Sean picked me up for our dinner last night and whistled when he saw me. I decided to dress up for our date and I had chosen a cobalt blue cocktail dress, crystal dangling earrings, and swept my hair into an elegant bun. I finished off the outfit with my favorite pair of black pumps and a cute clutch purse. He was wearing a gray zipping hoodie over a white t-shirt and under a black blazer and a pair of jeans. He handed me a bouquet of daisies at the door and give me a kiss.
“Thank you.” I went to put them in a vase.
“Is this in celebration of our three month-anniversary?” He asked pointing to my outfit.
I gave Sean a very confused look.
“Is that what this is?” I asked, feeling like a jack ass and staring at my flowers.
“Well…it depends on how you look at it. It could be our fourth or our third depending on when you consider our relationship starting. I decided to err on the side of caution and go with our third month anniversary which is this weekend. But our fourth month anniversary, I guess would have been last week.”
Sean started laughing at the look on my face and I started blushing.
“I’m the worst girlfriend ever.” I mumbled as we headed out the door.
“You are not; it’s not even a real anniversary. The three-month anniversary is what twelve year olds celebrate with their first girlfriends. We’re older than twelve. I was only kidding.”
"But…it actually is our three or four month anniversary, right?”
“Yeah…but it’s just a coincidence….I mean it’s not even the day of. I was only kidding.”
I got really quiet then. It had suddenly occurred to me that Sean was more serious than I was about our relationship. He had always been more serious about our relationship; from the very beginning. That made me feel even worse than before.
We were seated at a table in an extremely nice restaurant, its theme was that of an indoor garden and it was breathtaking. There was a river that snaked throughout the restaurant with little cobblestone bridges over it and so many beautiful flowers and plants. Our table was in a little alcove that overlooked a small waterfall and was surrounded by ferns and deep purple orchids. There were twinkling lights in the canopy of small trees that made up the ceiling and candles that floated in the river. I was looking around and taking in the surroundings when I started to wonder if Sean wasn’t entirely joking about our anniversary not being a special occasion.
“Faith? Are you alright? You haven’t really been saying much.”
“I’m fine.” I threw in an unconvincing smile and started raving about my food a little too much.
“Cut the crap, Faith, what’s the deal?”
I sighed and put my fork down with a loud clank on my plate. I jumped at the noise.
“Can we talk about it later? I don’t want to get into it and make a scene in such a nice place.”
“It’s so serious that you’re worried about making a scene? What did I do?”
“It’s not you.”
I waved away Sean’s words and changed the subject to Elise. I could see him debating with himself over whether or not he should let me switch focus instead of pursuing our previous topic, but he obliged.
“Anna roped me into meeting with her this weekend. I think it should be interesting and by that I mean an awkward mess, but Anna’s being optimistic and she asked me to just drop it.”
“I don’t envy you, that’s going to be more than awkward.”
“Thank you!” I said exasperatedly, “Anna is in so much denial about it.”
We continued on like that until Sean walked me back to my apartment.
“So…are we going to talk about what’s bothering you, now?” He said at the edge of my stoop.
“Can’t we just forget it?”
“No. Start talking.”
I walked up the stairs into my apartment to feed Murphy and let Sean in. When I finally got settled onto the couch I was extremely nervous. The pit of my stomach felt like an endless cavern. We were going to have “the talk” and address how much I’ve taken our relationship for granted. Sean put his arm over my shoulder and I curled up next to him.
“This date really was for our anniversary, wasn’t it?” I said quietly.
“The third anniversary isn’t a big deal, I told you-“
“It was, though. The nice dinner. The flowers-“
“Faith, I decided to err on the side of caution, I told you.”
“What is that supposed to mean Sean?”
“It means that I wanted to make our date nice in case you wanted to celebrate the anniversary without wanting to tell me that we needed to celebrate it. It clearly wasn’t on your radar and that’s fine, I was just covering my ass as your boyfriend. The fact that you didn’t realize it means you aren’t twelve; that you’re a mature woman. It’s not a big deal.”
I pushed away from Sean and turned to face him on the couch. I was at a loss for words and started suddenly crying. Sean’s face was drenched in panic, worry, and confusion.
“Why are you-? What did I say?” He said trying to pull me into a hug. I wouldn’t let him.
“It’s not you.” I gulped through tears.
Sean looked at me sharply.
“Are you breaking up with me?”
“Then what is going on?”
“I’m a cold-hearted bitch.” I sobbed.
Sean started laughing which made me stop crying momentarily.
“Why are you laughing at me?”
“Because you couldn’t be farther from a cold-hearted bitch. You’re like a warm ray of sunshine.”
It was my turn to laugh then.
“I know…it’s the lamest and cheesiest thing I’ve ever said but it’s true.” Sean started laughing too.
A chunk of hair had fallen from my bun and Sean moved it behind my ear while I wiped my tears away. I took a deep breath and tried to explain myself.
“Sean, I’ve taken you for granted. You remember our anniversary and you bring me bouquets of my favorite flowers, you like my cat and think I’m pretty even when I’m a complete and utter mess like now and I feel like I just haven’t been caring about our relationship as much as you have because of- because I’ve-”
I stopped because I didn’t want to hurt Sean’s feelings. I looked down and started crying again.
“Because?” He said lifting my face to look at him. I was silent, “It’s okay. Say it.”
“Because of your impotence. I’ve been more focused on that than getting closer to you. I’m so selfish, Sean. I-”
“You’re not selfish, Faith. We haven’t been able to have sex in three months and I’ve been ignoring how it's made you feel. I’m sorry. I think the therapy is helping….it’s just not helping fast enough. How can I help you? Do you-” his voice caught, “Do you want to see other people?”
I looked at Sean, his eyes were watery and I could see the pain etched all over his face.
“Sean, are you trying to tell me that you want me to have sex with other people?”
“Is that what you want?”
“No! I want you. Only you. I would never…I can’t…how could you even think that I would want that?”
“I just want you to be happy, Faith. If you need sex then I’ll figure out a way to deal with you having sex with other people, if that’s what I have to sacrifice in order to keep our relationship going, then I’ll set you up on dates myself. I love you too much to lose you because of my problems.”
“Sean, I don’t want that! I’m ruining our relationship because I’m selfish! It’s my problem, not yours. Instead of enjoying being with you I am constantly focusing on when, if, or how we’ll have sex all while you’ve been getting to know me and learning about my favorite things. I don’t even know how old you are! I don’t know your favorite color or food or your favorite song! I’m a terrible girlfriend. What kind of horrible person doesn’t even know her boyfriend’s age...after three months of dating?”
“I’m twenty-eight. My favorite color is green. My favorite food consists of those stuffed mushrooms you make and my favorite song is ‘Bus Stop’ by The Hollies. Is there anything else you want to know?”
I shifted in my seat.
“Can I ask about anything?”
Sean’s face relaxed and I let out a sigh of relief. The tension had lessened considerably and both of us were grateful.
“Um...this is probably a TMI question but …do you masturbate?”
“That wasn’t a question I expected,” he said turning from me and rubbing his knees with his hands. He laughed uncomfortably.
“You said I could ask anything…” I said looking down and fidgeting with my hands.
He took a deep breath and cleared his throat.
“I’m a guy, Faith, of course I do.”
“But why? I mean how?”
“Well normally I do it in the shower but sometimes I-“
“No, Sean…I mean why are you able to…but not with me?”
“I don’t know why.”
“Do you…think about a certain fantasy or something? Because I could dress up as a maid or a naughty nun-”
“I think about you. I’ve thought of you ever since you left my hotel room the first time. Since then I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind when I-”
“A naughty nun?” Sean laughed and raised his eyebrows at me.
“I dated a priest, once…he brought it up in passing and I’d bought the costume before we broke up, we never used-”
“It’s a long story. I didn't know he was a priest when I bought the costume. Do you think you’d be able to do it if I was in the room with you?”
“I don’t really know.”
“Could we try it?”
“That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?”
“Maybe you just have performance anxiety…it could help reduce it if we try to see if just my presence is the problem.”
“We can try it.” He tried to pull me into him, but I pushed away again.
“We need to have ‘the talk’ Sean. Where do you see this going? What do you want out of it?”
Sean groaned and fell back on a throw pillow.
“It’s time to be adults now?”
“What do you think we were doing? I just quizzed you over your masturbation habits.”
“Do I get to quiz you about yours?” he tried to pull me to him again but I resisted.
“If you want…”
“Do you think about me?”
I wasn’t sure what to tell him. I don’t think about Sean because it makes me too sad which obviously defeats the purpose but I didn’t want to tell Sean that I think about my ex-boyfriend. I didn’t want to lie to Sean, either, so I leaned in and kissed him.
“What do you think?” I said between kisses.
Sean smiled and we had a pretty heated make-out session before we ended up cuddling on the couch. I was stroking Murphy absentmindedly while Sean ran his hand up and down my arm.
“Do you want kids?” I asked.
“I’m not sure. You?”
“I don’t know, either. What are your parents like?”
“They’re dead. They died in a car accident a few years ago. But my older brother is a lawyer. His name is Paul, he’s thirty, and he lives in Michigan. He’s pretty serious but what else do you expect from a lawyer?”
“Oh. I’m so sorry, Sean. Are you okay?
“I’m fine. I grieved and I’ve been able to move on from it.”
“Do you ever want to get married?”
I nudged him in the side.
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I guess so. You?”
“If it happens, it happens, I guess, but I’m in no hurry.”
“Did we just have ‘the talk’ then?”
“Yep… I’m sorry…about the crying earlier,” I said looking away in embarrassment, “I probably look like a complete mess-“
I went to touch my hair with my hands but Sean grabbed them and met my eyes.
“You don’t ever have to apologize to me for crying. You’re gorgeous and you’ll always be beautiful to me, tears and all, okay?”
I nodded and Sean kissed my forehead. We fell asleep on my couch and when I woke up in the morning Sean was still sleeping. I threw a blanket over him and smiled at Murphy, who was snoring on top of Sean’s head. Before I left for work I left a post-it note for Sean that said: "Happy three month anniversary."