A One-Night Stand Or A Midlife Crisis?
He was my escape. And then thoughts of regret and guilt filled my mind.
“What side of the bed do you sleep on?”
Not exactly the question I thought I would be asking at the end of our second date. But there I was — in his bedroom, with the cliché red satin comforter and condoms in the nightstand — trying to offer up some basic respect to the stranger I just had sex with on the couch.
Like him, I had been single for a long time and I got it — the side of the bed is not something that we single people hand over to a guest with ease. I was so proud of having asked the question, too. I bet the other women he entertains just crawl right into his space, in his bed and make it their own.
He politely tells me that he sleeps on the side of the bed closest to the door, so I crawl into the unfamiliar space on the other side.
We moved too quickly; I knew that. He knew that. We even talked about it. There was something about this guy that I just adored. I mean he did all the mature(-ish) things like ask about birth control and STDS; he wanted to know how I felt about things like abortion and the morning-after pill.
When the condom broke, he immediately stopped and put on a new one. I felt like a mature, responsible woman even though moving this quickly was otherwise out of character for me.
“We shouldn’t have done that,” he said afterward. “We weren’t supposed to do that so soon.”
While I ultimately agreed with his statement, I was immediately disappointed that he voiced it so freely. I felt rejected. Like I wasn’t worth it. I am not sure what it was — sex? The risk of attachment? The admission of attraction? And what I wanted to say more than anything was, “Well, then why the hell did you invite me here and aggressively make your move?”
But I didn’t. I assured him I was a big girl, that I would have no regrets and I could handle whatever it is that would follow our night together. He was the first person I had slept with in over three years. And I told him that, too. He freaked out as if I was a teenager losing my virginity. It scared him. But it didn’t scare me. I had never had a one-night stand before — but for whatever reason, I was OK with it. Just this once, I thought.
Maybe it was because it had been so long. Or maybe it was because I was older, wiser and more independent. Perhaps it was the feminist in me thinking if men can do it free from judgment so can I, and I refuse to say sorry or feel shame. Or maybe, just maybe, it was an escape I so desperately needed that had to do with a lot more than just sex.
I didn’t go to his place for the sex. I went because I wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted butterflies and newness and to shut my mind off from all things motherhood. I wanted to forget my real life for as long as time would allow, and he helped me do that — sex or no sex.
When he asked if I wanted to spend the night, I said, “Let me think about it” — even though I knew I wanted to. I didn’t want to return to normalcy just yet. And so, I stayed. Slightly uncomfortable in this unfamiliar setting, pretending I was the type of woman who could disappear for 15 hours without notice. Pretending I was the kind of woman who did this all the time. Pretending I may even do this again.
He set the alarm for 7 a.m. and kissed me on the cheek before rolling over. I was certain I was in heaven. There I lay, in a comfortable bed that someone else had made, with sheets someone else had washed, about to drift off to sleep knowing someone else had taken care of the alarm. (I know, I know. It’s just an alarm, right?)
It’s not that overwhelming of a task to set it. But I am a single mom and for the first time in a really long time, I felt light. I felt like some of the weight was off of my shoulders. I didn’t have to check and double-check the alarm before going to sleep. Someone else was going to wake me up for a change. Someone else kissed me goodnight for a change. Someone else asked the hard questions. It wasn’t me making breakfast and cleaning up. I just had to … be.
For one night, I was just me. Not a mom. Not an employee, not the doer of all things. My phone was silenced and my mind and body allowed me to stay in the moment and forget the noise of my everyday life. The weight was temporarily off of my shoulders, and my God, I ex-freaking-haled.
He was my escape. His bed was my comfort place. His affection engaged my playful side, and for the 15 hours or so of that escape, I was at peace. And when I walked through the door of my home, reality hit. I knew I wouldn’t see him again. I knew it was unlikely that I would escape in this way again.
Thoughts of regret and guilt filled my mind, but I countered them with thoughts of forgiveness and self-love because I am just a woman in midlife searching for a shred of myself buried underneath the mom that has taken over. I didn’t find her in his bed, and I now know I won’t find her in anyone else’s bed, either. The search continues, but now I know: The woman I am looking for can be found only through a journey inward.