Saturday, May 26, 2007


I stand in front of you
I take the force of the blow
-Massive Attack

Last night was different. Happier, giddier. Both of us have made progress with our personal situations, which made for a lighter, cheerier atmosphere.

When we stood to leave, the bartender, a Greek woman equal parts sassy and sweet, hugged me goodbye like an old friend.

"Take good care of her," she said to him.

"I always take care of her," he replied.

"He's a good guy," she told me.

I nodded. "I know."

I don't know what to call it, but I'm finally starting to understand that maybe it doesn't need a name. I can't explain it to my friends, who worry I'll get hurt because it's not a traditional relationship, more of a once-in-a-while thing. He's not my boyfriend and yet I've been seeing him longer than some of my exes. Every time I see him, it's with the understanding that it might be the last time. There has been a lot of passion, but conflict, too. I'm drawn to him in a way I haven't been drawn to anyone in a long time.

I pinned down what was bothering me about the situation last week. It's not that I need for us to be exclusive; I like having the option of seeing other people (though I equally dislike the thought of him doing so, because I'm jealous like that; oh well). It's not that I need to be labeled his girlfriend. Last night, he introduced me to everyone as his friend, but then openly kissed me and wrapped his arms around me. The label didn't matter, because I felt genuine warmth and affection from him.

No, what troubled me was the time in-between, the days during the week when I don't see him, when there's barely any contact, when I have to fend for myself. I have plenty to keep me busy, but it was more a matter that I never felt like I could call him after a tough day to talk, that I could view him as a source of support the way I do my other friends. That's what it was: I didn't get a sense that he was my friend.

Last night, I told him that. I said I was aware of the risks of developing a closer personal relationship, that treating him more as a confidante could lead to sticky territory of more attachment and a need for commitment. Which isn't what I was asking for.

He saw the difference.

"You can always call me if you had tough day and need to talk. I would be there for you the way I'd be there for any other of my friends. And if anyone was every giving you a hard time, I'd sort them out. I'll be your bodyguard." He got a fierce look in his eyes, a spark of anger at the idea of somebody messing with me.

"I guess I never felt that from you before."

"I consider you my friend. I have from the very beginning."

He said he didn't think of me as a casual fling or fuck buddy (how I hate that term), that he thinks about being with me during the times we're apart.

He mentioned a personal story I shared a couple of weeks ago, of something awful that happened to me as a little girl.

"When you told me that, even though you said you couldn't remember it happening, I felt so sad for you I wanted to cry. And I couldn't stop that from happening to you, but I feel so protective of you now."

He sees a part of me not many others see. In many ways, I'm still naive, still blind to the evils of the world, and oblivious to life outside my small sphere of consciousness. For the most part, I have led a relatively sheltered life. He sees this innocence, and wants to shield me from harm.

I feel his protection.

This is one reason why I love being with him, why the times we are together are worth all the uncertainty that follows. I feel so safe with him that everything else falls away. I can let go of my fear and be my real self. And despite our strange and uneven communication in between, when we get together there's a sense of relief and inevitability, a sense of belonging, even if it's just for the night. There is always at least one moment during the night that feels perfect. It might be a minute in my room, listening to music in utter stillness. It might be in a taxi, crossing the bridge and putting my head on his shoulder. It might be in a crowded bar, smiling at each other through the hazy din of layered conversations and alcohol. It might be when he wipes away my tears, pulls me in close, and kisses me. It could happen at any time.

I pay a price for these perfect moments. I want more of them and yet I have to understand that their beauty comes from the wild and unstable circumstances surrounding them. It's the power, brightness, and instability of a lightning bolt. It's breathtaking and treacherous, impossible to predict.

When that lighting does strike, time freezes and everything is in its right place. In those seconds or minutes or even hours, in his arms, I am completely, irrefutably, safe. Protected.


Vicious said...


Dolly said...

I really don't understand why you keep leaving ellipses as comments. Explain, please?

Vicious said...

I leave comments like this to let you know that I am listening and I understand you, but have nothing important to add.

It's not to annoy you. It's simply to let you know somebody is out there. I always thought it was a nice thing to do rather than not comment at all.


Dolly said...

That's actually quite nice. Thank you.

Vicious said...

Oh, BTW. I have a new girlfriend!

You were right. Sometimes you need to give girls a second chance!


MissCurious said...

Sure we all slammed him in our comments weeks ago, but I'm taking him back!!! ;-)... I totally understand how one can have this electric attraction to someone. This is why I go back to that Obsession bartender of mine despite his severely imperfect behavior... there's just something that we can't explain, and something that we can't ignore.

I LOVE all the protective things he said... amazing... as I read it I was thinking some 80's movie where every time you watch it, you're in love again. Hmm.

Lastly, on a different note, I love that Massive Attack song... it reminds me of this night when in London... my body was left comfortably exhausted riding in the back seat of a friend's car after a long night of dancing... With my head resting on the rear of the car, I stared out the back window and was fixated upon the moon... none of us said a word... we just listened to that song.

It was a perfect moment.

kay said...

I can't help think that protection is only a small fraction. I think what you like most is the emotional stimulation coming from this instable relationship with the guy. Don’t get me wrong, the guy seems like a great guy but it seems you just love that invisible roller coaster. You love the randomness, the ups and down just like how you described why you like working in New York, only now, your expressing this through guy X instead of through your work like you did before.

Dolly said...

Miss C,
Thank you for getting it.

I'm actually not so much of a fan of instability and emotional drama. Yes, it does raise the heart rate, but for me actually being with a cool person is more gratifying than the instability surrounding it.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kay. I didn't post until someone else said what I was thinking.

The whole description of your relationship in this post paints a picture of a hurricane. You choose to look at the calm in the eye of the storm and declare "I'm protected" and ignore the crashing that has gone before and will surely come again.

me said...

How do you put UP with these people?!?

sweetscarlet said...

Just because it is infrequent, or unscheduled does not make it un-stable. I have had such a relationship for 10 years, and because it is not traditional or scheduled, it is always fresh and powerful. EVERY TIME he has ever walked into the room I have been thrilled and stimulated. It is never mundane or boring. Who can say this about other 10 year relationships? Not me. The "price" is missing the person sometimes. The "reward" is freshness and excitement, and yes, a kind of stability, after a fashion.

Grace said...

hmmm - well i haven't read anything before or since, that you may have said about this man, but he sounds GOOD to me. maybe you should give this man some serious thought?..........