747 days of honesty

"Do you want to come back to my place?”

There was a pause that was long enough for me to know the answer. She shook her head politely, and told me she should be getting home. “But,” she added, “let’s see each other again next week?” All was not lost, and I had accomplished my real goal: another date with a fantastic girl.

She hopped on a bus and I hopped in a cab. About three minutes into my ride, I got a call.

“Hey, this is kind of embarrassing, but I think I missed the last Skytrain and I don’t think there are any buses that will take me all the way home. Could I actually crash at yours?” I asked the cab to turn around, and met her on the side of the road by Granville Bridge.

When we got back to my basement suite, I did the awkward sweeping hand gesture to show her around the living room. “This is pretty much it,” I said. “My roommates are probably asleep. And here’s my room.” I opened my door and ushered her in. We stood there in silence, staring at my partially unmade bed.

The static tension between us hummed lightly in my ears as she sat down and pretended to study the uninteresting knick-knacks scattered across my shelves. I was left wondering what my next move should be.

“Do you… want some pyjamas?” I asked. She looked down at what she was wearing, deemed it inappropriate to sleep in, and nodded. When I realized that I didn’t have anything other than neon yellow boxer shorts, I folded them into a little square to try and present them as formally as possible, alongside an old cotton t-shirt I’d received from some volunteering gig years ago. She stood up to change, and I turned around to give her privacy.

With my back to her, I said, “I’ll sleep on the couch.” She let out a huff of offence. I faced her sitting back down in the bed, thin legs looking gangly in the oversized shorts.

“Uh, no it’s your bed, you can sleep here too.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah of course. If you want, I can sleep on the couch?”

“What? No! I don’t have a problem sleeping in the same bed, I just… It’s okay, it’s cool.”

I turned off the light and we both shuffled our way under the covers. I crossed my arms, and then realized I was acting like a corpse in a coffin and tried to loosen up. The comforter felt heavy. The body heat radiating off of her gave me chills. The silence lingered, and I could hear both of us thinking about what we should do to break it.

“Are you warm enough?” I said.

“Why won’t you touch me?” She said.

Our voices collided as we both spoke, and I realized that we had two different ideas about how the night was going to progress.

“What?” I asked.

“Yes I’m warm enough. Do you not want to touch me?”

“No! I mean, yes, but I didn’t think you wanted me to touch you.”

“Why would you think that?”

“I don’t know, I guess I just… didn’t get the vibe?”

“You don’t have to touch me.”

“But I want to touch you!”

“Then touch me!”

I rolled over and put my hand on her arm. “Sorry, I guess because you said no to coming over originally, I figured that you just needed a place to sleep. I didn’t want to overstep any boundaries.”

“I said no originally, but I do like you a lot,” she said. My eyes had adjusted enough within the dark to see the curve of her smile, and even if I hadn’t been able to see it, I could hear it in her voice. She touched my shoulder and I leaned in to kiss her.

I cupped her face with my hands. We shifted to a more comfortable position. I looked down at her as things began to heat up. As I slid my hand up her waist, I felt her go still. She was kissing me back, now with less urgency. I stopped.

“Hey, do you want to do this?” I asked, pulling back from her face. She looked at me and said yes. But her body language said no. It wasn’t particularly hard to tell — she looked nervous, and the hesitancy in her voice took that “yes” down a notch into “maybe” status.

“Are you sure?” I asked again. “We don’t have to go any further than this. I definitely don’t want you to feel uncomfortable.”

The breath of relief that escaped her lips hung between us. “Actually... no. I don’t want to go any further right now.” She pulled me back down towards her. “But I am enjoying this.”

I wasn’t a mind-reader that night. 747 days later, I’m still not a mind-reader and neither is she. 747 days of love with the same girl from that fumbling evening, and we’re both still asking questions. “Do you like what I’m doing?” “Are you comfortable?” “Do you want me to stop?” During romantic experiences after pancake breakfasts, or sloppy sessions after a late night on Davie Street, these are the ways we deepen our intimacy through trust. Questions don’t limit us, they allow us to explore possibilities that have made our sexual experiences magnetic and frequent.

“That feels weird, take that shit out.”

“Harder! Wait, slow down.”

“That’s much better.”

“Oh my god be quiet, we have a roommate.”

“I love you.”

A lot has changed during the course of our relationship, but our unapologetic honesty hasn’t. Checking-in, double-checking and creating room for a person to change their mind are all things that don’t stop after a first, second or thousandth encounter. It’s very possible that if we hadn’t paused to talk things through on that first night together, I wouldn’t be waking up to my girl traipsing around our apartment in those same yellow boxer shorts. They still don’t fit her, but because of our continuous communication, we figured out that we do fit each other.

Bridget Chase is a fourth-year arts student studying linguistics and creative writing. She likes piña coladas, getting caught in the rain, and inclusive, unapologetic discussions about sexual wellness.