Because I am Worth It!
It’s been since Sylvia and mine’s first dinner that I was last at Nobu. There is a great spot down the street from my place on the corner of Montague and Henry, not Nobu decor or plated elegance, but just as delicious and more affordable.
New York City is not a cheap town so I try to stick to my tried-and-true spots in my neighborhood when the company is not paying for my meal. Thanks to Nate’s connections all over town, he spoils me often for close to nothing. And when Sylvia and I go out, we usually get our meals paid for, the men in this town love to spoil beautiful women in hopes to get us into bed. Thanks to Sylvia, I am a wiser woman, I have learned to accept the kindness without feeling obligated in any way to return the favor by sleeping with them. One time a gentleman attempted to suggest that we owed him and his friends a nightcap at his place.
“Wow, a hooker is more expensive than the meal you just bought us.” Sylvia put him in his place.
“Sometimes I think that escorts are much smarter than we are, we girls often give it all for free, they at least get paid,” I once said when we were out. Sex for me is something that I enjoy dearly so I never thought of it that way until now.
“Speak for yourself babes, Liverpool taught me to get everything I can with what I got,” wise Sylvia.
With Tommy, there is a certain allowance for luxury, that isn’t going to go away, he comes from a wealthy family and at this point, beginning to do very well for himself. So for me, it’s finding that balance of enjoying all the amazing bonuses of a rich suitor and getting to know the true side of the suitor.
“Punta, you need to enjoy this!” Angel lectured me.
Back in California, I was great at being a martyr about Tommy spoiling me. Stubbornly feminist and insistent on paying my share somehow.
“Yeah love, let the man spoil you. Be a queen that needs to be lavished, not poor hippy girl-power. Oh, no! Let him take you shopping. Bergdorfs just got their cruise collection in. Lots of great outfits and shoes for your trip abroad.”
This brings to mind the very extravagant weekend bag that Jake bequeathed me.
“Fine, that will be the next date. New York City shopping spree.”
“That’s the spirit love, Angel and I will make you a shopping list!” The two of them clapped and bounced like two little kids planning for Disneyland.
“Good thing you two wear the same size!” Angel exclaimed with a jealous tone.
Remembering the inheritance of lavishing attire and shoes that Stella and Jodi received from the past shopping Tommy did for me. This time, I will gladly partake, because I am worth it! Every girl does dream of the private fashion show that Julia Roberts gave Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.
“Make sure he takes you to Kiki de Montparnasse, lots of juicy couture there, and not the pink velour kind,” Angel is all about everything chic and nothing tacky trendy.
I want to know that Tommy and I can be good for each other and bring out the better parts of us. No one is perfect and no relationship is perfect. It’s the challenges that we manage through that helps to build our character.
My parents were not ones to hold back with their emotions. We witnessed stubborn arguments as well as passionate love. We never once were under any pretense that our life was perfect growing up. Having to help my dad cook and clean and helping my mother care for Stella is how I became such a great caretaker. It’s also probably why I put others before me and live the responsible more often than impetuous. Now that I am in relationships as a young adult; whether it’s with friends, co-workers or my many lovers, I am learning to break some of those patterns I developed as a result of my childhood as well as hold onto the best parts of me that grew out of my childhood.
“This is business casual?” Tommy asks hungrily as his eyes sweep me, an eyebrow raised. So damn sexy!
“This old thing!” I have always wanted to use that line.
Vintage Donna Karen slip dress similar to the one Gwyneth Paltrow wore in Great Expectations. I may have chosen this item on purpose. Another gem from Jane’s Closet. Jane told me when the movie came out so many of her friends brought the dress, not realizing that it didn’t drape on others the way it did on Gwyneth or me. “Sultry” was what fell out of Stella’s mouth when I walked out of the dressing room.
“Hmmm. If I didn’t know better, you may just be testing my self-control,” his lips turn up but he jaw stiffens.
Looking down, his jaw is not the only stiff part of Tommy. I am silently delighted. I never promise to play fair. Not only do I want Tommy to work hard for my heart but his pull to my core must be more defined than his six-pack and stronger than that of his parents’.
“I am sorry, I can take your blazer and cover myself,” I tease. Tommy is always sharply dressed, to my defense, I had to up my game.
“Over my dead body. I may not be able to touch but my eyes can indulge. And I have a photographic memory.” And there it is again, that wink and the crooked smirk that wets my panties. Good thing I’m not wearing any.
Remember, you have Mr. Rabbit at home. Calm down my kitty. Plenty of time to play later. And I promise a lot of purring.
“Let’s eat, sushi that is.” I too can sexy smirk.
POP! I so love that sound! Champagne, liquid gold, lavish, vibrant and warm, just like my nethers. Oh, the Gods be merciful with me tonight. My plan to tease Tommy backfires. I fell off the wagon thanks to Jake so my girl is inconsolable and wild. I have already replaced the batteries in Mr. Rabbit once, THIS WEEK!
“So darling, how was work today?” Tommy sucks at small talk as much as I do.
“Satisfying.” We both suck, I hold in my laughter.
In truth, I managed to talk to the production department and they confirmed that they could use Tommy’s prints as-is for my “story” of New York City. All they need is my verbal curation to design the layout around and, oh, yeah, Jessica’s approval. First on my “to-do” list for Monday.
Throughout dinner my girl pouts and tantrums. Her aching forming such tenderness that I dare not move or else she will out us both. I forgot how delicious Tommy is when he works the room. Chatting away with the Semolie about how Pinot Noir is a much better fit for fish than the old school rule that you have to drink white with fish. I admit that I do love it when a man orders on my behalf. There is a difference between chivalry and controlling. To me this is awareness, he is listening. A knowing, he hears me. This makes women hot! Blow our minds and we will gladly blow your cock.
“How was your day?” I ask in return.
“It was productive. My dad and I spent most of the day with him schooling me.” Tommy laughs uncomfortably.
“Dad thinks that I should just study and sit for all three CFA exams so I can skip the MBA route and start running the company sooner than later.”
Oddball Val, talk of school turns me on. “That’s amazing. If you need a study buddy. We did study well together.”
“Yes, we did. But I contribute the efforts to how we rewarded ourselves once the books were shut.”
“Mmmm…no wonder I did so well my senior year.”
“Says the woman that graduated Summa Cum Laude.”
Tommy acknowledges my puzzled look, “I was there when you graduated. I was too proud of you to miss that moment. I thought I could drum up the courage to face you but you look so shattered behind your proud moment, I felt ashamed for having been too weak to deserve you.”
When no words feel suitable a smile will do. Through reflective eyes I pardoned Tommy. Is it better to forgive and forget? Forgive but never forget? Forget but hold out the forgiveness part? The jury is still out on this but I do hear him and his truthfulness abates my pain.
“How do your parents genuinely feel about all of this?” Yup, just rip off the bandaid.
I maid the mistake of not addressing his parents last go around, I won’t make the same mistake twice.
“You deserve the truth, I went against their will so they are forced into giving me their blessing.”
“Okay, the truth hurts. But not unexpected.”
“No, I want this honesty. Before I was too afraid of losing you that I didn’t push for real answers.”
“Val, it’s not going to be easy. I am all my parents have. But you are the most important person to me and I am really trying here.”
“I know you are. I am just finding it hard to see past each day with you. I know people talk about living in the moment, but I am not blind to how your parents not being on board will affect more than this moment.”
“Can we cross those bridges as they arrive?”
“I would say yes, except the first bridge we attempted together gave way and plunged me to this darkness that felt endless. It took months before I could feel the ground beneath me again. I will not leave myself that vulnerable again.”
“And you deserve to be safe, to feel secure and I am trying.”
“We both are.”
This is the first unmemorable meal that Tommy and I have ever shared. Our dining was compulsory. Our hands and mouths and stomach engaged in a conversation of their own. We needed to turn off pleasure so we could focus on principle. Turning off all sensations to exchange data. Benji is correct, I am not a robot and this feels more necessary than fun.
“What would you say to karaoke?”
“I would say yes, but you do not sing.”
“No, but you do. And before coming here I texted Sylvia and asked if she could organize a gathering at a karaoke bar. I had a feeling that part of this evening would be a card game, and once all cards were on the table, the mood became heavy. I don’t want any of our evening to end damp. So, let’s go sing.”
“How can I turn down the chance to embarrass you?”
Tommy respects my wishes of dating only, no sex. Aside from my nightly engagement with Mr. Bunny. We are finding a new groove together. He is doing well here in New York City, definitely more effective to work in the financial world in real-time. Although I worry because the energy here is more stressful and aggressive. I see a New Yorker side of Tommy starting to show, not a bad thing, just different from San Francisco Tommy. I am still not sold that he completely likes this city for himself.
I find that here we mainly do what makes me happy, that he has less and less of an opinion on things. Thanks to Angel and Sylvia, I am enjoying my part in this musical. Shopping, singing, and dancing through life is pretty fabulous. Expensive champagne every night is a huge bonus! Sylvia plans most of our meals out since she keeps up on the best places to be and eat. Tommy offers to cook, but I worry that being in his apartment together might make it too easy for us to fall back into bed. This time feels more like the first night we met when we just talked and talked all the while he and Benji were shooting pool until the sex took over, immediately.
In our past, Tommy and I allowed our passion for each other to direct us, it’s crazy to think that we have only been in each other’s lives for less than two years, so much has happened to us, between us. Now we both share our individual, passions, together. I know it sounds the same but it’s not. This time the way we are getting to know each other is more open-minded and genuine versus reactionary. In college, we spent weekdays missing each other and weekends making more reasons to miss each other during the week. Plus the stresses we have as adults are heavier. I am learning to listen to him about his interactions with his parents without anger and resentment due to the instinct that they will never accept me the way Tommy loves me.
Looking back I can see how easy it was to think that we were living our greatest lives together and how easy it was to want to marry each other. Not saying that couples that marry right out of college are wrong to do so, look at Jodi and Wynn. We just made the mistake of not knowing the difference between fairytale life and real life. Here in New York City, we are living authentically. It’s in this span of this time that we will determine if we are meant to be together as we once thought.