“You can stay the night if you want you know.”
I wanted to scream with joy.
Deep breath. Calm down.
“No honey, I didn’t know that.”
Me and Jon Snow go waaay back.
I know nothing.
I presume nothing.
I demand nothing.
I ask very little.
I lie, never.
I came as close as I have to lying in a good long while. T’was a half-truth.
I filled in the other 50% the next day.
What I said was “I don’t want to bleed on your sheets.”
“You didn’t come prepared?” he said.
I used to be. I used to have clothes, bathroom kit, with tampons and errrthing stashed in my trunk.
When did I stop doing that? And why?
Maybe because the circumstances that dictated I might need to bolt in the night are long over and I let it go.
I said “Honestly, it was 8 when you called, 9 when I got here, I figured I had an hour, two tops.”
That was the absolute truth.
He gets up well before the sun, his sister lives upstairs and shouldn’t be disturbed.
There were rules.
Or I thought there were.
I think he changed them, in my favor.
I guess enough time has passed, enough words spoken, enough exclamations of ‘go team’ for him to be comfortable.
He told me a story involving a few other women would come the night before, sleepover and still be there when he got home after a 10 hour shift. I recoiled in horror…how could anyone be so shameless, presumptuous and invasive? Bad manners.
I could never. Even if I tried, even if I wanted to.
Yes, I have allowed myself think about falling asleep after sex, waking him up with my mouth, how well he snuggles on the giant-sized couch and how it would translate to his giant-sized bed.
He fell asleep a few times that night, every time I wiggled or readjusted he would pull me back immediately and even closer than before.
I should’ve been happy, and I was. But I was terrified too. These are the kinds of things that would haunt me, I know my ghosts better than the living.
I hadn’t seen him in 6 weeks, and every ounce of my being wanted to stay, fall asleep next to him and draw the moment out as long as humanly possible and then make some sort of agreement with the gods to slow time down for me.
The one thing I DO know? Every moment could be the last one. So I make it count.
But I panicked.
I haven’t slept beside a boy in a good long while.
Last time I did, I was the interloper and I woke up not knowing how I got there, knowing I didn’t belong, that I had stolen time and sleep in a place I had no right to be in. Good thing I didn’t bleed on his sheets or she might have known I was there.
I never want to be the girl who leaves things behind. I won’t overstay my welcome or make excuses to come back. I abhor being where I am not welcome.
The girls my husband brought home loved leaving clues and excuses, both for them to come back and for me to leave. I didn’t listen.
This ‘one who said I could stay’ has been around for a good while. We talk every day, but schedules and vacations planned before we knew the other existed have made it so we haven’t physically seen each other in what felt like forever. But when I walked in, his sister said hello like I belonged there, the dog gave me a cold-nosed, warm greeting and he made space for me on the giant couch, pulled me right in and said I could stay.
I am sure that if my body functioned as bodies tend to do, at his house, he wouldn’t be disgusted and throw me out. He’d probably just say ew with a grin, kiss my forehead and point me towards the washing machine.
I know how to clean up my messes and leave no trace. Been doing it for years.
I have been trained that the best parts of me are the ones that don’t exist, just the spaces between. Between my legs where I let them in, between my ears when I pretend I’m not as smart as I am, between my words where I wait and listen, in the deep breaths where I gather myself enough that I can pretend my feelings weren’t just blown up by the bombs they just dropped. Ignoring the holes in the landscape of my psyche and acting like I was never there or hurt.
Until a boy I like asks me to sleep over and I have to pull off the highway because I am crying too hard to drive home.
-18 months with one and he begrudgingly said I could stay one night, so I fought exhaustion and risked falling asleep at the wheel to make it home. The relief on his face when I said ‘thanks, but no’ was all the answer I needed.
-3 months with another. He had such a bad sleep in my bed the first time I put him in the guest room and shut the door every other time he spent the night. Never did see his house from anywhere but the road.
-Another with preemptive, awkward excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly stay. I never asked.
*There was one good one in there, stayed at his house once before he fell apart and took any notion of ‘us’ with him.
It’s been 4 years.
I pretend these things don’t bother me, but they do.
I have this huge false bravado when it comes to men, dating and the things that have happened to me.
I never ever blame the new one for the ones who came before.
I’m too busy blaming me.
I was too loud, too much, said the wrong thing at the wrong time, expected too much, took up too much space, too much time.
So I keep them at arm’s length, pretend I don’t need anything beyond the slightest scraps of attention and affection and I starve just to make those spaces that were so coveted by the old ones that much bigger.
Truth is I am terrified.
I wasn’t ready yet.
To risk racoon eyes and morning breath, snoring.
What if I talk in my sleep and say half the things I am thinking?
At some point I am going to fill that space he makes for me, the one he pulls me back into and actually stay the night.