From Nashville to New York to the Front Door of Love and Back, pt. 2 | menrule.net
I go the wrong direction on Broadway after exiting the ‘J’ train stop. There is a guy set up outside of a bodega blaring some kind of dance music and selling what I’m sure to be black-market hair products among other items off of a fold-up table. My wrong turn sets me back three minutes so I send her a message and let her know I’ll be seeing her very soon.
Ten feet away from her apartment’s main entrance I stop. The front porch and empty car lot across the street is there just as it was when she’d set her computer up on her street-facing window ledge and Skype with me while she would smoke a cigarette. The nights we spent adoringly staring at each other through the glowing screens of our devices would last hours. We’d look at each other like we did the last time we were together after meeting in Florida. I came back to Nashville and our feelings, whatever they were, only grew. This wasn’t a relationship but it felt like it would easily become one. Now I am ten feet away from what might happen. I give myself a nod of confirmation and buzz her apartment.
Through the glass door I see a beautiful blonde turn the corner of the hallway inside. She is walking quickly and wearing the smile I have grown fond of seeing. It’s just like I remembered it back in Florida. She opens the door.
“Happy Birthday”, I say to her. We look at each other, kiss, and head into her bedroom.
She jumps into bed and I set my bags down. As I’m taking my shirt off to get comfortable I remark about how strange it is to see her bedroom in person. Before I crawl into the bed I introduce myself to her cat. Once under the covers I hold her like I have been wanting to for a tortuous amount of time now. We excitedly lie next to each other while we regroup. Me from traveling and her from the night before. There is no getting us out of this bed any time soon so we order some sandwiches to be delivered. I forgot how almost everything can be delivered here in New York City including my bagel and lox and fries. I make quick work of my first meal in twenty hours while she unenthusiastically eats one quarter of her club sandwich.
It’s two in the afternoon and I haven’t entered an actual sleep state in thirty hours. After plenty of time of lying next to each other the day is finally beckoning us out of bed. She needs to find an outfit for her 25th birthday celebration that’s happening tonight. While she gets ready to take me out of Brooklyn and into Manhattan on a shopping excursion I can’t help but watch her. I can’t help but kiss her shoulders. I can’t help but touch her. I feel like a weirdo but I just can’t help but do it because I’ve been straining to make it happen through a computer screen for the last month or so. I’ve drawn the shape of her face over one hundred times by now and with every touch I store her curves and texture in my memory. The desire to do this is so overpowering because I know I only have a few days to spend with her.
On the train into the city it strikes me that I don’t know how to act around her in public. Are we a couple? Do I sit next to her like we’re just friends? Do I play it cool and act like I am uninterested? Finally I settle on resting my hand on her thigh near her knee. She doesn’t brush it off so it seems like a safe place. We walk up the stairs from underground and file into the crowded street. On the corner is a foreign guy taking photos of people at random and crossing the street with a wall of people is a homeless man wearing a sign that reads “Tell me off for $2” hanging from his neck. I can’t help but wonder what his story is.
“This way”, she says breaking my attention from asking myself too many questions about that homeless man’s life.
I need a coffee. The lack of sleep is getting to me. It’s stripping away any social interaction I have left and is leaving me confused about my place with her. After getting our iced coffee drinks, and a few moments before we enter the first store to look for an outfit, I reach down and hold her hand. Our fingers don’t even fully interlock before she pulls away and says, “I can’t do it.”
I knew she has a problem with PDA but before I got there I heard nothing but how bad she wanted that very sign of affection to happen. I’m too tired to realize this as being anything other than what I think it probably is: her being uncomfortable with holding hands in public. She finds what she’s looking for and back to Brooklyn we go.
The night has fallen and we are all in the backyard area of their apartment. Stretched above an inflatable pool and picnic bench are globe bulbs giving off a soft white light. Her roommate paces by the pool while he calls for a car service. A white Ford Explorer shows up ten minutes later and the seven of us pile in. Thirty minutes after that we squeeze out of of the SUV and into Williamsburg. The first bar of choice has a line around the corner. After an unsuccessful attempt by her and her friend to cut in line we decide to venture on. I follow her and the group of friends around the neighborhood looking for the next bar to stop at. Throughout the night I meet friends with names I’ll never be able to recall in bars I’ll never remember the whereabouts of. I am introduced as her ‘buddy’ on more than one occasion. The same feeling comes over me like when she jerked her hand out of mine earlier in the day but I dismiss it. This time I blame it on being too many Bulleit Ryes deep.
Four in the morning comes quickly in New York and we’re in a cab on our way home. At this point there is only four of us because the rest have gone home to party there. There’s pot, cocaine and more drinking accommodating the afterparty. The girl I have come for has randomly looked at me with those eyes that turn me into a king but for the majority of the night I don’t see her. It’s her birthday so she’s been off conversing with friends while I’ve been fading in and out of conversations with people in the apartment. Six in the morning shakes its head at me and I can’t stay up any longer. I’ve been up for close to fifty hours. The whiskey is pinning me down on top of that. I go lie in her bed. After a couple minutes she comes in, gets a bathing suit, and kisses me before returning to the early morning’s birthday events. She softly closes the door behind her and I don’t see her again until two in the afternoon.
Since six in the morning I have been sleeping an hour and awake an hour. I’ve been tossing and turning and wondering why I’m alone in her bed. The girl I came here for wasn’t sleeping next to me nor did it apparently cross her mind to do so. No lack of sleep or amount of whiskey can convince me that this means anything other than what it is becoming. I’m face down on her bed with my eyes closed when I hear the doorknob to her room turn. She walks in, straddles my back and then settles in the empty spot next to me on the bed. The fear of the answer stops me for a moment before I ask the question.
“Should I plan on leaving tonight?”, I reluctantly ask and obviously hurt.
There’s a short silence and I know what that means. It’s that quiet before someone delivers bad news. She’s giving me a silent warning shot before she takes aim.
“Yeah, I’m just not feeling it”, she says to me, “I tried to. It was great but once you got here I didn’t feel it. I tried to blame it on the hangover but it’s just not there.”
I feel like that news could have flooded all of Manhattan. I can’t help but laugh. I also can’t help but think of what an idiot I am to come here for a girl. We discuss whatever there is left to discuss as I come to the conclusion that I can’t be around her. I’m not sure where to go or what to do but I can’t handle not being what I thought I’d come here to be. The door shuts as she leaves me confused and stranded in a bedroom in Brooklyn.