“You have sexy toes,” he announced as we laid out on the grass in a little park together. The park is near the veggie restaurant we went to a couple of weeks ago; the still, hazy, summer’s afternoon was punctuated by screams from the freefall ride at the funpark across the water.
I looked down and wiggled my, admittedly freshly manicured bright orange and in cute sandals, toes. “Thanks,” I replied. “I would say you do too, though I can’t see them on account of your sneakers.
He frowned thoughtfully, then promised: “I’ll show them to you later.”
I mock-gasped. “You think we’re there? The showing of the toes is pretty serious stuff. I don’t want to rush this relationship.”
“Good point. I’ll only show you three. You can decide which three.” He lay back down and closed his eyes, as I giggled then snuggled in to the nook of his arm, listening to the zoomph of the rollercoaster and some seagulls squawking in the distance. I think I must have dropped off a little because the next thing I knew, I heard the loudest noise I have ever heard in my life, and adrenaline shot through my body and I leaped about three feet in the air and screamed.
It was a cruise liner, honking to announce its arrival from Finland or Russia as it glided into its… uhh, parking spot? The Viking was in hysterics, and I stood there awkwardly hoping that nobody else in the park had noticed. I sat down again and poked him grumpily, told him, okay it was funny but stop now. He caught his breath, and I finally started to crack a smile a little, and we giggled together on our picnic blanket.
And then he told me the one thing I have been dreading him saying since I met him.
For most of my life, when I spend the night with somebody, the next morning they are weird around me. Sometimes they’ll talk about it like it’s a funny story, other times they don’t actually mention it, but I can always tell. They watch me, like I’m some freak who might start foaming at the mouth any second, and smile nervously when I catch them staring. Sometimes they ask about it, and sometimes I pretend to have no idea what they’re talking about, and sometimes I snap it’s none of their business.
Every morning I’ve spent with the Viking, I’ve watched him for signs, and every morning he has been his regular, relaxed, self. But then on Saturday afternoon in the park, just as I was feeling so relaxed and happy, he brought it up, like a jellyfish zinging you while you’re floating happily watching clouds roll by.
I was so, so mad at him for lulling me into a false sense of security, only to suddenly whip the ground from under me. If he was going to keep me in the dark, then why not forever? If I have to be completely ignorant about something that freaks people out about me, then why can’t I stay that way? What you don’t know doesn’t hurt you.
Except it does. Because I’m not completely ignorant, I know, and I wonder and I worry and I look for signs constantly, so I might as well just know. When he saw how upset I was, he told me that it was no big deal. Yeah, it’s no big deal that I basically turn into the little girl from the Exorcist in my sleep, and have zero awareness or recollection. Sometimes I just plain old sleepwalk, sometimes I move things around, and sometimes, just for fun, I really have a party.
Once when I was a teenager, I managed to get into the family room that my Grandma had locked because it was being painted, got hold of the paints and splattered the carpet my Grandma could barely afford payments on, with blue paint. The one time in my life I attempted to go to a sleepover, my Grandma gave me a sleeping pill to subtly take (I was a teenager) because sometimes that stopped me. Of course it didn’t, and I was called devil girl for the remainder of my high school career.
And now the Viking knows. And worse – his friends know.