06. The Spontaneous Vacation
Let’s name him V.
V showed up in my life back in August. The thing about V and I is we were friends first. Then, we happened to have sex a few times and parted ways. Then, I learned to overcome my mixed emotions about him and we continued a long-distance friendship.
V puts me at ease, and I trust him in a way I trust very few others. He’s understanding, thoughtful, and honest. He gives his opinions unabashedly. He’s young and a little inexperienced, and I can give him brutally honest advice in return, too. We have great conversations about all sorts of things: travel, food, wine, sex, relationships, movies, books, architecture, nature, religion, careers, family. Both the deep big stuff and the shallow little stuff. Over time, I’ve come to call V a good friend. We don’t talk daily, or even weekly, but we check in with each other periodically. We email interesting articles back and forth. We exchange “Happy Thanksgiving” and “Happy New Year”.
Once I officially become single, I don’t tell V right away. The dust needs to settle first. He’d be interested to know, but I want him to know that it was a decision I made without him being a factor. (Well, in some way, I’m sure he was a factor, but I have a tome of other factors that weighed more heavily.) Soon after my break-up, though, V and I are chatting.
“I’m going a little crazy stuck in my house today,” I say, “It’s blizzarding outside.”
“Well, shouldn’t you be busy cuddling with your man?” he asks.
I pause and think for a moment. “Actually, no…” I start.
V brought it up first, so, I tell him. I tell him about everything I thought and felt and the why and the how that left me without a man to cuddle with. We talk about relationships and love and break-ups. Then, I say that I really could use a vacation soon, something to get away from home and clear my head. We talk about places I’d want to go: Copenhagen, Costa Rica, Peru. I mention that one thing I’ve always wanted to do was go out west and explore national parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and all the other wondrous places this nation has somehow managed to preserve.
V comes through with a suggestion that I secretly wanted to hear from him, but never expected: Come to California. We can take a road trip and explore parks together.
So I do.
When V picks me up at the airport, he hugs me so tightly it literally takes my breath away. He does that sometimes.
We spend the next 10 days driving around and exploring the state together. He shows me places I’ve never been to and things I’ve never seen. He does that sometimes.
We walk leisurely one day and hike strenuous trails the next. We marvel at the nature surrounding us, and take pictures of each other standing in front of giant Sequoias. V whistles at the top of a mountain and we listen quietly for the echo, a big grin emerging across my face as we hear it seconds later. On the coast, we watch the ocean waves crashing into craggy rocks, and we spot seals bobbing in the water. When the wind blows, V wraps his arms around me for a few moments, just long enough to warm me up.
We poke fun at each other and laugh loudly and often. We talk about people we’ve dated or pursued recently, exchanging both tips and horror stories. We talk about the big things like our future goals and dreams, and we talk about the small things like methods of tying shoelaces. We take turns choosing music in the car. He introduces me to Irish and Romanian folk songs. I introduce him to Van Morrison.
I manage to go 5 days without checking my work email. Then, even when I do look, I only skim the subject lines and don’t open any. This is the first time I’ve taken a truly relaxing, 100% fun vacation where I feel alive, and I feel carefree!
We indulge in ice cream, Mexican food, sushi, In-N-Out, dark chocolate, wine, and whiskey. I have him try cashews and he learns that he likes them despite his distaste for other nuts. He starts to catch on to how I order food and on the last night of our trip, he orders a burger for me sans onion — which is exactly right.
We indulge in each other. It’s a bizarre yet completely comfortable arrangement where we’re friends by day and lovers by night. In bed, the first night of my visit, we pick up right where we left off earlier. V is observant. He knows what I like and don’t like. He knows my quirks and I begin to learn his. He’s very particular, but I like the challenge. We teach each other new things. I match my bra to my underwear, which is something I never normally do, but he gets a kick out of it. We embrace each other at night until we’re both too sweaty, then we roll over and sleep on separate sides of the bed, and then we caress each other again in the hazy morning sunlight. Then, we get dressed and go about our days like any two friends normally do. He sometimes puts his hand on my knee in the car, and I sometimes slip my arm around his when we’re walking, but this type of affection only makes brief appearances in the daylight. It’s like there’s an invisible line we’re not prepared to cross, but the line fades after sunset.
V is accommodating in every way imaginable. He’s thoughtful and conscientious and despite the fact that 10 days in a car with anyone, especially me, is bound to get tense at one moment or another, he never once scowls or complains or raises his voice or expresses any sign of discomfort whatsoever, even when we both unexpectedly catch a cold somewhere in the mountains. He’s the definition of a stand-up guy. His goal is clearly to make my trip pure vacation heaven for me, and he accomplishes just that.
This is certainly not a “date” that can be compared to others, so it’s not really fair for me to assign a score, but I’ll do my best.
I tried to go into this with no expectations, knowing full well this trip could turn out to be a disaster, emotionally or otherwise.
But, in the end, I am over the moon.
On a scale from 1 to 10, this vacation is easily a 4-digit number.
So what does this mean? Are V and I a thing?
Most definitely not.
We’re good friends.
We’re good friends that have hair-pulling, sheet-grabbing, knee-shaking, amazingly-great sex sometimes.
While we never specifically talk about a future between he and I, we have several conversations regarding how we feel about relationships in general. Right now, he wants to date other women without being obligated to any single one. I’m newly single and want to try to enjoy that for now, too. He’s most often on the opposite side of the country, or in another part of the world, from where I am. While he possesses so many qualities that I want in a partner, maybe it’s simply not the right time for us to be something more.
And that’s just fine with me.
No expectations, no assumptions, and no timelines. We’ll see what the future holds for each of us. On one of our hikes, I use an expression V had never heard before:
“Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.”
He says he likes that expression. So do I.
One day, V will find a woman he falls in love with, a woman who he deems as more than just friend material. And one day, he’ll get married, and he may even move to Europe. This is what he says he wants anyway. When that happens, I know I’ll fall off his radar. That tends to happen with guy friends once they fall in love. V will stop emailing me links to articles I might like, and he’ll forget how I order my burgers. I’m certain V will never entirely forget me, though. I’ll cross his mind now and then, like distant memories sometimes do. He’ll think about me whenever he hears a song off Moondance or when he smells the distinct aroma of wet pine needles on a dewy morning. I sure hope he’ll never forget this trip or the time we spent together in those ancient forests where we created memories that I, for one, will always cherish deep inside my soul.
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