It happened slowly and abruptly at the same time. I never saw it coming—I was blindsided. A last-minute meet (I wouldn’t even call it a date, but I guess it did turn out to be one) with someone off a dating site, then it evolved into something else entirely different. It wasn’t just a one-night stand, it wasn’t just a stimulating conversation about theories and beliefs, it wasn’t just him making me laugh and him laughing at me, with me—it was all of those things plus my free-falling right into his gravity.
In retrospect, I wonder if I would’ve been more guarded if I’d prepared myself. If I would’ve been more in control of where things were going and stopped them from dragging my feelings along the way. Maybe. Or maybe, he would still touch my soul when I thought I was soulless.
On a spur of the moment, after some last-minute texting to arrange a time and place, we met for drinks a little while before midnight. Instead of the typical topics on music, TV shows, or food, we talked about books. It was unusual for me because I’d never met a guy who liked to read as much as I did. He guessed my favorite author on the first try and I looked at him, amazed.
I should’ve known then.
We were into different genres but that was okay because we each had something to give and something to take away. He asked me about myself, asked me to tell him stories, and stories—from my travels, relationships, drunken stupidity—came streaming past my lips abundantly. I’m not a talker but that night I talked, a lot, and he listened. He asked me what inspired me to write, and I told him the same answer as I’d told others before him, but with a deeper truth mixed in, because I knew instead of a blank stare with a half-assed, one-worded response, he would nod and tell me his thoughts. And they would either resonate with me or astound me or shake me so hard I had trouble looking him in the eye. I thought it was going to end this way—his words ricocheting off the walls of my head and me struggling to catch up—until he pulled me close and kissed me. It was everything I wanted in a kiss.
I should’ve known then.
The next few hours were spent in my bed, and we didn’t go to sleep until the sun peeked through my curtains. But it wasn’t just sex that we had: we had conversations; we had laughs, often over stupid jokes he’d cracked; we had moments of quiet in which I let myself indulge in his company. When I felt heat emanating from his arm to mine, I curled into him so naturally and he held me close and my eyes fell shut like they were meant to. I’d never felt this warm.
I should’ve known then.
He was everything I wanted and needed in a man, capable of stimulating me in every way possible. He validated me. He challenged me. He reassured me. He consoled me. He peeled my shell away layer by layer effortlessly, and I let him. He held me like he meant it; or maybe he didn’t, but I’ll never know. The night became something much larger and heavier than I’d expected—but then again, I had expected nothing. There was a moment when a question was on the tip of my tongue and he cut in, “Are we dating now? Yes.” I laughed incredulously and said I wasn’t even thinking about that, and he said he was just kidding and laughed along. I acted relieved, but I was afraid to look at him. Afraid of the things I’d find when our eyes met. Maybe deep down I freaked out a little, and maybe he did too. But I’ll never know.
He didn’t leave until mid-afternoon the next day. After he’d put on his shoes, he straightened up and looked at me like he had something to say. I broke into a nervous laugh: “Why are you looking at me like that?” He didn’t say anything but goodbye. We didn’t even hug. There was no need. It would’ve been too good to be true.
I should’ve known then. But I was always slow on the uptake, especially when it came to my own feelings. I didn’t realize it—the ghost of everything that I’d known of him—had started haunting me until hours later, when I went to sleep thinking of him, feeling the vestige of his body heat right next to me. And I knew for sure when I was still thinking about him the next day, and the day after, when everything I saw on the streets reminded me of him and I kept replaying the things he’d said and how he’d touched me and kissed my scars. It’s as if I was stuck in a set of revolving doors, pushing onward but getting nowhere. I was devastated, drowning in the thoughts of someone I barely knew. I told myself to stop thinking about him, because he most definitely wasn’t thinking about me. I wished he would never contact me again, and I deleted our text conversation along with his number.
He never did contact me again. And I was saved. I stepped out of the revolving doors, finally.
I never even got his name. Maybe it’s better this way, easier to forget a nameless face.