It didn’t matter that the sun had set an hour ago, I was melting. And sitting in the back of the truck, legs dangling, the cool steel soothed the fire in the air. This dress might be too short – I thought. Too late.
“This is some view, huh…”. His voice carried off, almost dreamily, into the warm high desert air. And he wasn’t wrong. The city skyline blazed before us, all lights and energy, set off by the vague outline of the desert mountains behind it. It was a bold frame. His body was close to mine, he had been inching himself nearer for the better part of the last hour. And not unnoticeably. My brain was whirring, like it always does. The romance, the beauty of this moment was undeniable. My own loneliness, also undeniable. His heart and genuine personality, a catch. And yet…my hesitation. It was present, it was palpable, it meant something.
“You’re incredible, you know that. I’ve never met someone so beautiful. And I can’t even find words for how you look tonight…” his voice trailed. I wasn’t used to men like this; men who expressed their emotions so freely. Not that I didn’t like it or want it, I just didn’t know quite how to accept it, or process it. “…you’re just so beautiful.” His eyes went from mine, to my neck, down to my legs and back to my eyes.
He wants to kiss me.
And so my brain became a snake caught in the claw of a hawk. So squirmed the thoughts of a girl torn between the beauty of a romantic moment, and the realities of her heart. I didn’t want to be with this person. He wasn’t for me. I wasn’t all that physically attracted to him. That was the brutal truth of it. But every other aspect of the moment, down to the spreading blanket of stars above us, his endearing smile and sweet half-sentences, had me caught up and ready to compromise. Was I a terrible person to think this way? Was this misleading? Am I that person right now?
The silence lasted too long. My thoughts had dissociated me from him and he felt it. He jumped down from the truck and stood in front of me. I grew anxious. Yep, this dress is definitely too short. I put my hands in my lap to cover what else I could. He pulled my legs from my feet…bringing me closer to him. His hands made their way from my ankles to my calves, but his fingertips hesitated just above my knees.
“Your legs are absolutely amazing”. His hands traced them, his face was innocent and focused. And I, well, I just laughed…nervously. Do I want this? Should I rationalize my impulse to say no and chalk it up to just being nervous? Could it be that I’m just being hesitant to get back into the world of dating? His hands began to go further up my thigh, and when they reached the point where my legs met the steel of the truck, they stopped. He pulled his hands down, let them take a place on the truck on either side of me, and leaned forward.
He was no longer tentative. I had really counted on his hesitation matching mine. But it didn’t. He surprised me. Crap.
He pulled my eyes to his and locked them there, softly. With no expression, he let one hand slide behind me and rest on the small of my back. He lightly maneuvered his body so that I opened my legs and with a quick surge of strength he pulled me close to him. Oh, and I melted. I melted and the hesitation evaporated in the heat around us. I hadn’t counted on that. I hadn’t counted on a burst of passion.
His lips brushed against mine. What wisps of second-thoughts I may’ve had…were lost in the swarm of new, more powerful emotions. We kissed.
I let go…
And for that moment I was in heaven. Giving in felt like, undeniably, the right thing to do. Letting his words calm my nerves, letting his touch breathe new life into my skin, it felt so right. And I clung to that moment, that swarm of new emotion for as long as I could. And yet soon the firefly I’d found, so bright and instantaneous, wondrous and beautiful, began to slip away. I could feel doubt creeping back in. And then guilt. Guilt. The true gradient by one can decipher one’s actions. That manipulative little devil had found her way inside and latched onto my conscience.
I am that person right now. I swallowed hard, pushing that bitch, guilt, down into my gut where she belonged. He was ready to continue. His eyes had closed, he was leaning in again. I put a hand on his chest, stopping him. His eyes opened. And I’m sure he saw mine, pained. He must’ve understood. His body relaxed under my hand and he drew away, but only slightly. He wasn’t giving up entirely.
And I realized…”letting go” had led me to fall down a Wonderland-like hole: confusing and complicated, and my responsibility to fix. Such a brief moment in time, and so important. It was a lesson that stuck in my heart, guilt’s menacing scar, a brand that I’ll always have as a reminder of the importance of even small actions. And that there are no small actions when it comes to love.