I met Liam* a few years ago. He was a friend of a friend of a friend of someone I only met once and haven’t met again. At the time, I was smitten with my coworker, whom we’ll call the The Swede, and I really couldn’t be bothered with Liam, or anyone else for that matter. I’ve always been a one-track mind kind of gal.
The night I met Liam, I do not remember. It wasn’t that I was drunk, but that I just wasn’t impressed and didn’t notice him. In fact, when I ran into him a couple months later, it was he who recognized me. It was a Friday shortly before 9 PM when The Swede and I had argued and I stomped off in tears (a habit that would become all too familiar with him). As I tried my best to hold back the complete bawling until I reached my apartment, using the sleeve of my new sweater to blot my eyes, I literally walked into Liam: I assaulted his tee-shirt with my tears and apologized profusely for being so clumsy. I was clearly a mess, and for the first time (and last time) in my life, I cried to a stranger on the street. I gave Liam both the short and long version of The Swede and me, and didn’t leave out any detail that should’ve been saved for brunch with my girlfriends.
Liam insisted on walking me home that night. We walked up the five flights to my apartment, and I invited him in for a drink. I poured myself a vodka, and he opted for water. I still had tears in my eyes, when he kissed me; I was still shaking from my argument with The Swede, when Liam pulled my dress up and over my head. And when I led him to my bedroom, I knew I was doing it so I could feel something, anything, besides the ache in my heart. That was the beginning of Liam and me.
Liam was, and is, a darling fella. He’s tall and adorable. He has dark hair, blue eyes, and a boyish charm. He usually gets my sarcasm, sometimes understands the parts of me I try so desperately to hide, and always wants to rip my clothes off, throw me on the bed and leave me smiling for hours. However, Liam and I have nothing in common. I like pretentious indie rock, stinky cheese, wine I can’t afford and fellas, like The Swede who effortlessly break my heart again and again. Liam listens to whatever is on the radio, doesn’t care for anything but sandwiches and doesn’t drink. By all accounts, Liam doesn’t seem to have any passion for anything, while I’m overflowing with passion and love too deeply. Granted, I don’t know this for sure, because we never really discuss the particulars on anything.
In the real world, the one just outside my window, Liam and I don’t make any sense. We’ve never been on a date, we’ve never roamed the streets of Bushwick shortly before dawn, nor have we ever shared a dessert somewhere on the Lower East Side. I’ve never been to his apartment, I’ve never met his friends, and he hasn’t met mine. I don’t know if he has any siblings, if he voted in the last presidential election or how he takes his coffee, or if he even drinks coffee at all. I know he was born in Europe, that he owns his apartment on the Lower East Side, that he works in marketing and he’s exactly five months older than me. He gave me a cupcake last year for my birthday, but I never invited him to my party.
Liam is my secret. I’m not embarrassed by him, or ashamed, he’s just not part of my life outside my bedroom. We have an understanding of sorts, a situation that doesn’t need to be discussed. And while I’ll go months without seeing him sometimes depending on what’s going on in my life, there are other times when I see him several times a week. And even when I don’t see him for months, I don’t need to explain the reasons why, make excuses, tell lies or give him a play by play of what he’s missed since the last time I saw him. He just walks in the door, and the clothes come off; our silence says it all.
I like Liam, I really do. I care about him, too, but at the same time, I don’t really get him. I also don’t know how this will all end. Unlike my relationship with The Swede, there will be no fiery explosion in a bar somewhere, there will be no name calling, there will be no blocking of each other on Facebook – because we’re not even friends on Facebook. I won’t be sobbing the whole way home some night over Liam, nor will I find myself in bed for days, unable to eat or sleep, unable to breathe or think of anything but him. I won’t be taking the pieces he left behind in my apartment, placing them in a box labeled “yesterday” that I’ll hide under my bed, because Liam never leaves anything behind; even the imprint of his shoulder blades on my bed are gone before he walks out the door, while The Swede’s remained until I finally threw out my sheets.
I suppose Liam is my lesson in need versus want, he is the only thing in my life that is absolutely without strings, baggage and complication. Sometimes the girl in me, the silly one who daydreams about a big wedding where I’m wearing a Christian Lacroix dress, considers Liam as a possible lifetime mate, but then I come to my senses. I have no place in his world, nor he in mine; our only connection is between the sheets, or on the kitchen floor, or in the shower or… well, you know what I mean… and while some won’t understand, and others will judge, it works for us, at least for now. So the jig is up, and now all my friends will finally know the reason behind my occasional, random smirk: Liam.
*Not his real name, obvs.