Eighteen and nervous. Waiting anxiously at the Aud for the boy to arrive. We'd spoken for several weeks now, often late into the night, but he could be a killer, a rapist, a kidnapper. Checking my watch. 6:08. He's still not here. "I look normal," he'd typed the night before. "Like an average guy." "Short, tall, chubby, scrawny, skater, prep?" I'd inquired. "I don't know. Normal," he'd reiterated. Looking up. Confident boy of average build in blue ball cap, jeans and a t-shirt walking toward me.
Three months later at a strip club. Fighting against my morals and beliefs. Fighting against him. His best friend's girlfriend nudging me at the sticky table. "Just think, your guy was up on that stage for Wet T-shirt night not so very long ago..." Tears, then. Sudden tears. Running outside and running away. He chases me. "What's wrong?!" "Nothing. I can't handle this. All these naked girls. And Allison reminded me that you'd been here before and I hate it. It feels so dirty." He holds me and then we walk. We walk underneath the dark, wet leaves of tall trees, sometimes getting dripped on and sometimes not. We stop when the trail meets the sidewalk. He holds me and says, "I think I'm falling in love with you." "I'm scared," I say. I've never felt this before.
Thanksgiving. I eat with his parents, his uncle, his grandparents. We say thanks and I squeeze his hand. I am thankful for him. I am thankful for this experience. His mom passes the stuffing to me and the feasting begins.
Lying underneath my striped comforter. It's a Wednesday night and my roommates are watching TV downstairs. Radiohead sings to us from my stereos. My room is messy; my homework is on the floor. We're looking into each other's eyes and we're looking back on the last five months since we met, the last three months since we became official. "I don't know if you feel the same way," he starts slowly, "but I love you."
Co-op is starting soon and my job is in Mississauga. I'm going to be away all summer and we know it. "I'll visit you all the time," he promises. I don't believe it. We agree to email every day and we do. I number them all so that he'll know how many I sent this summer. He likes to go out and drink in the evenings, so I set my alarm for 2:30 am every night. When it beeps, I wake up and I call him. "How's it going, babe?" I'll mumble sleepily. "Pretty good. I'm drunk," he'll laugh. I'll ask him how his day was and he'll ask about mine and sometime between four and five, we'll hang up and I'll go back to sleep. We do it every night all summer. I don't have to be at work until eight, anyway.
I start my third year of university and he tries to figure out what to do with his life. He's finishing the last of his high school credits and he doesn't like holding down a job. When we go out for dinner, I pay. When we rent movies, I'll pay. I'm working part-time at the convenience store, anyway, so it's not a big deal.
Christmas Eve we spend talking on the phone. My dad doesn't know about him (my dad can never know about him; he forbids me to date), but my dad's in Peru this year, visiting our family. My mom falls asleep around midnight. I listen carefully to her even, consistent snoring. It's unlikely she'll wake up before six. I tiptoe downstairs and take the keys off the hook. I'm going to see him. I don't have the driver's license to do so and the roads are icy on this cold winter night. I take the car, anyway, and I drive fast. I arrive at his house around 2 am and I knock on the back door. He comes and says, "What are you doing here?" "Merry Christmas," I say and we go down to the basement to cuddle on the couch until 4 am.
Twenty and fighting. He's jealous and I'm insecure. We yell and we scream and we throw things across the room. We are angry and offended. We cannot communicate.
A week before I turn twenty-one, he cheats. He succumbs to a girl at the bar, a friend of a friend, and he goes back to his friend's house to sleep with her. When I find out, I am devastated. Hot scalding tears run down my face and I call him screaming, demanding answers. I feel destroyed. He says, "It's over, it's over. I know it's over." But I don't want it to be over. I don't want this to be the end. I start seeing a counselor the next day. She tells me that most couples who experience infidelity break up. Some don't and end up staying together, but at our age, with betrayal, even if we try to make it work, we may ultimately break up. "We're different," I insist. "You don't know us." "Okay," she says. I return to him a few days later. "I'm going to love you enough to get through this. I have enough love for the both of us. If we just work on it and put it behind us and rebuild trust, we'll be okay. I know it." So we lie in bed together night after night, not touching, hardly breathing, thinking about everything that's changed and wondering what the future will hold. I've never felt this before. The pit in my heart is endless. I say prayers in my head and I watch his peaceful face long after he drifts off to sleep. If I just love him enough, we'll get through this.
Six months later, we are breaking up. We're sitting at a family restaurant, discussing my impending trip to Europe and everything that's happened. Almost three years we've put into this, but it isn't enough. Things don't feel the same. The trust has never really been rebuilt. Maybe if we spend more time together, we say. But we spend nearly every day together. Maybe if we go to more concerts, I suggest. But we both know it won't change anything. We're young and in love, but this is broken and we can't keep holding it together with band-aids.
Five months later, I'm in Europe. I return on May 25. On May 26, I board a plane for Calgary. I'm going out west to live with my cousin for the summer. I return on a cold August evening. I call him up and ask if he wants to see me. He does. He picks me up and we go to the Boathouse in the park. We drink and talk about our summers. Before I know it, he's driving me home and I'm not ready for the night to end. He pulls into my driveway. We both get out of the car slowly, meet in the back and hug. His arms embrace me and my face finds the comfortable spot in his shoulder. I haven't been with anyone since we broke up; it would've been impossible. My scarf flaps in the wind and he laughs. "You never used to wear scarves," he says. "I guess Europe changed you." "I guess," I say, thinking about my love for him. It hasn't changed. And before I know what's happening, I say, "I still love you." "No, you don't," he says. "You're just nostalgic." "No, I really do still love you." And before we know what's happening, we're climbing back in the truck and we're buying condoms and we're going to a secluded area to make love. But when it's all over, it doesn't feel the same. He doesn't hold me and we don't exchange secret smiles and there is a distance between us that separates us father than Calgary and farther than Europe. We say goodnight and I know that we will not meet again for a long time.
Three months later, we are going to the Art Gallery of Ontario. We look at the exhibits and we talk about Frank Gehry and as we bus home, we know we will be going to his house and we will turn on the TV in his bedroom and make love quietly so that his parents won't hear us.
A month later, I come over with the pretense of watching a movie. Fifty-two minutes later, we are undressing and our hands are finding their familiar places on our bodies again. This is okay, I think, because we are both single and we don't have to worry about what it means.
Five months later, we meet again. He doesn't want to go anywhere, he doesn't want to sit still and so we drive. We drive through downtown and look at all the new stores relocating in the core. We talk about school, the second year of college he's finishing and the beginning of my career as an urban planner. We talk about friends; we give updates about our families. I pull over underneath a streetlight and turn my body to face his. He's sitting in the passenger seat, calm, cool, collected. "Some things never change," he says. "Like what?" I say. "You're still smart, you're still cute, you're still Rosa," he says. I look into his blue eyes. He leans in to kiss me and I turn my face so that it lands on my cheek. "What's wrong?" he says. "Don't you still feel it?" I struggle internally. "I... I don't know," I say. "I'm sorry for rejecting your kiss." "Whatever," he says. I kiss his jawline, under his ear. "I'm sorry," I say again. "I just don't know what to... do. I don't know how to deal with this. We keep doing it, and..." I trail off. I continue kissing his jawline until I reach his chin. And when I lean in to kiss his chin, he moves his head so that our lips collide. And we are kissing and we are breathing heavily and my windows are fogging up. His lips are engaging mine, he is sucking on my tongue, his hands are finding my hands. We are close and warm and we are yearning to be the people we always were. We are yearning to be where we used to be. He leans in closer and I close my eyes, remembering the first time we made love, clumsy teenagers unbuckling and unbuttoning and getting stuck with my three-clasp bra. His lips pull away and we gasp for air and gasp for rationality that isn't pouring down upon us. He tugs at my shirt and my body screams yes. I start to lift my shirt up and then I stop. "No," I say. "What?" he says. "No. We can't do this anymore. This is foolish. We broke up a year and a half ago. We're never going to be what we used to be... and these fleeting nights can't recreate it!" "I thought you wanted this," he says, confused. "I thought you wanted me, and us, and this, and..." "No!" I say, suddenly overcome with clarity. "It can't ever be what it used to be! We've changed! We're not even the same people! It doesn't matter how many times we meet up and make out or hide in your room to try to make love. It doesn't feel the same and it will never feel the same again! We can't get to the place we're trying to get to. We can't get there because it's gone. We're not eighteen anymore... and that time in our lives is over. That place doesn't exist anymore and that place cannot exist anymore. Nothing will ever be the same again and you have to accept that." I pause, catching my breath, breathing hard. I've known this for so long, but it hasn't been real until I said it out loud... until I said it to him. I put the car in drive and head out onto the street. "I'm taking you home," I say and he is silent. I pull into the familiar driveway of his parents' house and he gets out of the car without saying a word. I watch him walk up the driveway to his front door. Confident boy of average build in blue ball cap, jeans and a t-shirt walking away from me.
This is my submission for therealljidol Topic 14: The Place That Can Not Be. My partner for this Intersection Round was beeker121. I hope you will consider voting for her and for me in this week's poll.