I used the razor, the one when you’re at someone’s beach house you’re supposed to ignore. I used it, taking care to remember its last position on the shower shelf, to remember how to return it. I shaved my legs, wondering who would use it next and if they’d notice things were less sharp now; wonder if a guest took advantage of more than hospitality. Then I showered for longer than I should, using hot water, not ever thinking if there would be enough for others. Selfish. Vacation.
You never noticed my legs, that they were smoother. You didn’t notice me, in the corner, anything, until another man did. Then suddenly, it was back to love, back to attentive, back to the words I wanted to hear. Back to jealous, which meant loving me. You still didn’t notice my legs. Or anything beyond your own boundaries. Beyond you. Vacation.
Then we had sex, hoping no one would hear, wondering how loud we were being, if things were louder in our space, the way I imagined you could hear me swallow back tears. Our silent sex should have been hot, trying to be quiet, trying to go unnoticed. It wasn’t. It was trying.
It was work that I felt I was failing at. You seemed distracted and to be performing favors. To be a part of silent sex just to say you were, like saying you visited a tourist attraction to prove you’d been somewhere. I’m not a lighthouse or ham museum.
Even when no one is keeping count, when there’s no time clock to punch, even on vacation, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. And if I ever express it, you shake your head, and hold mine in your hands, telling me to look at you, asking me how I don’t know how much you love me. You might believe in your eyes and hands, but I don’t. I don’t believe eyes or hands or promises, and that was before you. And any chance you get, you say just that. How I’m broken, how it’s not yours. You’re on vacation, even from me.
And when I ask you about your day, during the week, you give one word answers because you don’t like to burden, because you want to give me a vacation from what burdens you. And by doing that, you’ll get just that, a vacation from me because I’ll stop asking, caring, wanting. You. I’ll want a vacation from your sarcasm, your want, and complaints about my being me. And you’ll get your free paid vacation from me. And you’ll pay for it for the rest of your life. So enjoy it, the sun, the space, and the solitude. It’s yours, my gift to you.
Maybe we were that couple, in that house, visiting, stealing soap, ignoring the hair that isn’t ours, but maybe we are as temporary as our visit. Maybe we’re as new as that first sound, the yellow dog outside the house, the yelp, the crickets by the ocean. Maybe that’s us, there, in that moment. And as real as it might feel, maybe that’s all we are, a morning. A wakening, a couple who is courteous, who asks if you’ve had enough fish and would you like more rice, but really, that’s all you are. This couple that won’t be there tomorrow, for the bacon that he likes a little chewy. You won’t really be there for more than eggs, despite knowing how she likes hers. That’s just information; it’s not glue. It’s not an anniversary. And despite how quiet the sex is, how often someone tells you, “God, I love you,” it’s not, and it never will be. Because when it’s done, when the seal and crest and intimacy stops being so, he leaves the room and talks about things as if he was never there. You were fooled, really, because despite how he pitched it, despite the words and the eyes, he was thinking only of the moment, not of the now, or the later.