Sex and Sickness Part 3
Do you know the feeling of persistent loneliness? The kind that slowly creeps into your mind, then your body, as it leaves you starving for affection? For the sake of this post and our mutual commiseration, I hope you do, but maybe you are one of the cheerful extroverts that never gets lonely. In such case, just try to feel lonely for a few minutes while you read this post. Thanks.
I’ve been dealing with persistent loneliness for about seven months. Well, it’s actually been a lot longer, but I had my last taste of intimacy seven months ago, so we’ll go with that.
My last intimate experience was with Kira. Well, actually, that’s just the name I came up with to protect her identity. I’m fairly certain we are the only two people who can connect her real identity to the pseudonym I gave her. But ironically, some people knew her as Kira before this post went up — it is the name I gave her in my unpublished memoir Not Like The Whiskey, which I’ve shared with a dozen or so people. So sometimes people will ask me: “How’s Kira?” It makes me laugh, and then feel really, really creepy. In fact, sometimes I even find myself calling her Kira in my mind.
Okay, now that you know the full extent of my creepiness, let’s call this tangent done.
So Kira came back into my life right around the time Mia exited. It was good timing, and although I didn’t expect the feelings I first developed for Kira to return, they did. They really did.
I’ve known Kira since college, but we drifted apart after graduating and I got sick. So I was surprised when she sent me a text message a few days before I had a falling out with Mia. I initially ignored the message because, in addition to still talking with Mia, I was actually holding a grudge against Kira for not reaching out or coming to see me after I first got sick.
Why did I hold a grudge? Well, probably because I’m an immature baby trapped in a man’s body. (Oh wait, that’s Donald Trump. My bad). No, actually I’m just a little sensitive at times, I guess, which I think is understandable considering the situation I’ve been stuck in for the last two years (but really six years).
When Kira first arrived the room was very dark. But as she walked through the door she ushered in a stream of bright light — she was literally glowing. It was summer so she was wearing tight Daisy Dukes with white lace around the edges. But I could have cared less about her tight-fitting shorts, I was fixated on one thing only: Her hair.
And you thought I couldn’t get more creepy. Hah!
So, yeah, I’m moderately obsessed with Kira’s hair. She has this amazing wisteria-like hair that has always fascinated me. It’s brown with natural blonde highlights all bundled up into a maze of beautiful, vivacious curls framing her soft, gorgeous face.
She knows how obsessed I am with her hair and despite it being one of my most creepy infatuations, I’m not ashamed she knows it.
Okay, so Kira, gorgeous hair and all, walked into my room, she was glowing, it was the first time I saw her in at least four years. She was more beautiful than the last time I saw her, and while that could just be the intimacy deprivation talking, I really do think she got prettier.
Within seconds Kira was sitting next to me holding my hand. Within minutes she was in my bed and within a few hours we were wrapped in each other’s arms, daring one another to make the next move. While we danced around actually kissing each other, she rubbed my head and traced patterns with her fingers on my chest and back. It was both tortuous and one of the sweetest moments I have ever had. Why tortuous?
Well, she had a boyfriend. Hmm sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I don’t know why, but I have a tendency to get involved with women who are unavailable.
It was such an incredibly frustrating situation — there I was with an absolutely gorgeous woman showering me with affection, something I had been starved of for such a long time. She was making herself available to me, at least in that moment, so what was I supposed to say? “Sorry Kira (or whatever your real name is), but you have a boyfriend and I must respect the sacred bond between girlfriend and boyfriend”? It would take an incredibly strong-willed person, someone infinitely better than me, to say such a thing. I’m not that strong when it comes to temptation. At least not lately.
I knew she would eventually leave but if she was making herself available to me than I wanted to take advantage of it. I couldn’t read her mind, but to me it felt like she was thinking “Okay, I didn’t expect to have this connection, and I know I love my boyfriend, but I think it’s okay if I pretend, just for this weekend, that Jamison and I are a couple. We won’t have sex, maybe we will kiss. NO, we DEFINITELY won’t kiss. NO KISSING! But I’ll just be with him and it’ll be really beautiful.”
That evening we both laid facing each other, our legs tangled, not talking, but enjoying our senses — the sound of us breathing in unison, our respective fragrances, the smiles we were toting. We quickly fell into a cycle of heavy petting and getting as close to kissing as possible without actually letting our lips touch. It was almost like we were playing a game to see who would touch the other person’s lips first. And we both lost a few times, but none were a full on kiss. It was more like the way a small aircraft skids alone a runway before finally touching down or the way a rock skips across the water when thrown just right.
It was actually pretty fun, until it wasn’t, but it was certainly a rare indulgence in feeding my need for affection and intimacy. It became a cruel game that I couldn’t play anymore. So I kissed her, softly, and then I quickly pulled away. I wanted to see her reaction, but it was dark and hard to tell, except that she seemed unfazed. It was a very tender and sweet moment.
Later, after we said goodnight, she snuck back into my bed. But when I tried to kiss her again she seemed hesitant. It was then that I got this weird feeling: It was okay to hold her, but not kiss her. So we spent the rest of the night snuggling. And that was it.
In the morning, there was more mild affection, but no kissing. Then she left.
She was crying as we said goodbye. I had never seen her cry, and she admitted she wasn’t the type to cry; she never cried. But there she was, crying.
It was at that moment I realized the sadness was about me being sick. She was crying, not because she had shared a romantic weekend with a man she adored and she was sad to leave him. She was crying because she had a nice weekend with a sick friend and there was nothing she could do to make him better. She later told me she got in bed with me because that’s the only place we could “hang out” and if I were healthy and out of bed we probably wouldn’t have ended up snuggling and being so affectionate with each other. I think she was right, we probably would have hung out on the couch with a safe distance between us, all while I secretly hoped we would end the night holding each other. So I guess I have being sick to thank for bring us closer together. But after Kira left I found it hard to shake the feeling that she was, at least partially, acting out of pity. I still can’t shake that feeling, probably because I know nobody wants to fall in love with a sick guy, even if they are legitimately attracted to him.
Kira told me she would be back in a couple weeks. It’s been seven months. Immediately after that weekend we had this intense correspondence that neither of us wanted to let go of, but it eventually we did — it faded, as many things do over time.
For the first month or so we talked everyday. She sent me a text message from work every morning and took me on virtual adventures via video chat in the evenings. We even made a date for her to come back and visit, but that week she wasn’t feeling well, then she had car problems. I offered to pay for a rental car, but she refused.
Now I’m lucky to get a text message from Kira once a week. And when I do, her messages are usually happy ones congratulating me on my improved health. But I can tell that the romantic feelings she had for me for that brief moment in time seven months ago are gone. Her messages are now full of happiness and excitement in the way somebody feels about her dear friend, not how a beautiful woman gets excited to kiss her boyfriend after a long absence, or how anybody gets excited about a new romance. She, as it seems, is madly in love with being my friend. But even so, our friendship has become peripheral to her.
She occasionally sends me messages that say “How come we don’t talk as much?” or “We should FaceTime more!” And to that I want to say “Well, you gotta put in more effort. It’s just not my style to keep pestering you until you respond to my messages.”
A couple weeks ago Kira told me she was flying to visit her family. It sounded like a nice trip. She was messaging me from the airport; it was good to talk to her. We hadn’t talked in awhile, and naturally, I wondered how things were going with her boyfriend. (I know, I’m a creep). I wondered because (1.) the last time we spoke the relationship wasn’t going well and (2.) she told me the next time she’s single we’re gonna do a lot of making out. (Yes, I am desperate enough to cling to something she probably meant as a joke, but that’s okay). Later that week I saw photos she had posted and there was her boyfriend along for the trip to see her family.
And that’s why I hate following Kira on social media. Even when her boyfriend isn’t in her photos, it’s just hard for me to see her life and not be part of it. It’s kind of heartbreaking.
But if there’s one thing I’ve realized about being sick, it’s that no one person, or even many people can cumulatively break your heart the same way life can. A love interest can break your heart, but you eventually get over it. When life breaks your heart, oh boy, that shit sticks with you. So whether it was Sasha or Mia or Kira (or any of the other pseudonyms I’ve come up with that end with a), no person can break my heart beyond repair, certainly not the way life has, and as depressing as that sounds, it’s not as bad as putting my mental health at the mercy of a single person.
And that in turn, allows me to focus on the sweet and tender moments I once shared with Kira.
A few months ago I saw photos Kira put on Facebook of a vacation she took with her boyfriend. There were these romantic shots of just the two of them kissing while silhouetted in the setting sun. Initially I got upset, consumed by my jealousy, but then I remembered I know what that feels like, and not just kissing in general; I actually know what it feels like to kiss Kira. And that’s something I’ve wanted to feel since I first met her. And if that’s as far as our relationship goes, that’s enough for me, because it was something special, if only brief. So I clicked through her photos again. And there we were — our eyes closed, shrouded by the sun, kissing each other.
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