“Roads” by Portishead

We were fast friends. Catching on right away that we shared similar experiences and people from a past life that nearly over-lapped. The connection brought us close very quickly. We realized soon after that we both saw the world through cracked and fogged-up glasses, a little twisted, a little broken, but still holding on to hope. At first, it was just caffeine-fueled conversations at work, and the rapid fire exchange of stories. That evolved into late night trips to Cafe Nove, the out of the way coffee house that our friends didn’t frequent, shared bottles of gin and packs of cigarettes, and endless games of chess, and truth, dare, or consequences (our variation on the slumber party game).

I think it was during one of those “truth” games that she blurted out “Josh thinks you should kiss me.” You were drinking more than usual that night, stumbling around my living room, kicking your heels off and falling to the floor, laughing, in an Alice In Wonderland “we’re all made here” kind of way. It was pretty adorable, really.

I wasn’t quite sure I should take anything you said that night seriously.

“Roads” by Portishead – from the album, Dummy (1994)

How can it feel, this wrong?
From this moment,
how can it feel,
this wrong?”

"Roads" by Portishead - SOTD

“Roads” by Portishead
from the album, Dummy (1994)
Song Of The Day – September 9, 2011

The confession stuck with me, though, and I tossed it around my mind when I couldn’t sleep the next two nights. I started writing feverishly, passionate excerpts about her in short stories and journal pages. In these versions, Josh wanted me to do more than kiss her. Tension started to build between us. Rapidly. Weaving together by half-masked flirtations that we’d try on, then put away shyly. If there was a “move” to make, neither of us seemed able to make it.

It was in the midst of one of my Sunday night get-togethers that I finally took a chance with her. We’d been sitting outside on the curb, smoking, counting stars, and whispering (loudly) to each other about nothing of consequence. She was looking at the sky, exhaling smoke and steam. I took that moment and leaned in towards her, with intent. She immediately stood up and stepped away, visibly startled, making some half-hearted excuse about having to go home.

And then she was gone.

“Roads” (live) by Portishead – originally from the album, Dummy (1994)

Everything crashed down on me then. Feelings of being mistaken. Of being stupid, and wrong. Overwhelming rejection and shock flooded my bloodstream, and weighing heavy on my heart.

How had I been so wrong about her?

I wrote more in my journal. This time the passion turned to anger and confusion. Pages and pages in a lined composition book were all about her. With each one I attempted to find some peace with it all, a way to let it go. It didn’t work. I was just left more baffled at the end of every page. And more hurt. I carried that journal with me everywhere, partly because she was muse for all the words I had to get out of me, and onto the page. Partially, too, because I was in a relationship and I knew that all of this was a secret. An infidelity that almost was.

She found my words tucked in my bag in the backroom of work. She read all of it one day when she was “at lunch” and I was up working the counter, slinging greeting cards and over-priced wrapping paper to Orange County housewives who didn’t need to work. She said nothing about it that night, just kept up awkward small talk as we worked the closing shift, the new dance around each other we’d been left with. I missed the closeness. I missed her.

The next day, when I was on-shift and she was off, she came into the store and hand-delivered and envelope. to me, then quickly left, almost running out of the store and away. I waited impatiently for my break to come so I could open it in private.

There was a carefully folded sheet of lined paper tucked inside with one single sentence written on it.

If you want to try to kiss me again I promise to not run away.

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