A boy visited me last weekend. He was a “summer thing,” as those go, while I was back home in Seattle. Nothing serious, fun for a minute, and the deadline of having to return to California for school made it easy not to commit to anything. Hallelujah. Saved from a sticky situation of commitment! I am not trying to date anyone, and definitely not someone from back home. And even though he’s a fun guy and everything … definitely not him. My feelings for him ended at casual friendship, and if I was going to be in a distanced relationship it would have to be with, like, Dream Boy, not summer-hookup friend boy.
So it ended neatly, with a convenient expiration date, and I could go on with my San Francisco oglings sans attachment (I don’t know if you’ve heard how beautiful everyone is here but … now you know). Unfortunately, I’m not sure we were on the same page about that.
The week before the boy dropped in was pretty hectic at school. I had some concerns about my recent switch of majors from graphic design to interaction design, and spent the days at school trying to get answers to my burning questions (“IS THIS MAJOR EVEN RIGHT FOR ME? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?”) from every instructor in the new department, which meant setting up meetings and laying my heart out on the table for all to poke at, and it was just exhausting. I had to make this huge life decision in the span of a week. So my mind was not on anything boy related. Just not, not, not in the mood. Then he came into town. After class one night I met up with him and we hung out in the city, then went back to my place. It seemed like we both assumed he would sleep in my bed, which I didn’t even think about as anything weird. But when it was time to sleep, it was really, really weird.
Do you ever get that feeling, usually when you haven’t exercised in a while and your muscles are wound up, where you can’t fall asleep because your feet are so twitchy and you’re just super restless? That was my feeling every night when he was visiting. While I was trying to get my comfortable sleep-side on, the boy was trying to either hold me as tightly as possible or, even worse, every time I tried to roll over, to make out. I was like, “What the living hell are you doing? I’ve had a long week and I’m trying to sleep! SLEEP!” That was a message that, even when verbalized to the boy, he didn’t seem to take in.
So this happened for a few more nights. I’d tell him nicely that I’d rather sleep, and eventually that I wanted space, and that I really didn’t feel like even making out with him at all. He’s kind of a whiner, so he’d whine something like, “But I missed you and just wanted to make out with you … all right, I’ll let you sleep.” That’s kinda sweet, but it made me want to hurl. Also, he didn’t really let me sleep through a whole night anyway. I’d get maybe a few hours in, wake up again to roll over, and he’d be there waiting to see if my mood had changed at all. I wondered if he stayed awake all night, staring at my face, waiting for the slightest quiver of my eyelids to give away my imminent awakening so he could pounce.
Why, all of a sudden, was physical proximity to this boy so repellent to me? It wasn’t like this over the summer. We would hang out from time to time, he’d sometimes spend the night and we would have sex. It was chill and lighthearted and it meant nothing.
Before his visit I thought that we’d probably hook up a couple of times while he was here, no big deal, nothing important, see you when I’m home for Christmas. Hanging out during the day was awesome: we had a really fun time looking at the city together, exploring museums and parks, eating around. But at night, inexplicably and in a very visceral way, I did NOT want him ANYWHERE near me. (Unfortunately, my living arrangement doesn’t really have a couch or any other available sleeping surface, but now that doesn’t sound like a very legitimate excuse for putting up with shitty feelings.) I felt like I was just obliging him every time he tried to kiss me. I’d try to make out with him, but I just couldn’t follow through. I was literally wincing.
In my head I kind of wanted to hook up with him just to figure it out. Why all of a sudden could I not even think about kissing him, let alone having sex with him again? We were still friends and it was still casual. So what had changed?
On the last night of his visit, when I just wanted to roll over from my left side to my right, he again decided that would be a great time to wake me up by trying to make out with me.
“Boy,” I said. “Can you just let me sleep? Please? I don’t think you realize how annoyed I am, and I’m trying really hard not to be. But I am tired. Sleep is good for me right now.”
“But I just want it to be like how it used to be … we had so much fun,” he kind-of-whined.
Now, me, feeling like a megabitch: “Boy. We hooked up a few times over summer vacation. And summer vacation is over. I live in California. You live in Seattle. This is nothing.” I hoped he would understand once I pointed out what we had was a “summer thing.”
Then he asked something that made me want to run downstairs and hide. “So does that mean that you’re, like, breaking up with me right now?”
I choked. Excuse me? Breaking up WHAT? You were my summer hookup, not my boyfriend. I didn’t even know what to say. So I tried to fall back asleep, and secretly waited desperately for the morning, when we could wake up and not be in bed and just be friends again. I was so revolted my legs just wanted to run away immediately.
This song by Wilco played in my head the whole time:
He left Monday morning and left a note under the leftover wine we didn’t drink from a party. He instructed me to “remember the good times, before the bad ones.” By “bad ones” I don’t think he meant just when I didn’t want to have sex; he obviously expected a lot more from me in other ways, too, than I was ever going to give him.
Later I talked to my best friend Shannon about it. I asked her why I was so revolted by the mere notion of hooking up with a kid that I’d enjoyed hooking up with just a month ago. What was wrong with me?
“Dylan,” she said, “normal people usually can’t just hook up with people if they don’t like them. You probably just don’t like him that way. That’s boundaries for normal people.”
I think why it felt so wrong is because I have two different lives: one at home and one at college. And blending them feels really strange. The looseness and freedom of a Seattle summer just don’t fit into my hectic art-school life in the Bay. Whatever happened with him and me last summer doesn’t fit in with now. ♦