The growth of intimacy is like that. First one gives off his best picture, the bright and finished product mended with bluff and falsehood and humor. Then more details are required and one paints a second portrait, and a third–before long the best lines cancel out–and the secret is exposed at last; the planes of the pictures have intermingled and given us away, and though we paint and paint we can no longer sell a picture. We must be satisfied with hoping that such fatuous accounts of ourselves as we make to our wives and children and business associates are accepted as true.
It’s hardly possible for any two people in the situation to perceive that situation in exactly the same manner. Of course there are going to be discrepancies between the way I saw things and the way Peter saw things.
The truth of the matter is that I actually met Peter before we were ever members of the same newspaper staff. Well, rather we had seen each other at parties that usually consisted of him guzzling beer and trying to coerce some girl, ugly or not, into bed. And then there was the fact that his name was notorious on campus; he’d wanted it that way and he’d made it that way. By the time those late nights in the newspaper room occurred, I was on the opposite end of the spectrum. I was dating the Fiance, whom I was in love with. I’d climb back into bed with the Fiance afterwards and the first thing he would ask was what Peter had said to me that evening. We actually used to joke about it, the fact that Peter shamelessly tried to flirt with me. I despised Peter at this point, I thought him to be incredibly self-obsessed (which, of course, he is).
A messy breakup with the Fiance in the next year left me devoid of almost everything regarding men. I remember the night that Peter referenced, the night I “picked” him up. He failed to mention that his friend Ben was with him, that I sweetly offered them a ride, and that Ben actually got my number, not Peter, to get me to join them at the bar later that evening. Peter’s “game” ended up being a few messages on Facebook, and finally instant messenger conversations. He did, as he mentioned, convince me to come to the movies with him and his friends; I convinced my friend Brizzle to come as I refused to be alone with Peter. He still annoyed me, but in all honesty I was bored that evening.
I ended up loving that pathetic date. I remember being in the Wawa on our way home, remember the way that Peter put his finger on the tattoo on my hip, the way he put his arm around my waist. I remember how embarrassed he was when he was pulled over for speeding, remember how he stuttered when the cop handed him the ticket. We came back to play Boggle, which he boasted of being a champ at and at which I beat him terribly. We went into his room discussing authors, and I remember loving his bookcase, loving that we had identical books lining ours. I still remember what I wear wearing that evening, the exact jeans that I wore that would later be on his floor. I remember how intense it was, how heated we were. And I remember how, afterwards, all I wanted to do was leave. I didn’t want to see him again.
Unfortunately at a small school like ours it was impossible. I don’t remember the second or third times, I don’t remember why it continued. I remember going to see him in a play (he’s an awesome actor), and I remember baking cupcakes for him for an Eagles game, though I’m not sure why. And I remember the night he first told me it was “just sex”. He was drunk, texting me, telling me that he wanted to see me. I wanted him to come back to my apartment- my roommate was away and I guess I was starting to like the idea of having him around. I actually wanted to wake up to him this time. I drove to his place to pick him up and, in his drunken stutter, he told me that he didn’t want a relationship, that he thought I was pushing it. I froze- how could he have known that? But I had gotten my hopes up about seeing him, and swallowed down the idea of it being more than that.
His friends seemed to bond with me more than he did. One in particular. We began to talk every evening, and I remember that oh shit feeling of realizing that I liked Peter’s best friend. We held each other on an intellectual level, something that was lacking with Peter. It also helped that this friend shared common friends with me, aided in us spending more time together. The friend worked the angle, telling me that Peter didn’t care about me, telling me about the girls that Peter was seeing. I was obviously hurt, and here was a guy that cared enough about me to spend time with me. I regret to this day what I did to him, regret that I went back to Peter the first time he showed interest.
Peter also failed to mention the first time he told me that he loved me. That night alone is the reason why I’ve been around for so long, why I keep believing that there is something between us. I had been convincing myself to stop caring for him, to let him graduate college and be out of my life.
We’ve had a sordid relationship since then, with him pushing one moment and pulling for me the next. We can’t get rid of each other, but in some sick way neither of us actually wants to. I’m not obsessed with him, as one faux-hipster reader likes to think/ stalkingly blog about, but rather I know him well enough to have seen his other sides. I’ve seen past the self-obsessed, beer-guzzling, sex-monger Peter. If I’d truly thought that his personality consisted of just those aspects, I never would have stuck around. There’s a reason why we keep coming back to each other.