Old friend from high school needs a name. From here on out I’ll call him Jake. Not in the least because he could be Jake Gyllenhaal’s brother they look so much alike.
That evening we lingered over drinks. Then we lingered over dinner. Finally we lingered over dessert, still talking. Still sharing mutual memories but from our different perspectives. Brief touches on hands, arms, shoulders were scattered throughout. When the server came by a third time and asked if we needed anything else we exchanged sheepish grins.
“I suppose we should leave,” I said.
“I’m getting that feeling,” he said wryly.
Neither of us moved. I took a deep breath.
“I want you to invite me to come over to your place. And I want us to have one more drink there and keep talking. I’m not ready for this to be over,” I said.
“You know,” he said, “I just had a great idea. Why don’t we go over to my apartment. It’s just across the street. I’ve got cold beer in the fridge and we can get one and go sit out by pool and enjoy the night.”
“That sounds absolutely perfect,” I said with a smile.
As we left the restaurant he managed to simultaneously hold the door open for me with one hand while resting the other on the small of my back. Those intimate touches are what I crave. What I don’t get. It’s my catnip.
I followed him in my car and a short minute and a half later we were walking to his door. Jake was shaking his head chuckling to himself.
“What’s so funny,” I asked.
“Me,” he said, “Why didn’t I think to ask you to come over on my own? An hour ago? I’m still just a big dork you know.”
“I know,” I said with a soft smile.
Jake unlocked the door. His luxury condo was strewn with laundry. Piles of neatly folded pink and purple little girl clothes covered almost every horizontal surface. Did I mention that he’s a divorced father of two little girls?
“Sorry for the mess,” he said, “I’ve been trying to catch up on their laundry.”
“Don’t think twice about it,” I said, secretly charmed at the thought of this tall, ruggedly handsome man folding little pink shirts.
Beers in hand we walked out to the pool. It was as lovely as any resort I’ve been to. The formal pool was framed by curtained cabanas and deep seated lounge chairs. He led me over to the outdoor kitchen area that was graced with a large outdoor fireplace. In seconds he had his phone playing music through the speakers and we settled in next to each other on one of the couches.
He put his arm around me and I nestled in against him like I had done it a hundred times. And there we stayed, laughing and talking about things much more intimate than we could have in a public place.
He told me about his divorce and all the pain that came with that. I told him about the Australian and the shock of his death.
“I see you and Nathan in pictures on social media,” he said, “He seems like a great guy.”
“He is,” I agreed, “And I love him dearly.”
“But…” Jake questioned with a knowing look, “What’s missing?”
“It’s just how he is wired,” I started trying to explain, “I know it’s not intentional, but he’s just not… He doesn’t like to touch,” I finished lamely.
“So y’all don’t have sex?”
“Oh no,” I said, “We have sex all the time. It’s the other touching that he doesn’t like. This. What we are doing now. He needs more space than this.”
“Oh,” he said, understanding, “but you need that.”
“Hmmmm…” he mused while gently stroking my hair.
“So thank you,” I said, lightening the mood, “for filling that need while treating me to an absolutely delightful evening.”
He squeezed me tight against him.
“You’re doing the same thing for me. I decided a while back I didn’t want to try and date and raise these two girls. They are my world. I don’t want to try to work in a relationship and all the attention that will take. It just wouldn’t be fair to a woman. And I need this too. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to hold a girl older than 7 in my arms.”
Not long after that it was time for me to leave. We walked to my car holding hands with fingers linked, what used to called “holding hands boyfriend/girlfriend style.” Then, beside my shiny red car we hugged tightly. Twice… with lingering looks and smiles.
“We have to do this again soon. Please,” he said.
“Alright, I would love to,” I smiled.
As I drove home I realized the evening and night felt like a first date. And then I wondered, if it feels like a first date, does that make it one?