Longtime readers in this space will be familiar with C-2 .... my slight, bespectacled Somervillian who was first my OKC story-swapping friend and then my stay-out-all-night-on-Kingston-Street friend and then someone I craved desperately because of his kissing and cleverness and daring. And then despaired over when he got clueless and distant and sad and left me feeling same, just before leaving town in a rush.
That was a year ago. I stayed up until 5 a.m. on the morning of my 38th birthday to help him pack a moving truck and wave him onto the freeway. His move was good for me in its finality .... forcing a closure his behavior had long-before forecast but I wasn't accepting; I stopped thinking he was more to me than he was. While we met up on a Sunday last June for a Foley's-fueled fling, it was in the spirit of heedlessness, temporary and gluttonous, with no consequences. Since then, he reached out every couple months with an e-mail or text if back in town for work, and I've largely not reached out, and only occasionally responded. I'd moved past him, realized I didn't have to stand patsy, didn't quite care either way.
Last night, C-2 and I hung out at a bar on Beacon Hill. At his request. He wrote me on Good Friday, noted he was in town for a couple weeks prospecting (he's a political consultant, election season is gearing up, this is his home turf), wanting to meet for a beer. I thought again I'd ignore him, then thought better. Something broke in my cynicism. We spent a few days crossing paths in futility; then I realized I was fairly dying to know how he was. When he texted last night at 10:30 and trained down from Davis, I drove over and it was easy, like the first time we met. Shooting politics, gulping Guinness, chatting the other barflys, standing in the bar entryway after close while he smoked Camels, sharing our respective dating foibles of the last 18 months. It was a conversation we really hadn't had in that long, I realized near its end, and I had missed having it.
The night ended as it often used to .... very late on a very deserted downtown street in the front seat of my parked car. But there was no imminent hook-up or window-steaming. We talked about the times we had hooked up and had steamed the windows and chuckled, fondly, noting how we both remembered all of them ... the time he tossed one of my shoes out the sunroof and a sock to the back window that I found only months later. He then explained that the entire year of 2010 had been a wash for him: he shared a personal experience that was the primary source of pain. I could only nod, but had not known his troubles. In 2 years he had breathed no such explanation, and now it explained so much about him, my frustration with him, and why he did things he did ... yet I couldn't be angry at either it or his reaction to it. Just clarity, and a relief for an angst in my past I now have no good reason to mourn.
I knew we would eventually kiss, because we used to kiss so well and we had started talking about how well we did, so then we did. We kissed in that way we always used to .... him leaning over the gearshift and reaching to pull my chin in, laughing, gripping my hair, me pressing towards him and tilting my head back with the pull of his hands, our breathing rising. It escalated, but plateaued .... as if sensed it was just a remembering of something sweet that needed a fresh taste for the memory banks. And then we parted.
4:30 a.m., and morning birds were chirping as I got out of my car in Southie. I texted him, as I always used to at his request, heralding safe return ... "Home. It was good to see you."
"You too. :-)" he texted back.
For the first time in a long time I believed that when he said that he meant it. It was the first time in a long time, too, in taking leave from him, that I knew for sure I didn't want from him anything more.