IThat weekend, Taylor and I traveled to coastal Massachusetts to spend a few nights in the house his parents used to own decades before. He assured me that what we were doing was completely legal, but I had a hunch he was lying when we entered the house through the back bathroom window instead of the front door.
He made lunch the first day since I never learned how to cook and, after questioning my femininity, threatened to teach me how to make pasta so I could at least survive on my own.
"I always just ate cereal if the restaurants were closed," I picked at his sandwiches.
"That's disgusting," he slapped my hand with the wooden spoon. "How can you call yourself a woman?"
"Funny. You're so funny."
"I'd like to think so," he shoved his completed gourmet sandwich into my hand and headed out to the backyard.
He didn't' bother laying down a blanket to cover the grass, he simply stretched himself out along the green leaves and began feeding. I asked him if it was hard to swallow that way and he plainly told me he'd give me something hard to swallow.
"Vulgar!" I nudged him and he only laughed.
"God, I could fall asleep here."
"No!" I tore his sandwich from his hands and jumped on him. "I didn't come all the way up here to watch you sleep in the backyard!"
"Shh," he waved his hands in front of his face.
I stood up, plucking him from the ground and pushing him towards the ocean. As we got closer, I started pulling off clothing, insisting that I didn't want to reek of sea filth for the next twelve hours.
"Geez, what is it with you and being naked?" Nothing kept him from tearing off his own shirt, I might add.
Catching my breath, I counted to three and shoved him off the rocks into the water, promptly following behind.
"Holy SHIT!" he surfaced, splashing frantically.
"So. Cold. Oh my God!" I immediately regretted my sudden burst of playful energy.
"I can't feel my stomach."
"That'll pass," like I knew what I was talking about. "So…"
"What?" he was still splashing and gasping for air.
"Have you ever done it in the ocean before?"
He stopped splashing and raised one eyebrow. "You little freak!" He sprung out of the sea and jumped on top of me, taking me under.
I was twenty the summer that I met Taylor; he was twenty three. Although we were both past our childhood, being with him brought back the youth I never before appreciated. Being with Taylor was like being ten years old and dreaming of being grown up, if that makes sense. It seemed there were always going to be lush backyards, tree houses, grass stains, scabbed knees, rope swings, nylon hammocks, and splinters. There was this ceaseless comfort that this solace was infinite. He was the freedom of childhood I had needed for so long.
That night we made ourselves comfortable on the hammock in the backyard. We faced opposite ways, his feet in my face, and had there not been a thick layer of clouds we could have seen stars. Silently, we lay for at least twenty minutes just drinking in the imperfect night sky. Once impatient, he started kicking his disgusting feet at my face indicating he was ready for socializing.
He was so careless about how he spent his time. I could never decide if his unscheduled approach to life amused me or frightened me, but I envied it either way. "This is amazing, Taylor. You're amazing."
"I know," he grinned.
I paused for a moment, thinking of the most elegant way to broach the next topic. "Taylor, I have to go back." I kept my gaze on the thick clouds peeking through from between the oak leaves.
He sat up as much as the hammock allowed. "Back where?"
"Chicago. My flight leaves on Sunday. I have to go back; I have to fetch donuts for the B-rate newspaper journalists for minimum wage."
Undecided about a response, he sighed heavily and ran his hands down his cheeks. "Then what are you doing here?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know?" He was offended and fell back into the nylon stitching. "You don't know."
I resumed my contemplative silence and cloud gazing; he picked at the threads neurotically hoping to find a solution. Those five minutes stretched on for hours, but they were remarkable. Just listening to him sigh with frustration was exquisite.
"Stay here," he suggested as if he'd just asked me to pass the peas.
"In New York?"
"I can get you a job as a waitress at the club. You can live in my apartment. I can teach you how to cook."
"Taylor, what about school in the fall?"
I abandoned the hammock instantly and wandered back into the house absolutely clueless. Helpless, I started throwing the few clothes I'd purchased the day before into the suitcase. When the event didn't last nearly as long as I needed it to, I collapsed on top of the bag and rested my face on the snow white carpet. I waited for a moment and collected my thoughts before screaming into the floor. Furious, I tore open the suitcase and threw the wrinkled clothes back onto the floor.
I don't know when Taylor came back inside that night, if ever. Confused, I spent the night on the basement couch making pictures out of the stucco on the ceiling and running through the possibilities. The entire prospect of staying in New York was absolutely ridiculous and I was disgusted with myself for even considering it.
So that morning when I finally convinced myself to quit the sofa, I strayed up the stairs and upon finding Taylor in front of the coffee machine informed him that it would be a wise decision to purchase a fan because I refused to live in such humid conditions. Perhaps it had been my sudden need to make a rash decision or the lingering desire I would always have to just leave or maybe it was simply the lack of sleep from the night before that had forced me up those stairs and into his cayenne red apartment. Whatever it was, I knew I'd reached that cliché point of no return.