Sunday, August 09, 2009

A View of Paralysis

"Real Life Adventures" is a strip that captures the humor in all manner of awkward situations.
Click on the comic to see more adventures and learn more about the artists.

"I love how you feel. You don't know how long I've been waiting for this."

Whispered in my ear in a tone as soft as gossamer, he pulled me closer - a caress as firm as it was gentle. We'd been in my living room doorway for almost 15 minutes. One kiss hello had led to several kisses. I wanted to say something witty and clever in return, give a response that was equal parts flirty, funny, and full of the attraction I was feeling. Instead, all I could manage to say was a barely audible "thank you" that was more blush than burn.

It scarcely seemed to matter to him. He smiled and leaned in for another kiss, pulling me just a touch closer towards him, and ever so subtly grinding into me to show that no, it wasn't some object in his pocket and yes, he was quite happy to see me. And as good as it felt to be touched, desired, wanted, I could scarcely move. The intimacy of the moment clashed with the sudden realization that this man was as attracted to me as I was to him had paralyzed me.

We were going to dinner, my date and I. We'd met for coffee a couple of times before, quick dates lasting an hour or so, just long enough to decide whether or not we wanted to see each other again. Each meeting ended with a lingering kiss good night that felt good but a bit perfunctory. This time, he told me he wanted to pick me up at home, open doors for me, give me a good night kiss at my front door at the end of the evening.

"I can't wait to see you again," he said. "It's going to feel so good to kiss you."

I didn't believe him - rather I didn't want to believe him. Being open to that feeling of desire also meant being open to the possibility of being hurt again, and I'm not ready to go there again.

When he arrived at my door, I had no choice except to believe. He greeted me with the long, lingering kiss he promised. Then another. And yet another. It was my first date in months, and I looked forward to seeing him again. When he kissed me, it was so easy to respond in kind. My date was an attractive, desirable man and it felt good to desired by someone like him.

Still, I could feel myself holding back out of...what? Fear? Definitely, but of what kind? Moving too quickly? Rejection? The possibility that perhaps the attraction he said he had for me was a lie? It was hard to say, especially since his kiss and his embrace was so convincing, so real.

I had to pull back after a moment to catch my breath and gather my feelings. I tried to look at him, but could barely make eye contact. What was I seeing on his face? Part of me saw the look of a man enjoying an intimate moment with a woman he wanted to get to know better. Another part saw the leer of a man who simply wanted a somewhat easy lay and had the perfect opportunity right in front of him in an emotionally conflicted date. Which one was right?

I didn't know. I reached out and caressed his cheek with a hesitant smile, as though I'd be able to read his thoughts with a simple touch. He didn't let go. Returning my hesitant smile with a brighter, more confident one he leaned in for yet another kiss.

"If we keep this up, we're never going to go to dinner," I said.

"Don't worry," he replied. "We have plenty of time." I could barely make out the end of the sentence, the words blurring into a tender kiss.

I relaxed a little more, doing all I could to enjoy the moment and let go.

More later, because learning to move past the fear is a series of small, incremental steps.

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