He smelled of marijuana, oaky, earthy, and sweet.
His shoulders hunched and rounded, creating a bowl in his chest on the inhale.
He closed his eyes savoring the sensation as the smoke billowed out of his parted lips into the warm air.
I do not get high, I never really liked the feeling. But I was happy to ride shotgun on the contact, because I enjoyed watching him relax. His chiseled jaw remained unclenched. Apart from the way his lips enveloped the joint, there was not a hint of tension in his lanky body.
He was a complicated man, he played his cards close to the chest. For him, the world is a sinister place; there is no such thing as trust, everybody is suspect, and optimism is for chumps. And while he resisted almost all forms of intimacy and rejected the idea of letting it all hang loose, he surrendered to sexual pleasure like no one I had ever seen.
There was always a hint of nervousness. No matter how many times we had been together, it always felt like the first time. Even on warm summer nights there was a chill in the air. I would later come to know that the coolness originated from the wall around his heart.
But once he relaxed into a slow, steady, stride the wall would dissipate.
He would take the hand of pleasure and let it lead him into ecstasy. He never spoke a word, but his expressions told the story of surrender, and unraveled the complicated gossamer of his persona.
Outside of the bedroom he was anything but romantic. His personality displayed a hefty brawniness that was difficult to penetrate. His words had teeth. The fortress of his disposition was nearly impenetrable. But beneath his tough exterior was a tenderness that longed to be expressed. Vulnerable and scared.
Loving and kind. Affectionate and amorous.
This thing we had was not a relationship. It was not quite a friendship either, because it lacked closeness and familiarity. We might have been potential lovers but there was an absence of sincerity.
What we had was something else…other.
During my time with him I learned a few things about myself. I learned that I am only willing to have an uncommitted relationship if true intimacy is present. I have to feel like he cares for me as a person and is interested in me as a human being. I learned that affection can simulate love, but it is not the same thing. I also learned that affection expressed toward me has nothing to do with me at all, but is an attempt to satiate the desire for physical touch by the another.
And I learned that pleasure and constriction make really strange bed fellows.
I could have loved him. Part of me wanted to. I am still not sure if it was his wall or mine that prevented our coupling. There was this huge chasm between us, that was full of unspoken words and a whole lot of trying-not-to-feel.
Our bodies communicated in a way that our voices simply could not. Unexpressed lips and inarticulate tongues, segued into phallic diction and vaginal vernacular.
The sweetest conversation never uttered.
Although I knew we were never going to be an us, I liked it. I enjoyed sharing his space. I loved feeling his breath on the back of my neck. I adored the way he always found his way to me in his sleep. I reveled in the way our bodies would meld together when we hugged goodbye.
I can still smell his oaky, earthy, sweetness, whenever I think of him and what we shared. But what I remember most is the cool, chilliness that burrowed underneath the wall around my heart whenever we touched.
Author: Stacey Herrera
Editor: Renée Picard
Image: Jasmin Porčič/Pixoto