Big Girl Moment
Knowing that dad is an early riser, I decide to call him in my Uber home. I fill him on the conversation that Tommy and I had last night.
Dad using my full name means he is about to make me work through this on my own. Oh daddy, can’t you just tell me the answer? My aching heart silently begs.
“Valentina, this is a big girl moment here. You are not a child anymore. Life for you has been black and white for too long. It’s time that you realize that shit happens. Nothing goes quite as planned. The question here is about progress, not perfection. I think you and Tommy made real progress last night. I know you are hurting and what you want to do is crawl back under that rock he pulled you out of, but you can’t. Just as he is fighting for you, you need to fight for yourself too. But do it hand in hand and not towards each other.”
“Please don’t tell me that I need to forgive and forget.”
“Never forget, you can’t grow something you have forgotten. Don’t dwell. Forgiveness, well that only comes with time and sometimes it may not come at all. There are a lot of moments and things said between your mother and I that both of us still can’t forgive each other for. But we agree not to dwell on past or the things we can’t change.”
“I don’t think I can even look at him again at this point.”
“Trust me, you will. You love him. And once the pain starts to subside, you will miss him. But if you wait until that moment, you may loose him.”
“Don’t they say that if you love someone, let them go and if it’s meant to be, they will come back?”
“That’s the passive-agressive way of loving someone. Be a big girl, pull up your trousers and talk to him. Tell him everything you are feeling. Be clear of what you expect from this point on. Make list first if you have to. I know you say that this is all new to you and you are unsure of what you want, but that’s not true. No one knows what makes Val happier than you. List all the things you need from him to keep you happy. We all have ideas in our head of what we want our partner to be like. I am not saying he will deliver on it all, that’s impossible, but he can’t give you what he doesn’t know you need or want.”
“So clean slate?”
“No baby girl, there is no such thing. Take a moment to ask yourself, what it is you truly want from him. You have read all those romance novels and seen all those romantic comedies. All of those stories are based on reality, so tap into those pages and write down the things that resonate with you most. Then when you are ready, share this list with Tommy. Be clear and concise. Men need direction, and yet we hate asking for it.”
“Not making any promises here, but I will try.”
“Think of it as one of your assignments and tackle the task as if it were one of your finals.”
Dad knows how to speak my language. I may not understand how relationships work but I do understand school work.
“I love you daddy.”
“I love you too baby girl. And we are all excited to meet Tommy when you are ready to bring him home.”
I am grateful for my classes today more than ever. School is my best distraction, no matter what is happening in my body, my mind knows how to divert all attention to learning.
Benji passes me a note in class. I laugh because it makes me feel like a kid. And it hits a tender spot in my heart because it shows that he knows me. Understands that talking isn't an option for me at the moment. So, first on my list, know me as well as Benji does, anticipate my needs and take care of them.
“Here for you. Promise not to lecture or judge.”
“Thanks, let's talk after class.” I write back and hand to him.
After class I fill Benji in on the last 48 hours. He does as he promises and listens without any banter or opinions. His eyes focusing on my every word but I can see the wheels turning behind them. Just like my dad, he is trying to figure out how to tell me that he sees Tommy's side of things.
“Val, you have every right to be pissed, that was a pussy move on his part. With that being said, you aren't the easiest woman to date.”
“Go fuck yourself!”
“Yeah, I know that's really meant for Tommy so I won't take it personally. Remember my dear friend, I tried to date you once. Twice actually. And both times there was a lot of failures at communicating.”
The heat in my body starts to rise. Apparently there is a lot more pent up anger in me than I am aware of. I hate it when Benji brings up my failures. Doesn't he understand that he is my first everything? Well, almost everything. But he may as well be my first at that too. When he and I “dated”, I was clueless. Nor was I ready. Learning to love someone only works when you are in the mood for love. Too young and too dumb to realize that I was even in a relationship at that time.
“We both could have communicated better. I was always afraid of loosing you so I held back my feeling and kept my mouth shut. What I should have done was teach you slowly how to trust in us. You need to let down these invisible yet loud barriers of yours. It's really hard to talk to someone on a subject they refuse to acknowledge. You won't even say the word boyfriend. Shit, you don't even accept the real names of your lovers. You lay ground rules upon entry to the game yet don't revisit how the rules may have changed as the sport of loving Valentina Perotti evolves. You and Tommy moved beyond your rules, he needs a new set of rules. You both need to decide where you guys are on this chess board.”
“My dad already gave me this lecture this morning, thank you!”
“How many of us have to tell you the same thing before you actually listen to us then?”
“What if I am too upset to ever see him again.”
“Yeah, I call bullshit on that one. I can see how much pain you are in. You can only be devastated like this when you are in love. The feeling like you want to hit him, that's because he is worth fighting. Just learn to fight along side him and not fist fight against him.”
“Is that line out of a manual that only men have access to?” As I ask the question I giggle at the thought of Johnny's mirror in his bedroom all those years ago.
“What's so funny?”
“Nothing, memory spasm. Again, you are just reciting what my father went on and on about this morning.”
“And again, how many of us have to keep saying the same things to you before you finally let it all sink in?”
“At this point I will call him just to get you all off my back.”
“What ever excuse works for you. Just as long as you call him and make the effort to clearly state your needs. Tell him how he can fix this. We men need direction.”
What the heck? This has to be in a subscription of Playboy that they all read because I am having déjà vu here.
“Okay, okay! Geeze, weren't you the one that told me he wasn't right for me? Now you want me to go chasing after him?”
“I said those things because I wanted you to open your eyes. As a man, I had a feeling something was up with him. Now that we know what his deal is, talk it out. I get it if he had slept with the other girl or if his heart was involved, but neither are the case. So he deserves another chance. Just one more, this ain't no baseball game, no three strikes. Lay down the law and let's see if he can deliver on your playbook.”
Benji helps me make my list. It's hard for a person that has been living for and according to everyone else to now stop and make demands with a selfish mindset. My dad and Benji are correct, if I would put as much work into Tommy and I as I do into school, I will at least know I did my best at the end of the day. And if I am going to ask for all in from Tommy, I need to be ready to do the same.
“Thank you Benji. You have always been my sound of mind and it means the world to me.”
“I love you Val and want nothing but the best for you.”
Sometimes it feels like my third major at Berkeley is Sociology. Taking a minute to reflect on the past several years. Impressed with my personal and social growth, I have come a long way. Blessed and grateful for Benji and Jodi's love and patience for me. Yes, it scares me to move Tommy and I to the next level but we deserve the shot. Never in my life have I been as happy as I am when I am with him. Owning my part in this is easy, I am my best critic. For sure my refusal to nail myself down is why I avoided any conversation of commitment from Tommy. As for our families, my own insecurities keep me from willing to meet his and it's not fair to our relationship if we only hang out with mine. Family is so important to my parents, they won't stand for me not making an effort with Tommy's.
1. To be all in
2. Honesty, no secrets
3. Openly discuss where we go after graduation
4. Listen to Esther Perel podcasts together (Mikey’s demand for us both) to teach us both how to communicate better.
5. Learn each other's love language so we know how please one another outside of the bedroom. Another one of Mikey’s request, he even gave me books on this for us to read together.
6. Anticipate my needs so I don't have to ask, especially since asking is not one of my strengths.
Not a bad start. Thank you to Mikey and Benji for their help. Now I will send it to my dad, see if he has anything to add. The biggest obstacle now is finding the head space to call Tommy. Inspiration by Nike, just do it, rings in my ears.
“Hello Tommy, thank you for giving me the space I needed to process these last few days. Please let me know if we can meet up to talk.”
“On my way. I love you.”
Wow that was fast. Tell him you love him too, my heart insists. Slow down heart, this is already a big step for us, my brain warns my heart. Still same old Val, careful and cautious. Baby steps, we must first learn to crawl before we run.
“Well done, Valley-girl.” My dad responds. “Leave it up to you to take a simple project to a whole new level. Your mom and I may need to try a few of these.”
“Thank you daddy. It does help to know you guys aren't perfect.”
“Perfect is overrated. Progress not perfection is what I like to live by.”
Tough message for a perfectionist to hear. There is nothing like sermons from church on Sundays to make one feel that they have to be perfect in order to please God. Logically I comprehend this is all the writing of a few in order to control the masses. Yet it was all ingrained in my behavior before I knew better.
“Well I can’t take all the credit, Benji and Mikey helped.”
“That's the progress portion I was speaking of, I know it took a lot for you to accept help and I am so proud of you for it. Just keep one thing in mind, as long as you feel love you will feel hurt, in that hurt love is affirmed. You an Tommy are in this painful moment because you love each other. When you talk to him, come from that space.”
By the time I finish with my dad, Tommy arrives. Walking to the door of my apartment takes so much effort. My stomach is topsy turvy at this point. I am both excited and frightened all in one. Pausing to breath through it all, I draw up the nerve needed to open the door. Before I could even speak, Tommy has me in his arms and is pressing his lips onto mine. We kiss passionately for a moment. Grateful for his choice of an icebreaker. Allowing myself to just enjoy his kiss, uninhabited by my spiraling emotions. Knowing we are standing still but feeling as if we are unraveling in the best way possible. Enjoying the moment, we kiss and be.
“Don't be Tommy.”
“My entire ride here, all I wanted was to feel your lips.”
“Waiting for you, all I wanted was for my anxiety to calm, so this is really so perfect.”
I step aside so he could come in. Not sure of where to go from here, I walk to the couch and sit. There is no way I can have this talk standing up. Fighting the urge to just settle this with amazing sex, I force myself to be still. Tommy sits next to me.
“No, Tommy, I need to talk before I loose all courage.”
“First I will be frank, I am so mad at you I could scream.”
“With that being said, I do own my part in this. From day one I have told you that I want to take things one day at a time. Building walls and drawing lines in the sand. You have respected my boundaries, which I get. With that being said, you should have been forthcoming about your situation.”
“I am sorry, I thought I had a handle on it.”
“Not here to dwell on the past or place blame. I do want to change our dynamic and move forward.”
“As do I.”
“Great, as corny as this may sound, I made a list.”
I present the list to Tommy. In silence he reads the list. I watch hoping his reaction would be readable.
“My dad suggested that I figure out what I need from this scenario.”
“You mean what you need from our relationship?”
“Val, if you can't call a spade a spade we need to address that first and foremost.”
“No, all good, I can own us.”
“Sorry, I promise you that I know we are in a relationship. And yes, I would love to be your girlfriend.”
Tommy has my face in his hands again and his lips distracting mine. When he kisses me, I loose all senses. Mommy says this is what loving someone feels like. They say that you can only love as much as you experience in love. My parents love me, this I know. Yet they were always working so the feel of love is not so prevalent in my muscle memory. Physical love is not something that I have allowed. With Benji, he tried in every way possible to show and teach me love. I wasn’t ready then so I was a stubborn student. I learned pleasure and pleasing but refused to be educated in love.
Tommy’s version of love is all circumstantial. His first girlfriend of six years was so because of placement. Both their parents wrote, directed and produced their love story. Not realizing that love isn’t something you write and is absolutely out of your control. From what Tommy describes as his relationship with Brittany, I can say his parents are old school matches that grew to know one another over time. With knowing comes caring. For many, caring is enough to quantify as love.
“That’s not my love language.”
“Okay, Val, what is your love language then?”
“I am not sure yet. But I can say, that just existing with someone isn’t it.”
“How do you want me to express my love for you?”
“I already told you, or more like showed you.” I point to the list in his hands.
“Yes, but I want to hear it from you. If you expect me to follow your list, you should be able to explain it first.”
“Fair enough. Okay, let’s start with the top of the list. My understanding of all in is that you are my boyfriend in your entirety and I am your girlfriend equally. There is no grey area about who we prefer to span time with as well as sleep with; monogamy, I believe is what it’s called.”
“I promise to you Valentina Perotti that I am all in, all yours.”
“Second, on my list is honesty. No more secrets.”
“No more secrets.”
“Third, what is your future after college?”
“Well, before we met, that was clear. Graduate from Stanford. Take all my exams and go to work for my father where I will be groomed to take over the family business.”
“Is there room for discussion?”
“There is always room for discussion.”
“Because my dream is to be in New York. My Plan B is to be anywhere but here. I have grown up in the Bay Area all my life, I want the opportunity to live somewhere else than here.”
“The next two seems to act as couples therapy for us. In the past, I believed if you are in therapy, the relationship is in danger. Mickey, is asking that I change my infused beliefs. So, I accept his challenge for us to listen to a few podcast together, hopefully these podcasts will teach us to be better communicators.”
“Isn’t that a bit much? I mean, why do we need to listen to someone tell us how to love one another. For me it’s simple. I don’t know what the future holds, I just know that I want it with you. I don’t know what’s happening day to day, I just know I want my sun to rise with you in my life and to set with you in my arms.”
“I agree, but between sunrise and sunset is a lot of hours. Within these hours, we need to be able to communicate. Let go of our egos and own we both are bad communicators. Just by age alone. Then let’s add to the equation our families’ inception. We may learn nothing from these podcasts or books, but we owe it to Mikey and us to try.”
“If these are your conditions, I accept.”
“Tommy, this is not a boxing match. This list is a map.”
“Okay! Sorry, I just want to lighten the energy a bit.”
“Compared to the last few days, this is a floating feather darling.” Again pointing to my list.
“Sorry. Go on please, I promise to behave.”
“And you question our need to learn how to communicate better.” I smile at him to say it's all good. “Next on the list is anticipate my needs.”
“You need to express them first.”
“No, you need to learn them so that I don’t have to always ask.” I point to where I say that on the note.
After this conversation, I am glad Mikey forced me to add all the communication stuff to my list. It's crazy to open my eyes to how we have just been moving along a path without any consideration about where we are headed. Not like me at all. Since early childhood I have planned my movements. My father taught me to make “to do” lists.
“List five things you need to get done. Move through each item one at a time. What you don't get done today goes onto the top of your list tomorrow.” My father taught me.
Of course, most days my list started with more than five items. Planning gets you to your goals faster. Then play time is more stress free. With this list in front of us, we can plan out future as well as grow with guiding lights. There is obviously a part of it all that feels less romantic, but Sonny and Cher we're wrong, love is not all we need. It's where we can start but so much more goes into partnerships.
“Valentina Perotti, I promise to do my best to follow your list and work hard to make you happy. Now can we please make out? I miss kissing you!”
From the minute Tommy walked through my doors, all I have wanted to do is kiss and make love to him. The will power that it has taken to get through our convo without disrobing him is immense. If everything else between us works in sync as well as sex does, we will be together even long after our corporal being. Talk about things being as good as the first time. Over the last couple of months, our passion and desire for one another grows daily if not minute by minute.
There is a slowness in his kiss, as if knowing we both want happily ever after allows us to take our time. Before we rushed into each other as if it is the last chance to be together so we have to get the most of the moment. As if the flame might sizzle if we didn't keep it feverishly burning.
Our exploration eases into a knowing. The feel of his tongue gracing my teeth. Silken shimmers move down my spine, this has always been such a turn on for me. Soft and sultry my body absorbs this tenderness. Relaxing into the love of my man. The sound of that thought stirs the depth of me, my man. I can not count how often Tommy and I have had sex, in this moment I know we are making love. Sweet, tender, endearing love towards each other. So different from all the sex of my past. The difference being truly uninhabited and intense. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that our sex could be even more fervent. Tommy imprints his lips onto every inch of my body, knowing and re familiarizing all of me into accessible memory.
Competing turns into completion. Hand-in-hand, toe-to-toe and every space between is connected. Ever cell of his rises to the dermis to call upon mine. Exchanging intel in pleasure. Suddenly, I want to have his beautiful cock in my mouth. His will or mine. We move to the couch so Tommy can sit and I am able to gain perfect access to his cock.
Let me step away a minute to be honest here. Giving a blow job, I find delicious, yet no matter how often I do this, a bit of insecurity sets in. The question of my skill level is contested with his response. Tommy is silently pleased. It is hard to gauge his reaction to my BJ. Often when I start to worry if he likes it or not I hear Benji in my head, “you really do give the best blow job of any I have experienced.” This gives me confidence and with a surge of greatness, I play at his jewel. Polishing and rubbing at its entirety. He dances and grows from my affection. Watching Tommy melt onto my couch, his head back and hands massaging my shoulders, I take my time. Then his moans reach my ears, they are all the compliments I need. This is letting go. Openly and freely we accept the pleasures we give one another.
As I straddle Tommy and glide his penis into me he holds my stare. Smiling, his eyes never leave mine. Gracefully I ride my man. Owning this stallion and all his beauty. There is an intensity when lovers’ souls bare witness to the connection of the moment. I feel so alive and he sees this. Smiling back at him, I work us rigorously until we both come together.
Love is learned. Not instinctual for most. Some need to learn how to love entirely, others to love themselves and some to love others beyond themselves. I see couples that live almost separate lives. I know that's not what I want. I want a man that I wake up and my sun sets to. Inseparable of one another should be our comfort not our fear.