“Daniel?” I bleated. “I need your help.”
I surveyed my newly painted studio apartment: small, sunny, and mine alone, but currently jammed with cardboard boxes full of books, electronic equipment, clothes, and the Noritake dinner service for 12 that my grandfather bought for his mother in the 1930s, still wrapped in its original quilted cases.
Normally, when I’m overwhelmed I retire to bed with a bar of chocolate and a book. Unfortunately, my bed was currently under a pile of kitchen equipment. I whimpered. “Can you come over?”
Daniel was with his family, but promised to help me settle in during the week. When he turned up two nights later, much of my things were unpacked and put away. Even better, I had bought a bed.
For the past three and a half years I’d been sleeping (and, uh, other things) on a mattress on the floor, since when I’d moved into my last place the box spring wouldn’t fit through the door of the room and I had vowed not to buy another. I had meant to buy a platform bed, but never seemed to have the money or inclination. But now that I’d moved to an apartment with less space than my previous bedroom, I would buy a real, grown up bed. Wood, not metal frame. With a headboard.
When Daniel arrived, I had just ordered a cherry-stained pine bed (when it arrived at first I was puzzled by the antiseptic smell before I realized it was the untreated wood supporting the mattress) with three under-the-bed drawers and a headboard. And it was a bit cheaper than similar ones I’d priced online.
Daniel helped me organize some of my stuff (“Did you your closet door sticks?” he asked, shutting and opening it again. And again. “Don’t you have a night table?”) while I lined the shabby, sawdusty kitchen shelves with paper and tried to find a place for the spices I’d collected. Then I took him to dinner. I was very pleased with myself: I had an editorial job, my own apartment in a shabby chic neighborhood and, should I ever have need of it, a gravy boat (the Noritake service was pretty extensive) plus Daniel, my friend and sometimes sex partner. I remember the halcyon days of late 2006 and early 2007: playing The Settlers of Catan! Vigorous and satisfying sex! Attempts at swing dancing! I would have someone to bring to parties! We could —
“So, Ashley and I are probably going to date exclusively,” Daniel interrupted my reverie.
“Really?” I feigned enthusiasm. “Wow. That sounds great.”
I knew he’d been seeing someone, but I’d gotten the impression he wasn’t that interested in her. At one point, he’d been seeing another woman as well, one he’d seemed very taken with, but now she was dating someone else.
“What about you?” Daniel stabbed a shumai with a chopstick. “Are you interested in anyone?”
“No,” I admitted. “But I’ve decided I want to get married. Did I tell you about my tarot card reading?”
Daniel looked taken aback, as well he might be. I gulped my water. “Well, after Dean and I broke up, I went to see a tarot card reader. And she told me I was going to meet my soul mate within a year, and that he’d be a good dancer, and we’d have children and a swimming pool.”
I’d gone to see this woman in the college town where my writing program was held, less than a week after Dean and I parted at the train station. This woman, who had stringy gray hair and an earnest, hesitant manner, told me a lot of things. After she’d turned over the first card (the Five of Cups), she turned to me and said, “Did someone die?” When, after more sober cards appeared and I admitted that my boyfriend and I had just broken up she said, “Well, you’re not going to get back together.” Which I knew, but still. “He doesn’t want to,” she added. Unecessarily, I thought.
She turned over some more cards. “You haven’t met your soul mate yet.” I loathe that term. I mean, really. I don’t believe that there’s just one man out there for me, my other half, etc. If there’s just one person I’m destined for, what are the odds of us meeting? Isn’t it likely that my soul mate is a Mongolian goat-herder or something? So I prefer to believe it’s about timing, and, the ability to be happy. I like to think I have the latter, though I suspect my timing is off.
But she was a tarot card reader, so maybe soul mates were part of her stock in trade. “You have angel blessings,” she added, pointing to some smiling figures on another card. Needless to say, I don’t believe in angels, either. “You just have t be patient, and have some faith,” she said, pointing to the Two of Swords. She turned over a few more cards and said, “I’m seeing Florida here. Do you ever go to Florida?”
Which tarot card symbolized Florida? “Ummm…” My aunt and uncle live there, but really, how could my soul mate be in Orlando? I imagined my soul mate/the hilariously funny and kind/British/Jewish/independently wealthy/dark-haired/tall/skinny/pediatric oncologist of my dreams somewhere more cosmopolitan. Somewhere with a lower obesity rate.
Then my tarot card reader took out an ephemeris (an astrological/astronomical calendar) and thumbed the pages. “I think you should go to Florida in March,” she said at last. “Sometime between the thirteenth and twenty-seventh.” I wrote this down. Then she told me that me and my soul mate would be very happy together and have several children, which is, of course, exactly what I wanted to hear. Then she told me I should wear a red hat and scarf in the winter.
I related all this to Daniel. “Now I’m supposed to be patient. But I don’t feel patient. I feel very ready.” I ate the last of my teriyaki. “I want to be in a serious, long term relationship. I want to get married.” The domestic and romantic nature of my mostly positive relationship with Dean had confirmed that for me.
Dating, on the other hand, horrified me: Scanning the crowd for a guy who somewhat resembled his photo. The awkward greeting, and the inevitable conversation about pop culture over a drink that I finished too quickly. The uncomfortable feeling that this fella was not very smart/over his ex/thinks I’m plain/doesn’t know how to talk about anything other than himself. The relief when I hug him briefly and say goodbye.
“Aww,” said Daniel. “You’ll meet someone soon.”
I hope so. Cause I don’t want to be that stereotypical single (Jewish) thirtysomething: urban, neurotic, anxious to wed, and unintentionally comic. I hope my comic-ness is always intentional, at least. I’ve always prided myself on being more amusing, more sympathetic, and smarter than average, but most people feel that way about themselves. Maybe my recent sluttiness has been a rebellion against the idea of myself as a Nice Jewish Girl. Or maybe I just like cock.
Anyway. Back at my apartment we repaired to my mattress, now free of books and covered with clean sheets. “I can’t stay tonight,” Daniel said.
“OK.” Daniel and I always spent the night together. Except for the last time, when a rogue bedbug left me covered in bites and I’d called a cab at 2 AM.
We kissed, and I decided to concentrate on the pleasurable feel of his mouth against mine. His breath was warm and sweet, and I nuzzled against the soapy tang of his neck.
I traveled my lips down his torso. When we pulled off our clothes I sighed at the sight of his dick, big and now stiff. I put my nose to his groin. “Daniel,” I said, sort of sultrily, “It’s been so long since I’ve had your dick in my mouth…” I licked the underside of the shaft, then glanced up to see his response. He smiled and lifted his hips. I bent my head and wrapped my mouth around his dick. He was so big and firm, it was a nice, filling sensation.
After I’d sucked and licked for a while, I remembered something: Daniel’s not very aggressive. I cleared my throat: “You want to fuck me?” this being about as dominant as I get.
“Sure,” Daniel smiled — or smirked — and I marveled at how easily Daniel and his dick respond to my demands.
He put on a condom and dabbed a little lube on my clit. I straddled him, arched my back, and tried to angle myself so that I could sit down right on his dick. “Aah,” I said as I felt his dick push up against my hole. I bent forward a bit, settling down. “How’s that?” I looked at Daniel. “Is that good?”
I rocked a little, trying to find the right spot… there. I rocked some more. “Like that?” I panted. “Hmmm?” I thrust my tits at his mouth: “Lick my nipples.” Daniel obliged. I watched him lap at my nipples, his eyes closed. “I love watching you suck my tits,” I gasped, cause frankly I think it is really hot.
It didn’t take much for me to come, and after a minute or so watching of Daniel’s eager tongue, I shuddered to a stop and sunk against his chest.
After a minute (“Thank you.” “My pleasure!”) Daniel pulled out, and sat up. He gestured for me to do the same.
Daniel crossed his legs and I sat in his lap, my legs wrapped around his waist swung. I don’t think I’d ever fucked Dean like this … and suddenly I remembered fucking Daniel in my old apartment, just like this, the two of us pleased with our athletic (and, we thought, possibly tantric) powers. Just like before, I could feel Daniel’s deep up inside me, poking me in the abdomen, it felt like. “Hey,” I said. “I can feel you right here.” Daniel smirked.
After a minute he slipped out and I slid onto my back. I fixed my eyes on his and breathed deeply as he pushed inside me once again. “Are you going to come for me?” I asked, like I always ask. He thrust faster.
“You wanted that?” I scraped my fingernails across his back — Dean loved this, it was guaranteed to raise a pleased shudder — but did Daniel? I couldn’t remember. I dragged my nails down his side, beneath his armpits. “Come on, Daniel.”
“Ahhh,” he grunted, his body stuttering. I looked at him but his gaze was fixed over my shoulder. With a “Nhuh!” his breathing changed, and he collapsed against me.
We lay with my head against his shoulder, and his arms around me. Very familiar and comfortable. So familiar and comfortable, apparently, that after a minute I heard Daniel’s breathing deepen; he had dozed off. I rested my cheek against his chest, and waited for him to wake up.