Coming, Part III

That first night together ended up being our last. As quickly as Chu’s interest in me had materialized, it had disappeared—and not for reasons that I’d have ever imagined.

There were never any clues that anything was wrong—or maybe wrong is too judgmental of a word. There were never any clues that anything was not right. His passion seemed clear and true. The evening we met, we made out on my couch and moved to my bed; there were no doubts about it: I observed physical proof that he was—well—moved. He had worked hard for this, had been forward with expressing his interest and flirtatiousness for more than a month prior to the evening we locked lips. Finally, at our serendipitous meeting, he was getting what he wanted—and I, well, I was reaping the benefits: a Friday night frolic for my sheets, the attention of a guy who seemed to have a good head on his shoulders, enough sparks to hint that butterflies could’ve been waiting at the end of this moment.

I don’t know how long we were there or how long it took me to come to my wits. After his scruff brushed against my clean shave and our hands began to wrinkle our clothes, he positioned himself atop me, both of us still decently dressed, but with our minds wandering elsewhere. I hadn’t found this in months; a resident of rural Arkansas, he hadn’t found this in longer: the sought-after temptation of lingering fingers and tongues, lost to reason, surrendered to “Why not?” It would be easy to keep going, to feel good, to make him to feel good, to light the easy lust of here and now…

That’s when I did the unthinkable: I said stop.

Wary of moving too quickly and the potential of the moment to be a simple vent for the unsexed, I drew back. I opened my mouth and let my rationality dribble with hesitation and righteousness: I liked the promise of this situation too much to let it explode on the night it first began. We had to slow down. We had to stop.

I thought about the excuses that he’d use to retort: A fear of risk. Prudishness. Blue balls.

Instead, he reciprocated perfectly with an equally reasoned, “You’re right.” We brushed our wrinkles off our clothes. I drove him back to his hotel and let our respective Jiminy Crickets cut our night short… but not without a final kiss goodnight.

The next day, like any evolving crush, he texted. He called. We talked on the phone for an hour. By Saturday night, I was convinced: the butterflies were coming. Although he was boarding a flight back to Arkansas the next day, I knew he’d be back in two weeks for another conference. This was not over yet.

At work on Monday, I was completely distracted. The possibility of something fun, flirty, and maybe even meaningful on the horizon was one that I couldn’t shake off. In the middle of the day, I decided I’d take a page from his playbook and email him something completely raw, honest, and forward, a simple line to echo the sentiments I perceived from him during the weekend: Hey Chu, Can’t stop thinking about you. Give me a call back and let’s plan a date for your next visit. I figured this was something he’d appreciate. He had been transparent over and over again; it was my time to try his strategy. Maybe my walls of shyness and safety had been wrong all along.

4:30pm. Cell phone rings. Caller ID: Chu.

I pick up. My voice: careful to be nonchalant.

Me: Hey.
Chu: Hey, how’s it going?
-Good, just here at work, still—working.
-Yeah, I’ve had a long day too. I got back in late last night and still made it to work today. Sorry I didn’t call you last night like I had said I would.
-It’s okay.
-I just got in too late and didn’t want to wake you up.
-I was up, but I understand: you’re still recovering from that big conference. You need your sleep.
-But hey, you’re calling now, so it’s all good. Oh, and hey, I sent an email a few hours ago.
-Yeah, I saw—
-Did you read it?
-Yeah, and that’s why I wanted to call you.
-Uh oh.
-Don’t give me that uh oh.
-Well you sound like you’re about to say something important.
-Just say it.
-Well, okay. I thought about everything we talked about on Friday night and on the phone on Saturday. And I had a lot of fun hanging out and talking with you. I think you’re a great person, and I really look up to you with everything you’re doing your life…
-But, um, I think that when we decided to slow down—
---that was the right decision.
-Yeah. I’ve been thinking about what you said—about making sure I don’t do this because I don’t have anyone here in Arkansas…
-…and, I think you were sort of right.
-What do you mean?
-Well, I think—that—I’m not quite sure—that—I think—I’m more – into women. And… it’s complicated. I’m sorry.

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