There’s this boy that I’d been sleeping with for a while– his name is Raza– and over the past week we’ve gotten really close. An important aspect of our relationship was intimacy, so before I debrief into my self-psychoanalysis, I want to cover the sex (sorry mom and dad).
It wasn’t always the best.
Sometimes I’d just be doing it to do it, and each time we would, there’d always be a point where I’d think “when is this over?” Not that he always took too long (though often times he did), but partially because I didn’t feel too strong of an emotional connection to him. Although each time was far from perfect, retrospectively, the most recent time is the one I keep thinking about.
I started recalling that moment as we were listening to music through his earbuds a few nights ago– a bud stuck in his right ear and the other in my left– and I found his Pillow Talk playlist. I asked what the playlist was for, and he said it was for sex. So, subsequently, I asked if we’d ever used it, and he paused, thought about it, then shrugged and said probably. So I scrolled through, and that’s when I played one of the songs from it, chosen at random.
All of a sudden I remembered the layout of his room: a TV rests on his desk– turned on– and the Pillow Talk playlist sings from the speakers. I can hear that song, and I can see myself approaching the boy who sits in his desk chair. I sit on his lap and we kiss. His lips are soft, plump, and gentle in the way I like boys’ lips to be. My fingers comb through his hair, and he strokes my thighs. Everything is so smooth and methodical. It all just works. Mouth still on mine he picks me up, with my legs wrapped around his waist. He carries me to the bed, effortlessly. I can imagine what I was thinking as he lifted me: that he was probably going to fall over on the walk to his blue duvet or struggle to pick me up and ruin the mood in the way boys in my past have. He didn’t, though, and with that suggestive music playing it made the moment all the more alluring. It was sexy.
Bringing us back to present day, Raza, over the past week, has been going through a lot. We stopped having a sexual relationship a couple of weeks ago, especially considering all of his school problems, home problems, and mental health problems. I noticed his cry for help right away, and took the opportunity to offer my writing services to help him send a petition to the school as to not get academically suspended in the spring semester. We wrote it together and in doing so I got to learn pretty intimate details about his life: the abusive relationships, the gang violence, and the pizza place in South-Side Chicago where he witnessed his first drive-by.
He wants so badly to do better. I see his efforts everyday and I admire his work ethic. The academic suspension was the wake-up call he needed, and it’s been a pleasure watching him succeed. Today, he told me I’m the only person– other than his mother– who has seen him cry. He lets himself be vulnerable with me and he enjoys my company. I like his music taste, and we get along fairly well.
I’m not sure if I have feelings for him or not, though. Yes, I think about him all the time, and as I listen to that one Pillow Talk playlist song every night, I do keep picturing that scene over and over again, but I don’t want to trick myself into liking him if I’m just enjoying being a white knight.
Too often have I decided I like someone just because I like being their emotional crutch. I crave to be needed and wanted and I know he needs and wants me– though, not romantically.
To properly dissect my feelings, I finish that scene I was describing earlier and think about what happened after the sex.
I’m up from his bed and trace the bookshelves above his desk. A birthday card rests, and I pull it down to read it. I can’t exactly remember what it says– my memory is blurred– but it’s from his family, reminding him that they miss and love him.
Happy 19th, Raza!
Mom, dad, Rumi, Ezra
A normal person would have just put down the card and moved on, but I was picking it apart for everything it has to offer. Okay, so this clearly shows a strong relationship with his parents, so he is respectful of authority. And he has a good relationship with his little siblings, so he is probably protective and brave. So on and so forth, I analyzed every detail in his room like this. I couldn’t exactly figure out why at the time, since doing that with boys had been so internalized, but I’ve realized it now.
I was in his room, holding that birthday card, trying to fall in love with him! My heart was looking for a reason to have feelings for this boy in any way I could. How absurd am I for that? It’s because I’m so used to dating any boy who shows interest in me. Be it Nicholas Henry Holiday, Ruaidhri, Gabby, or Raza, because I know I’d be too ashamed to reject them, my brain has literally trained itself to search for a reason to fall in love.
What an odd defense mechanism, no? It’s my body saving itself from the suffering and misery of dating someone I have no interest in. What better way to do that than by forcing interest in them? This is why I’d be great in an arranged marriage. I’ve grown so accustom to accepting my fate as a hot potato for men that I’ve just given into false love.
Which is to say, I don’t think I actually like Raza. And, believe it or not, that’s a conclusion I’m 100% okay with. It’s a big step in my journey through adolescence to finally be able to discern my feelings for someone as true or false. I’ve learned to hold off on seeing memories only for the sexy Pillow Talk song instead of the not-so-sexy birthday card aftermath. Now that I’ve figured out my feelings, though, I’m relieved to listen to that playlist without him clogging my mind.