A large and looming nothing

I haven’t seen him in forever, and I’m surprised to find he’s the guest lecturer at a session I’m attending.

It’s wonderful to see him, and afterward, we make plans to get together for dinner…

It therefore isn’t strange that we end up in his car.

However, it is strange that I’m getting this unusual vibe from him.

Of all the people in all the world I would not expect to be giving off this aura of dissatisfaction with their home life, it’s him.

And it’s stranger still (though somehow not surprising in light of that vibe) that instead of at dinner, we end up in a secluded parking lot in the middle of nowhere.

Of all the men in all the world I would not expect to make a pass, it’s him.

Even as he leans into me, even as he puts his arms around me, even as the warmth of my breath and nearness of my lips is a buzz in his ear, even as I hear the change in his breathing and sense his response, even as I feel my body react to his proximity and desire… even through all of this I know —

This is not what I want to happen between us.
This is not who we are meant to be — nor what I want us to be — to each other.

And while I seem momentarily paralyzed, incapable of expressing this fact, I know absolutely that despite whatever else has led him to initiate this exchange, whatever attraction may exist, or whatever reaction either of us is having in the moment — 

This is really not what he wants either.

The world shifts, fast forwarding. Dim light. He wakes me inadvertently. He is more than half-asleep and vaguely confused in his drowsy state at the awkwardness of his position and the surprising unfamiliarity of my face under his hand. Even with his eyes closed, even asleep, he’s grappling with this strangeness, and though I’m only half-awake myself, I know what the issue is.

The reason I feel different to you, I say softly, is because I’m not her.

He is still leaning on me, but I feel his confusion and alarm grow proportionally as his wakefulness does.  He finds himself draped over me, and as he pulls away he mentally scrambles to retrace last night, to determine just how far wrong he’s gone, displaying a spreading panic as he can’t find the details at first.

Nothing happened, I tell him. You were tired and out of sorts… 

In the time it takes me to say it, he’s already gone wide-eyed at the enormity of the possibilities. Not quite processing my words, he’s drawn himself as far away from me, physically, as the confined space we’re in allows. He’s still not fully awake and visibly agitated as he processes the situation.

You were having a hard time, and I think you just needed comfort.

He is still confused and shaken, running his hand over his face and through his hair desperately, obviously still fuzzy on details and distressed because of it.

I speak more slowly, more firmly — willing him to focus, to hear me. My voice is clear but calm, gentle, almost maternal. I slowly see the change in his eyes as my words begin to penetrate the fog of confusion that has been swirling around him this morning.

You slept. I held you, and you slept. That’s all.

I don’t mention that there was also heat and attraction, at least at the start, because it does not bear saying. It passed quickly enough, and he can remember its existence — or not — on his own. I would rather that I didn’t remember it either. It would be simpler without that knowledge.

Still, the larger truth remains, and I watch as it begins to settle over him, even if it doesn’t immediately simplify the situation of our having awakened together:

It’s OK… nothing else happened between us.

It’s true, and yet that nothing still looms so large that I am as unsettled as he seems, as I wake for real.

6/17/2014

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~ by lorakceel on June 23, 2014.

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