We’d not been together for a long while and the part of us that loved each other had been dead for an even longer while. In the time that had passed since our love ran its course, we’d both been single, dated around, slept around, and settled on into our new, current relationships. None of these facts go toward explaining why it’s 4 AM and we’re sitting on a couch in her hotel suite, staring at each other, wondering just how far we’re both willing to go.
We’d had a tumultuous affair, the kind that was built on attraction, fueled by passion but lacked in most of the important areas necessary in building a sustainable relationship. We didn’t have the same life goals; when we looked out into the future, we saw different things. The chemistry though, the chemistry was real. We could talk for hours – run the gamut from pop culture to music to politics to movies and religion as if the lenses of our cultural pallets were helically intertwined and inseparable. We had such great chemistry that even on the rare occasions that we disagreed our disagreements were so inimical in nature that their divinely inspired diametrical opposition kept us forever cleaved, like right and left or good and evil. I made her laugh and she wasn’t the kind of women given to laughter. From even her most tempestuous moments of anger I could extract a smile or giggle. And she made me think. She made me think embarrassingly deep thoughts even though I’m not the kind of guy whose deepest thoughts are typically inspired by or shared with other people. And then there was the sex. Sometimes competitive, sometimes confrontational, always unadulteratedly carnal. In the bedroom, together, we were perfection. But relationships that run on this kind of propane like passion never last; they’re destined to burn blue and flame out. We made it six months.
The circumstances around how we ended up here, in this hotel room, at this hour, are purposely coincidental. Since breaking up we’d developed a periodic, sporadic kind of friendship. Having moved to different cities, we never see each other, but we’ll drop a line every few months to check up on each other’s latest favorite music, latest career triumphs and of course, latest love interests. We kept in good enough contact to also know that we’d both be out of our respective towns on business and in the same city, the same weekend– this weekend. So when my business for the day concluded and I and sent her a text saying “Hey, what up… you in town?” and she responded “Hey, I’m here, was just wondering the same about you” it was obvious that ending up here, in this hotel room, at this hour was inevitable.
At home for both of us wait people who love us, people who trust us, people who expect from us a fidelity we’ve promised. But we’re here. We’ve been talking for three hours now. She’s finding herself in fits of unwanted but uncontrollable laughter, and I’m finding myself thinking deep thoughts. I know she cares about her guy back home and she knows I care about my girl and though neither of us are amoral enough to say anything disrespectful about our current situations neither of us can deny what we’re seeing in each others eyes. He ain’t me. He doesn’t understand her the way I understand her, his taste in everything sucks, he doesn’t make her laugh the way I make her laugh and he doesn’t make her simultaneously clutch her pearls and toss them aside the way I once did. I am as certain of this as she is certain of the power she wields over me. My nose is wide open and she knows. She knows she has me in a state of euphoria, high in a way I haven’t been since I was last with her. And with each of one of her smiles and each of my moments of socratic philosophizing we come closer and closer to violating what we have at home by honoring the timelessness of our chemistry. She’s not you, he’s not me, we’re not together, but here we are.
“You should probably get some sleep.”
“I know, you’re right, but you don’t have to leave, I mean, it’s so late…” she responds.
“This couch folds out I think … I could crash here for a bit and leave in the morning.”
“You could,” she says.
Getting up, she walks into the bedroom and I can hear her undressing. If I strain my neck, I might be able to see how congruent my memories are to the reality standing just outside my view; but strain my neck I will not. Taking off my shirt and shoes I put my feet up, settle into a comfortable space on the couch and close my eyes.
And then she’s in the doorway leaning against its frame, her university’s sweatshirt perfectly sized, falling just above the point where her thighs, bare, meet the rest of her.
With the slightest tilt her head and perfect inflection:
“Goodnight” she says.
And our chemistry tells me this is not just a statement – but also – a question.
Our vision in hindsight, is said to be 20/20. But when it comes to love, hindsight is hopelessly imperfect. In situations like this we don’t see the fights and arguments and upsettedness that led to our relationship’s demise, all we can see is how perfect it was for a time. But the bad times don’t negate the good times and they don’t negate the power of perfect chemistry. It is almost impossible not to desire that perfection again – even if just for a moment. But what price do we pay in going there? If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? Yes – because sound is eternal. But does it make noise? That’s a tougher question because noise is relative. In this situation, if we go there, do we violate our relationship, yes – but are we hurting our significant others if they never find out? Sound or noise? (she’s got me thinking deep thoughts again.) Do two people incompatible in the long term with such an intrinsic, timeless connection in the short term have a responsibility to honor that connection? Is there someone in your life who has this kind of affect on you … the kind that sometimes makes you question your current situation? Put yourself in our shoes and write the end of this story. Give some rationale behind why you make whatever decision you make. Keep it real.
Are you guys ready for SBM’s Holiday Happy Hour at the Empire Room in the Empire State Building on Friday, December 23? I can’t wait. Going to be a great time. Tell a friend to tell a friend and until then … stay low and keep firing…