Chapter 13: Soul Searching
“Hey, so don’t freak out, but Adam asked me to move in with him.” Naomi fiddles with her hands nervously as she glances up at her parents. Their reactions are as she’d expected.
“Absolutely not Naomi Jade Daniels! You’ve still got another year at university to think about; not about how much you want to be able to see your boyfriend every day!” She slams her fists.
Grace places her hand on Laura’s in an attempt to calm her. “Calm down darling, she hasn’t told us what she even wants yet. She simply informed us that he’d asked her. Let’s discuss it and then see what result we can come to, yeah?”
Laura immediately relaxes, Grace’s natural mellow aura never failing to pacify even the angriest souls. With a sigh, Laura says, “I’m sorry sweetie, I may have gotten ahead of myself. I just don’t trust him and worry he’s taking advantage of our baby and her naivety to love.” She turns to Naomi now. “You understand that I’m not trying to hinder you from having a relationship, right? I just want you to consider your own future before you agree to something serious. Living together means commitment.”
“I understand mom, and believe it or not, I’m not exactly in love with the idea either. I’m torn because I love Adam and want to be with him more; especially now that his games keep us apart for weeks at a time. It’s been difficult for me to adjust to only seeing him once or twice a month, when before we’d see each other every weekend. However, I like having my own space too. There are times I just want to be alone for a while with my thoughts. That’ll be hard to manage if I’m stuck in his one-bedroom apartment.” She sighs. “So I guess, well, I guess I’m hoping you two could help me decide which way to go.”
The two older woman look at each other and then back at their daughter. Laura speaks first. “Well, I think I’ve made it clear I’m against the entire thing, but if I were to suggest a compromise; perhaps you can limit it to just the summer? You don’t have classes, and your tutoring is only a few times a week, so it’d be easy enough to make the short commute on those days. However, once school starts up again, you’ll return here, and things will carry on as before. Once you graduate...well, I suppose you’ll have to make your own decision at that point.”
Naomi nods, thinking it over for herself. “That would be a fair compromise, but another concern I have is the times that he’s got away games for a week or more. I’m not excited about spending all that time alone in the apartment by myself, especially since I’m not familiar with the area.”
“You could just stay at home with us during those times,” Grace chimes in. “It’s not as though we’ll be giving your room away once you’re gone.” She smiles lightly at her own joke.
Naomi smiles along with her before saying, “I know you wouldn’t mother. The issue though is that I’d have to lug my clothes back and forth depending on where I’ll be staying for the week.”
“You know you could simply leave clothes and toiletries both here and there, don’t you? There’d be no reason to lug them.”
“Yes, I know I could but....” She trails off, her reasons to oppose dwindling. Her mother’s glance at each other again, a silent confirmation of understanding forming between them.
Grace decides to be the one to say it. “Naomi, I think it’s less of the case that you need us to help you decide, and more of a case that you need us to state a reason that will deny you the chance altogether. In other words, you’re looking for us to forbid you so that you have a valid reason to tell him no.” She can see Nai’s eyes shift to the side, confirming their suspicions. “Am I wrong?”
“No that’s not! That’s not...exactly it.” She sighs. “I guess I just want a way to say no to moving in with him, but yes to being with him more. I want to spend more time together, but I also want to keep my independence. Is that wrong? Am I a bad girlfriend?”
Grace and Laura each take one of her hands in theirs with a gentle smile and Laura says, “No, not at all. You’re thinking about the right things in fact. Maybe we, no, I didn’t give you enough credit. I assumed that you were letting yourself get swept up in his sweet words and some fantasy romance, but I see you are considering things carefully. I’m sorry for not trusting you.”
“It’s fine mom, I know you’re just worried about me.”
“As your mom said, we should trust you to make your own decision, and so although you’re coming to us of your own accord for advice, I think it’d be best if we don’t give you a definitive answer. I think you should make the choice of your own desire, as only you know what you want and what will make you happiest. Whatever you ultimately decide however, we’ll be there to support you through it. Does that sound like a plan?”
Naomi pouts, “You guys are so unfair sometimes, making me make such a big decision on my own.”
“That’s life Hun,” Laura says. “Part of being an adult is making tough choices for yourself. We’re not always going to be there to hold your hand at those times. You can only do what you feel in your heart or even better, what your mind tells you. Your reason will never steer you wrong if you use your head. Always trust your gut, and as we can both attest to; it’s usually right.”
Naomi squeezes their hands in hers with tenderness. “Thanks guys, I appreciate the advice. I’ll think about it more on my own.” She stands up and prepares to leave. However, before she does, she looks back and bashfully whispers, “I love you guys.”
She quickly runs out the door before they have a chance to see her rosy cheeks. The two woman smile at each other and Grace says, “I think she’ll be alright after all babe. We did good.”
Laura nods in agreement. “We just have trust her now, and no matter what happens, we must always support her.” They hold hands, unified in their resolve.
“He asked you to move in with him?!” Lukas leans forward against the table, his voice rising and getting him several looks from other students trying to study in peace.
“Shh! We’re in a library you know,” Naomi softly chides.
“Shit, my bad. Lo siento.” He apologizes. “I just wasn’t expecting that he’d have asked you. Then again, I guess it’s not so odd considering you’ve been together for so long.” He says this but seems unconvinced. “So, what’d you say?” He asks this with a shaky voice, as though he’s on edge.
“I haven’t given him an answer yet. I’m not sure what I want. Do you have any suggestions on how to tell your boyfriend you don’t want to live with him, but still want to enjoy intimacy without the dilemma of being so far apart?” She chuckles as though she said it in jest, but when she sees Lukas’ cheeks fill with color, she realizes the underlying meaning of her words. “Um, forget I even said that!” Her cheeks become flushed.
“Uh, no, it’s....” He struggles to control his awkward reaction.
“I don’t even know why I said something like that. As if you wanted to hear me allude to my sexual relations with another man.” She covers her face with her hands. “God, I’m so embarrassed. Let me just go hide in my hole.”
Lukas suddenly finds himself laughing, the awkward mood shifting to one of amusement. He can’t help but notice that she’s extremely cute when she’s flustered as well. “Don’t sweat it Naomi. I’m a big boy. I can handle a conversation about sex without making it weird. I was just caught off guard, that’s all.”
“Still....” She’s not sure if it’s something she should be talking about with others; him of all people. Then again, why not? They are friends, aren’t they? She knows her logic is sound, but then why does it feel so wrong? She can’t help but wonder this to herself. However, she’s pulled back by his voice.
“You still there Naomi?” He calls out to her.
“Yea, sorry. I went in my head for a minute. Anyway, I am really sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”
“It’s fine, I promise. There’s nothing wrong with being open about the fact that you enjoy having sex with your boyfriend. It’s natural and nothing to be ashamed over. We’re young; that’s the kind of stuff we should be doing. Youth is the time for exploring our sexual desires and being free. We can worry about settling down and all the domestic stuff when we’re pushing thirty.”
“Right?” Nai says excitedly. “That’s what I’ve always believed too, but when the person you love asks you to become more serious, shouldn’t you be willing to do it? I mean, if you love them and know you want to be with them forever, then why wait? It seems so straightforward to me logically, but I-.”
“You’re scared.” Lukas cuts her off with his deductive reasoning. “Your heart is telling you yes and it seems like a dream come true, but there’s a little voice in the back of your mind that has its doubts.” He can see her eyes widen, as though he’s exposing her inner thoughts. “I guess I don’t know you as well as your parents or your boyfriend do, but I’m fairly good at reading people and picking up on their vibes. Forgive me if I’m being presumptuous, but you don’t strike me as the domestic type.”
Naomi gives him a slight frown. “What do you mean? Are you saying I wouldn’t make a good wife?”
Lukas holds up his hands in an attempt to quell whatever offense she may have taken to his words. “I didn’t mean it like that. I just mean, you don’t appear to be interested in that kind of life. The perfect husband, a fancy house in the suburbs, a few darling children, a life of caring for your family and being a homemaker; that isn’t something you dream of having. Not to say you don’t want to get married and have children one day, but not before you’ve had the chance to fully live.”
“When I look at you, I see a strong, independent woman with a free spirit, who does what she wants, when she wants, and will be happy to bring you along if you can keep up. You’re sweet and refined, but you’ve got a boldness that demands attention. You take pleasure in indulging in your desires and want a man who can satisfy them accordingly and without hesitation. You require the freedom to spread your wings and let them bring you to where you will them. Your soul longs for adventure and wishes to soar, but you have an overwhelming sense of responsibility that keeps you grounded. When I think of you Naomi, I think of the great Phoenix; you are sharing its fiery passion and strength.”
Naomi is speechless and reflexively grips herself with her arms. She feels as though he just exposed her and that he found the deepest part of her soul. He said all the things she’d never been brave enough to say out loud, feeling the pressure of meeting the expectations of others. She’s never allowed herself to truly dream; feeling it was reckless and would only lead to mistakes or ruin.
Lukas looks upon her with remorse. “I’m sorry, did I say something I shouldn’t have? Forgive me, I tend to psychoanalyze people without thinking. Just forget I said anything.”
Nai finally snaps out of her shock and faces him. Shaking her head, she says, “No, you might have actually been the only one to speak the truth, and that includes myself.” She smiles now, feeling as though a heavy burden has been lifted off her. “Thank you Lukas, you’ve helped me make my decision. I owe you a smoothie sometime.” She holds up her fist.
Lukas is surprised, but quickly turns his lips into a grin. Raising his own fist in response and bumping the two together he says, “Make that a drink, and we have a deal.” They laugh together, feeling a newfound solidarity between them.