Sunday mornings seem to include a new ritual. Half-awake first sunlight kisses melt into 2pm round twos. A rejection of bourgeois morality, he says as he pulls me close, pulls me bubbling with laughter back into bed at noon, pulls me away from my draining work and into an invigorating conversation.
My philosopher is absolutely enamored with me. He is older – a fact that means little to me. But he is stunned by my sharpness, and the novelty of our age disparity and rival intellects increases his intrigue in me. He discloses his affections in short, self-conscious bursts of authenticity. His smiles brim until they erupt into playful jabs and shameless compliments.
He amuses me, and he comforts me. I find myself gushing Hallmark flattery between disagreements on prefigurative politics. I giggle girlishly and snort out guttural howls. I dominate him intellectually and sexually, and he returns the favor. I allow him to teach me. I am honest about my social adeptness, and I forgo manipulation or power games. I am unintentionally emotional.
He confesses he never expected a connection like this. He asks permission to make me pancakes next Sunday.
I warned him.
Early on, I told him, I don’t do relationships.
Later in a political conversation, I expressed my belief in anarchist self-ownership and free love.
Sometimes he made comments about not wanting to like me as much as he did.
Last time we were cuddling in bed, I stared him in the eye. I bit the edge of my lip, then pulled the trigger, “Hey, real talk for a second.”
His eyes widened nervously.
“I cannot have autonomy over my body and my emotions without being non-monogamous.”
There it was.
He said he’s never tried a non-monogamous relationship and he gets very attached. We’re both moving away in May. He’s applying to PhD programs, and I’m searching for a job in DC. He doesn’t want our friendship to end catastrophically like his other relationships. I explain that I have friends and lovers in cities across the country. I still care very deeply about those whom I have developed meaningful connections.
He says he doesn’t want to stop seeing me.
I tell him to think about what he wants, what he needs, what he can give, and what he expects from me. I tell him I cannot give him a monogamous relationship. I’m not sure I can give him any formal relationship at all.
I break the tension with a quick peck and a confession, “I think you’re pretty dope, and I don’t want to stop seeing you either.”
Somehow moments later, we’re laughing and wrestling and roaring again, but it’s 3pm on a Sunday and eventually work calls.
“You hate pancakes, don’t you?” He asks me with a mischievous grin as I dress.
“Yes, but I like the idea of pancakes.”
He laughs, “Of course you would.”
“I’ll bring apples. I like pancakes when there’s a 4:1 apple to pancake ratio.”
So, now our Sunday morning ritual of Marxist sex and playful politics that drag into the late afternoon includes coffee and apple pancakes. It seems a little too quaint, too domestic, and – most worrisome of all – very enjoyable.
I feel the unspoken, intangible mysteries that keep us separate dissolving, and I struggle to know when to stop the erosion and when to slide unabashedly into the sea.
I warned him, and he disarmed.
I warned him.