I am half awake as the sun rises over the city and glares directly through the window into my eyes. I can feel a mild headache declaring its arrival and try to salvage what I can by covering my eyes. This never works and I already know it.
I move to the other side determined to hold on to that sleep with all I might, when he does the same and I suddenly find myself staring at his back. Sigh, that happened. I could have stayed with the girls or gone back over the bridge to the safety of my own place but of course, I didn’t. I would roll my eyes at myself if my head wasn’t pounding right now.
Rolling over again, I look outside the dusty window and watch the city waking up. Flashbacks from last night come through. Passionate cranberry kisses of two people determined to ignore every reasonable doubt and just focus on living in the here and now. I slowly leave the warmth of the blanket and tiptoe my way into the bathroom, looking back before closing the door. “That’s new”, I think. He usually reaches over cuddles up to me and kisses my shoulder. This morning he couldn’t be bothered. And suddenly I am cold and a shiver runs down my spine. That woman in the mirror, analyzing me while she brushes her teeth, she’s so different than the woman I knew a few months ago. Back at a time where this felt exciting, where the second toothbrush he placed so matter of factly was a good sign and his place in the East Village felt like it was mine too. Now, all of a sudden, the tables have turned. I feel like an overnight guest overstaying my welcome. It’s the literal morning after, his crammed studio looks like it was dipped into the warm morning sunlight like a heavy caramel sauce filter saturating this image. It suddenly feels like nothing more than a pitstop on the way out to conquer greener pastures. How did that happen?
That’s the funny thing about having an expiration date looming over your head. You are very aware of its existence but you don’t worry about it to the best of your ability until it knocks you over your head when you least expect it. “Told you I am coming for you”, it sneers at me. Yup, I didn’t want to listen! And now, here I am apparently, watching him sleep like a creep. He looks so peaceful. His strong jaw highlighted by the sun, his body moving under the sheets blissfully unaware of my realizations just moments ago.
It’s still three hours until I meet my crew for brunch, but I am in desperate need of coffee. I quickly get dressed, put my hair in a bun, grab the keys and leave. So eager for fresh air and space. Space and air. I chuckle at the fact, that I am looking for space in the city with the highest rent prices and smallest spaces that wouldn’t even classify as an actual living space in other areas of the world. My feet hit the concrete and I take a deep breath, walking down the block to my favorite little coffee shop.
If this is really it, and Ben and I hit our arduous end, what will be next? I try to shake that thought and focus on coffee instead. My head claps in agreement. Ouch.
A few minutes later, I am taking that first glorious sip of my lavender soy latte and smile a little too relieved at the barista. “Long night?”, he asks with that knowing look and I just smile nodding. Sitting down at one of those little bistro tables outside, I zip up my leather jacket and soak up the sun. I’m in dire need of some vitamin D, that’s for sure. I look across the street, down the block, where I can still see his studio window. The one the sun decided to glare into what seems like just moments ago. So close, yet a galaxy away. I want to run back and I am determined to walk the other way at the same time. It’s as if being two steps ahead of the situation will save me from the upcoming heartbreak in the long run. I am shaking my head at myself. Enough already. Just be in the moment. I take a few deep breaths. Before heading out, I grab two more coffees and chocolate croissants.
Before I enter his apartment, Libby’s text arrives reminding me to get out of my head and to enjoy the moment. She’s a witch, always knowing when I need her to snap me out of my own thoughts. I put the Americano on his paper-covered nightstand as he turns around half-asleep, takes a sip, and bites into the offered croissant, treating me to that smirk of his. Just as I put down my coffee and the croissant bag, he grabs me, twirls me around, and cuddles up to me in bed, kissing my shoulder.
Mhmm. Maybe this right here isn’t so bad after all. Maybe great coffee does that to people. And maybe an extra toothbrush is a good sign. Maybe I can cozy up inside the caramel-sauce-filtered world for a while instead of staring at it from the outside wondering. Maybe feeling someone tightly wrapped around me, kissing my shoulder means they are not ready to let go.
At least not yet.1