i’ve been wanting to write about Brenn for seven months. back in april, around my grandmother’s birthday, is when i first felt this pull. but my pen could not [would not?] transform musings into words. until now. whereas “now” is last night, as i lay in my bed beside another man, Mr. Est, who has purposely positioned himself too far away for me to touch even the residuals of his body’s heat.
i lay sleepless, thinking of Brenn. pulling out old brain polaroids, remembering his kind, sparkling eyes. the way he’d look down innocently, then back up mischievously at me as he laughed; his deep, soft southern drawl a suede glove stroking my cheek.
i met Brenn back in college, not long after returning from my 2 year stint in australia. i was working at a trendy women’s clothing store in the mall to make some extra coins. i stumbled on him one day, as i clocked in for my shift, when an over-sized rolling rack of sequined party dresses gently implored “excuse me.” from behind it he stepped out to reveal himself: our newest stock boy. it was then that i witnessed the long-sought alliance of east vs. west; slanted almond eyes shaking hands with a strong anglo jaw, while press cameras fired off snapshots in my head. we greeted each other with simple introductions and earnest smiles, pheromones stealing shy glances from behind our shoulders. a week later, i was in his arms.
pretty quickly, i noticed something else striking about Brenn, in addition to his enchanting exterior: he wasn’t too sharp. with him, political conversation evaporated before it hit the ground. witty banter flopped out of his hands each time he tried to remove the hook. more often reeling ‘er in a tad too late after both it and the bait were long gone. he was a drug-free stoner, who once looked intently at my vanity license plate at the time “ITS KRMA,” and then triumphantly proclaimed “It’s Kramer!”
this was troubling for a couple of reasons. namely: as a philosophy major, i had reached that fateful point in my academic studies where i knew i knew a thing or two; and i thought everyone ought to know that. i held smarts in the highest of regards. brains made me cum so fucking hard. today, my dogma obeys the leash laws; but brains still do that thing to me. in multiples.
even more problematic than his inability to appease my obnoxious, pseudo-intellectual self-importance? Brenn was the most emotionally intelligent lover i’d ever known. more accurately, Brenn is the most emotionally intelligent lover i’ve ever known.
he walked me down a secret path that opened to a world where sex is always a raw act of love. whenever we were together, his eyes never left me. his mouth and hands always worked in tandem. he studied the rhythms of my exhales and read between the lines of my smiles. midway through a particularly sweet friction, and without warning, he’d shake things up by lifting me effortlessly into an entirely new position.
he undressed me with focused excitement. lifting a breast out of my bra with one hand, while expertly unfastening two of its three hooks with the other; seemingly too overwhelmed with passion to finish the job. feverishly kissing my top then bottom lip the entire time. later, as i rocked my hips back and forth over him, gaining momentum and losing rhythm, my bra’s last hook finally freed itself and fell to his chin. to which he enthusiastically responded by grabbing my hips and thrusting impossibly deep inside me. it was in that moment of planetary alignment, i realized the meaningful intention in his every touch.
our first tangle was so intense, we didn’t discover a torn condom until it was too late. there was, of course, those expected following moments of panic; my unabashed vulnerability suddenly grappling for a fig leaf. a trip to the health department was to be on the books — a girl’s gotta have a Plan B. i was unaware and afraid of what to expect, but i quickly told the still sweaty semi-stranger lying beside me, i intended to go it alone. i do this often in life — “go it alone” — because i would rather break my back carrying my own emotional baggage than endure the equally crippling anxiety of potentially straining someone else’s T-7. but Brenn would not have it. he gently insisted that he accompany me. so, i let him.
he drove us there and asked me to focus on finding a good song on the radio. he kept his arm around me, protectively, as i filled out patient forms in triplicate. he stood up and greeted me with a sweet, supportive smile as i returned to reception with my two little pills. at home, under a blanket on my couch, after he’d stepped out for ginger ale, tomato soup and rented movies, i marveled at the tender familiarity of a situation and a man i did not know.
but there is another moment in particular that continues to move me, and it is what prompted my sudden need to put him to paper last april, around the time of my grandma’s birthday. one lazy saturday morning, while spooning me so very snugly, he reached across my shoulder to the nightstand and grabbed a framed photo of me and my grandma taken many, many easters ago. my arm slung around her neck; her hand resting lovingly on my 9 year-old knee. he studied our smiling faces and asked who it was that sat next to me. i opened one eye and through sandpaper mumbled, “my grandma.” he paused for a moment and i could feel his eyes continuing to study the photo. then he whispered, “she’s beautiful.” he placed the photo on the nightstand, returned his arm to its spot around my waist, and fit his mouth back into the curve of my neck. i opened both of my eyes then. the nine-year-old sitting beside her hero [who would succumb to breast cancer the following year] came into focus. i looked into my grandma’s loving eyes. she was beautiful — the most beautiful. ever. to me. and he knew it without being told. he knew. he knew.
but even so, our romance did not last. i was too committed to the temporary, choosing to throw my loyalties into creative passions instead. feeling sexually liberated and curious; taking lovers, loving them hard for a time and then leaving in the night. i traded Brenn for another breathtakingly passionate lover. one who was fiercely intelligent. and emotionally manipulative.
Mr. Est suddenly stirs. his sleeping body turns over to face me. his leg brushes mine. my feet are like ice.