We weren’t really dating, but I had gotten used to her. Gotten used to the sound of her voice. The feel of her body.
Got used to her naked form stretched out in the early morning sunlight, wrapped in bed sheets.
I got to know all of her bed sheets so well.
We weren’t really dating, but I knew all of her favorite movies. Which James Joyce book was her favorite and why. I could have defended this opinion as a thesis for her.
I can see it now. I’d be standing before the panel in her clothes. Wearing one of her V-necked sweaters. Her best corduroys. Pretending to be her.
I’d link Dubliners to Finnegan’s Wake in some improbable way, twirling my hair around my finger like she always did. And they’d call me by her name instead of mine. And for a second I’d know what it was like to be her. To be that brilliant. And not just someone who knows how to get close enough to a brilliant person to be mistaken for her shadow.
But we weren’t really dating. I just listened to her dreams when she’d first wake up and mumbled pure stream of consciousness. A recap of wherever her mind had been when we were both asleep.
I just listened to her dreams so many times that I had dreams that I was listening to her dreams.
I only listened to her breath for hours when I couldn’t sleep myself, wired off being so close to her.
And it’s been twenty years, but there are still nights when I wake and half-expect her to be there beside me in the bed, mumbling about some dream.
But we weren’t really dating.
How Many People Would You Say You’ve Dated?
“So how many people would you say you’ve dated?” he asks me now.
I sigh. I get where he’s coming from, but I really wish he wouldn’t ask me that.
Because the answer is really complicated.