I was sitting quietly pretending to listen to talented students read poetry and perform monologues. Twiddling my thumbs, I waited for the text.
I waited until the last performer was finished before I stood up quickly and walked my way out of the Johnson Center bistro and back to my dorm.
“Bring all your stuff”
I was instructed to bring my toys. My nipple clamps, my two dildos, some lube, and a belt for good measure. I stuffed them all into my backpack, item by item, and ordered my Uber. 5 minutes away. Do I have everything? I thought. I checked the backpack. I have everything. Do I have everything? I thought again. I squirted some perfume on myself and walked out my door after checking again that I had my ID so I could get back into my building.
“Let me know when you are on your way”
I had just gotten in the Uber. The city of Fairfax flashed before my eyes in the window, until my phone vibrated. Someone Super Liked You on Tinder! I opened my phone and swiped a few before seeing who: John. Gross. I closed my phone and took off my glasses to rest my eyes. I laid back in the seat and tried to make it through the car ride without being sick. After riding in two Ubers recently and puking due to motion sickness, I feared that by association, I can no longer ride in Ubers without becoming sick. I held my breath for a few seconds and let out a sigh. What am I doing?
I was seeing familiar apartment buildings from all of the times I had gone over beforehand. I didn’t know the streets or how to get there, but damn did I remember his complex in the two weeks we were apart. I remembered walking his dog outside that one morning to make him go to the bathroom. I remembered how rainy it was and how it felt to pick up dogshit through a plastic bag. It wasn’t even my dog, but I was happy to do it.
“Kk, coming out”
The Uber pulled up close enough to see that he was standing outside waiting for me to arrive. I hadn’t seen him since that night. My heart dropped to my stomach and I almost wished for the Uber to turn around and speed away. I would have to pay for that trip. I stepped out of the car and walked up the steps only to trip over one of my heels. He saw that.
* * *
I stood up from the bed, naked, and stared at him. I was forgetting in that moment how only two weeks ago he smashed my heart into pieces. “I’ll drive you home,” he said.
“Are we going to talk about the elephant in the room…err…car,” the words stumbled out of my mouth like I stumbled on the stairs when I walked up to his apartment.
“Yeah I’ve never heard of that phrase, car in the room,” he joked.
“Elephant in the car. I’m still sort of in shock that we slept together,” I said. That was honest—how could I have done this to myself? I texted him and asked to come over when I knew nothing good could come out of it. Nothing good.
“Yeah I understand if you don’t want to do it again,” he sighed.
“I think we both know that the problem here is that I do,” I surprised myself by saying that aloud. Normally I keep the introspective thoughts to myself.
“Yeah.” There was silence until he began to speed down the main road through Fairfax. “They should really put cops down these roads. You can go as fast as you want down this road and no one will stop you,” he said to ease the tension. Perhaps he was going fifteen miles over the speed limit so he could get me home sooner.
We stopped at a traffic light. “Well I can honestly say this is the most awkward car ride I’ve ever been in,” I said. Honestly, it was. I was staring out the window with thought after thought running through my mind. My heart was beating a million miles per hour.
“Well, if it wasn’t worth the awkward, we don’t have to do it again,” he said calmly. He had to have been tired of hearing me talk about what we had done. Just get over it, I thought. I couldn’t.
We passed a car pulled off to the side of University drive. “You’re supposed to put your hazards on when you pull over,” he said defiantly.
In that moment, I immediately stopped thinking. I stopped thinking about how an hour before I was in his bed, kissing him, wishing and praying to god that it wouldn’t end. I stopped thinking about how much I missed his damn dog, Atticus, and how him licking my face made me so happy. I stopped thinking about the towel we laid down before doing it, stopped thinking about the “bang (h)er” playlist that we put on to set the mood, stopped thinking about how we scrolled through our Instagram feeds next to each other before the second time we had sex, and stopped thinking about how he stared at me when he told me he would drive me home.
Drive me home? I wanted to stay. I wanted so desperately to pick up Atticus’ shit in the morning. I wanted to watch one of his short films, the one about the Tinder murderer. I wanted to fall asleep next to him. I wanted to wake up and pretend that I didn’t completely fuck up the chances of us dating by sleeping with someone else two weeks prior. I wanted to put it all behind me. Put it all behind us.
My lack of thought was interrupted when he stopped the car and pressed the hazard button outside my dorm building.
“Do you want to talk or is there even a point?” I asked him. I genuinely wanted to know if there was a point to anything I was thinking.
“Is there anything you need to say?” What a loaded question. I wanted to say everything.
“You already know what I’m going to say. I like you, blah blah blah,” I trailed off. I did still think about him. A lot.
“Yeah. Well I don’t think you should sleep with anyone until after spring break at the earliest,” he said. He was genuinely worried about me. After all, my sleeping with someone else ruined our relationship, and I think he could tell my continued sleeping around was only affecting me negatively.
“I wasn’t planning on it,” I laughed. That was true. I didn’t want to have sex for a while. Unless it was with him. But I thought if I stopped, and stopped for a long time, would he take me back?
“Well what are the chances…err…I mean…if I don’t sleep with anyone…err…I should just ask you,” I kept stumbling over my words.
“What is it?” he sighed. His hazards had been on for too long at this point.
“What are the chances of us dating?” I got it out. I got out the question I’d been wanting to ask since I tripped over my heel. The question I’d been thinking of since the moment he kissed me. The question to which I didn’t even know if I wanted the answer.
“Very low. You need to slow down. You just moved here, to a big university, you’re taking a lot of classes, you just shouldn’t be worrying about having sex with people,” he replied.
“When you say very low…” I trailed off.
“It’s not happening,” he frowned. Perhaps it saddened him to think about how much I cared for him, and how little he cared for me.
“Okay. Well, thanks for the sex, have a good night,” I said. Thank god I wore my glasses, otherwise I’m sure he could see the tears welling in my eyes. I opened the car door.
“Yep, have a good night,” he said. He turned off his hazards as I shut the door to his car.
He’s right, I thought to myself. I’m moving too fast. I moved to Fairfax, started going to a school with 40,000 people attending, and am taking 15 credit hours’ worth of classes. I slept with a man from Tinder, spent nearly two weeks seeing him regularly, and told him I loved him.
I need to pull over. I need to slam on my fucking brakes. I need to put on my hazards and start living my life. Any life. A life that isn’t this one, at this point.