I’d only been seeing the South African for a week when I left New York for a pre-planned trip to Shelter Island. In the moment it was painful, and I didn’t want to go; in hindsight, it was perfectly timed. There’s nothing quite like forced separation at the start of a budding romance to amp up the lust.
We texted my whole bus ride there. He sent me a picture of the sky from his Times Square office – a plane had written ‘Marry Me’ in the clouds. My heart skipped a beat. Someone (else) was staging an extravagant proposal over Manhattan, and all I could think was ‘YES’.
The friend I was visiting was au-pairing for a family, and I was her lucky guest. I hopped off the bus in Montauk, Long Island and boarded a small ferry – the only way to get there. Shelter Island is tiny: 8000 acres, with 2000 inhabitants. The minute I disembarked in the dark, I sensed the island’s mysterious and somewhat magical energy.
While my friend worked, I wrote and sunbathed in the garden. The grass bordered a small ocean inlet which housed a wooden fishing boat, and ghostlike jelly fish – lazily pulsating in the sun.
When she was free, we biked around the hills, explored hidden beaches, and fantasized about owning one of the many mansions. At the local nature reserve we followed a trail through the marshland, and saw birds we’d never come across before.
The island was peaceful and luscious. It entranced me. But I was equally entranced by something back in Manhattan. We’d been messaging throughout the weekend, and I couldn’t wait to see him.
I arrived in the city Sunday evening. The air was balmy, and the East Village streets were simmering with summer heat. I showered, piled my hair into a bun, threw on ripped jeans, a t-shirt and sandals, and headed to my favorite local vegan spot, Quintessence.
The South African and I had planned to connect that week, but the island had gifted me some of it’s charged, carnal energy, and I was feeling wild and free. I messaged to see what he was up to. He replied immediately. He was finishing apartment viewings downtown – the timing was perfect. We agreed to meet in Washington Square an hour later, continuing our tradition of park dates.
My appetite had somewhat diminished (now that I had something even tastier on the horizon), but I managed a flavorful lettuce burrito, complete with avocado and cashew cheese. Ideal fuel for my walk to the park.
When I saw him leaning casually against scaffolding at the corner of the park, I lit up. He was sexy as hell.
We bought a giant coconut water from a bodega, to share, and settled on a bench facing the glowing, white arch, beneath a dim park lamp.
We took turns filling each other in on our weekends, as he massaged my leg through my jeans. His voice was soft and calming, but the assertiveness of his touch roused every inch of my body.
It started drizzling, unexpectedly. We made our way to leave, but were drawn into the crowd around the pianist, by the fountain. As the melodies enveloped us in the gentle rain, he stood behind me, arms loosely wrapped around my waist, and lightly kissed my neck. I was practically floating.
He walked me home, and we held hands. It was the most couple-like moment we’d had, and I was into it. He stopped to pet a dog. He picked a sprig of lavender for me. It was basically a movie.
ROOM FOR DESSERT
As we strolled passed Sundaes & Cones ice cream parlor, I mentioned how good it was meant to be. Before I’d finished my sentence he’d pulled me inside, and was ordering banana and tiramisu ice cream scoops in a giant cone.
The rain had stopped, and we made ourselves comfortable on the neighboring stoop. I was between his legs, leaning back onto him, half lying down.
He lowered the ice cream to my mouth for a bite, but as I went for it, he playfully shoved it into my face – covering my nose in banana ice cream. Before I could proclaim, he leant down and licked it off, upside-down; then without skipping a beat, kissed me hard and passionately on the lips. Spiderman eat your heart out.
Between the shock of the kiss, the coldness of the ice cream, the heat of his tongue, and the sweetness of banana, I was spinning in pleasure. It confirmed what I already knew – that I was going to be in all sorts of delicious trouble with this man.
I could barely wait.
To be continued…