It was the reference section. I’m absolutely sure, because I could find nothing worth researching, but the way your eyes and lips moved. You spoke quickly and quietly, debating with a classmate on what book to choose for your group project. The Greek letters on your jacket were proof that I should have stayed away. I followed the length of your arms to the appropriate shelf and watched you pull your chosen text. You smiled at your project partner and then suddenly, as if prompted, peered through the unfulfilled space directly at me.
“You’re the poetry girl right?”
I cringed at the name. After performing at several open mics and every orientation it was the only way most people identified me.
“Yeah, that’s me.” I smiled.
“I’ve seen you perform a couple of times, you’re dope. Maybe you can perform for me sometime?” He winked.
I rolled my eyes at his audacity, his flirt too big for his britches. He walked away with his books tucked underneath his arms, looking back once more with his infamous smirk. It was the same leer that crossed his face, in class, as the girls walked slowly by his desk and prayed he’d notice. At first glance, blinded by the ample attention that covered him, you’d think he was the ultimate ladies man. The parties were immersed with girls that were willing to give it up and more than willing to stay, but he never took any home. His frat brothers would stumble drunkenly to the dorms with a woman in wavering heels, some who’d only receive the pleasure of cleaning vomit and witnessing drooling sleep.
It was one of those parties that sealed our fate. My friends and I left the gymnasium hurling debate at one another annoyed that one of our comrades fell prey to the frat.
I announced, “I’m just saying, she barely knows the boy. I’m not going out like that. There’s no longevity in it.”
Suddenly the beautiful man from the library appeared, “No longevity in what?”
He was too good at this. Catching me at opportune moments, instances where my fluster would take over my face. Red. He followed us all the way to the shore, a place we’d go to talk near the water after a night of fiasco. He argued that all Greek men weren’t the same and that we shouldn’t feed into the stereotypes. We pointed out the clear misogyny they portrayed. He laughed, “We only portray what you allow.”
I think it started then, during the conversation that lingered in the midnight air. The current brought leaves and wind as he draped his huge brightly colored jacket over my shivering shoulders. The realization of autumn suddenly dawned on me, a season that brought along a withering beauty which would soon be followed by a daunting frost. I was usually annoyed by the change of weather, but something about his jacket, the laughter that resounded amongst the trees and the way he kept looking towards me; kept me incredibly warm.
We all know the steps:
1) Let him walk you home, allow him to be a man. Savor the footsteps before you say goodnight.
2) Wait for the phone to ring. Don’t become too eager hence you might rouse suspicion from your roommate or onlooker.
3) Meet him at night. Pray you aren’t just a way to past the time. Remember meeting this late was your idea. You didn’t want anyone thinking you got down like that.
4) Have him confront you about it, “Is it because of these letters? Are you afraid people are going to think less of you?”
5) Say sorry. Pull him into your arms and kiss him for the first time.
6) Allow magic. It’s so god damn rare.
7) Don’t say that “L” word. If it pours from your lips you can never take it back.
8) Listen to him say it first. Listen to the resonance in your chest. Thump.
9) Long walks, dinners, and outings with friends.
10) Argue about titles, “So are you my man?”
11) “I don’t know, you tell me. If not, what’s all of this for?”
12) Grasp that bliss, just in case it decides to slip from your fingers.
13) Confront him about “Melissa” and ask him why the hell she keeps calling.
14) Get over that hump, fall in love or like again.
15) Smile that stupid smile. The one that tells your friends that you’re up to something.
Wait for the climax of your narrative arc. Will someone cheat? Will we fight it out? Will we just drift apart like snow eclipsed by the sun?
He started pledging season and I was caught up in performances, running from state to state. We went from seeing one another everyday to once a week. There wasn’t much to speak about when we finally got together. When you lack shared experiences with your significant other sometimes you tug at things to converse on.
“So how was the show?” He asked.
“It was alright. How are the boys?”
“You know I can’t talk about that love. I miss you though.”
After a month of shows and neo pledge parties, I came home to a new journal on my steps. Its first page asked, “Will you perform for me sometime?” I smiled at the memory, but ached at its distance. We seemed so out of touch and abstracted, the sky now a faded blue and the flowery stench of the spring air.
We ended it mutually, through a phone call. Our words seemed like we’d just been waiting for the other person to call it quits.
When someone is periodic, I’m aware. It starts out as a flaming candle, but dwindles into a melted smoke. The aroma proves that it was once there, but nothing burns bright any longer. It leaves me grateful for the lessons and the memories, but longing for a rekindling.
“I’ll see you on campus though, right beautiful?”
I smiled, “Of course you will.”
For many women and men cuffing season is a myth: An excuse for people to leave their lovers behind when the summer brings out the free bird in our humanity. This could be true. I met my future husband during the cold and we’re still going strong.
However there’s no denying that fleeting kind of romance. It’s something that flutters in like a wildfire and out like a storm and leaves behind a trail of remembrances.
It’s the ex you call and say happy birthday to.
It’s the, “What was I thinking?”
It’s the drunken text message to a best friend turned lover, turned BFF again: “So why did we decide to date again lol?”
It’s the breakup bereft of tears.
Your spirit will tell you when something was only meant for the moment. It might not be before the kiss or after the fall, but it’ll happen eventually.
Some unions are made to wane and others are made to weather the storm: Winter Storm, Spring Shower, Summer Pour, Fall.
What’s your cuffing season story?
“RivaFlowz” is a teacher and professional writer living in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter: @rivaflowz.
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