The next morning I was doing cardio by walking around my parents neighborhood. As I replayed the events from the night before, a very vivid memory of Kevin and me from the 7th grade popped into my head…
As I’ve mentioned before, despite my weight, I was always a part of the “in crowd” at school. Our class was taking a 2 hour bus ride somewhere for a field trip and the “cool kids” (including yours truly) were sitting in the back of the bus. We were a frisky bunch of preteens and somehow we decided that the girls should give back massages to the boys. I wound up massaging Kevin which was exactly what I wanted and exactly what I was afraid of. I can remember kneading my hands slowly into his shoulders for a few minutes and then having the terrifying thought. “What if Kevin would rather be massaged by one of the other (skinny) girls?” I abruptly lifted my hands, muttered something about not wanting to give him a “boner” and then I curled up in my seat with my Walkman over my ears.
The young version of Celeste would get defensive and reject people before they could reject her. Unfortunately remnants of that behavior still lie within the adult version of me. Sometimes I mask it with expectations of extreme chivalry “if a man likes me, he will say so”, other times I hide behind my high standards. Being defensive is so much easier than taking risks. But what if risks are the key to getting what I want?
When I got back to my parents house I had a voicemail. It was Kevin.
“Hey CeCe, it was great seeing you last night. I’m having a few people over at my apartment tonight, you should come by. If you can’t that’s cool… maybe we can hang out another time. Call me.”
For me, getting out of New York City means getting away from men and dating but listening to Kevin’s message it looked like that wouldn’t be the case this trip. I called him back and let him know that I although I had dinner plans with my family, I would drop by his apartment afterwards if people were still around.
Later that evening as my family neared the end of our dinner, I sent Kevin a text message.
Should I still come by?
A few seconds later he replied,
It was close to 11 when I pulled up to Kevin’s place. As I got out of my car, I saw him coming down the steps.
“Hey,” he said giving me a hug.
“Hi there,” I smiled.
Kevin had an awkward look on his face, he took a deep breath. “So I should probably tell you that everyone just left…”
“Oh,” I didn’t know what to say.
“Yeah, my friends act like a bunch of old married couples. But you’re here! So… shall we?”
I felt cute in a new pair of jeans from Torrid and a blue argyle sweater but climbing the stairs to Kevin’s apartment with him behind me, I was so self conscious. With every step I could feel his eyes on me. I wanted to fidget with my clothes, but I forced my hands to stay still. Either he liked what he saw or he didn’t and me pulling my shirt down in the back wasn’t going to make a difference. He opened the door for me and after a brief tour of the apartment we made our way to the living room.
“Have a seat,” he said as he cleared the used wine glasses from his coffee table. There was an arm chair and a couch. The defensive Celeste would have made an executive decision and taken the arm chair, but I took a small risk and sat on the couch. I would give him the option of sitting next to me or not. A few minutes later, Kevin emerged from the kitchen juggling two wine glasses and two bottles.
“Red or White?” he asked.
He poured the wine and took a seat next to me on the couch. The way Kevin was sitting (turned towards me with his arm extended across the back of the couch) created a little nook that was perfect for me to lean into, but I didn’t, I couldn’t, it was too risky. Instead we spent hours catching up, reminiscing and talking about the future. Kevin has always been sort of a goof, so we laughed a lot which was nice. Every once and a while, he would reach over and touch my leg or my hand and I would flirt back, messing his hair up etc. but inside I felt so tense. It was awful.
Was Kevin putting the moves on me? Was he just being nice? I needed to get out of my head and just stay in the moment.
Out of the blue Kevin brought up a teacher from the fourth grade who he loved and I absolutely hated. We began to trade stories and debate her good (and not so good) qualities. Maybe it was the wine, the laughter or a mix of both, but I felt myself truly relax. I don’t know how it happened but I found my way into the little nook that Kevin’s arm made. His arm closed around me as if he’d been waiting and we just kept talking and laughing as he played with my hair. After a while we just cuddled on the couch in silence.
“This is nice,” he said.
“It is…” I said smiling to myself.
“I guess it was sort of inevitable, we’ve been in love with each other since elementary school.”
I adjusted a little within my nook so that I could see his face. I wanted to make a joke, but I couldn’t think of anything to say.
He looked at me, I smiled… and then he kissed me.