A summer’s day at the park. Jeans, a short sleeve shirt, red or dark pink, but definitely not a color I would normally wear, except for maybe when I was in university. There I was explaining something, and he interrupted me.
“No, it’s not like that,” he said, and on he went explaining how it really was. Half annoyed, half admiring of his intellect, I jumped on his back and started biting him. Playfully, of course. Tired from laughing too hard and listening to my animal impersonations, he gave in. We stood kissing for a while, forgetting about the world.
Rachel walked up to me then, amused at our unruly behavior and distressed as she was about to announce what I was expecting her to announce.
My eyes searched from him among the greenery. With a popping shirt and a hot body, he was easy to notice. He was looking at me. I was caught off guard, in the middle of a sexual play with my boyfriend, but knowing I couldn’t make him wait after having made eye contact, I walked up to him sighing, trying to smile.
I was happy to see him, I was. I was also distraught. I didn’t know how this encounter was going to go. Last time I saw him, I had told him he shouldn’t be so upset, and he had told me emotions take time. I had told him that was okay, and he had told me he was surprised I moved on so fast. He had not told me that he wanted me to keep being in love with him even after he had told me he wasn't in love with me, but that’s what he had audaciously implied.
“Hi,” I said, standing in front of him, noticing how every cell in my body wanted to hug him, and unclear if I wanted to be in the embrace or in the anticipation of it.
“Your bra,” he said.
“What?” I said.
“I mean your shirt - I mean your bra is showing,” he said.
“Oh, yea, thanks, yea, we were, um, in the middle of playing,” I explained.
“I saw,” he said, with his eyes that said yes-i-saw-you-two-sexual-animals.
I was a little bit embarrassed. I knew he had a girlfriend, I knew I would probably meet her that day, but I nonetheless found my banter too extravagant for a public viewing at the park, especially when among the audience was my long time best friend and awkward ex-fling or whatever the hell he was for me then.
He saw my embarrassment too, and smiled that smile that always looked as though he tried really hard to not smile but couldn’t keep it in, and the smile eventually exploded on his face.
“It’s ok, Z,” he said, laughing, his eyes shining, and hugged me, to finish our awkward ceremony of hello.
Now that we had had our moment, the friends that were with him that day started appearing slowly and introducing themselves. I introduced my boyfriend in return, and we started walking to a sitting area.
Rachel walked slower than the group to be next to me for a moment. This was great because I wanted to ask her if his girlfriend wasn’t coming, but I didn't want to ask her, and she read my question before I had to ask it. “I think she’s joining later,” she said, touching my arm softly, wanting to tell me it's gonna be okay. "Hmm," I said, wanting to tell her I wanted to keep pretending I didn't care.
Hours passed. They were all on their second, third, fourth beers, and I was enjoying the sun rays on my face. I got up to walk towards the bathroom at the other end of the park, and had made my way half way there, when someone grabbed my arm from behind me.
“Hi, Z, I’m Jenny,” said this stranger.
“Who?” I said.
“I’m Josh’s girlfriend.”
“Oh, okay, hi,” I said.
“Nice to meet you,” she said.
“Yea, you too, I’ve heard-”
“Where is everyone?” she asked, interrupting me.
“Oh, um, they are there,” I said, pointing. “Keep walking that way, they’re sitting under a big tree.”
“Cool, sorry to jump at you like that, I’ll see you in a bit,” she said.
“Cool,” I said, but she had already left, her blonde wavy hair voluptuously dancing behind her.
She has some confidence, I thought. What an interesting match, I also thought. She clearly wasn’t sorry to jump at me like that, I further thought. Where were these fucking bathrooms?
Hours passed again. Jenny was talkative in group, making jokes, and laughing loudly at all the jokes including her own. She was extremely easygoing. She was saying whatever she felt the urge to say. She was extremely present. She exuded a trust that made everyone feel like they had known her for years, even if they had just met her.
Then, quite suddenly, the universe decided to shake things up again and grab me. Everyone exited the scene saying they had to pee, go buy beer, or say hi to someone else at the park at exactly the same time, and Jenny and I found ourselves in a new scene, one that she clearly didn’t mind being in, and one I clearly didn’t want to be in: a private dialogue.
She delivered her opening line quite promptly and without looking up from her beer.
“So, you’re still mad at him?” she asked.
“What? Who?” I said.
“Why are you mad at him?”
“I’m not, I don’t, um, am I? No, I’m not mad at him... He was mad at me, but I forgave him, and myself, soon after the whole thing happened.”
Wow, I thought, that sentence made no sense.
A part of me was expecting this to come up that day, but I was expecting the topic to open between me and Josh, not between me and his I-like-putting-my-nose-in-other-people’s-business girlfriend.
“You’re probably mad at him because he is still hurt,” she said. “And although it makes no sense to be mad at someone for how they are hurt, you are still mad at him, aren't you?”
“And of course, you’re mad also because he was hurt when you moved on even though he told you he wasn’t in love with you and didn’t want a relationship with you, and that makes you question if he really didn't feel anything for you.”
“But honestly, I don’t think you forgave him, because I don’t think you ever got mad at him properly,” she said. “You can’t forgive someone without feeling all the hurt and anger first.”
Was I more annoyed at the insane accuracy of her observations or the matter-of-fact tone she had while explaining to me my own emotions?
“It’s not rocket science,” she said, answering the confused look on my face. “It’s human. It’s easy to read these emotions, if you know a bit about the context.”
Boy, do you know a bit about the context, I thought.
I was still silent. Dumbfounded, maybe even. Her eyes were a greenish hazel and she had uncannily pink lips. Must be lipstick, I thought. She seemed even more relaxed now compared to the beginning of her monologue. Well she clearly got things off her chest, I thought.
“You probably want to know why I’m saying all this,” she continued, finding even more courage in my silence. “You probably also feel I'm putting my nose into your business. You are right. I am doing that. But he loves you a lot. Josh. And he’s worried. I think he’s failing at handling this situation. Although he gives off the vibe that he can handle any emotionally complex situation, we all know that he’s not super eager to have these awkward conversations.”
I finally understood what this scene was. You sneaky universe, I thought. You disguised it well, but this is clearly a love scene. It was a deep love that had allowed this woman to get to know this man, Josh, in such an intimate and intricate way in only a few months. It was a deep love that had allowed her to love me through loving him, to get to know me so well through loving him.
I smiled at Jenny for the first time that day, still in silence, with a heartfelt smile. Surprised for the first time that day, she smiled back. She had a protected and shy look on her face, exposing to me something new and hidden about herself.
She wanted me to know Josh loved me, but more importantly, she wanted me to know she loved him.
So I told her, with my smile, that I knew. I told her I can't blame her for loving every corner of that face. You better love every corner of that face, I further told her. She nodded. She knew what corners I was talking about.