I couldn't find you.
My anxiety sky-rocketed onto a plane of existence far above our atmosphere. Where were you? How could I get to you? Did I even want to?
Heavy tremors danced through my hands.
A text: "Stay where you are. I'll come to you."
It was my chance to bail. To apologize profusely later on, but tell you I couldn't do it.
I was frozen, paralyzed.
But you arrived before I could give voice to the cowardice within myself.
I felt relieved to see you. You were tired, a little haggard after nearly 24 hours of travel. But you were as handsome as I expected. Even more so, in person.
Before I knew it, I was leaning in for a hug. You awkwardly hugged me back. Barely.
The recognition of your standoffish-ness caught in my throat like a big ball of yarn. The string wrapping around my uvula and tugging, as if to remind me that my worst fear was happening. You weren't attracted to me at all.
We stood for a moment, uncertain of what we should do next. We were both trapped for the next two weeks. You, with a person you weren't attracted to, and me with a person who was disappointed in what I looked like.
We agreed to go to the hotel. A room we'd planned on sharing together. Could you stand to be in the same room with me? Could we at least be friends?
Our taxi ride was quiet. You don't know how much my heart hurt as I watched your open hand and just wanted to hold it.
Our room was small. The queen sized bed seemed too big for the room but too small for the upcoming night.
You still weren't talking much. I couldn't tell what you were thinking. I wished you would just speak up.
You disappeared into the bathroom. A shoddy little space with mismatched colored tiles and a crack running through the porcelain sink.
I reveled in that time alone. My options were limited. You had flown across the world to meet me, travel with me and see what we could become together. I could not, in good conscience, leave you to wade through America alone.
So you didn't like what you saw when you met me. I knew long before your arrival that it was a possibility. It was the worst possibility, but it was something I would have to come to terms with.
I would be your friend. I would be your travel companion. I would not let this rejection define me.
We decided to get some food. You wanted to try In-N-Out. Together, we walked a few blocks to the closest establishment.
I tried flirting as we walked. I pushed on your arm and tucked my hair behind my ears. I smiled and blushed. I ached to hold your hand.
But you were non-receptive. The ball of anxiety in my throat grew bigger.
The In-N-Out was packed. Standing room only, we agreed to find a table outside. The night grew colder.
We ate quietly. The sound of workers hollering on the overhead speaker for the next order cut through our silence.
2 weeks of this? Daunting. Traumatizing. Agonizing.
"Are you disappointed?" I asked.
Your eyes grew wide and your mouth dropped open a bit.
"No, I'm not."
"Are you sure? You seemed a little disappointed." My hands strangled each other beneath the table.
"No...I am just nervous," you answered.
My hopefulness burgeoned, rising up from the dead. The ball in my throat unraveled a little.
We made small talk on our way back to the hotel. We stopped at a vending machine and grabbed some soda.
The room somehow seemed even smaller than before.
You took a shower. I listened as you blow dried your hair. With each minute passing, the question of what will happen next loomed larger.
I took a shower after you. The bathroom and the hotel in general was dingy. It had been my choice. I was regretting it completely.
The hot water rushed over me and I washed diligently. I felt the acne on my back and wished I had better skin. Not that it mattered. My t-shirt sleep shirt sat at the ready.
You were laying on the bed.
"Do you want to watch a movie?" I asked, pulling out my laptop and sitting.
"Sure," you answered.
The computer sat between us.
You smiled shyly at me.
Chest pounding, I reached across the bed and took your hand.
You didn't let go.