Same Old Dance

30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 22

Photo by Travis Grossen on UNSPLASH.

The thing is, I could tell what she was thinking the whole time, from her first spontaneous hug, to how she responded to my touch when we traded massages, how I responded to hers.

I swore I wanted to; no needed to touch her every week. What would be better than that?

HINT: nothing would be better than that.

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of massaging someone you love, someone for whom you have intimate feelings. To watch them sink deeper and deeper into relaxation, and to help them find their way out of pain also if there is any, that’s nice too, of course.

It’s profoundly gratifying.

She worked a lot. She had goals. I never figured out what they were, but I knew building a house was one of them.

From the start, I found being in her company to be imminently agreeable.

And who talks like that? I sound like a character in a Jane Austen novel. I fall in love easily, and it was not long after meeting that I realized I was smitten. Not yet in love, perhaps, but quickly making my way towards it.

I might be delusional, but I was nearly positive she was having similar thoughts.

I liked where we were headed.

Until the day she asked the question. It was a question and an assumption.

“So, what do you spend your money on?” she asked. A reasonable question. One that left me sober, terrified, and already backpedaling. I started telling myself, “She deserves to be with an equal. She and I are not equals. In many areas, discipline, energy levels, and most soul-crushingly sad, financially.”

We had just finished a short hike through the greenbelt in her neighborhood.

What do you spend your money on?

It isn’t nearly as important a question as “what did you spend the money you made during your twenties, thirties, and forties?” Three decades of spending, being financially irresponsible, undisciplined left me feeling embarrassed about my sad state of affairs, money-wise.

What do you spend your money on?

In our youth, we can hold our naive, high ideals. If you love someone, it doesn’t matter how much money they have.

That is true until it isn’t.

Money, saving, financial hygiene, and responsibility do matter when you’re hurtling towards your sixties. It matters a lot. I can tell myself I will work until I die, but that idea, I suspect, will start to grow more distasteful as I stumble into my 60s. Plus, she may have no interest in working until we, she, or one of us dies.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on UNSPLASH.

The assumption came in a statement she made immediately after her question.

“You probably don’t need to work at all.”

Gulp. That might’ve been the case if I’d had even an ounce of interest or discipline when I was younger. It’s the story of the ant and the grasshopper. I’m the ant. Or was it the grasshopper who continued to delay taking action? I don’t remember, but I identify with the foolish one.

I have no desire to be her anchor, keeping her working years past the date she wishes to work.

She still smiles at me warmly, but I see that she has realized this is not going to happen. And at no point did I offer Hollywood, “I’m not rich, but no one will love you better than me” speech.

Romantic? Absolutely.

Practical? Oh, please, no.

She smiles at me; I smile at her. But there’s a distance now between us. I want to say it’s boundaries, but it’s more likely self-preservation. Or perhaps those are the same things.

What do you spend your money on?

The question tosses a rock into my well of loneliness. I hear the watery ripples reverberating back up the stone walls, and I am undone. Undone and alone again, naturally.

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