Because I’m missing him, I remember this: our feet made out before we did.
The first time we slept together we did not “sleep” together, we merely slept beside one another. We were friends then. We’d come back from a night out dancing and it was four in the morning before we reached my apartment. It would be another twenty minutes for him to drive home to his. I told him he could stay, and I oh-so-cavalierly quipped, “You can sleep on the couch or sleep in my bed, whichever.” He chose my bed, and was a perfect gentlemen.
And it went on like that for over a month. Weekend sleepovers at my place, graduating to weeknights, sleeping next to each other, without a single improper pass. I used to giggle some mornings when he woke complaining of his sore neck and his stiff back, because it was a small double bed and he is a tall, robust man – and to keep from touching me meant he had to keep his body absolutely ramrod rigid, ALL night. Yet he came back for more uncomfortable nights of sleep with me and he complained little. SUCH a gentleman.
I liked him (like, “like-liked” him), but I didn’t want to and refused to admit it to myself. His personal life was a mess: he was only just extracting himself from a marriage gone sour and he was supposed to be leaving the state soon. Every sensible aspect of me screamed not to like him – like that. Regardless, I introduced the cuddling.
Again, in the aftermath of another Seattle night out we headed to my bed in the wee hours, ready to assume our Catholic school dance measurement of distance in the bed, when I (was tipsy enough that I) grabbed his arm and pulled it over top of me. I remember he said, “Oh! Is this cool now?” And I said, “Yes”, when I wanted to say, “Shut up!” And after that small gesture the cuddling was ON!
It was a mega cuddlefest of snuggly proportions for about two to three weeks. How close could we smoosh our bodies together without being overtly sexual? How much of a joint human burrito could we nightly create while acting like this was the behavior of the purely platonic? How close could our lips be to one another’s, for eight long, oft-times sleepless hours, without ever touching? We tested all these limits. We pushed the boundaries of friendly affections. We blazed some serious snuggle-time trails!
But our feet were the main culprits. Our feet were at each other in ways we were not yet brave enough to be. Our feet mingled, moved, maneuvered and motioned amongst themselves, constantly. Our feet flirted, our feet fell in like, our feet fell in love, and our feet told the truth about our feelings LONG before we ever did.
And the lovely thing about that is, they still do. While in marriage we’ve maintained the same sides of the bed as we did in those early days, I can no longer cuddle him face to face, for any extended period of time, for all the goddammed breathing he does (did he not breathe back then?). And while we can only snuggle down for a good half hour of drowsiness before we settle into our more comfy, separate, sleepytime reposes, our feet are still at each other. Like it was their first night together. Like they’d just met and were completely smitten.
And we laugh about that. We have no doubt that they’ll retain their footsie-friskiness, and enduring mutual adoration, well into the their sunset years.
We suppose we’ll be dragged along with them, but we don’t mind.