February 10, 2013

[in progress]

Line up another list of four-minute loops of melancholy, then sing along until your voice gives out. Do this thing in the hopes that it might dislodge that small and persistent ache stuck at the core of you—accreted or ejected: pearl or projectile, depending.

Repeat this, to no great result, until you realize it's not something that's happened yet but some baffling and entirely novel problem: good man, bad timing, looming spectre of departures and agreed-upon end dates fuelling some sort of advance preview on heartbreak.

Wake up holding him, watch late winter's grey light filter through curtains and onto his sleeping form, careful not to disturb the hand of yours he holds; adjust the big-spoon-arm you still have no idea what to do with and wonder how this is a thing you can do and feel like you will miss simultaneously.

Note the ways you both enforce agreed-upon distances and the places you stop yourselves and each other: discuss public displays of affection while walking and then segue into whether either of you has had any success out in the world of other dudes. Do the same thing when he's settling into your arms as you go to bed for the night, or at a dinner party when you go to fish out a cat GIF and remark upon the dating site emails that only seem to pop up in his company.

Tell him to be less compelling, adorable, thoughtful; remind him he's liked (enormously, mind.) Mostly, though, remind yourself; maybe it'll stick, but it has yet to.

He'll start, just a little, when one of your friends refers to him as your boyfriend and as you start to deflect now and explain later how he's not and what that means (noting her mild skepticism and not-so-mild concern,) recognize that your central ache has shifted, slightly, and that you don't know whether it's the explanation or the necessity thereof that still bothers you.

Find yourself startled by the unlikelihood of a work dream and a moment of unrecognized surroundings before letting the arm around you and the deep, even breaths of a man firmly dreaming lull you back to sleep. You both snore, occasionally; don't think about how you've gotten pretty good at nudging the other into a position where it's less troublesome.

Step on a scale after wondering why none of your pants fit properly any more, and realize that the gentle and persistent increase of your stress level left you without an appetite: you're down twenty pounds, this thing is quite literally consuming you. Recognize this as both convenient and alarming, and make a note to eat better, since you're eating less.

Out for drinks with your friends, get called on all of this, hard. They do it from a place of concern, and they'll be right in pointing out that none of this is good for you on a variety of levels and that you can't think your way out of this: without actually talking to him, this isn't going to go anywhere and as much as you can try to convince yourself whatever has gone on so far is working, there's physical evidence to the contrary.

Out for drinks with his friends, have a pair of asides as you get moved from bar to table; one about a tweet from the night before about the value of being told things you needed but didn't want to hear, the other about not being sure about what to introduce you as (there's an inadequacy in 'friend,' a discomfort in 'boyfriend,' an absurdity in 'gentleman caller,') and mention, briefly, that the relationship that you set out to have isn't the one you've been having, of late.

Table it, for the rest of the night, so that you can get back to the business of meeting his people and later laying waste to them at Street Fighter. He'll beam, and turn the moment into one of those looping internet video deals, and kiss you on the forehead when you win the third match of five, causing one of his coworkers to demand double or nothing on the bets (the one who bet against you in the first round, which he will soon learn is unwise.)

Leave early, again, having to work the next day, and get pulled into a serious kiss; add this to the brief list you've been making in the off chance you have to rebut his claims of detachment (aware, wholly, that it's not like it would make a difference if he didn't want to be there, any more.) Pretty much everything on the list are things you find exceedingly endearing, though; consider it a potential add-on to the things you like about him, if this keeps going.

Before dinner and a movie (the movie ends up being a bunch of RuPaul's Drag Race that you have on your laptop,) end up on his couch, looking at each other, his hands on your knees and yours in your lap, afraid to ask a question but knowing the alternative is worse. Remember, briefly, ducks to faces at two hundred and forty knots; breathe deep, and start out by checking in. You're both okay with where things are, and though it's not something that either of you planned for, it's been more than alright, so far. It's still not forever, and it's not entirely monogamous (which is totally fine, as long as he comes back with good stories, you tell him; he says to do the same when you're off on vacation next month,) but it's nice to be able to reconfigure. The casual pretence is gone, and you hadn't really thought about how it's surprisingly pleasant to be attached (but you are, to him, who is delightful, so.)

Think about but don't mention how, the first time you were on this couch, you talked about being adults and getting to decide what this looked like, and that here you are, being adults and deciding what this looks like. Remember the preemptive rebuttals you'd drafted, and move them over to the things you like about him column; tell him about it first, just to see what face gets pulled (it's not the smug dimple, this time, but a sheepish grin you're happy to kiss off his face.)

From there, it's a lot easier; movies are usually chosen on grounds of ignorability and this one is no different, after a few hours of watching and not watching drag queens vie for a ton of money and engage in arguably the most postmodern of reality TV shows, head to bed. You won't sleep for a while, yet, but when you do get around to it, he'll hold your hand to his chest and nestle contentedly, like the same weight's been lifted from both your shoulders.

Settle in to sleep and recognize the lack of central ache, thankfully. Hum eight bars of a song you realize you don't really need to lean on any more, pull him a little closer, and close your eyes.

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