She might have spent some time in jail, but she wasn’t ready to confess that particular sin. What would he think? It was bad enough that he was headed into the bathroom and was going to see the bicycle in the bathtub. There are somethings in her life that beg to have a decent explanation, but there usually isn’t one. These are the times that she wished was a creative story teller and could come up with something witty and funny. Instead he would come out of the bathroom with a puzzled look on his face and not ask. That’s impolite. No one ever asked the obvious questions.
It had gotten to where she brought the dates home sooner rather then later. It got this weird awkwardness done and over with. And if they were going to be a serious relationship, they would have to see this shit eventually…
He emerged, smiling and seeming to finish a good laugh.
“That’s an interesting place to store a bike. I’ve never found a good place in my apartment either. But that seems like as good a place as any!”
He plopped back onto the chair next to her, still smiling. This was not the response that she had expected and had no ready answer. He didn’t seem to mind though. He just picked up the coffee he had been sipping at and smiled down at the steaming cup in simple bliss. Leaning his elbows onto the table, he took a mouthful and swished it about before swallowing it. He seemed to enjoy everything with this same type of simplicity.
“Do I get a 50 cent tour?” he asked.
“Do you have 50 cents?” I asked reflexively and then felt stupid. Was I really going to charge my date for a tour of the apartment I had invited him to come see?
He rummaged through his pockets and produced a single quarter.
“I guess I only get to see half the place. I’d say we don’t know each other well enough for me to see the bed room yet anyway.”
I blinked at him a moment, then said “Yeah, I guess that means you don’t get to see the sun porch either, so you’ll have to close your eyes on the way by.”
I got up and started the tour.
“Well, this is the kitchen.”
I waved my hands in a grand gesture as though the room where something more spectacular then it really was. He took this as an invitation to wander in the room and look at the things scattered about. He touched nothing. Hands stuffed in his pockets he’d leaned down to look more closely at something and then moved on. There was no commentary and that bugged the hell out of me. What were the things that were catching his eye? What did he think of them? Well, of me really. Doesn’t my apartment serve as a lay out of who I am? But I liked that he kept his hands to himself. That was a serious plus in his favor.
“Well, through here is the room that I have no use for and have turned into a library catch all.” I said it with a little shame and hoped that he didn’t notice.
There was no where to wander in this small room, so he didn’t. But his eyes still fell slowly over the piles of papers, the books lining the shelves in haphazard and precarious manners. He kept his hands in his pockets and only leaned forward once to look at a small painting I had done. It was nothing special, but he seemed to give it serious consideration. I expected a critique of some kind, but when he offered none, I led on.
“This is the part where you close your eyes and not look through that door,” I said.
“The sun room?”
That was the part of the apartment I hated them to see more then anything else. It was filled with boxes, plastic bags and piles of random things I could not bear to part with but was unlikely to ever use in my life time.
He’d close his eyes and was waiting for me to lead him on. Impulsively, I took his hand and led him into the narrow walk way to the middle of the sun-room.
“I guess I quarter is enough, since it is a pretty small place,” I whispered.
He opened his eyes. They widened as they took in the near chaos that surrounded us. He was quickly leaning over things, there was plenty to see here. But his hands never strayed. That was a safer choice in this room. Touching things could lead to a toppling of items onto your head and some kind of weird impalement. That would be awkward. Why had I lead him in here?
Leaning forward again, he smiled wistfully. Saying nothing, he straightened up and looked at me again. I gave him a shooing gesture and he backed up and returned to the “library”.
“Last is the exciting living room,” I said, more quietly now then before.
Had everything already been lost? I really liked this man and regretted bringing him here with every passing moment that feeling grew more closely into dread.
This room was as cluttered as all the others. Piles of books with papers sticking out their edges graced every surface. It was like my brain was there on display. Every project I had started and had yet to finish was there for judgement. The crochet in the rocking chair and the painting squatting in the corner on a lopsided easel surrounded in jars of water, brushes and tubes of paint. An old T shirt draped over the canvas. I was grateful for that. This was a project that I wasn’t ready for anyone to see yet. Maybe no one would ever see it.
He shuffled carefully over to the easel and asked “Can I look out it?”
My breath seized in my throat and I squeaked.
He laughed. “Not ready yet.”
I had no where else to lead him. He was right that it was too soon for him to stroll into my bed room, but not for the reasons he suspected. The implied desire for sex that taking him there offered did not bother me. A room did not make promises. But that was the place that I held most scared. The crowded alter and the paintings were something that always led to difficult conversations. He would be Christian, of course. That meant that I was a heathen and he would discard me. I wanted to hang onto him a little longer, even if it was a make pretend kind of thing. It was nice; better than all the real things I had ever held…
“Well, you said you would make me dinner. Do you want some help cooking?” he turned to me and was surprised to see the tears on my cheeks that I had not noticed.
He closed the distance between us and brushed his finger tips along the trails on my face. He said nothing more, giving me time to sort my thoughts. But I couldn’t and just nodded in response. Then I paused and shook my head. That was the real answer. Without knowing why, I had become “not alright.”
“Want a hug?” he asked, stretching his arms out in a simple invitation.
I paused a moment, then stepped into those arms. It was nice there. He smelled like cinnamon and cigarettes. His cotton shirt was rough on my cheek. His body warm. He held me tightly.
“You know, I didn’t come here to visit your house. I came here to visit with the intelligent and quirky woman that I met in the cafe.”
I knew then that I could show him the bed room.