Dating it is Then
When the winter break ends, Tommy and I manage to keep status quo. He doesn’t push my boundaries of no physical contact during the week because I need to stay on top of my studies. I cut my hours at Triple Rock so we can have one weekend day together. Grateful that his parents don’t use the Sausalito house in the the winter, we spend those days there. On the days that I work he comes and hangs out. He is basically a part of the fixture there. Mikey and Boss even had a life size poster board of him and puts him on a stool at the end of the bar as a joke for whenever Tommy doesn’t make it in.
There are those weekends when he is obligated to family commitments. I know at first I tell him that I am not interested in meeting his family. But suddenly I am feeling a bit of a mistress because he doesn’t invite me. A part of me wants to say something but the part of me that is scared shitless to meet his parents decide to just silent on the matter. Still, an uneasy feeling sits in my gut. Is he not inviting me because he thinks I won’t want to go or is he not inviting me because he doesn’t want me to go? This, here, is one of the many reasons I avoided dating, I don’t like this kind of uneasiness in my life.
“Honestly Val, you need to talk to Tommy about it.” I make the mistake about telling Benji all of this.
“It’s not a can of worms I want to open, I honestly don’t want to meet his parents right now.”
“Oh my beauty, still as big of a scaredy cat as ever. Grow a pair and grow up. If I can spend an entire week with Amy’s family, you can bring up the subject of his parents to him.”
“I don’t know. I guess I want him to ask and give me the option.”
“So you can turn him down and make him feel bad? Just talk to the guy. No eggshells, no limbo, that’s my rule about dating. It’s actually my rule in life when it comes to everything. Letting emotions fester and play on in your mind only creates problems. Just tackle this straight on.”
“That’s easy for you to say, you knew Amy’s parents would adore you. And you and Amy FaceTimed with them several times before you went to meet them. I don’t even know if Tommy’s parents knows about me.”
“Be a big girl and ask.”
Maybe Benji is right. But things are going so well as is. And maybe it’s just my own insecurities that is putting all these silly feelings in my tummy.
Tommy and I study well together, so, we do manage to get a lot of studying done in between cooking in the kitchen as well as the bedroom. Like any new couple, we cannot keep our clothes on. Never have I met a man who fits so perfectly in every aspect of my life; sexually and otherwise. We seem to enjoy the same movies; comedy first, then mindless chick flicks and action films are our second and third choices. Maybe it’s because we both have so much going on with school that we like more mindless or creative fun in our off hours. Tommy likes it when I read to him so we spend many afternoons relaxing on the deck with his head on my lap as I read. Sometimes he falls asleep; I don’t take offense, I just play with his hair and read to myself.
Friday nights he comes to Triple Rock and catches up with the gang, my friends take to him, Benji always with a watchful eye. After hours of playing pool and drinking, we head to my apartment. Jodi and I come to an agreement that she can stay at Wynn’s place those nights. They aren’t often so it’s not a lot to ask. I do love that Jodi and Wynn have managed to stay together thought college, I wonder what their plans are for after college.
“We try not to think about it.” Is her response when I ask.
I don’t understand all these people that can be in long relationships and give so much of themselves and not know what is next. I try with Tommy to just be in the moment, but there are times when I want to run away from him now because I am too scared to loose him later. I am lucky that in those moments, he stubbornly won’t let me go.
“How do you do that? How do you give so much of yourselves to each other when there is a chance that you guys will break-up after graduation.”
“Like I just said, we try not to think about such things right now.”
“Amazing! It truly bewilders me.”
“Val, nothing in life is for sure, I want to have all the time I can with Wynn. Of course I want us to last forever, but what quantifies as forever these days? And there is no guarantee we will live to see tomorrow, so why dwell on it?”
“Only a computer nerd challenges the existence of forever and sees life so black and white.”
“Well, last I checked, you are at the top of our class, miss computer nerd. There is no algorithm for life, only colors. And we like to keep our color options to black and white. Keeps it simple.”
Of course when Jodi explains it that way, I get it. But then when I am with Tommy, my inner artist ponders. My mind wonders and my imagination can take me to some dark, shadowy scenes. It sucks at times to have an ambidextrous brain, to be both creative and logical.
On the way to Sausalito, we stop to rent Rush Hour from Blockbusters, action and comedy all rolled into one. I know it’s so old school but we both feel it’s the only way to watch such a classic. And believe it or not, his parents have a VHS player at the house. They also have an old school, huge 8 track consul with a record player inside. My parents always play music on the record player. They say the sound is just better thank anything a CD player or streaming can give.
It turns out that Tommy and my’s childhood has a lot in common, considering the differences in our upbringing. We both spent Saturday mornings enjoying MTV and Kung Fu theater. He even enjoys watching Japanese anime like I do. He is the first person that I have met that knows of and watched Star Blazers, an American animated television series adaptation of the Japanese anime series Space Battleship Yamato. Bruce Lee is totally the reason why I got into karate when I was a kid. Dad and I had a lot of late nights together where we would watch Bruce Lee movies, probably not the most child appropriate thing to watch, but it definitely shaped my love for action films.
We quickly move into a simple routine. Since we have less then 48 hours a week together, we find that we selfishly enjoy it between the two of us. We both hate procrastination so we get our studying out of the way first. Every so often we would attend new art gallery installations or the ballet since his family has season tickets to San Francisco Ballet. Growing up with such a love for dance, my parents took Stella and me to see the Nutcracker every year as part of our holiday treat. Now that we are older, it has been years since I have been to the ballet. The times that Tommy and I have been able to attend are some of my most favorable.
Even Valentine’s Day doesn’t annoy me this year. Tommy has a big surprise for me. He asks me to take a few days off of school, I have never played hooky before, EVER. But since Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday, Tommy’s surprise requires me to do so. My professors laugh at me when I ask permission. Looks like everyone but me seems to think I don’t need to try so hard anymore at this point because I have clearly over achieved in all my studies.
Having a boyfriend is not what I planned. How is it that I managed to spend this last four years at Berkeley boyfriend-free, and in my last year, my most important year, I am captivated by a man that is consuming most of my time and heart? I don’t know if I finally give into Mikey’s advice to just roll with it, or if I have no choice.
It’s only been a few months, yet I don’t know if I remember life without Tommy. I surely don’t remember sex without Tommy. Sex is where we groove the best. We both love taking pleasure in one another as equally as pleasing each other. We both are explorative and open to trying as many new ways to seduce and savor one another.
There is no shortage of romantic gestures from Tommy. Valentine’s Day falls in a Wednesday so I decide to make us dinner and make a chill night of it. I wake up to a flower delivery. My apartment is filled with peonies, my favorite flower and thanks to global warming it's available almost all year round. To honor our first meal together, for a starter I make mini pizzas, Canadian bacon and pineapple. Then mushroom risotto and my Moroccan chicken dish he loves so much. Homemade chocolate chip mint ice cream for desert. Tommy can have what ever he wants, whenever he wants so it's when I cook for him that makes him the happiest. Home cooked meals for him are prepared by their chefs. This is the best gift I could ever give him. After dinner he presents me with a beautiful velvet box. A graceful and delicate necklace with a few diamonds artistically placed and a heart charm for my charm bracelet he gave me for Christmas. This man definitely has romantic down. Although I wonder if romantic is easier with money. I like to think my gift takes thought and effort. He also gives me an impressive scrapbook of moments he has captured of us and our time together. I eat my words. This is so thoughtful and time consuming. A testimonial to his growing care for me. And he is a gifted photographer. I have always been astounded by photography, I can paint and draw but photraphy I have never been able to master. Of course, we end every night together in passion and fireworks.
Some of my favorite moments is when Tommy and I capture a scene with our creative talents. We both enjoy sitting at a scenic spot, him with his camera and me with my sketch pad. His photography is applaudable and my art improves daily. It is nice to be with someone who you can just span time with. Things are so easy between us. Sometimes I think it’s all too easy and I am waiting for our bubble to burst, then I check myself. I don’t need to over think everything.
I am listening to my baby sister who tells me, “just let things be, and good is just good, it’s not a state of waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
Stella, who doesn’t believe in dating, by the way, is my grounder when ever I want to run. Tommy hasn’t met my parents yet, but since Stella visits me every so often, she has met Tommy.
“If I were the dating kind, I would date him.” Says my 17 years old sister.
“Glad to know.”
“I am serious, he is a good one for you.”
“And what makes you say that?”
“Because you are creating again. I see your sketch book and yes, I peeked. I also see the ballet ticket stubs and theater playbills. You are doing more than just being a good student. That’s nice to see. And I know it’s all because of him, so, yeah, he is a good for you.”
“I am starting to like myself better with him.”
“Now, now big sis, you can only love someone as much as you love yourself.”
“Oh wise old soul, good thing I don’t love him.”
“So you say. I beg to differ.”
“And as always, we can agree to disagree.”
Stella is an old little soul. She walks the line between disobedient child and everyone’s little guru. Even at the bar she manages to be the go to for advice with my friends, even Mikey talks to her more these days than he does me. I do miss the nights that Mikey and I used to stay late and talk. Ever since I started dating Tommy, I have not bee as good of a friend to Mikey. I make a note to myself to change this.
Even my talks with Nate gets less frequent by the week. At first, I blame it on the fact that he needs space to grieve his mom. Now I think I am also neglecting him as I am Mikey. I don’t know how one juggles it all: school, work, boyfriend, friends and I can’t even bring up family. If Stella didn’t come to see me, I would never get to see her, like my parents. It’s my last year at college so they are trying to give me my space to enjoy it to it’s fullest. But honestly, this is bad of me, I plan on moving clear across the country after college, I should be spending as much time with them as I can. Lord knows when they will actually visit me and I am not sure how often I will make it home. Yet more notes to myself; more time with parents and call Nate more often. My notes section on my iPhone is getting pretty filled up.
On the other side of it all, I am writing a lot. Tommy loves it most when I read him anything that I have written. Thanks to him exposing me to the cultural side of San Francisco, I am able to send Jessica some pretty interesting pieces. So at least that part hasn’t changed. I am still on track with my goal to graduating summa cum laude and impressing Jessica. She already wants me to try to visit her spring break, maybe take some interviews with a few Editors In Chief of other magazines at INK. Then I can also see Nate. I am sure Tommy has plans with his people for spring break, this may be a nice time apart for us. I struggle between letting us grow to wanting to let go.
"He is the wrong guy for you," Benji warns tonight he is hanging out while I close up, Tommy is away this weekend.
"You are just jealous!"
Benji squints his eyes at me. I can see he is at his wits end with me. He or Mikey are always drilling me about Tommy whenever he is away. Irony, the two men that nagged me about giving Tommy a shot are the two most suspicious of Tommy’s disappearing act.
"You are the one that said I should let my guard down and allow someone a chance to love me."
I can see his chest expanding as his sighs get louder. Is he heaving at me?
"You know nothing about him, you have no right to judge if he is bad or good."
"Val, it's not about bad or good. It's about class. And I know guys like him better than you think. Before I arrived at Berkeley, I was the same kind of guy. Wealthy kid born to a wealthy family and girls like you are how we occupy our time because the ones we are supposed to marry can't be dishonored."
"That may be how things are back in China, but this is America and it's the 21st century here."
"You Americans think so much has changed, open your eyes. People still have issues with race, sexual preferences and class. He is old money. We are the worse. And even if we do want to marry someone we pick, our parents have a lot of influence. It would take quite a set of balls to go against his trust fund.”
“He doesn’t care about his trust fund.”
“Yes, that’s why he switched from studying Photography to being groomed to take over his dad’s business.”
“Everyone convinced me to change my major.”
“Yes, because you needed to. You don’t have a trust fund waiting for you, you barely have a savings account.”
“For your information I am really good with my money. I have saved up a lot.”
“Yes, YOUR money. When you make your own way, every decision you make matters, you are always saying so yourself. Why do you think it’s so easy for me to goof off? I know I will land an amazing job because of my brain and work ethics, but I also have a big fall back. I may upset or disgrace my parents, but they won’t ever let their Golden Boy starve.”
I listen to Benji and I hear him loud and clear, there isn’t anything he is telling me right now that I don’t say to myself every day. It just sucks to hear it aloud and especially from the guy that nagged me about giving Tommy a shot.
“You an Mikey are really getting on my nerves. First the two of you push me into Tommy and now you tell me to proceed with caution?”
“That’s before we realized that Tommy has a secret life. Actually, he has a life, you are his secret.”
“And I told you, it doesn’t bother me, I don’t want to meet his parents.”
“You may not want to meet his parents but don’t you feel a little dirty being a secret?”
“At least when you were playing around, it was all on your terms. This feels like it’s Tommy’s narrative and you are waiting for you cues from the director.”
“Look, you said yourself, who knows what happens after graduation and I should just make good memories right now. For your information, I plan to go to Manhattan this spring break to lay the groundwork for my future at INK. Plus, one of the companies you set me up with already said they want me in Seattle for a start-up that they are planning. So, just like you and Izzy enjoyed your moment knowing the end was inevitable, I am doing the same, which again, is what you told me to do.”
“Yes but there were no secrets between Izzy and I.”
“What does it matter if things don’t last past this May?”
“Because you are falling in love with him. And you already bend to his needs without asking for your own needs to be met, what do think will happen when you are in love with him.”
“I am not falling in love, I won’t let myself.”
“You will be surprised to know that I told myself that every day when you and I were, what ever we were. And look at how that worked out for me. I fell madly in love with you and you stomped on my heart.”
“Again, below the belt.”
“You don’t pick who you fall in love with Val. It’s not something you can control. That’s why they call it falling.”
“Remember, I am a man-eater. I don’t fall.”
“Empires fall, you fall, and it seems you fell already.”
Did I? I wouldn’t know. I didn't even know that I was in love with Benji until long after we ended things. I thought I was falling in love with Nate, but that hasn’t been proven yet. I know that I miss Tommy when we aren’t together. And when we are together, I am satisfied, I don’t want to be anywhere else. But I am not letting him distract me. So I still have control over my heart and my life.
“Benji, I love you and I have always been grateful for all your wisdom, but you don’t get to be a hypocrite here.”