We hadn’t seen each other in months. I was studying Spanish at the park, sitting solo on a bench, when I heard a bike brake in front of me. I looked up.
He invited me to lunch, and then bought us tickets for the Tall Bike Joust that evening, and then invited himself to hike with me the next day. I was surprised but glad. “Sure! Of course…”
He’d said something about noon. I’d originally (when it was just me going) wanted to get an earlier start on Sunday but agreed to noon. I waited until one to reach out to him and texted that I’d wait another hour. Two rolled around and he still hadn’t said anything.
“I’m heading to the hiking spot now… enjoy your day!”
Then, fifteen minutes later, he called me; he’d been out drinking all night, listening to live music and hanging with his friend, and just woke up… was it too late to go?
“No — it’s fine. I’m only ten minutes away from where you are.” I turned around.
So we went hiking at Turkey Creek, up and over in Pinson. I’d never been. It was beautiful.
I took my sandals off and waded through the water. When we made it to the waterfall, I knew I had to get in it. It was somewhere around 75-80 degrees that day and it was windy. Since the water was more cold than cool, Audio decided to sit on a rock, but I slipped and fell and spun and grasped my way over to the cascades, the slippery moss on the rocks making my journey hazardous. But I made it! I touched the waterfall, and it was cool.
“Am I the most awkward girl you’ve ever known?” I called out, halfway submerged in water and grinning. Perched up on the rock, he looked like he was thinking about it.
“Yeah… you are, actually,” he said eventually.
The problem with Audio is he kept trying to do too much: hugging me close to him and then slipping his hands down my waist; going to kiss me when I specifically told him no, not right now, not like this. We want two different things, you see; one person wants relations while the other wants a relationship. Guess which person I am?
So I steadily blocked the kisses and continually relocated the hands. It almost felt like we were playing some sort of game, or sport… like he was offense and I was, out of necessity, defense. [I’d like to play ice hockey sometime, btw (since we’re talking about sports now).] But in all seriousness, the truth is that I didn’t want to play any games or field any advances. I just wanted to figure him, and his intentions, out… determine whether or not there was anything real there.
“I don’t know you well enough yet to commit to being your boyfriend,” he said, when I voiced my concerns.
How the hell do you know me well enough to want to SLEEP with me and yet NOT be my boyfriend? I thought to myself. It didn’t make sense then, and it still doesn’t now.
Still, we continued hanging out together that day and drove to another spot for night hiking. Watching the sun set from Ruffner Mountain was incredible — it was a sweet pink-blue and then a glowing red-pink and then a fiery red-orange — and side-stepping a tiny, coiling snake during the trek back gave me quite a thrill.
I tripped and fell, hard, on our way back to the car, just two minutes from the park’s entrance (go figure!). It fucked my foot up pretty badly.
Only took him three days to text me and ask how I was doing. Sweetest non-boyfriend ever. ❤
Still (because hope never dies!), I texted him something interesting yesterday. Online, I’d read that your experiences as an 8-to-10-year-old shape your mental landscape and beliefs as an adult — things like how you viewed your parents and your relationship with them; how you interpreted the world and your place in it; etc.
When I look back on being 8-10ish, I remember cooking chili for myself with a full can of pinto beans and half a seasoning packet; staying home alone while my parents went out for groceries or gadgets; teaching myself about plants and algebra (home schooled) and figuring songs out “by ear” on my keyboard; learning to boot people off of games.com and toying with HTML lettering on nickelodeon.com and feeling really cool because of it; looking at my brother sometimes, often, and wondering what he (and we) would have been like if he was different; hopping onto my bike and riding to the library up the street where I’d check out thick books and bring them home, devouring them (as well as snacks) on my carpeted bedroom floor…
I remember feeling as if I was mostly alone — taking care of myself, improving myself, amusing myself, and observing the world. And I think it’s very interesting that this is still how I operate today.
“I’d love to know how 8-to-10-year-old Audio thought, acted, and looked…” I texted, trying to get in his head a little, deepen that non-relationship of ours.
That was roughly 24-hours ago. And guess what he said? Nothing. Guess what else? I’m done passively waiting for that dude to change, because A. he doesn’t and shouldn’t have to, and B. I don’t need to wait for him. He’s simply not the one for me. I want a guy who likes talking with me as much as they like kissing me, and I’m proud of myself for withholding kisses from this guy, this time (bc I royally messed up this time and that time).
I opened the front door to the building when it was still dark out, passing through a second set of double doors on the right and then entering a room packed with tables and chairs and dudes.
“…and as long as you have a BOWEL movement, you’re FINE,” one guy was saying to another, very emphatically. “If you do NOT have a bowel movement, it is an emergency SITUATION.”
Yikes, I thought to myself, hobbling past the uncouth conversation as quickly as I could. I spotted someone I knew and smiled. We washed our hands, slipped on gloves, and then waited for the others. Soon, I was standing behind the kitchen bar, spooning yellow gravy over white rice and telling each man who walked through the line hello, and bon appétit, and enjoy your day.
Remember the dude talking about bowel “danger”? Danger’s been on my mind, too. Because of Audio, yes, but also because I’ve dreamt about it twice in the last week.
When I finished reading a journal entry aloud on Thursday night (a short passage about one of these danger dreams), my professor shook his head in an approving kind of way. “You need to write a series of these,” he said. “Vignettes.”
So here are the first two: Elements and Making Friends.
There was a fire in the city, so I went to the coast. I could smell salt, and as I made my way to where the earth sloped and the water rose, I found myself standing suddenly on a giant, blubbery beast — a whale? I hadn’t even realized the terrain had changed until I looked down.
I went inside of an old brick building then and woke up with the most interesting pictures in my hands: candids of a friend sitting on a stool, off center; everything in focus but their head, a fantastic flash of light. “Be careful,” my best friend warned when I said that I couldn’t remember anything.
We’d moved to the country to get away from the darkness.
We looked out our windows early one morning and saw it: the darkness, coming to find us. The darkness was a lion, several rhinos, a tiger, some goats… all kinds of animals. They left the woods to fill the field and then take the porch.
And then, they were people. It was literally as if the animals had just become people.
Do we have to shoot? I thought (when they were still animals). I couldn’t bear the thought.
So we pushed couches toward walls to hide behind them, but I knew the animals – still in them – could see over the couches, could smell right through them.
So here’s what we did: We opened the doors, the main one and the one on the side, and said: Hello friends! We’re live-streaming our happy reunion from different spots in the house… please come in.
And they came inside as friends.