I really fucked up. I knew it the minute Sweets called and bitched me out. She doesn’t do that often. Maybe it was good this happened. If it wasn’t now, it might have been later. Avery doesn’t deserve me lashing out at her every time I get insecure. I should have seen a therapist from the start. Evan suggested as much, but I thought I was coping well. Apparently, I was not.
So, I found a therapist. To speed shit up, because I don’t want to be in this weird limbo place with Avery for long, I see Dr. Ali three times a week during my lunch hour. It’s been three weeks so far and the sessions have not been a walk in the park.
Dr. Ali started from the beginning and dug into every little issue I’ve had since fucking birth. I didn’t realize I was holding on to so much resentment against my parents, even from before they cut me off. I guess I got to the point where since I couldn’t change who my father was, I just shrugged my shoulders and said “fuck it”.
I had Evan, Allie, and Kristie who understood me, so even though I wished I came from a normal family with normal expectations, I wasn’t alone in those feelings. My little rebellions throughout the years just emphasized how much the lifestyle I grew up in was not what I wanted for myself.
My rebellions started small with my attitude, then learning every musical instrument known to man and putting my focus on that instead of whatever my dad does. After that, it was the excessive swearing. Mom fucking hates it and I just tell her they’re sentence enhancers. Then it was the piercings in my nose, eyebrow, nipples. I had my tongue pierced once too, but Kristie made fun of me so much about the lisp, I took it out and it closed. After I turned eighteen, it was the never-ending tattoos and the longer hair. The fact I never wear a suit unless it’s a special occasion. I purposely wear band t-shirts and jeans to piss my dad off.
I’ve been working through all that resentment with Dr. Ali in the last three weeks and come to the conclusion that it no longer matters. Dad cut me off so I don’t have to worry about all the money. I have my trust, but I get no more money from Mommy and Daddy, but with that comes the fact I no longer have to take over the company. I don’t have to adhere to their expectation anymore and I have true freedom for the first time in my life.
Just today we started on my shit with Kendra. We talked through all thirteen years together. The stuff I loved, the stuff I hated. The stuff I’m just now realizing with my twenty-twenty hindsight vision.
So now, I’m at three weeks of only seeing Avery once a week on a date in public. We don’t really text except to see how the other is doing a few times a week. She doesn’t kiss me nor allow much in the way of intimacy beyond simple hand-holding. I can’t blame her. At least she’s still here and didn’t hit the fucking road that night.
I’m alone every night, which sucks. It sucked after Kendra left, and it sucks even fucking worse now. Avery only stayed a couple of weekends, but it was enough to remind me how much I love sleeping next to someone.
Mostly Sweets has been keeping me company when she’s not too busy studying. She’ll be graduating medical school next spring so it’s her last year. I’m just happy she makes time for me. I wonder where Kristie finds all her time to party when she’s in the same boat as Allie.
“What’s going on, Noah?” Allie answers my phone call. It’s nearly midnight here, but only nine there. At least it’s a Friday.
I’m anxious today. Dr. Ali and I had a particularly hard session as I recounted that night when my friends told me they caught Kendra cheating. It pulled up some destructive emotions I’d rather have stayed buried. I worked out for hours after dinner tonight and when that didn’t work; I wrote and composed song after song about heartbreak, finding new love, all that shit. My muscles are sore and dead from the workout and the instrument playing now that I’m not using them.
“Hard day,” I reply with a sigh.
“I’m really proud of you for doing this. You need to take care of your mental health and it’ll be better for you and any future relationship you have.”
“It has been really helpful. I just wish there wasn’t this distance between Avery and me. I get why she needed some space. I was a real jackass, but I miss her,” I lament.
“I know. Avery misses you too,” Allie replies matter-of-factly.
“How do you know?” I scowl at this news.
“We talk. Sometimes on the phone, but mostly we text.”
“What the fuck. Why?”
“I got her number that night you decided to go all Hulk Smash on her. She’s pretty cool, so we talk. We gossip about you and all that,” Allie says, and I can practically hear the smile on her face.
“Wow, Sweets. Just so we’re clear, she’s my girlfriend,” I say. Is she still my girlfriend? Was she ever?
“If you keep yelling at her, she won’t be your girlfriend for long,” Allie says, taking the thoughts right out of my head. “Be careful, Kris might steal her.”
“Yeah, yeah. Hence the therapy,” I reply with an eye roll.
My phone trills and I pull it away from my ear to see incoming video calls from Evan and Kristie. Allie’s sweet laugh comes through as she switches to video too as I answer the other calls.
“How’s it hanging, bitches?” Kristie yells. She’s in her bedroom, but her hair is wild and her dark makeup smudged.
I glance at the time. It’s almost one in the morning here, so I’m surprised Evan’s still awake. I’m even more surprised that Kristie is back in her room at only ten.
“Did you have a curfew you couldn’t miss, Kris?” I tease. I get a nasty scowl.
“Fuck you, Noah!”
“And isn’t it past your bedtime, Evan? What are you still doing up?”
“Date night. Summer’s staying with my mom, so Brooke and I just had a sexathon. She’s currently passed out and deeply sated. Thought I’d see how all you are doing,” he replies wagging his eyebrows.
“I swear you didn’t talk about your sex life this much before Brooke,” Kristie says with a scrunched nose.
“I didn’t have much of a sex life to talk about. Besides, what the hell are you complaining about? We have to listen to you about every Tom, Dick, and Sally you fuck,” Evan responds.
“If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out,” I say, nodding my head seriously.
“Can we stop talking about this and focus on Noah?” Allie asks, clearly annoyed.
“He asked!” Evan protests.
“He didn’t ask how often or how much you plowed your wife tonight!”
“Whatever,” Evan breathes.
I laugh at their bickering. This is pretty typical when we talk as a group, whether on the phone or a video call or even text. It reminds me of better times. My friends have always been my safe space. No matter what I have going on in my life or how fucked up it may be, I can call my friends and they’ll go on like they are now, like my world isn’t spinning on the wrong axis.
“How’s therapy?” Kristie asks.
“Fine. She’s glad I have you. Told me I probably would have gone off the deep end a while ago if you crazies weren’t keeping me sane,” I answer.
“I don’t know who you’re calling crazy,” Kristie mutters. Her phone jostles while she strips out of her tight pants and top. She’s just in her bra and underwear like there aren’t two men on this call, only one of whom has slept with her.
“Jesus, cover up, Kristie!” Evan yells, looking away. Kristie laughs as she pulls an oversized shirt over her head and plops down on her bed, snuggling under the covers.
“Don’t act like you haven’t seen all of this up close and personal,” Kristie replies.
“Not since like tenth grade. Jesus, woman!”
“Your turn, Sweets!” I joke. Allie’s cheeks redden and I laugh a little.
“No, thank you. I’m not into flashing my friends,” she says.
“Except me!” Kris says, drawing out the last word.
“Typical. What happened to gender equality?” I pout.
“Not what that’s about. Anyway, we’re talking about you,” Allie says, getting the conversation back on track.
“Yeah, how are things with Avery?” Evan asks.
“Still in a holding pattern. It’s only been three weeks. I’m kinda hoping things progress with us enough that she’ll consider being my date to the Christmas party. You guys are still coming, right?” I ask.
“’Course, dude. Christmas together every year, remember. Besides, I want to meet Avery. Don’t fuck things up with her. She seems great,” Evan replies.
“She is. I’m lucky the shit I pulled didn’t send her packing.”
“Remember that next time you jump to conclusions and lash out like a fucking child. Men, I swear,” Kristie throws in, not to be ignored.
“Yes, thank you. I hear it enough between all of you and Dr. Ali,” I say rolling my eyes. She’s right, though.
I talk with them a little longer while also planning my next date with Avery. I’m trying to keep things fresh while also making her feel comfortable with me again. I send her a goodnight text, which she promptly replies to.
I want to know why she’s still up at almost three in the morning, but I resist the urge to call her to ask. I have two-and-a-half months to work through my shit enough that Avery can be comfortable to take our relationship to the next level if I want to introduce her as my girlfriend to my parents and Abel.