Friday, November 11, 2016

The End of Summer

If you had told me that this was ever going to happen at any point over the last three years, I would've told you that the ship had sailed. The sexual tension was just something we had grown to live with. Anna used to say we were "like Ross and Rachel," but I knew this simply wasn't the case.

It was strange that my shirt was already off; not typically how my make out sessions begin. I was surprised that Moose was such a good kisser. He was always so awkward around me, so I assumed his lips would follow a similar pattern. I was pleasantly surprised.

After a few seconds of kissing, Moose guided me backwards and I felt his mattress behind my legs. I allowed my body to lay back and adjusted myself so I was no longer touching the floor as Moose climbed on top of me.

It didn't take long for Moose to start kissing my neck and slowly making his way down to my chest. He was about to take off my bra when I realized I was making a mistake. Kissing was one thing; we both wanted it, on some level, for a long time. But I felt going further, especially with me flying back to California after the weekend, would be regrettable.

"Moose," I said as I put my hands low on his shoulders. He didn't stop kissing me right away. "Moose," I said again. This time louder and without any sort of wanting in my voice. He lifted his head and made eye contact with me.

"I think this is a mistake," I said as I broke eye contact. I really didn't want to stop, but I knew I'd regret it.

To my surprise, Moose didn't argue. "Yeah, I know," he said. "Fuck, I just want you so bad."

I remained silent as I contemplated my response. "We've been drinking," I replied. "Let's head back downstairs."

Moose nodded. I have to say I was a little surprised, and even offended, that he agreed this was a mistake. Since when was Moose so level headed?

I put on a blue shirt from Moose's drawer and made my way downstairs. Moose told me he would follow me in a few minutes. I don't know why, but I took a few steps toward him, got on my tippy toes, and kissed him. It felt like I was ending something that had just started, even though I knew we couldn't really be together.

I met Anna at the keg. "Where have you been?" She asked.

"I spilled beer on my shirt. I had to go borrow one from Moose."

Anna nodded before her attention was drawn to Moose coming back outside. She looked at him, looked at me, and raised her eyebrows.

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, right," I responded to her judgmental look. I felt bad lying to Anna, but it was best if we just pretended this never happened.

"I would hope not," she laughed. I didn't really know what she meant, but couldn't exactly get any more information without incriminating myself.

We all ended up quieting down and just sitting with our drinks around Moose's fire pit. Everyone was chatting and I ended up talking to the girls about getting together for dinner the night before I went back home.

"Everybody should come," Jessica said, opening up the invitation to the whole group. A few of the guys were for it, but I noticed Moose was quiet. Jessica noticed, too. "What about you, Moose?"

"I can't that night," he said as he looked up at Jessica and then back at the fire.

"Oh, you got fun plans on a Wednesday night?" I asked. I understood that Moose was awkward, but I didn't want him to start avoiding me because of one drunken make out session.

"Yeah, I'm actually going to Westchester that day," Moose replied, still avoiding eye contact.

"Oh, do you and Jacky have something going on?" Jessica asked. I felt my stomach drop.

"Yeah, just a work thing for her," Moose replied. "I'm going to grab another beer. Everyone good?"

He didn't even really wait for a reply before jumping up. I waited a few seconds before turning to Anna and trying to sound as casual as possible when I asked, "who's Jacky?"

"Moose's girlfriend," Anna replied before taking a sip of her beer. She answered the question like it was nothing and of course, to her, it was common knowledge. Knowledge that had no sort of importance on this very night.

But to me, I suddenly felt like I was going to throw up onto the fire. How could Moose have a girlfriend and not tell me? How could he cheat on her with me? Did he honestly think I wasn't going to find out? Even if I hadn't found out tonight, I would have eventually found out.

I tried to keep my cool. I wasn't about to ruin a nice night with a scene and, to be honest, I still didn't want anybody to know about what happened.

I sat around for a few minutes with a fake smile on my face before taking out my phone and ordering an Uber. Moose came back to the circle but didn't even look in my direction, let alone try to talk to me or any of the girls.

"Hey, guys, I'm going to head home," I said as I stood up from the chair. "Super tired, you know, California time."

Everybody was drunk enough that they took this as a valid excuse, even though 1 AM New York time was only 10 PM California time. I said my goodbyes to everyone, including Moose, before heading to my ride.

I wasn't even home before I got a text from Moose. It just said, "I had a great time tonight." Then he sent a follow up text. "Sorry."

I didn't answer. I couldn't and I had nothing to say. We haven't talked since.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Moose's Barbecue

I went to Moose's barbecue with Jessica, Darlene, and Anna. The old group was back together. I immediately felt guilty when catching up with Jessica and Darlene, though. I regularly texted them, but I still felt like I could make more of an effort to keep up with their lives. Darlene had started a completely new job and I wasn't even aware of it, while Jessica was seriously dating an old flame from high school. I couldn't believe how disconnected I felt from everything. I still really missed home, but I did love California.

We got to Moose's house around 8 o'clock, but before we even opened the gate, we could hear that things were getting rowdy. Guys were yelling about something. Once we had a visual, we learned it was over a game of beer pong. Typical.

It had been an insanely long time since I had seen Moose. He had grown out his hair a little bit and had a beard. Moose's appearance seemed to fluctuate with the seasons, where sometimes he looked disheveled and other times he looked very put together. The summer had apparently been good to him. He was wearing a shirt with no sleeves and I could see that his arm muscles were looking pretty large. He had his long hair combed and his beard at the perfect length. I didn't want to admit it, but Moose was looking good.

I knew that he had broken up with Beth, his somewhat serious girlfriend, last year, even though I wasn't sure of their status at my Fourth of July barbecue. I later found out, via Facebook of all places, that they were no longer together and I never really got the details on what happened there. I know they had their problems, but they both seemed pretty committed to making things work. I never really figured out what happened there. Again, I made a mental note to be a better friend.

We all began drinking and I spent time catching up with everyone separate. I got to see everyone on a regular basis when I lived on Long Island, especially right after college, but so many of my friends had different things going on now. One was getting his PhD in Washington, D. C. while another was going to law school in Philadelphia.

Moose and I barely talked all night. I don't know if I was so occupied with everyone else or if he was purposely avoiding me, but the longer we went without really talking, the more awkward I knew our encounter would eventually be. The continuous beer drinking helped.

As the night continued, everybody continued to have more and more fun. Anna plugged in her iPod and I began bopping my head as I filled my red cup up with beer from the keg.

"California has made you a terrible dancer," Moose said behind me. I jumped as I heard his voice.

I turned to look at him and sighed. "Dude, you can't sneak up on people like that!"

Moose threw his head back and laughed. "Dude," he mocked me. "Wow, you are so Cali."

I rolled my eyes before looking down at my shirt. "Well, dude, you also made me spill beer all over my shirt. Not cool." It wasn't that bad, but it was substantial enough to be annoying.

"You're such a drama queen," Moose teased. I shot him a glare, so then he added, "you can go up to my room and borrow whatever you need."

I smiled at that and scurried inside. There was a particular t-shirt that Moose had since high school that I always tried to take from him. It was just of our old school mascot, but I always joked that it was my favorite. He never let me anywhere near it, but now I had free range of his room.

I opened his drawers until I found the t-shirts and then began scurrying. It took me a few minutes, but I found it. I drunkenly began pulling my light t-shirt over my head and then went to lay it over Moose's desk chair so it could begin to dry. As I was doing so, I saw a few framed pictures sitting on his desk. I noticed one, towards the back, of me and him. It was a few summers ago and I'm holding his arm, smiling for the picture, while he's looking down at his phone with a stupid smirk on his face. It was actually a pretty cute picture and it reminded me of the genuine friendship we used to have, before things got kind of complicated.

"What's taking..." 

I was startled again at the sound of Moose's voice, but this time was worse. "Oh," I replied quickly as I held the t-shirt over my chest. I was standing there in just a bra and jeans when I turned to face him. "Sorry, I'm coming right down."

Moose turned bright red and began stuttering an apology. "I just, sorry, um, I'll just..." As he went to walk out, he stopped. Then he turned around. He didn't seem mortified anymore.

"Caroline, you can't have that shirt," he laughed.

I wasn't embarrassed anymore either. "Oh, come on," I replied. I still had the shirt covering me.

He opened the drawer and grabbed a New York Yankees tee off the top. He threw it at me, but I didn't catch it because I was obviously already holding something.

I rolled my eyes again. "Moose, I'll obviously give it back to you at the end of the night."

I felt my stomach flip as Moose walked over to me without saying a word. Once he was standing directly in front of me, towering over me, his voice got deep and he said, "what are you going to give me for it?"

Neither of us said another word. Moose suddenly leaned down and kissed me. To my surprise, I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed him back.