When I met Rory at Pleasant Pizza, I knew that he was a senior in college, a month away from graduation. I knew when he asked me to go to his formal that he was moving to Texas as soon as the degree was in his hands. But thirty-six days seemed like plenty of time to have some fun.
“It’s the perfect rebound,” I told my best friend Abby. On a time constraint, one couldn’t get too attached. I told Rory the same thing.
“Oh, so I’m just a rebound, huh?” he said, pulling an arm away from our cuddle, pretending to be offended.
“Well, I mean, yeah. You’re leaving.”
“Pssh, what do I know? I’m just a rebound.” I tickled him until his faux sullenness dissipated and that was the last we really discussed him being a rebound. But it wasn’t the last time his leaving came up.
I went in knowing that this wasn’t something that would last, and the countdown seemed to come up every time we hung out. 36…34…27…25…18…16.
“Just think, in 16 days, I’ll be gone,” he said while we lay half naked under his covers. “You’ll move on and be like who was that fraternity guy I hung out with. In 16 days, you’ll never see me again or talk to me again.”
“Unless you call me. I think you’ll still have a phone, dude.”
“This is true.” But I couldn’t help think, why would he call me? There wouldn’t be reason I suppose.
We joked some more about him dating in Houston, that his parents told him they were open to him dating a black girl, even though his grandparents would probably be more hesitant. Rory commented on how I would have a new boyfriend in no time. Though I told him, I could have one now if I wanted as one of my guy friends had made a play. But I said I wasn’t sure I wanted one.
“Well, I’m just not interested that way. He’s a nice guy, definitely doable. I like hanging out with him obviously, since we’re friends. But that…that feeling just isn’t there. Some people have innate chemistry, whether it’s just stupid biological impulses or actual emotions, I don’t know. But I don’t have that desire towards him.”
“You need a spark.”
“Yeah, I do.” And I didn’t say it then, and I probably won’t, but I feel that spark with Rory.
I feel it when he grins and wraps an arm under my ribs to pull me closer into the cuddle. I feel it when he rolls on top of me and we somehow start talking about roleplaying presidents and first ladies.
“Come on, you’d do Hillary, I know you would.”
“Please, I’m more of a Laura guy. Oh, or better even, Barbara!”
“I’ll be Taft, you be the bathtub.”
“George, watch those teeth. No splinters on my lips, please.”
“Abe, your beard is chaffing me.”
“Alright, but if you’re Jefferson, I’ll be Sally Hemings.”
“She wasn’t his wife.”
“No, she was the slave girl. But he was definitely way more into her.”
“So, you wanna be my slave girl? That’s hot.”
“I think we both just got a little racist.”
I feel it when he quotes Scrubs. I feel it when we discuss our days like he’s been in my life for years. I feel it when he texts me to say he missed me over the weekend. I feel it when we laugh all the time, about everything from my kinky sex drive to his repetitive motto, “I do what I can.”
I feel it when it leans in, our eyes meeting, and his lips are just an inch away.
“Are you gonna cave this time?” he asked. He had told me earlier that he waits each time I come over to see how long before I kiss him. But he admitted that he always gave in first.
I grazed my lips over his cheek.
“Do you want to kiss me?”
“I do.” We continued to move in slight increments, his sharp stubble scratching at my smooth face. Our lips hovered just over one another.
“Truce? Let’s call it a draw,” he finally said breathlessly. I didn’t even get a chance to reply before he closed the gap. I took a deep breath like you do before the ocean wave crashes down and I let the current of his body carry me. My legs opened and he fell between, grinding into me. When he buried his head into the crook of my neck, his lips slinked along my skin and I took my tongue to his tiny earlobes, which, every time, elicits a moan from him and harder thrusts.
I don’t know if anyone has ever kissed me like Rory. We match in a way I’ve never had with another guy. Other guys are too delicate, or too hard, sloppy, or their tongues probe like a nervous lizard. Rory kisses me like I’ve always wanted to be kissed, the way that I try to kiss. It’s sweet and rough, it changes constantly. His tongue massages against mine, there are nips and soft bites. It’s hungry, it’s passionate from the first instant and my face often ends red and sore, but I like it.
The only way I could describe it to him is primal, that’s how he makes me feel. I stop thinking and I just react. For someone with my kind of anxiety, it’s the closest thing to euphoria.
But then we stop, out of breath, clothes off, a cool damp sweat along our chests, and I start to think again. I think about 16 days, which is now 12 days.
Part of me is grateful that he’s leaving, so that I can’t get attached, so that he can be the perfect rebound. It’s good Rory’s leaving because it would be ridiculous for me to get involved with a libertarian, a fraternity guy, and who’s almost four years younger to boot. But the other part of me, that is so brutally honest, knows I’m already attached, that I was the moment he open that apartment door in his purple bowtie and told me how beautiful I looked in my dress.
I wonder at times, if Rory wasn’t leaving would I feel this way about him?
There’s something about the immediacy of someone leaving that both liberates and destroys us. When time is the enemy of a relationship, we fight it with a sense of abandon. We let go of more insecurities, we bypass the slow reveals of the self and expose our soul in one swift motion, because there is nothing left to lose. Intimacy is heighten since it comes so quickly, there is no opportunity to meander and test waters, time is coming to snatch away all potential and so we must grab in hasty handfuls any moment that comes to us, which can be snared only with honesty. Time kills fear. Yet this also leaves us bare and vulnerable when time runs out because, for once, we let someone in without games or trepid steps. And when they leave or when we leave, it hurts more because something real is gone, because there’s something magical about things that are fleeting. And no matter how old we get, we’re all searching for a bit of magic, a bit of that spark.