The Weekend Everything Changed

The following program is rated TV-MA for descriptive sexual content. Viewer discretion is advised.

The idea, in the beginning, was to get Cameron’s girlfriend to cheat on him. I don’t remember if I ever knew why, exactly. I think it was a combination of things, honestly. I think someone told Israel he couldn’t do it and he developed some masculine need to prove he could.

I think Israel and Cameron’s (and my) mutual friend, Ramos, didn’t like her any more than any of the rest of us.

And, maybe it’s wishful but I think, maybe, Ramos thought Cameron was better suited to someone else. Someone he had let in on the “get Nikki to screw Israel” joke. Someone like me.

When Ramos returned from his summer at home, in Texas, Israel, and a third friend, Angelo, came with him. Ramos was spending a few days with Nikki in her apartment, waiting for the house he was moving into to be ready to move into. Nikki’s apartment was across the courtyard from mine in the same complex.

After dropping their luggage off at Nikki’s apartment, Ramos brought Israel and Angelo to meet me. “Israel’s trying to get Nikki in bed,” he announced, early in the conversation. We talked, on my patio, for a while. An hour, hour and a half. Ramos revealed Israel was majoring in English. I decided early on that I wasn’t ever going to make any kind of connection when it came to Angelo (I never did). And they left.

A few hours later, I crossed the courtyard to join the festivities. Which mostly consisted of vodka and drinks we’d bought from Sonic. High class.

That first night, we all had some good laughs, drank a little, listened to music, just had a stereotypical college summer night. Somewhere along the way, someone suggested that “someone need[s] to make out; I nominate you two,” gesturing to Israel and me. We laughed it off and carried on with the rest of the night.

That was Thursday. Friday, I came home from a girls’ night out, just as Ramos, Israel, and Angelo were coming back from another trip to Sonic. They invited me to join them and I did. The four of us sat in the living room of Nikki’s apartment long after she and her roommates had gone to bed, watching a Saturday Night Live marathon on cable. As we talked, Ramos and Angelo fell asleep, leaving Israel and I to bring up the sun.

They spent Saturday playing tourists, and we all got together again that night.

That night was different.

I was on Nikki’s patio, smoking with Angelo. Or smoking near Angelo who was busy dialing and redialing his girlfriend’s phone number and not getting an answer. Israel burst through the door out of the apartment and made some kind of exasperated animal sound. “I can’t take her anymore. She’s driving me nuts!”

I chuckled and asked if he meant Nikki. I hadn’t made any real effort over the past couple days to hide my disdain for her. Which was largely fueled by jealousy and my feelings for Cameron. “Yes,” he groaned. “I gotta get out of here. Do you want to go for a walk?”

So, we left.

Somewhere around midnight, Israel and I embarked on a tour of my university campus. I didn’t keep track of the time, but I’d guess it was half an hour, 45 minutes later, we found ourselves at the fountain plaza, which was the focal point of the central part of campus. We had found conversation easy ever since that first meeting on my patio and that night was no different.

I can’t tell you, now, what we had been talking about, but we decided to sit on one of the stone benches that surrounded the fountain to continue. I don’t know how long we sat there, talking about whatever we were talking about, before he leaned in to kiss me.

I am very much a kiss-on-the-first-date, sex-positive, no shame kind of girl. But until he moved, I had feelings for someone else. And he knew about that. He had incorporated my feelings into the conspiracy to get Nikki to cheat on Cameron. “If I can get her into bed, he’ll need someone to help comfort him.” He tried to kiss me anyway. And I pulled away, because I suddenly had no idea what I wanted. I was fairly certain Cameron didn’t want me, even if Nikki did cheat, and Israel and I had formed a genuine connection. But he lived 1000 miles away. In another state.

We hashed all of that out and I let him try again.

And I climbed into his lap, facing him, one leg on either side. And we made out like teenagers. Until we mutually decided we wouldn’t be satisfied ending the night with dry humping on a stone bench in the middle of my university campus.

A long walk in the daylight when I finished with my classes. I’d never made it in this condition before. What was once a long walk now seemed like it would never end.

We finally reached my bedroom and had barely got the door closed and locked before stripping one another. It was a scene from a movie, or maybe a prime time soap opera, as we rushed through something that resembled foreplay. I had just gotten my lip pierced a couple weeks before and I had to revise my customary oral sex foreplay rituals to accommodate the still-healing oral wound but he took it all very seriously.

And just as suddenly as it had all started, that prime time soap became a teen drama when he revealed his secret.

He was a virgin.

I stopped everything, not sure what to do with that. Thinking like a girl conditioned to believe virginity wasn’t something to be handed out like candy on Halloween, I didn’t know if I wanted that responsibility. Or was virginity even important to guys?

As I considered the situation, weighing my options – get laid and maybe, finally, move on from Cameron or masturbate myself to sleep and make things weird tomorrow – he explained that it wasn’t, necessarily, his choice. He hadn’t found a girl willing to take what he had to offer. Any girl willing to give him oral sex had refused to go any farther, intimidated by his …. er, gifts.

After we (both) finished, he got up to leave and I told him to stay – if he wanted to.

Sunday, they had more tourist activities planned so we split for the day. Sunday night, I returned to Nikki’s apartment, expecting to hear all about keeping Israel “out all night.” Ramos made one, quiet, casual comment, and that was all that was said, much to my surprise. And relief.

We left again, this time passing my roommates on the road before finding our way to a small amphitheater that I hadn’t even known existed and that I assumed was used for astronomy classes. We talked. For an easy couple of hours. And we kissed. He told me he thought my soul was sad and that he couldn’t believe my friends had never mentioned it before. And we made our way back to my apartment for a repeat performance of the night before. Our one-night stand became a two-night stand and would ultimately become an intense, tumultuous eight-month engagement.

 

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Re-Evaluating a Situation

The Urban Dictionary defines “the one who got away” as: 1. The mate from a past relationship or friendship who, in the present reality, seems the ideal match, if it weren’t for some force beyond your control, fate or otherwise, keeping you apart.

Or…2. In virtually any context, someone you meet and share a significant encounter with who holds qualities akin to “the one” but for circumstance sake you are separated from; always after the fact.

My relationship with David was a continuous string of awkward moments and unabashed flirting but we never got it off the ground. Whether because of interference from our Greek community or my involvement with Lennon,* something kept us from acting on our mutual attraction, which was always physical but also more than physical.

David and I connected. We just vibed together, for lack of a better term. We were awkward together but in a weirdly comfortable way. We were comfortable being awkward in one another’s presence.

For four years, we danced around each other and around the elephant that followed us from room to room and never did anything about it. After I graduated and moved on, I asked a mutual friend about a rumor I’d heard that David was dating another friend. The friend told me he wasn’t seeing anyone; that he was more or less married to his work, but I should give him a call sometime. Implying that there might be a chance we could give the whole thing a real go.

I didn’t call.

In recent years, I filed David away under “the one who got away,” and resolved that I’d probably never know for sure what kept us apart or if we ever could have made anything work.

I had kind of just started healing from the destructive and resolute ending to my relationship with Israel when Cameron came back into my life. But before he resurfaced my subconscious had given him a lot of advertising space. The dreams ranged from mundane and pedestrian to surreal and unsettling – nightmares, almost, for someone less inclined to glean enjoyment from such things. For whatever reason, my brain chose to alleviate some of the pain in my heart by replacing Israel with someone … less threatening?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been nursing a newly broken heart. This project has everything and nothing at all to do with that. The initial idea was to exorcise the old ghosts from the attic to make room for a new romance (novel). Because someone suggested that I had been through enough romantic trials that I could probably write a riveting romance. However, in working through these stories, one name keeps coming up.

Anyone who has been following along has probably noticed that Cameron has taken the reins more often than anyone else from my past. Cameron and I had some noteworthy moments but David and I did as well. And Israel and I had every intention of living together after I graduated. But it’s Cameron that keeps taking center stage. It is Cameron who took over when I set about creating a playlist to inspire these stories (that playlist is currently devoted to him and him alone). And just as he did when I was rebuilding from the destruction left by Hurricane Israel, he has been battling Micah for control of my dreams and my subconscious.

My dreams often function as conduits for messages I need to hear. The only thing I’ve been able to determine from Cameron’s sudden and very present presence in my recent dreams is that maybe I had been wrong all along. Maybe David wasn’t “the one who got away.” I mean, the exact wording of the phrase indicates (cue epic orchestral swell) there can be only one who got away and as I am a person prone to over-complication of otherwise simple matters, I find myself in a position to choose the ONE. But when the chips are down and my heart aches, my brain offers me Cameron – not David, not Alan, not Lennon, Cameron – as a consolation prize. Crazy, gorgeous, punk rock Cameron. Maybe that answers all of the questions for me.

* I promise that I will get to the Lennon saga, eventually. It’s just really heavy stuff and not something I’m ready to lay out in black and white, just yet.

Fixed Points in Time

“I wanted to ask if you wanted me to stay but I didn’t want people – or you – to think it was because you were drunk.”

Time travelers talk about fixed points; times and events in history that can not be changed. In working through this blog, I have come across a few of those moments. Moments when something happened and I can trace the butterfly effect through the rest of my timeline.

I was in my first apartment. Technically, a townhouse. It was student housing on the university campus but, for the most part, we had all the freedoms we would have had in a regular apartment. Read: we could have parties. With alcohol. And we did. For my 22nd birthday, my roommates and I hosted a blowout. It didn’t start out that way but it definitely ended that way. The first people – Cameron – crossed the threshold between 9 and 10pm and the last one – Cameron – left after 3am.

I had thought I had a pretty good handle on things… until I saw pictures and there were people I didn’t remember being there. But I was proud of the fact that there was no drama, no tears, no fighting. We lost one of my roommates, a couple of times, but every time we found her again and returned her to her bed.

Cameron was one of the first people through the door that night. I had already started drinking at dinner with my roommates and I was ready for more. This little Irish girl is a walking stereotype. Or was. When I was doing it regularly, I could put away my weight in whiskey. Or rum or vodka. And I had all three lined up that night.

I am not sure, exactly, when the liquid courage kicked in but at some point, early in the night, I poured my heart out to Cameron. I confessed the crush I’d had on him since the first time we met, two years before. To which he blithely replied that he knew.

Years later, when we were waist deep in whatever long distance relationship mess we had gotten ourselves into, he told me that he had known all along that I liked him. But even with that revelation, I only recently remembered that he had told me that night.

I told you. I was several sheets to the wind at this point.

We hung out the rest of the night. Anyone who didn’t know (and some who did) wondered if we were coupling because we were together, if not physically touching, for the duration of the party. Until the last person left (before him). As things were winding down, with eight or ten people left of the sixty or more that filtered through, a couple people playing some incarnation of Mario on my roommate’s Nintendo, Cameron sat on the arm of our couch and I laid across his leg, one arm draped over and my head laying on that.

My remaining two roommates bowed out and went upstairs to their rooms. The last remaining guests filtered out the door and Cameron excused himself to the bathroom. Not quite ready to call it a night – at 3am – I set about picking up some of the big pieces. When he came back out, I told him I was going out for one last cigarette; did he want to join me? He said he’d had enough but he’d stand outside with me.

As I finished smoking, he “remembered” that he’d left his jacket inside. Back in the warmth and light of my living room, we stood facing one another, less than a foot separating us. My heart and brain – and if I’m honest, my hormones – argued over whether or not to invite him to stay.

“You’ve been stuck to him all night,” my heart said, “and he’s still here. He wants to stay.”

“You’re still drunk,” my brain argued, “he’ll never know if you wanted him to stay because of that.”

“But look at that body,” my hormones offered. “Do you really want to send THAT home?”

“Don’t you want to fully enjoy your first time together, without anything clouding your perception?” And Brain wins the debate. And he hugged me goodnight and went back to his dorm.

That night was a fixed point in my timeline. Sending Cameron back to his room without sex is a point from where I can trace everything that happened after that. If he had stayed, David’s jealousy over seeing me smoking with Cameron’s singer between their sets might have been directed at Cameron instead. If he had stayed, I might have never met Israel. I might have never slept with Israel.

If I’d never slept with Israel, we likely wouldn’t have had the relationship we had. I might have ended up in California with Cameron. We might still be out there. If Israel hadn’t broken my heart, I might have never discovered the band Kill Hannah or met all of the people I met because of them. I can link a great deal of what has happened in my life over the last decade to that moment when I decided not to invite Cameron to spend the night in my bed.

So much of what has happened in the interim has been good. I’ve met amazing people. But sometimes I wonder how it would have been different.

Before He Would Get Away…

“David told me he thinks you have a hot little body.” I didn’t realize at the time but that wasn’t the first night I had met David.

A couple months before, late in the fall semester, I had gone out with a couple girl friends, Mary and Beth, and we ended up at a house that a couple of the fraternity brothers shared off campus. I had met a couple of the brothers before that but a few others I hadn’t met yet. We were playing drinking games and I was winning. David, I found out later, was the one hobbling around in a walking cast but he wasn’t drinking with us.

Lennon and I were driving back to the campus after bowling with the sorority and fraternity. It was the first night we’d gone out with them and would become something we did every Thursday. David was there every week, which was a big reason I kept going. Any excuse to hang around with him.

But that first night wasn’t about that. I didn’t even know I wanted to find excuses to be around David when I left the dormitory that night. The first night was just about spending time with friends – and Lennon – and getting to know new people. Wasn’t that what university was all about?

Driving back from the bowling alley, Lennon revealed the details of a conversation he had had with David throughout the course of the evening. “David told me he thinks you have a hot little body. He was watching you most of the night.” Whatever I was doing with Lennon was fun but I knew he wasn’t serious. This new information about David made me consider turning my attention elsewhere. It made me consider it very strongly.

I didn’t really know anything about him at the time; I learned more as time went on but at the time, I was operating pretty much on aesthetics. He was a year, maybe two, older than me. Charismatic, charming, and intelligent, with blond hair, blue eyes, a tall and slender but strong build, very much the All-American boy next door, which was – and still isn’t – really the type I am usually attracted to. But still there was something that drew me in and would hold my attention for the next three years, through a hundred different parties and Greek events and 2am trips to TacoBell, through formals and hang outs, good times and a few bad ones.

And even with everything that would happen between David and I throughout our friendship, he will always be my one who got away, if that term still applies when you never had them to begin with. I even still think about him once in a while, wondering if I’ll ever see him again, wondering if he ever thinks about me. I’m pretty sure that’s what “the one who got away” is all about.