“Do you think it was a mistake?”
Was it one? Or was it a series? One piled on top of the other as we stumbled through the years of us?
What if we had gone home together that first night, the night you touched my wrist? You stopped me on the way back from the bathroom, remember? It was all there as you leaned in and said you liked my dress. I thought – absurdly – you might kiss me, and it made you frown when I laughed. What if I hadn’t laughed? What if I had kissed you outside that bathroom door, and what if we had left the bar together instead of going home alone?
It would have been a drunken, unremarkable fuck. You would have been fighting the vodka for sensation. We might have gotten it out of our system then and there, this newly single girl and this newly married man. Adjusting to our revised status in a final act of rebellion before acquiescing. If this had been our first experience – bold and blunt in the way of sex with a stranger – might we have walked away the very next day?
Instead of this. Weeks of words, weeks of timorous courting giving way to weeks of burgeoning desire. That first flirtation, built on the memory of you liking my dress. The hesitant reciprocation, built on the memory of you touching my wrist. And suddenly your name a symbol, popping up on email, on text, and then, emboldened, in the buzz of my phone. Until one waking hour was too long without you.
We imagined each other first. Was that our undoing? By the time I knocked on your hotel door our intimacy was already as intricate as any biography. The gift of the digital age – our first few chapters were written before we had even kissed. By the time I disliked your distance, by the time you disliked my need, we had a secret to protect, and perhaps even more, a limit to be tested.
Limerence loves an obstacle after-all. Is that the secret of great passion? Unrestrained appetite meeting constrained circumstance? Was that the mistake? Your left and my right? Essential incompatibility is not designed to last so long, not seven years (that’s for the itch, not the scratch they say). But maybe it lasted because neither of us would change. My advance, your retreat. You let me take the lead in this dance – but you memorised the steps just the same. Repeating our moves over and over for years.
And so was it a mistake? Or was the mistake already made and this was this our chance to fix it? Did the gods hold their breath a little as they introduced us, and did they let it out with a sigh when we kept on stumbling? Was this where we failed?
I never asked you. I never got your soft no or your resolved yes. And though the doors continue to open and close on possible answers, I am no closer to the truth of it.
(Note: I absolutely love The Good Wife and the grown-up, complex relationships it presents. And how in this instance, the answer to the question is softly and surely – “No”)