Easy banter and casual flirtation became the tangible, the inevitable on the night of my going away party. It wasn’t my speech about why I am a horrible person to date, or YALIUD asking me why I never asked her on a date. It became inevitable the moment the she and I caught eyes as the band started to play Besame Mucho. It was the look of mutual agreement, of adult coconspirators acknowledging a carnal pact.
A few hours later we were a collapsed mass of tangled bodies and damp skin. Spent but thirsty from drink and activity, I fetched two glasses of water from YALIUD’s kitchen.
“You know that I work as much as you do, right?” was the question YALIUD gently asked when I got back to the bed.
She was right, our schedules were different but the volume of hours was roughly the same. We made a go of it for a couple of months. Drinks after my shift, or dinner at the bar of the restaurant one or two nights a week, and most Sunday mornings – that was the routine. And like most routines, it grew old fast. We had lost the light, the breezy, the banter that made it so pleasurable in the first place.
When we first ended the unnamed thing that we were doing, we both had difficulty not using the other as a stress relieving crutch. It made her career driven move to New York City easier.
We traded emails over the ensuing years, had drinks together if we were in the same city (unless one of us was dating someone else,) and somehow kept a very weak but very real tether to each other.
Last week, after the happiness and the hugs, after a cocktail or two, after the conversations about making partner and her buying her flat, after eyelashes were lowered slowly and legs crossed carefully, the question finally came.
“Refugee, why didn’t we try harder? Why didn’t you try harder?”
“YALIUD, you know if we try to hold too tight we’ll find a way to choke it, not make it more secure.”
“Yeah, I know, but I like knowing that you’ve thought about the question too.”