I DON’T WANT to fall in love right now. See, I have always bent to the will of others, be they my mother or 11-year-old girls or men who cried love. And this year, for the first time in twenty, is the year of Me. I learned how to say no guiltlessly, do what I want, and care less about what people think. 2007 has taught me what it means to be myself and to be by myself. It is an amazing night at this one-woman party and I am in no hurry to end a damn good time. I love myself too much to compromise on how I want my life to look.
The sexual front is not unlike the romantic. I haven’t had sex in weeks, and the last time was such a blur that I couldn’t tell you what it was like. Drunk on two glasses of wine and more than one drug, I finished off the evening’s irresponsible cocktail with doggy-style and a blowjob. Lips numb and breaths short, we came in the pitch dark on my standard dorm-room twin, first me and then him. I remember straining for it, both of us, but not much else.
My new favorite activity, in lieu of sex and dating, is flirting. It doesn’t really require anything but a casual acquaintance, and I’ve discovered that it’s sometimes the best way to get to know someone. No ulterior motives, no end goal in mind, no games but the ones you make up as you go along. There is something freeing about embarking on a mission to unravel another person, without personal agenda or incentive or even established attraction. I don’t want to sleep with you as much as I want to challenge you for the sake of provocation. I don’t want to kiss you, but I wonder about what it’ll take to get your lips on mine.
This is significant. All of it is significant if only because I am looking at the same life through a different lens in a frame I’ve grown fond of. I used to be terrible at solitude, used to rely not just on men but also on my friends to an unreasonable extent. I was an extrovert because the alternative scared me. I don’t ever want to forget what I feel right now, how I got here, and why I’ve come to like it. I don’t want to forget how to be happy by myself.
THE SCREEN OF my cell phone reads “Just woke up, babe.”
I hit dial at the number. We were supposed to go to brunch three hours before.
“It’s 2 p.m,” I tell him when he answers. My cab is already tumbling toward Center City. “I’m leaving.”
“Man, I wanted to see you.”
“Where are you?”
“Getting the hell out of here.”
“I’m in a cab. You just missed me.” I am heading to the Greyhound station, rushing back to Boston and to real life. He is barely out of bed.
“Oh,” he says. Then a pause as it sinks in. “That sucks.”
“Your fault, not mine,” I respond matter-of-factly.
“I know, I know,” he says. “Are you mad? You sound mad.”
“I’m not mad. I just don’t like it when people don’t do what they say they will.”
The truth is that I could stay for another day, but nothing — not love and certainly not lust as it is in this case — can compel me to turn around. The previous night, my best friend called and told me in an eerie, even tone that his boyfriend had broken up with him. I almost cried at the news. Fourteen months balled up and thrown out. I have to leave. There are pieces to pick up, a person to worry after.
“When are you coming back?” he asks me.
“Darling, no offense, but Philadelphia is ugly,” I say. “There’s no way I’m visiting again before spring.”
I tell him to come to Boston instead, to be spontaneous. He lets out a sigh, a groan, a whine about how far it is.
“Oh, come on,” I urge him. “We’ll play. It’ll be fun. Just take off for a weekend without a trace. It could be like a movie.”
“Maybe,” he says, non-committally.
“Think about it.”
I hope he seriously considers my invitation, but I don’t expect him to. And I don’t actually care if he comes or calls or likes me or wants to fuck me. I am not even over the Ben Franklin Bridge and my mind is already racing along the Charles.
Out there somewhere, maybe not in Boston or Philadelphia or even New York, but out there somewhere, there is probably true love. Or at least something like it. But this boy isn’t it and even if he were, you know what? I don’t want love. Not the romantic kind, not now, not yet. I can stand to wait. For the moment, my relationship with myself is finally hitting a sweet spot. And besides, if all the movies are right, if there really is a one and only for each of us, then I think I’ve already found mine. She is more beautiful than I could’ve imagined.