My fingers graze your skin as I outline the four great lakes permanently inked on your side. Superior. On the first night we met, you thought it would be fun to test my knowledge of the lakes you grew up next to. Michigan. But I would not see your tattoo until the first time I slept in your bed. Huron. This is not that night. Eerie. At this point, I have lost count of how many times I have stayed over. Ontario.
You resemble a bear with your scruffy face down in a pillow and your firm arms wrapping around both sides. Watching your burly physique slowly lift up and down to match your breathing keeps me occupied, as I lie there wide awake. My mind is lit with numerous thoughts, and my awareness of the lack of touch between us makes me crave your connection even more. I so badly want to be your pillow and, the sad part is, most of the time I was that soft item you held onto during the night. I want you to wrap your arms around me, not some silly pillow. I need you to intertwine our tired bodies like you used to, but for some reason tonight is different.
Spending the night at your place has become such a habit that I didn’t realize this is how you actually sleep when I’m not here. It has been a week since I’ve seen you last, and this is only the second time I’ve come over since our fight about another girl. We haven’t communicated about what we are, what we are doing, and why the hell we are doing it. And I can’t sleep thinking you don’t want me to be here; maybe that is why we aren’t tangled in each other’s arms. It’s possible that you want her but, since she lives seven hours away, you settled for me instead.
My fingers continue to softly trace the lakes, which help keep you aware of my body lying next to yours. I think of the acronym you used the first night we met to help me remember the name of each lake. H.O.M.E.S. stands for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eerie, and Superior. In my mind, a home stands for multiple places. Even though we both came from opposite ends of the country, we each had a lot of homes under our belt. Both of us had moved at a young age to a neighboring state with our families, leaving behind the ones we were born in. We each chose an out-of-state college that was close to home, but far enough. After college, you had a job that kept you moving to where projects needed to be completed and I had, as my mother puts it, a gypsy soul that wanted to travel. I had a home in six states; you had a home in eight.
“Do you ever get worried that you’ll never find your home?” I say abruptly.
Your eyes are closed but your whole body shifts to face me. With a heavy sigh and little hesitation you say, “No, everything happens for a reason.”
After our simple exchange of words, I toss and turn and wonder where I belong. The feeling of loneliness creeps into my tense body as I begin to think about us and the current state that we both consider our home. I look over my shoulder and see you trying to hold on to some part of my nervous body.
“What’s wrong?” you finally whisper.
“I just really don’t like that saying. It’s always bothered me.” I reply.
I don’t want to tell you that I’m afraid I’m considering you a part of my home. We have never caressed in an awkward manner before, and for once I blame myself. I can tell you were uncomfortable with what I brought up, and I have never felt an ounce of discomfort with you before.
“Are you okay?” you ask.
After a few seconds of silence, I quietly whisper “Yeah.”
However, you know a big part of me is not, so you pull me in close and give me a gentle kiss on the back of my neck. Every part of my small frame wants to burst into flames and scream. So instead, I close my eyes as they begin to water and I take a deep breath before I pretend to fall asleep in your arms.
It’s in that moment I realize there are some things we can’t do to each other anymore. You can’t talk to me about your troubles at work. I can’t bake sweet treats for us to share. You can’t hold me in your arms and tell me everything will be all right. I can’t skim my fingers through your hair to help you fall asleep. You can’t use the toilet while I brush my teeth. I can’t make your bed for you after we wake up. And we can’t kiss goodbye and tell each other to have a great day at work.
All of these actions make me feel at home. I feel comfort in a routine that we both know will not last. I know for a fact this is not your last pit stop. You and I have other homes in our future, and it’s concerning how content I feel in the home we’re living in right now. So should we stop this and reconsider?