This is a book excerpt from November 2011. John and I had known each other for about five months at this point. Though we had started out as friends, we were now both single, and sparks were flying.
One evening in November sitting together on Loretta’s deck, which overlooks a tree studded hillside, the conversation turned to personal matters. She told me of her life – and of how big a role her kids played in it. My stories paralleled hers as I told her how I wanted my life to look, and how important my kids were to me.
We’d been having these conversations for a while now – at least since September – and I think we were both getting the same sense from them. The one that tells you that, hey, there’s got to be a reason why this person always feels so comfortable to be around.
John was desperately trying to keep me at an arms distance, especially when it came to his heart.
But then you try to explain it away, just in case you’re misreading it. You think well, we’re just a lot alike, and we’ve got similar life experiences, and we’re both looking for the same sort of easy-going existence and…
And then you try not to read into the fact you’re perfect for each other.
We had so much in common and such at ease with one another. But we were both still cautious and neither wanted to be hurt again.
Out on the deck the evening was starting to turn cool, so I suggested we take our wine glasses in the house where we sat together on the couch. As we laughed and chatted we eventually found our fingers touching – and then our hands intertwined.
I looked into her pretty green eyes and she flashed me her lovely smile.
We drew close and I softly kissed her cheek – then firmly kissed her lips. As I held her in my arms I thought about why I came over that night. It was no accident I’d been spending so much time with Loretta – and despite whatever fears I had about where she and I might go, I wanted to stay the night.
Okay, I’ll admit here that it felt kind of strange kissing a friend. I have never done that before and at first I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. But then it felt so natural and the right thing to do…and so I didn’t resist.
I led her to the bedroom, where we made love and fell asleep in each other’s arms, holding tight like we’d never let go. And that was new for me. Usually it took me a while to get used to sleeping with someone – but that night I had the best night’s sleep in ages, and I did it with Loretta locked in my embrace.
I felt the exact same way and was so surprised to feel that comfortable and content.
The night was perfect – maybe too perfect. When we got up the next morning I felt a bit awkward.
Let me be a little crass here – when you wake up after a hook up, a one night stand, you collect your things and go. You don’t have to say much, because you don’t know the person well enough to have much to say.
But I knew Loretta, she was my friend. I’d let her in close – closer than I typically let women – because there was no danger. If we weren’t romantic, then she could never be a source of heartache. But, at least in my mind, I’d just messed that up.
So I got weird.
And I remember as I was leaving, after she cooked me a breakfast I hardly touched, she asked me “Hey, are we okay?”
I said “Yeah, sure”. Truth was I really didn’t know.
John went from comfortable and my friend, to jittery and distant in what seemed like an instant. I thought, “Oh dear gawd, he is going to run.” And he did.
Before I tell you why I didn’t know, let me explain something about guys – okay, wait, about me specifically: If I’m dating a woman whom I’m pretty sure it won’t work out with, it’s a whole different ballgame. There just isn’t a ton of pressure because the chances I’ll know her this time next year aren’t very good.
And when you’ve been through a crappy divorce you can develop the habit of gravitating toward women it just ain’t ever going to work out with, you know? Then you don’t put yourself in jeopardy of ever feeling that way again. Which is good because part of you still feels that way, and you’re beginning to think you always will.
Honestly, I’m not sure I even had the thought with any of those women ‘this won’t work out, so don’t get all weird about it’, but there are just too many of those ‘relationship lite’ type experiences in my past for them all to have been coincidence.
But then you meet a woman it could really work out with – and now you’re in a new kind of ballgame. One with higher stakes. One in which you have a lot to lose.
And all of a sudden, I really didn’t know if things were going to be okay.
John walked out the door and I didn’t see him again for two months.
John P. Gavin