I wake up after some hazy napping. A dream with Carolyn in it, but lost to this world. I'd heard noises earlier, so I assume that Carolyn is already up. When I stand up from my pad, though, I see her fuzzy blond head still firmly mashed to a pillow. My first intended destination is the shower in the bathroom next-door, but I pause to retreive my shirt from under my own pillow, on the floor. Best not to risk Carolyn's parents seeing me walk out of the room shirtless, even if only for a second on my way to the bathroom.
I strip quickly and hop into the shower. The knobs are of a strange type, and the shower head is actually a detachable sprayer at the end of a long hose. I wet myself and rise for a bit, then unhook the sprayer. I've always wanted one of these things. Very pleasant on the crotch. Yow.
I fool with that for a short while, and then wash my hair, which makes me feel a lot better. I towel off and put all my clothes back on before exiting the bathroom, then dart into the guest bedroom.
Carolyn is awake, but still curled in the covers. She looks up at me and smiles. I sit down on the bed next to her, and tousle her hair. "Good morning!" I say. "Afternoon, you mean." I laugh. We cuddle a bit on the bed, then she gets up to locate me a pick-comb for my wet hair, and to see what time it is. 11:30. Not a bad time, we agree. "You know, that shower thing in the bathroom is really cool." I say.
"Yeah, I don't think I've never used it though."
"A person can have great fun with one of those things." I say, cryptically. Carolyn gets it, and gives me a sly grin.
We chat. She complains of a sore back, and I leap upon the bed and cram a pillow behind me. She gets the cue quite naturally, and scoots backwards until she is in front of me. I set to work, pressing her neck and shoulders. I don't know why it's the standard practice, or even that it really is, but I tend to prioritize the maintenance of my female familiar's body over my own. If her flesh is well maintained, I am happy. And I keep myself clean so that I am also clean for her, to my estimation. She tells me that she slept poorly, as I had, and that I was in one of her dreams, along with a dozen other people and a tiny brown hippo that wouldn't stop walking. Strangeness.
We listen to the Sesame Street record to get breakfast ideas. "A soft .... boooiled ... cooooooo-kie ... With a glass of cookie-juice on the siiiide..." With the helpful suggestions of Ernie and Carolyn's mother, we make scrambled eggs with broccoli, heat up some pancakes, pour some cereal, and eat some fresh baked cookies on the side. Quite filling.
We collaborate on the dishes with our ritual developed at Crown/Merrill. Carolyn's sleeves keep coming down as she washes, forcing her to stop and wave her arms around. Like always, I pause my rinsing and dotingly roll each sleeve up beyond her elbow. Unfortunately I poke her arms a bit.
The clutter of unfamiliar objects and the smallness of the kitchen, combined with the compulsion to maintain peace and quiet while handling dishes, kindles a vague tension in my mind, dissolving my ability to relax. I am relaxed on many layers, but one final bottom layer is pins and needles. Plus, when I am around anyone at all, including Carolyn, I have a heightened sense of self-awareness that is tailored to suit whomever I am with. With Carolyn, at this time, and in this precariously cluttered house, I feel as though I have to tame myself. All the fur that would be splayed or fuzzy or tangled must remain carefully combed back.
We learn from Carolyn's mother that the house will be empty while she picks up her son at the airport, later in the afternoon. Carolyn and I decide that a hike is first on the list, in spite of the nighttime rain, and decide to play the piano later when no-one else is around, because it's less embarrassing that way. We adjourn to her room, weaving around the huge potted plant on our way to the stairs.
I sit down on the round futon chair, and Carolyn puts on some music and gathers my papers onto the clipboard. The crazy CD plays again, at the song "Where the hell is Bill?" Carolyn strolls over to me. "So what are we going to do?" she asks.
I put out my hands and pull her gently. "I don't know. Hike, I guess. You know what the problem is, though?"
She leans forward, then gets a better idea and climbs onto the chair, cuddling next to me. "What's the problem?" she asks.
"I think I'm way too comfortable right here." I say.
She laughs, and buries her head in my arms for a while, and I stroke her hair. "Is that a bad thing?" she asks.
"Well, in terms of going on a hike, getting out of the house, yes." I kiss her gently on the forehead. "But I can't really make it out as bad in general, no matter how hard I think about it." We laugh.
"Does it bother you when I kiss you on the forehead?" I ask, at random.
"No," she replies instantly. "Unless you were to do it, like, constantly, all the time."
We chat randomly and listen to the music, enjoying each other's calm affectionate company for the next hour and a half. I trace the contours of her face with my fingers some more, tousle her hair, and run my hands slowly along her limbs. I am particularly fond of the hole in her leotard, which gives me direct access to the warm skin of her leg. Occasionally we kiss or rub noses, and we share random thoughts as they occur.
Abruptly I realize that I have just been sitting, stroking her, saying nothing for a good while. "You're not bored, are you?" I ask.
"No, not at all. I'm just enjoying being here with you."
"Good," I say. "Me too."
I leave the chair to reset the CD player, and lay my head in her lap when I return. She cuddles it, and I draw her shirt up a ways with my teeth, kissing her stomach softly. I have one arm under her legs and one under her back, as if I am about to lift her up. Or: as if I am eating a huge piece of watermelon. I like that image. I nuzzle her crotch happily for a while, then as we're conversing I sit up and rotate her in the chair, so I can dive between her legs and sprawl on top of her. I am aware of her pelvis pressing into my stomach as we slowly, tenderly kiss.
Another random thought. "You know, I'm jealous. Your body is so much more interesting than mine." I nuzzle a breast with my nose.
Carolyn grins. "That's because I'm the girl!" she says, teasingly.
I sigh. "I wish I had your body."
She thinks for a moment. "Ah, but answer this. Would you rather be the woman, or be the one making love to the woman?"
"Aaah, good question!" I say. It's one I'd thought on before. "I'd say I would rather be the woman."
Carolyn is intrigued. "Why?"
"I just figure that I'd enjoy sex more if I had a female body."
"Really. I've always thought it would be more fun to make love to a woman."
"It's a lot of fun, I'll admit that!" I say, poking her nose with mine.
Eventually we realize that if we don't get up and hike, we'll have never left the house all day, up until the time I leave. This seems silly, so we put on hiking gear and I pack my luggage in the van. We pick some oranges off the tree in the back yard, and I take Carolyn's picture next to her old height-chart in the kitchen. We wave goodbye to her mother, who is talking on the phone in one of the easy-chairs, and drive in Carolyn's little brown car to a park on the other side of Saratoga.
A hike up well-maintained trails, through verdant local foliage. We hug at the vistas. Carolyn points out a cement structure of half a dozen columns under a dome, and says "Tom kissed a boy there once." I stand in the middle of it, looking over the information kiosks to one side. Kissed her right here, huh?
Carolyn makes to continue on up the path, but I say "Hey, no, wait, come back..." She turns around and walks curiously up to me. I hook an arm around her and steal a kiss. "Just had to do that." I say. She smiles, and we resume our walk.
I peel an orange along the way. We encounter a troupe of deer, and I ask them "What are you guys doing so far away from UCSC?", eliciting a laugh. We spy a banana slug, and I just have to poke it in the side to see it's eyes squelch in. Byoooop! They do.
At the end of the trail is a single wrought-iron bench surrounded by low bushes, arranged before an amazing view of the entire Silicon Valley. Carolyn stands on the bench for a better view, and puts her arms around my shoulders as I stand in front of her. I reach up and cross her wrists on my chest. She points out landmarks of interest. Eventually I turn around and hug her, my face pressed into her soft belly. I am quite aware of the strap of her sports bra, twanging out the valley between her breasts, pressing on the bridge of my nose. I look up and see her looking affectionately down at me.
I take her picture, standing on the bench, with the city illuminated behind her. We sit down and share another orange. We scrutinize the hills to the north, and guess that they are vineyards. She walks around looking at the distant buildings, and then sits casually on my lap. I enclose her waist, hooking two fingers in the fly of her jeans to keep my arms knit. I think it's great that she swears by jeans, instead of skirts or dresses. Just another of the things I can like about Carolyn without even having to mention it. Besides, unlike a skirt or a dress, jeans tend to pull down when a woman bends over. Ah hah; hmmm?
We sit like this for a good while. Suddenly I notice that we are very removed from our normal lives. Here we are, on vacation, sitting alone together on a park bench overlooking a city neither of us live in, folded together as closely as two souls can be. A question occurs to me, half-formed, so that I cannot find the words to express it exactly. In retrospect the question is, how do we take this perfect security, and weave it into our everyday lives?
Eventually I find some words: "So ... what are we going to do?" My tone is very general, which Carolyn picks up.
She smiles, and eventually says, "I don't know. But I think that analyzing it is probably a bad idea, because that's what made my other relationships bad."
I inhale the hair across the base of her neck and sigh it slowly out again. "Yeah, maybe my Dad's advice is the best advice after all." He had said 'go with the flow' - don't analyze it at all, just enjoy the ride.
Both Carolyn and I express the unease of doubt over that. We are both too interested in dissecting everything, often to positive ends. Carolyn says, incredulously, "It's just so hard to believe that it could be this simple, you know? There must be some deeper meaning. Something more complex! I mean, what does it all really mean?"
She is parodying her obsessive journal entries. We laugh, and hug tighter. The wind is our conversation for a few warm minutes, and then Carolyn tugs my sleeve up to inspect my watch.
"Oh shit!" she says, getting up. To our dismay, it is almost four o'clock. In an hour I will have to leave, and we haven't heard her play the piano.
We deliberate for a second, then grab our things and walk/jog the way down to her car. On the way back we take the road that my father took between highway 9 and 85 on the way to work, and we discuss school and college and old friends as the topics surface.
Back at her house we each hit the bathrooms, then move to the living room. Carolyn pulls the piano bench out, centers herself on it, then begins to warm up on the keys. I walk slowly in circles around the coffee table, eating a cookie from the tupperware in the kitchen. A couple of times I hold the cookie out and feed Carolyn bites from it. As I watch her gingerly poke her lips out and chomp off a section from my hand, I become aware of the flow of feelings in my mind. In everything I do with her, a supportive warmth comes pouring from my body with such force that I am sometimes bewildered by its intensity. Wherefore this feeling?
I take a seat on the couch and watch, as she begins one of three difficult pieces. Her technique is hard-edged at first, but loosens up as her hands remember the rhythm of performance.
I watch her hands flow over the keys, and her body sway to the music. For a short while I am struck utterly senseless by my sheer fortune. I have met someone who is as smart as I, as philosophical as I, and as intense as I. We share with an affection and urgency that startles me. There she is, sitting on the piano bench over there. What really gets me, the final blow that makes it all seem totally unreal, is the fact of her physical beauty. To me, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. Why would this contrary old universe see fit to put such a creature in my path? How do I deserve such fortune?
As I freely examine her graceful manipulation of the piano, I am surprised at the base, lecherous turn of my thoughts. I notice, for example, how big her breasts actually are. I hadn't noticed, or at least I must have forgotten, but perusing her figure now, I realize that they are not only large, but firm for their size. I take in the contour of muscle in her leg, from hip to toe, and it is exactly right. Enough strength, enough curvature. Her belly is as smooth and flat as a tight bedsheet. Her hair is spun gold in iced highlights, cut boyishly short in exactly the way I find most attractive. Her eyes reflect mine exactly, from the dark outer ring to the accent of yellow fire wound tightly to the iris. Her movements are graceful. Her laughter is music. Her touch is mana.
I am hallucinating. I am dreaming. I am in the midst of a delerious vision. This creature cannot be.
She attemps the last piece despite a professed lack of practice on it. We laugh mutually at her little mistakes. At the end of each piece I clap, and when it's over I tell her that I find it absolutely amazing. She seems incredulous that I am so impressed, but I find that I actually am. Despite all my coordination, I have never been able to move both hands independently on a piano.
She joins me on the couch and I place my head in her lap. I elaborate my thoughts. "It's just so amazing to me that there's that wooden box full of metal and springs and crap over there, and one person can sit down at it and all they can make is discordant noise, and some other person can sit down at it and fill the air with music. Man, I've really got to take some piano lessons."
She smiles. We are about to get kissy again when a car pulls up. We retreat upstairs before the guests can see us, and as I close her door for privacy we hear the voices of Carolyn's parents, and her two older brothers.
I sit on the futon and Carolyn takes my hands, smiling. "Scandalous!" she whispers. "We should go down and greet them, or they'll think we're doing crazy things up here!" I look at my watch. She sees me looking. "You have to go soon, don't you?" she asks.
I grin. "Not for five minutes!" I say, and pull her down on top of me.
This time we are both more eager and more forward. Our tongues fence, and I lift the back of her jeans and shove my hands brazenly down inside, grasping her ass and pulling her to me. I have never done that to her before; have never felt free enough to do it. We break off for an instant and I check my watch. "I've still got three minutes left!" We dive into each other again.
Finally we both manage to stand. I take my CD in hand and we walk downstairs. I shake hands with her brother, and she sees me to the door. Standing outside we negotiate when to see each other next, which turns out to be Tuesday, in five days, when she has moved back into UCSC.
"See you then!" I say, and nip forward for a quick kiss.
She pecks me back and grins, then makes bug-eyes. "Scandalous!" she whispers.
"It's okay, I was looking through the windows and no one was watching!"
"Scandalous!" she repeats.
I get in the van, crank it up, and wave to her as I drive off.
I am only a few minutes late to my Autobiography class. There is a substitute. I turn in a polished draft of a massive journal entry, and read a previous rant to the group. They appreciate it much more than I'd expected them to.
I pass through the whole session with an outgoing, engaging blaze inside me. It's the aftereffect of my long, happy time with Carolyn. Even when I arrive home, the conversation I engage my mother in is more animated and alive.
I feel like that woman is much more than I deserve, yet in most ways I suppose, we are matched. Still, I feel inordinately lucky. Lucky beyond words, beyond measure, to have shared something as vital as what I've shared today. Maybe life is good.