Don Day was good.
We went bowling, which I’d attempted to nix several times when he’d brought the idea up on text the day previous, and when it came up again after my arrival. But because I am such a nice low maintenance kind of gal, I relented. I really do want him to be happy. I really do want him to have fun. Plus, he told me they had a lounge. I asked him several times. He assured me each time yes, there was a lounge. I was cool with it then.
Nevertheless, this back and forth went on for a half hour or so, as we sat contemplating our imminent departure from the serenity of his apartment.
“Let’s go!” I said.
“No, we don’t have to go.”
“Yes, let’s go.”
“Yes, put on your shoes! Let’s go!”
“It’s not your thing.”
“True. But they have a lounge.”
Finally, we embarked on our bowling adventure.
He didn’t look like he was having fun, he seemed frustrated after each turn. I asked him if he had fun in the car after and he said yes. When I told him he’d looked defeated after each turn, he was surprised. Never assume, I reminded myself.
Then back at the apartment, there was some Mario Kart for him while I browsed and bought some underwear on Amazon.
“Do you want to play?” he asked, again, like he always does. To be polite. He’s very polite.
“BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO,” I said. Then I softened my expression, feeling bad about being so intense, and said, “I hope I’m being clear.”
Then we talked again about how much video games are like slot machines, and they trigger me. We explored that topic a bit more, in detail, and I think he has a clearer picture now. I doubt he’ll ask me to play again. I certainly hope not.
I like it when he plays, though. He’s relaxed, and I sit next to him on the couch, browsing my phone, and I smile when he makes happy noises and chuckle when he swears. And I lay my hand on his leg sometimes, and he takes his hand off the controller and puts it on mine sometimes. It’s not often it spontaneously occurs to him to be affectionate. But sometimes. I need just ask. I need to ask more often.
Then there was some really fun sex I won’t go into detail about here.
We went back into the living room and sat next to each other on the couch. I did this thing I've wanted to do - I grabbed his head and kissed him all over his face. I couldn't tell if he liked it. So I stopped.
A few minutes later, I asked, "Can I do that again?" And he said, "Yes." So I did, but not so many kisses this time. Just, like, maybe five on the cheek. I can't tell if he liked it. I should ask him. But he never lies. What if he says no?
We watched a musical. The guy likes musicals. Never in a million years would I have imagined that. Les Mis is his favorite, as well as one of mine. Never assume, I reminded myself.
Going on about 10, I started minding the time, getting anxious, thinking about mom at home alone, and how it was time to wrap up and leave.
I went into the bedroom to put on my shoes and pack up my things. Sitting on Don’s bed, mesmerized by the pattern on his comforter, a blackness hit me up the side of the head like a baseball bat. I was immediately transported into the deepest sadness and feeling of defeat. Just like that. In just one moment. All was well, then all turned black. And it wasn’t about leaving Don. It was about going home to Mom. At least I think that was what it was. I don’t really know, really. It just happens. I’m always perplexed.
I walked out to the living room and sat back down next to him, still engrossed in the movie.
“It just hits me, the black, I just don’t know why or where it comes from,” I said, knowing he wasn’t listening and wouldn’t respond. He was absorbed in the film. And that was fine. I really said it to no one in particular.
Then we said goodbye and I got in the car and about the time I hit Highway 16, Harald called me to thank me for breakfast. He said he’d given his leftovers to a homeless man on his drive home. I was happy he’d done that.
Then we talked about the musical Don and I watched, The Greatest Showman, about P.T. Barnum. Harald recounted memories of the circus coming to town, the animals marching off the train, parading to the Tacoma Dome. What a lovely thing that would have been to see, I imagined.
We talked about how cool it was when we were kids, having those glorious experiences, before we knew better. And how much things have changed just in the last 40 years. He’d been drinking or edibles or both, and he talked about the circus pretty much during my entire hour drive home. I mostly listened. He’s kind of hard to have a back-and-forth conversation with when he’s altered. It was lovely to listen to him, happy, telling me happy stories about his days past. Harald is very very sweet. Such a good friend. Always there for me.
And then I was home, and mom was in bed, and I let her know I was home, and she was happy to see me. My clothes are in her room, where I dress and undress. There’s not much modesty between us. None, in fact. Just as for so many years she cared for my naked body; I now care for hers.
I chuckled, again amused she didn’t take notice I’d left that morning wearing a shirt and pants and came home in a maxi. And when I slipped my dress over my head, I had nothing on underneath. Right in front of her. With the light on. As she lay telling me the little details of what had happened that day. Mostly the cats being spooked by fireworks. Then I put on my pajamas, kissed her goodnight, and went to bed.
I Persevere. And life goes on.
[Initial Publication: 7/4/2022]