[“Dark Ages” is a series wherein I reconsider memories of boyfriends past through the lens of new knowledge and hope to make it worth my while (and not just a depressing trudge down memory lane) by learning something new about myself.]
I was spending part of the summer studying in another city. I met a second cousin and his family for the first time, and stayed at their place (and did my laundry) on weekends. There were two daughters, their ages flanking mine by a year on each side. I got on better with the younger one, and I hung out with her and her friends. One of them (Arcturus) and I argued rather a lot, which the group decided was a sign that the two of us were meant for each other.
Late one Saturday night, after we’d been out dancing and drinking, the others decided to make it happen, and in my groggy state I found myself agreeing to stay over with him. We swung past my cousin’s house to pick up my overnight stuff and then they dropped us off at Arcturus’ place. But I wasn’t and never had been interested in him; I’d agreed to the arrangement because I was too tired to think straight and speak my mind, which would have amounted to turning him down publicly. So I got into Arcturus’ bed, turned my back, and tried to get some sleep. Not the most restful night I’ve ever had, although it was spent absolutely chastely, without so much as a kiss. If he was surprised or disappointed, I never knew.
Ed and I had kept in touch through the summer and had a courtship of sorts, involving letters, phone calls, photo-booth photos and a mix-tape. We arranged that I would go visit him for a few days at the end of August, staying with him and his mom. I would fly there and, to save money, catch a ride home with some friends of mine. I was excited.
But when I arrived, I got a chilly reception, and it wasn’t just that the weather was unseasonably cold. When we spent time together he was withdrawn, and instead of conducting a torrid affair or (more likely, given our ages) dating somewhat awkwardly, I felt like I was there to visit his roommate who had forgotten about the arrangements and had gone on holidays without letting me know, and so he was stuck entertaining me. Eventually he confessed that, before I had come out (but, I suspect, after the plane ticket had been bought), he had already decided that he didn’t want a long-distance relationship.
So, rejection. And I was stuck in inhospitable territory for a few days until my friends could rescue me. Awkward, and painful.