This post is continued from my my last post – “Brad’s First Sleepover.”
The following day I went to the fair with my roommate Ben, my daughter and a mutual friend of ours, while Brad was at work. It was a good distraction and a surprisingly fun day.
Later that night, after my daughter went to bed, our friend – we’ll call her Lori – Ben and I cozied up on the couch watching comedy skits on YouTube.
At some point I started playing footsy with Ben under the blanket we were sharing.
Brad had already gone to bed, exhausted and not wanting to be touched after a 12-hour shift on the food truck. I was feeling lonely, still insecure about the previous night and unwanted by Brad.
I’d been starting to develop some affection for Ben over the previous couple of weeks, especially that day, after observing his patient and loving interactions with my daughter.
I’d always liked Ben, thought highly of him, and even found him physically attractive, but until we moved in together a few weeks ago, I looked at him more as a brother. He was Brad’s best friend, so that seemed like the only way I could look at him.
But I didn’t want to look at him like a brother last Saturday night. I was vulnerable, hurting and needing someone to hold.
I didn’t know if I’d only imagined him flirting with me that day at the fair, but he definitely told me I should stay and hang out with him and Lori when I’d said I was going to bed.
So I decided to take a risk. Each time I brushed my foot up against his he moved his away. “Maybe he thinks I’m bumping into him by accident,” I thought.
Trying to make my intentions a little more obvious, I scooted my whole body toward him, but each time he moved away.
“That’s it,” I thought – “I’m going to try this one more time, and if he rejects me again, I’m going to bed.”
I stretched both of my feet out and wrapped them around his leg. Realizing it wasn’t an accident, he held still and let me lay my head on his arm.
Slowly, slowly, we felt our way around each other’s bodies, he moving much more cautiously than I.
We woke up maybe 20 minutes later to find Lori sleeping too. I rolled off the couch to get a drink in the kitchen, while he made his way to his bed. He left the door open, so I invited myself in.
I jumped in and pulled up the covers. “I’m sleeping in here tonight, whether you like it or not,” I said smiling.
I don’t remember all the details after that, nor would it be appropriate to share them, but eventually our bodies merged in what felt like a natural and inevitable dance.
Although I’m sure we were both nervous, afraid of how Brad might feel, and afraid to look each other in the eye, the whole experience was very comforting, and felt like exactly what I needed in that moment.
When I woke up in his bed an hour or two later, I quietly snuck out and back into bed with Brad. I didn’t want to wake Ben and say some awkward goodbye or goodnight, so I just left.
The next morning, I made Brad sit down before I told him the news. Not surprisingly, he didn’t want to be touched or comforted.
“My best friend?” He said. “You had to pick my best friend?”
“And he’s our roommate now… There’s nowhere for me to escape if things get awkward.”
I worked on the food truck with him that day in silence. I knew it would take him a day or two to process his emotions. It always does.
I encouraged Brad to go home early and offered to finish out the shift so he could rest. On my drive home, the back door fell off the food truck (I forgot to close it : /). Stranded and unable to get a hold of Brad, I asked Ben to come fix it. He’s our go-to guy whenever something needs fixing.
“Are things awkward at home?” I asked Ben as he pried off the broken door.
“Kind of,” he said.
Thankfully, Brad lightened the mood when we got back by cracking a few jokes about Ben being “part of the family now,” and stuff like that.
“I want to see you guys cuddle”
By Thursday night, he seemed to be feeling much better about the incident.
“Can you guys do me a favor?” He asked. Ben and I looked at each other worried. “Sit next to each other on the couch. I want to see you guys cuddle.”
“What?! Why?” We both asked, laughing nervously.
“Come on,” Brad said. “I want to see how it makes me feel.”
I obliged and sat down next to Ben, scooted closer and leaned on his arm.
“Hold hands,” Brad said.
“Seriously?” we asked.
“Yes, just do it.”
We interlocked hands and all sat staring at each other for a minute.
“Are you feeling ok?” I asked, as Brad observed. “Do you want to come sit with us?”
Brad sat with his hand on his chin, nodding his head. “No, I’m fine,” he said. “I feel fine.”
“Do you like holding hands with each other?” he asked.
“Brad! Come on!” I protested. “You’re making it really awkward.”
“Do you want to have sex with each other again?”
“Brad! We are not answering that! I don’t know!” I said.
“Ben, do you like her?”
“You don’t have to answer that, Ben,” I said. “Come on Brad, stop interrogating us.”
Ben sat silently and calmly staring at Brad.
“Aha! You do like her!”
“What are you talking about Brad?” I intervened.
“I can tell by the look on your face! And look – you guys are still holding hands!”
“This is so lame,” I said and stood up.
“I’m ok with it,” Brad said, sounding surprised. “It actually doesn’t bother me at all.”
Eventually we changed the subject and moved on with our evening.
And that’s where we’ve left off.
I don’t know the answers to all Brad’s questions, and I’m guessing Ben doesn’t either, but the important thing is we were able to sit still through them. We didn’t run. We didn’t try to escape the awkward feelings. And neither did Brad. He was brave to make us all sit together and face them.
I decided to stop guessing and worrying about the future almost a year ago now, because like my friend Brian said – just about all suffering and anxiety in life comes from “trying to escape the experience we’re having.”