“Kiss me again and then get out of my car,” I tell a man one night after music in a park and beer on a bar patio. When he leans in, I hold his face in my hands, the stubble on his cheeks brushing my palms, and for a minute, I am reminded of when I was in high school or even in college dropping first one boy, then another off at their houses, that last kiss in the dark. How I watched them go up the steps, them haloed in porch light before they turned the knob and went inside. How I watched until the last inch of their bodies had moved past the opening and into the house beyond, shutting the door behind them. After, both then and now, I’d make the drive back to my own home in silence, the radio off, the wind singing to itself outside the car window with only the moon for company.
It is safe to kiss the man. He wants nothing from me other than a moment, and I’ve nothing else to give. I myself want nothing other than a moment in which I am thinking about nothing, not about the job I’ve just lost and how to support my child, not about the child himself and how earlier in the week he’d been crying over someone he “just missed so much,” not about how to explain to a four-year old that it wasn’t his fault, not about how I, too, cried over missing still other someones and bills and even commercials. I want a moment in which I am thinking about nothing, and so I hold that man’s face in my hands as if he is a lifeline and maybe for a moment he is. Because I have forgotten what it is like to be wanted, even if only briefly, to be something other than mother or worker or used until no longer needed.
I hold that man’s face in my hands for a moment and when he gets out of the car I don’t watch him walk up the steps, don’t watch the light above the door and how it hits his face. He isn’t that to me, a man I must watch go, not like the boys in cars of my youth, the ones I learned to love if sometimes only after leaving. He’s just laughter and moonlight, a moment’s oblivion, a smile for the dark drive home.