret,” He slurs, “anything”

I’m three long islands in and his whiskey breath is fogging up my hipster glasses.  Chewing on my lower lip, I give up, and leaning inward until my lips are just about to brush the collar of his jacket, I tilt my head back  and whisper

“You have terrible breath”

 

Ah, the single life.

20. Away we go.

We’re having a beer at the pub, and me being me, I’m being an asshole. Possessing a particular knack for calling people out can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use it.  He had facebooked me, asking if I was busy while I was surfing in Central America. “You were ridiculous” I chide him, and grin. “You knew I was going to be gone. Are you high.”

“I couldn’t” He says.

“Couldn’t what?”

“I couldn’t, you know, let you think you went to Costa Rica for two weeks and I didn’t care.”

I hadn’t expected that. I smile.

“Well,” – And I’m feeling bolder – “If it makes you feel any better I did go to the reunion with the intention of flirting with you. My boss said, ‘Really? A high school reunion’ and I said, ‘I’m gonna flirt with a guy from summer school! I have a plan!’”

He grins. “It sealed the deal for me. Abbie Cooper’s going? Done.”

There’s a blush of something, and we’re touching under the table. And I don’t know what the hell feelings are, because it’s been so long, but I think these are feelings.

And then there’s a spark. We walk down near the beach and I turn on my heels, short pressed up again him. “I think you should kiss me” I say, “I know that you want to” And he does. He does and up on my toes I feel the universe wake up again. The power lines buzz and the punks of Ventura run down main street, but there is no one else in the world, nothing but electric. Nothing at all.

“Let’s find a place”

We sit, my legs across his lap, and we can’t keep our hands off each other or our faces apart. It’s bad. We know it. “We should get out of here” I giggle “They hate us”. But we can’t stop. Whispering. Leaning in. He has a hand between my knees and I’m breathing onto his neck, telling secrets in his ear. There is nothing but electric. Nothing at all.

There is vodka and electric. There is sin in the air.

“Let’s get out of here.”

It’s too much, I think. It’s too much and it’s too fast. But I’m lost in the blur. I feel something. It isn’t love, but it’s something. It’s lurid and blinding and new. And we should wait but we can’t wait, and it’s in the darkness and – And your hand pulls behind my back, into you, and we move quiet,. Then laughing, kissing, pulling back, embarrassed, scared, unsure, but wanting.

In the morning, you ask me not to go, but I have to. Okay I don’t have to. Okay but I’m saying I have to because it’s too soon to act like I have nowhere else to be. You kiss me goodbye, and it’s only then I realize it’s the first time I’ve kissed an unfamiliar mouth in about four years.

The day moves on. I visit my friends, I have my day. But I’m bursting from the inside out. Then It’s quiet, it’s dark in my room, and then I hear my phone.

“You should be here” he says “I would like that”

And I try to sleep, but I can’t. There is neon buzzing in my veins. Electric, electric, electric.

There we go.