Today I went over to J's house to listen to his latest set of music, grab some fried chicken and coleslaw at Popeye's, and watch The Tudors (which I highly recommend–it has romance, sex, violence, historical intrigue, and lots of sexy men). J is a singer/songwriter, like me, which is one of the common interests that brought us together. When we first met, he played to an invisible audience in his bedroom. I encouraged him to play at his first open mic, which led to a couple more. Then, I casually talked to one of my friends who is a drummer in three or four different bands, what would be the best way for a musician to start off getting gigs at a bar. He said, "Talk to someone like me. We just had a cancellation for our opening gig. Is he interested?" The rest, as they say, is history.
Since then, I have been J's "musical muse," as he often says, but mostly I have been his sound (wo)man. I listen to his music during the practices, tell him what sounds good, whether he should move up or down a capo, alert him when he's off key or playing a funky chord, etc. He feels I'm the only one he can trust with his sound. It's a fair-sized responsibility that I've enjoyed even after we broke up.
J and I dated for a little more than four months, and we broke up shortly after Valentine's Day when he began to passively withdraw, and I finally decided to end both of our misery. My illness made things difficult in terms of togetherness. I didn't get to see two of his big gigs. He never saw me without my family home. It broke his heart to be unable to just "fix" things, and I could feel it becoming a burden to have to come by every weekend. However, what really broke us up was admitting once again for the last time that we were just not right for each other, which we had been fighting since the very beginning.
J was still heartbreakingly in love with his ex when we began dating, which of course I didn't know until maybe a month or more until things. Yet it wasn't as painful as it might have been since I was still in love with the V-Man, who I had been seriously dating for two years up until November of the previous year. Over the year since, we still spent a considerable amount of time together and talked often.
J actually met V-Man early on, not knowing that he was an ex. The energy between us was something J instantly noticed and envied. Chemistry was never a problem for me and the V-Man. Throughout my relationship with J, he told me I never seemed excited around him. I didn't seem thrilled to share my world with him like I did with V-Man or any of the other friends and family he'd met. It was a fair observation. As sexy as he was, as much as we had in common superficially (writing, teaching, and music), we still lacked that magnetic pull. I found myself preferring to spend time with others more than him. So many times when we'd do something special, I'd be enthused and think I was showing, but he'd say I didn't really seem enthused. In the bedroom, I'd be aroused and ready to play, but he'd say I didn't seem into it enough. In short, I just wasn't into him enough. And you know what? With all his doubts, his back and forth between being present and being distant, he was right–I wasn't feeling it like I should.
J has a track record for either rushing in, way in too soon, which is what he did with me as soon as he finally accepted things with his ex were finally undeniably over, or distancing himself and creating a cocoon of J keeping him and his passions and toys inside and the rest of the world out. He recognizes this, and he calls himself broken and un-datable, excusing himself from ever having to try harder or compromise or admit he can have at least parts of it all.
Somehow, we've managed to stay friends post-breakup, but even a "platonic" friendship with him is confusing. The first time we really spent time together after the official break up, he came to the house, picked me up and we went to a nearby park to do a little hiking. We were walking along, talking peacefully, when suddenly he reaches out for my hand, like it's the most natural thing in the world. As we crossed the bridge, he stopped me, gave me the biggest hug, saying, "You really are a beautiful woman." I didn't know how to react, so I just kind of went with the flow and let the moment pass.
Last weekend, he asked if I wanted to go see a movie with him. Eager to get out of house lockdown, I agreed. We went out for sushi for dinner, on him. Yes, he's making money right now, and I'm not, but he shouldn't be assuming to pay for my meal like that when it's not a date. So we walk around the outdoor mall for a while. I have a couple episodes, he holds me close, protectively, jokes about whether he'll have to carry me back to the car. We head to the theater. I pay for the movie to be more fair. When we sit back and the movie begins, J's hand immediately crawls over to my leg and gives it a lingering squeeze before it just rests there, claiming it. It feels nice there, so I hug his arm with my hand briefly. After the car ride home, he kisses me.
Tonight, after music, food, and shows, J casually offers, "You can spend the night if you want." I remember the last time I came to listen to his music, when he couldn't keep his eyes and hands off me. But he stopped himself from getting too out of line. "No, I can't." On the car ride home, I asked him what he meant by that. He said he was worried about what I'd think. I said what that I'd be upset that this was purely a physical thing, it didn't mean anything more than that. He nodded. I said if we were to have sex, it would be no strings attached. I think I meant it, and I wasn't even so sure I did want it.
But tonight, I admit I was tempted. Our coats were on to go, though, but I allowed myself to feel the way his hands caressed my sides. I allowed my hands to slip under his shirt around his waist. He truly does have the most beautiful male body I've had the pleasure of intimately knowing. He greatly admires mine as well, but his body is truly a rarity in its perfect combination of height, leanness and muscular strength. Finally he pulled away. He knew I had already made my decision. I didn't want this. Even if he doesn't know what he wants, or he's just confused because he enjoys a female's company every now and again and it just happens to be me every time, he would still pull away immediately afterward. And even though I don't want the relationship back, I wouldn't want that emptiness. We had something meaningful between us at some point. I've done the friends with benefits thing, and it last left me with a shattered, splintered heart. I don't want my friendship with J to leave me with a bitter tongue and even icier heart.