Ramblings of a Cathy
Burn the Pages, Let them Cook
I think he fell in love with me when I took a bug out of his eye. lol
We were walking to the lunch area at FIU comfortably side by side from our Human Biology class. I wasn't even aware of how strange we looked: a short petite Dominican girl walking comfortably close to the 6'2" lanky white guy that she had known since middle school. At the time he was conveniently labeled my "boyfriend's friend".
(Mind you... that boyfriend just happened to be a fuckin asshole).
I heard him freak out next to me right before we were out of the door of the Philosophy building. Max never freaks out so I look over at him clawing at his face. "I think there's a bug in my eye!"
"Eww!" I'm super annoyed, firstly at the fact that he was interrupting my inner dialogue, and secondly because, Eww!
He bends down super low to face me as I turn to him. "Do you see it?"
I put aside my annoyance and spread his eyelid to look, while students continued to walk around us to get the the building exit. The bug was fucking huge - comically big and brown, with huge wings - and it was twitching between his lower eyelid and the right side of his eyeball. His eye was blood red where the bug was lodged. I remember one of the wings sticking straight out and Max's eyeball shook under the fingers i used to hold it open. I cringed inwardly and promptly felt bad for him.
"Hang on" I said, sternly in the zone. I pinched the wing and flung it out of his eye, then went back to my original thought.
But Max was elated. He looked at me dumbfounded, rubbing his eye and staring at me. "That's so much better".
I smiled and kept walking as he kept pace next to me.
The whole day he bragged to everyone that would listen. How i saved his eye from a huge bug.
It's always the basic objective things that speak to Max. LOL! Bugs out of the eye, a gifted box of swiss rolls when he complained that his family ate all his sweets, Killzone 3 presented to him on a couch.
It would be a few months before we would go to that party, where I would sit on him in my car afterwards after I found out Jack was off banging someone else. Where I naively dared him to make a move, hoping my naked thighs on his khakis would be enough of a motivator, and where he would gently sit me back on the driver's side and say goodnight.
Then it was not too long after the weight of my blind loyalty for Jack would evaporate into the butterflies that would be inspired by little conversations I had with Max.
And it would be a full season before Max would come back from a long trip to Slovakia and stare at me through a door, stare at me in a way no one ever had: Like my flaws made me pretty. Like if all the little bits of honesty I exposed him to throughout ALL the years he knew me made me beautiful to him. Like if he liked me more than one man could handle.
Eventually we would rollerblade... days later we'd have an awkward kiss on his bed where he conned me into watching a karate movie...
Not too long after that we'd be having sex for the first time on a breezy night on the full bed in the second floor of his mom's house. And we never stopped until 4 years later when we were doing the same thing - nightly - on our breezy firm/plush (our compromise) king bed, living in our own apartment.
A LOT happened. Lots of autistically genuine shows of affection, piggyback rides, trips to redundant fast food restaurants,
That dog that someone lent us.
Growing into different people.
It took 6 months after all of that for me to be that girl cleaning my shit out of the kitchen with my mom. My mom, my dad, my sisters, and one of their boyfriends would be trying not to make eye contact, losing their initial conviction, with Max when he walked into the apartment he wasn't supposed to have been at that night. He casually looked around, his gym clothes on, as they stepped around him. While they quietly helped dismantle the furniture in our apartment. I felt victorious packing the plates that my mother gifted us into boxes, leaving him only the scraps of our shit. I was empowered by everyone's statements that I was doing the right thing leaving a man that was too scared to truly, legally, commit to me.
Then I chanced a look up from the kitchen table and noticed him looking at me. And then my heart shattered when he just walked out of the front door with his gym bag, his face unchanged.
And then I cried for a long time... on a mattress on the floor of my sister's room, then in my own room in my mom's house, then on my bed in my own apartment. I cried like a person who had lost their better half of themselves.
And I felt fuckin stupid. It felt like he wasn't fazed by my absence. Yet I was a shell of a person. I felt like a shell as I dated, trying to connect with people. Seek some validation that he took away. Because I blamed everyone else but myself.
Yet more and more, with every person and trip and class and job and year and concert and opportunity and experience, I became this new person. I became a whole-er person.
And then I was that person for Steven. And Steven fell in love with that person.
So easily, might I add.
I liked Steven from the moment I met him. But for a long time I didn't think I really loved Steve. Because it wasn't the same. It wasn't dependence like it was with Max. He wasn't going to relent around me, like Max had. And Steve was "corny" to me at first. But I would learn that that corniness was just positivity, and gratitude. And adaptiveness.
Steve made me better. :)
But Max asked me to have lunch one day this week.
I drove with a tremendous amount of curiosity fueling the drive down the familiar I-75. Power 96 is playing some redundant tune I've grown to like, and I'm quietly rattling small affirmations in my head to keep things in perspective: "keep it casual and brief. Keep it present and chill. Get to know him - you dont know him anymore. The minute you put him in a box, you'll look stupid and have wasted a lunch hour."
We were supposed to just meet at the restaurant that I chose by his house, because it was easy to get to from work and he would be convenienced by the location. But then he texted me, saying that he had an appt with a window guy.
How adult of him!
I nonchalantly offered to reschedule, but he insisted i meet him at his house.
His house?! :O
"It's casual. It's brief."
So i drove there, my mind being triggered by every turn I made of his neighborhood. I let the memories flow through my consciousness of a weirder time between us and now, as i drove past that corner - where the cops were called cuz i parked in someone else's spot by accident, and Max and I had to charm a cop and 2 disgruntled south americans before he rolled his eyes at me - and that playground - where we sat for a minute while we walked his dog, cuz he knows i get tired walking too long.
I parked in front of his house. The full gravity of the fact that I had not seen him in ATLEAST a year didnt hit me until he opened the door and we both gazed at eachother.
Ahh!!! Complex feelings!
I was surprised to notice how present i remained when i saw him stand there: light blue shirt and khaki shorts hanging off a frame that was no longer as muscled as he used to be, thinning hair cut nicely in a modern adult style, with a beard that looked seasoned on his jaw.
"Hey!!" I said it casually and confidently.
And he hugged me! And he smelled really nice.
I got makeup on him. Shit!!! I pointed it out, he looked at his shoulder, and shrugged subtly. Guiding us in.
He moved with purpose. I forgot that about him. And he was overwhelmed with the major task, just like i did remember he always was. After a brief tour of the house, urged by me mostly - the one where i respectfully skipped over his bedroom and marveled at the accents he added to each of his modern detailed rooms - he quickly reminded me that he had to deal with the window guy that was coming, " he's on his way". I remembered that it was always best when i show quick interest in what he's into and entertained myself casually while he moved about doing his thing. I allowed myself to browse the meticulous decor of the livingroom and then felt my interest pique when i noticed pictures of them.
They look so nice. :)
And she's everywhere. Her stuff is everywhere in a complementary way.
"She's moving in." he declared.
I felt silly for wondering to myself if it would work out. If she could make a pocket for herself in his rigid way of living, or if she had moved him to create a melded new comfort zone. When i saw her little warm influences on his once minimalist antiseptic decor - a little card from a friend of hers, pictures of them smiling together, souvenirs from places they've been, her vape set - i immediately felt happy.
I felt my respect for them conflate in my cognitions of him, and my humanity in myself was restored.
I noticed later that he watched me watch his stuff. I let myself smile at this and asked him about them.
His practiced familiar way of talking about her matched the one I adopt when I talk about Steven. And i found myself feeling like 2 old friends sharing details of our current life.
Lunch ends with random moments that make me wonder if this was mutual though...
And i told this to Steve that night.
I told him about how Max complemented my dimples, and that he would look at me for a little too long st times, and that lunch became desert and turned to us sitting for too long in a booth at the icecream parlor. I didnt tell him that he complemented my ass... lol. And that he brought up some of his old feelings for me in his brand of matter-of-fact sincere form of affection.
I did tell him that he sounded worried about a new girl moving into his home.
I didnt tell him that I remembered why I fell in love with him... because of his boisterous, geniune, kind, but kinda weathered way. In the way that I can never read him, because he hides a lot of himself from people that aren't exposed to him enough incidently. Or the fact that talking to him felt like talking to someone that really really knows me, and doesn't require extra explanation, apology, or speech analysis.
I forgot that I missed how visibly relaxed and warmed Max gets when I laugh at his overly direct, sometimes immature, jokes. Or that he gets more and more animated when I casually followed his mundane tangents...
I forgot how ethnically handsome he is. And how he got even more handsome the more experienced/aged he got.
And I sincerely reeled when I remembered, the hard way, that his silence - and moments of quiet resignation - brings out the most awkward parts of me.
Even though I felt very connected to him, i could honestly tell you that I probably missed half of what happened in there.
And i said that to Steve. And he listened quiety.
I noticed that I had been rambling, lost in thought, and look over at him. "Say something..." i managed after a short silence.
We're both facing up at the ceiling and i noticed his silhouette in the dark, the one window blind in the room that doesn't cover the window all the way was allowing a ray of the moon on his face. He had put his phone down beside me in the room we sleep in at my mother's house - we helped caretake for her at the time. I feel a faint hum of anticipation, knowing that my husband had struggled with jealousy a long time ago in our relationship.
After a minute of silence, and as I'm looking up back at the ceiling, all I hear is his short laugh. "I do like that another guy wants you."
I turn this over in my head, feeling naive. The response jarred me. Running the whole thing over in my head for the 50th time.
I'm distracted when his hand moves me closer, whisking past the shirt of his that I wore with some whimsicle superhero symbol, and grazing my belly. I roll ontop of him, letting his smell waft around me and his skin press against mine. His supernatural warmth alone turns me on.
I watch him watch me.
And i realize then that everyone i've been with before him has just been showing me that I'm able to love this one so much.
There's no doubts with Steve. There's no having your guard up. There's enough love to create children and a home.
And his kisses - 6 years after our silly first kiss in his bachelorpad livingroom, him on one loveseat and me on the solo couch, us leaning over the arm rests - still make me feel like a woman being kissed by a man he lusts for completely. I kiss him in our bed, feeling thankful that it's him and no one else. He looks at me lazily, possessively, and lets me do all the work tonight.
Yeah. That's what I wasn't ready for until I found him.