To Be, or Not To Be His?
Tommy is passed out on my bed when I get home. A part of me wants to let him sleep and just pass out on the couch myself. The silence is thick and heavy, opposite of the noisy bar I just left. I am not sure what is worse, all those voices telling me what to do or the silence that is my current reality? I am the one that is talking now. And I can’t help but hear myself loud and clear. My heart hurts, it feels like it’s being ripped from my chest. My body is splitting in half, one half wants to crawl up beside him and let our bodies make it all better as we always do. The other half of my body wants to run away and not return until his is gone. Until any trace or remembrance of him is out of this bed, room, apartment and my life.
How long I stand, staring at him, unable to move, I am unaware. Time feels like it has frozen and is waiting for me to move. Still as can be, not even a blink, afraid to even take a breath.
“Breath silly.” I scream at myself.
In that one motion, a rush hits me. As if suddenly life is on fast forward and the last hour hits me all at once. Tommy shows up at my work, drunk and babbling about how he loves me and doesn’t want to loose me.
“Slow down your breathing.” I try to calm myself down, I guess I am doing that rapid breathing thing again.
Look at how tender and vulnerable he is, on my bed, in a fetal position hugging my pillows. I keep one of his t-shirts underneath my pillow, the essence of him keeps me from missing him so much. Quickly I remove the t-shirt, not ready for him to know that I sleep with a bit of him close to me every night.
Sitting at my desk, twirling in my chair, contemplating my next move. It is so easy to distract myself with studying his face. Often when he passes out at his place, I watch him sleep for a bit before I leave. Tommy sleeps very still, I am not even sure if he moves at all in the night. Always on his right shoulder. I wonder if he would spoon me if I stayed over, or is that his side of the bed and I would have to hug his back? He says he never dreams, yet his face contorts itself as he sleeps, so he is definitely dreaming. It’s kind of odd to see him lying there fully dressed. His very white skin almost matches my bedding. When he does get out in the sun, he just turns red. Naked against each other, our coloring collides. Unlike Benji, where at times I can’t tell where his body ends and mine begins. With Tommy, I know which limbs are his and which are mine.
He is knocked out. I can hear his little purr and puff sound that he makes. Much sweeter than my snoring. Jodi says it takes any bit of sexy out of me when I sleep. Even worse if I have been drinking. She recorded me ounce, and continually uses the recording to bribe me. Thanks to that recording, I have done her laundry for years. That and it drives me crazy to see her side of the dorm room draped with clothes, un-distinguishable between which are dirty or clean. Chills hit me at just the memory of her messy self.
The couch it is. There is no way I am crawling into bed with him. This is definitely not how I want my first true sleepover to be like. Plus 100% if we are in the same bed, we are having sex in a few hours. We need to talk, sex makes it too easy to just move on and never address the issue.
“This can not be a good sign.” Jodi’s voice wakes me from my sleep.
“Knowing Val, she chose to pass out on the couch.” Wynn offers, he knows me better than I realize.
“I can hear you both.” I mumble half awake.
“Sorry.” Jodi offers.
They both disappear back into her room, whispering along the way. Of course, now I am awake. With a slight hangover, or maybe it’s the fact that I slept on the couch. It’s been years since I have passed out on the couch. The many perks of being at college is that I have had my own bed for years, as well as not couches in my dorm room. Some dorms have a suite where a few rooms share a living space, no thanks, too social of an environment for me. We had a living space in the apartment in Manhattan, but I avoided being home as much as possible. Realizing I was too nervous to eat yesterday, as my stomach yells at me, I am positive it’s a hangover. Rule number one, always eat if you are going to drink.
As pissed as I am that they woke me ups too early, I am glad that I am awake before Tommy. Although from the smell of him, he is bound to be out of commission for hours more. Now what?
Looking around our apartment, I realize that I have never really enjoyed the living room. We have been hosting dinner parties here, but when others aren’t around, I hibernate in my room. Jodi did a really nice job decorating the place. It’s a little more cluttered than I care for, I am definitely a minimalist. She has picture of she and Wynn all over the apartment, I am afraid to see how many she has in her room. Documenting the last several years they have spent together, I am envious of how much they do together. I don’t think that Tommy and I have ever taken a photo together. I don’t have one of him in my phone. I know he has taken photographs of me when I am not looking, he is a photographer. I have the scrapbook he made me but that's for my private eyes. Back to analyzing our relationship and it’s not even noon yet.
The shelves are filled with tchotchkes from their many outings. Snow globes, so many of them, are not so randomly placed on the shelves. I remember one of my classmates collected them as a child, her dad would always bring her one back from his business trips. Shot glasses and decorative bottle openers fill our bar and a whole lot magnets on our fridge. Even the art on the wall are from their various trips. A lot of amazing street art and photographs. Is this what an apartment of real couples looks like?
I start to wonder if Tommy and I will eventually collect things that tell a story of two people getting to know one another. The past few months have been amazing in so many ways, yet very routine. I chalk it up to the fact that we don’t see much of each other so we like to spend our time alone. Yes, I do have some great sketches and paintings that I have done of our surroundings. As you could have guessed, a lot of sail boats and city scenes, all of the Bay Area. One could say that I preach about focusing on school so maybe Tommy doesn’t think that I want to go anywhere to far from my Berkeley life. Maybe this is the moment where I need to decide where I see Tommy and I are heading. Denial was such a more safe place to sit. Now I have to first ask myself what it is that I want. Then if what I want is Tommy, I need to make sure he wants the same.
“Fuck! I should have sent him home.” I curse myself.
If he were home, I would firstly be happily asleep in my bed. I could also avoid him for days until I get a handle on my narrative. My story is a series of consistent events. More like checked off “to do” lists than an epic novel. Tommy and I work off of a list, a schedule, and every so often a cultural event alters how we span time together. I don’t know how relationships work, so I assume just like ours.
“Okay Val, time to be a big girl now.” Pep talking oneself, does it really work?
Trying to psyche myself out, I realize I need to go to the bathroom. These apartments with two master bedrooms make it impossible to use a restroom that doesn’t require invasion of private space. Normally not an issue, except I don’t want to walk through my bedroom in this moment. And from the sounds coming from Jodi’s room, that’s not an option either.
“Fuck!” Yes, I am swearing a lot in this moment, because I feel screwed.
Maybe Tommy is a heavy sleeper, I mean usually when I leave his place he is so knocked that he doesn’t hear me leave. Now I wish he snored like me, then I could hear if he is still asleep or not without opening the door.
“Okay Val, this is so tard right now! Grow a pair and get your ass in there and sort out your situation.” I decide to take a deep breath and force my body to move towards my bedroom.
My room is completely dark, black out shades, a must when you work until 2 a.m. on weekends. I am used to maneuvering my room in this kind of darkness so I sneak across the room into my bathroom, only turning the light on once the door is shut. Here is one of many reasons I don’t do sleepovers, I like my bathroom time. Now I can’t even sit here and enjoy my time and do what I need to do without wandering if Tommy can hear me. I want to get in the shower, but what if he wakes up and joins me? But I don’t want to wake him up without being fresh. I could lock the door but what if he needs the bathroom?
“Really Val? It doesn’t have to be this complicated.” Yelling at myself again.
Brush your teeth, yuk, I just realized that I didn’t brush before bed last night because I was too worried about waking him up. My goodness it feels like something died in my mouth. Brush and gargle away the night before. Then get my chicken shit ass out there. Oh boy, swearing again. The talking to myself part is common. Channeling a sailor as I do, not so much. Why do they reference a sailor anyway when one has a potty mouth?
“Stop procrastinating and going off on tangents. Find a little courage and go face the music.”
My hands on the door knob, I take a few deep breaths. The knock on the door startle me.
“Val? Are you almost done in there? I need to take a leak.”
Great, now he is awake. “Just open the door.” I tell myself.
Nothing moves, not one muscle in my body shifts.
“Val? You ok?”
My mouth opens, progress, but nothing comes out.
“Babe, I am so sorry, do you want me to leave? I don’t want to be the reason you are hiding in your own bathroom. It’s bad enough that you slept on the couch.”
How does he know that? How long has he been awake?
“Okay, I am going to go. If you aren’t completely embarrassed by me or totally upset with me, can you at least text me later?”
I can hear him walking away from the door.
“Tommy, wait.” I say as I open the door.
It’s really hard for me to see him like this. He always looks impeccable when we see each other. My heart breaks to pieces witnessing him in shambles. All my anger and frustrations falls away. All I can do is walk over and hold him. His weight sinks into me and we fall onto the bed. Sitting there, quietly holding one another. I am too afraid to speak, I don’t know what I am supposed to say. Something tells me he feels the same. So I just allow the silence.
“I am so sorry Val.”
“I know you are.”
“I don’t know what came over me.”
The room is still completely dark, my eyes have adjusted a bit and I can see the shapes of the furniture around us. I am not ready to look at Tommy yet, not that I could see his face clearly in this darkness. I do let our bodies fall onto the bed and roll onto my side, Tommy hugs my back.
“When my messages weren’t getting through to you, at first I was worried that something happened to you. Then I realized, I don’t know how to find you, except at Triple Rock. I don’t know Benji or Jodi’s number. Then I start analyzing why I don’t have their numbers. Oh, Val, I have been such an ass.”
In my head I agree with him. But I know that it doesn’t help matters any to kick him while he is down. My dad told me once that the reason he and mom have survived is because during the moments when they want to say awful things to each other, they agree to just say “I love you”, instead. He says to always walk hand-in-hand versus fist fighting each other. I can’t tell Tommy that I love him, because I am not sure that I do. But I do hold his hand.
Still too tired to really tackle this right now, I accept the sleep I need so badly right now. Tommy and I pass out.
I am not sure how long I slept, but when I awake, Tommy is gone.
“Call me when you get up. You were so knocked, I didn’t want to wake you. I love you Val, sorry if you aren’t ready to hear that. But this weekend made me realize how much I do.”