Jeremy called me at the last minute to cancel. Actually, he called after the fact; I had already been waiting for ten minutes. Pete, the realtor, bless his heart, went ahead and started the session.
I mean Pete did raise an eyebrow as I spoke to Jeremy. And I echoed his excuses as to why he couldn’t be there to look for a home. Our home.
Through my cell, Jeremy explained. “The Talbert divorce is getting very complicated. The wife demands more each day. And my client is just unwilling to part with his items. I’ve been called into an emergency session. Something to do with baseball cards. And the dog. I need to be there because I prepared all the appraisal reports. Oh, remind me to never get a pet. I’m confident you can handle this home hunt. Just stand up to him. Love you. I’ll be home late. Bye.”
Of course, all that Pete the realtor heard were the random words I uttered as I listened to another story about another case and how Jeremy just had to be there.
“…complicated…wife…emergency…dog…late…” Boy, I wonder what Pete is thinking now.
So Pete begins asking me questions to determine what type of property, home, location, will be best for us. Jeremy and me. Well, Jeremy. We talk about square footage and closet space. Number of bathrooms and kitchen area. Home offices and guest bedrooms. In town. Out of town. Proximity to highways, the lake. “The bars?” Pete cocks an eyebrow at me.
I go through what Jeremy wants. Or what I think Jeremy wants. I talk about closet space for his suits. The needs of his home office. The dining room for entertaining his clients. A porch for when he smokes.
Pete asks me what I want. What space I need. Any work related areas or activities. I really can’t think of anything. “I manage with what I have,” I say.
Pete probes further. “What do you dream of? When you close your eyes each night, what do you wish to see in the morning? What fantasies do you have? Do you need a shower for one or two?”
And I think, “What fantasies do I have?” I dream of being known for my art, even though I have little talent. So a sunny studio would be nice. I dream of a brown leather wingback chair in a room full of books: fiction and biographies; photos and art; ancient history and modern movements; Stonewall and Madonna. I want a place for a papasan chair and hanging plants. A bird cage with singing parakeets.
But these are things that Jeremy feels are extraneous. He needs clean and austere. Classy and elegant. Black leather and fresh cut lilies. “Things to impress clients,” he educates. Jeremy would never foot a bill to allow me space to lounge or paint. And I can’t afford to pay for the space myself, what with the limits in locations that Jeremy is willing to live. “I couldn’t have clients come to that neighborhood. What would they think?”
I tell Pete, “I need a good-sized kitchen for when we entertain. With space to move about. I spread out when I cook.” Which Jeremy complains about. Even though I’m the one who cleans up.
Pete rises. “Let me massage out the details of what you need to match you with some properties. I’ll be right back.” He pats my shoulder as he strides toward the back.
While I wait, I think of conversations I’ve had with Bob, my best friend since before we graduated high school. We moved to Chicago together and have been through thick and thin. Pizza and beer. Fights over who gets to go out with the hunk down the hall.
Bob has never liked any of my boyfriends. He’s already listed for me what’s wrong with Jeremy. Why our relationship won’t last. How Jeremy’s the next in a long line of replacement fathers. In fact, Bob has always told me I date the wrong guys. “He’s only interested in eye candy,” Bob complains. “And you’re intelligent too. The perfect ‘himbo’ for a slimy guppie like him.” Bob wants me to date bohemian types. Artists and musicians. Activists. Recyclers. I just find that they lack interest. In me. “Pursue him,” Bob chants as he pushes me towards another guy who’ll quickly reject me in another bar, or gallery, or dance floor. Maybe because I don’t think that they’ll like me, my vibe is repellant, and they just walk away like I’m emitting some high pitched sonic frequency that chases away rats and cockroaches too.
“And they’re all too old,” Bob chastises me.
“But that’s who asks me out,” I whine in reply. “And Jeremy is only ten years older.”
“Twelve,” Bob flashes back. “Which makes him forty. And he’s a lawyer. In a big firm. Upwardly mobile and all that jizz. You need someone closer to his student loans. Someone who has a supervisor.”
I don’t go into the fact that I finished my degree and have a good job. Benefits and vacation. Enough money now that I could buy a one bedroom on my own. If I went west. Albany Park. And saved up to redecorate. I have simple tastes. I don’t mind breaking out the tools and paints myself. Go Crafty Beaver shopping.
Bob seems to remember me working with him at the Coffee Hut. And the pet store. And the book store. And record store. And clothing store. Jobs to pay rent for the apartment we’d share while I went to school and he went to the bar. Or club. Or party. This is the type of job Bob still has, and I think he resents that I left him there.
Bob and I were never boyfriends. Sure, we lived together. And ran together. Got drunk together. And flipped to see who got the bedroom or the pull-out when we both got lucky at that party which was “Just so fab” that I simply couldn’t study on a Saturday night. We slept together once. One night we didn’t drink and didn’t go out. Some summer night with no Olympics or baseball to watch. It kinda just happened and felt really natural after all the time Bob and I had been together. I think we both knew the destructive quality that was hidden between us. Together, we burn bright and die fast. Apart, but still friends, we’ll be eighty and sharing a room in a nursing home, paying the male orderly for extra sponge baths. If I’d been in love with him, my heart would have broke the next morning as Bob listed all the reasons we were a mistake. But I agreed to everything he said.
Looking at all my relationships since that night, maybe my heart did break.
But I‘ve been with Jeremy for over a year which is a long time for either of us. And as Bob said, “In the gay community, that’s like over three years.” Jeremy wants to settle down now, and I seem to fit the bill. Only I was beginning to question if I was for sale.
Pete returned with some printouts and keys. “You ready to test out some bedrooms?” He winked.
“Yeah,” I replied, knowing what I would do. Inspect some properties. Find some problem or reason to reject the home. Something Jeremy wouldn’t like.
And I’d sleep with Pete.
It didn’t take him long to make his move. The third house. I think we drove out of our way to see the second home. But the third was still furnished; it had a bed.
I don’t really know why I do this. Feel compelled to have sex with an interested man. I mean, I don’t feel guilty. Jeremy is no boy scout. But I don’t get even either. It just feels like this momentary spark and I’m alive. I want Pete’s cock in me. It sears my insides. It makes me beg for more. I cry out, panting, squirming underneath him, pushing myself back to meet him as he slides in again.
This always feels different than with Jeremy. He’s so blunt and perfunctory. A simple in and out. The same “Ugh” as he thrusts. A simple “Ugh” if I thrust.
Pete matches my cries and taunts me on. Holding his cock just in, making me move for it. “Wiggle,” he commands.
Pete showers while I wander the house, looking at the traces of the couple who left here so hastily. “Something about an immediate transfer. And more money,” Pete said. I see all the traces of a couple making a home: photos of family and vacations, dying plants and birthday cards, combinations of styles and dusty books. I wonder if Jeremy and I will ever be like this.
I think of an argument Bob and I had one summer over which poster to buy for the living room wall that year I TA’d lab and had some extra money.
I think of my art projects that get put away half-done because I only have Jeremy’s living room to paint in.
I head back to the bathroom and find Pete toweling off.
“Do you have any one bedroom condos?” I ask.
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