Chris Wiewiora remembers the first morning he woke up next to a woman.
The week that Lauren and I broke up, my father had slipped an envelope through the cat door sawed into the bottom of my bedroom door. A sticker of a mockingbird sealed the clasp. The front read: (to read after you’ve had your coffee and are awake).
A month later, I sat in front of Lauren’s dad’s house (her parents are divorced) in my car, with the engine on, and the lights off. It was 10:30PM and Lauren was alone. But it wasn’t a creepy me-stalking-her situation. It was a me-having-come-over-to-see-her in the late afternoon and make her homemade buttermilk biscuits that I had topped with chopped spinach, slightly sautéed portabella mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and crumbles of goat cheese. It was her saying they were amazing while curling up next to me as we watched the movie The Triplets of Belleville on her bed. It was us making out, and me taking off my shirt, and Lauren saying we shouldn’t go much further than kissing and touching with our shirts on—just yet—because it was the first time we’d seen each other since agreeing that we were going to try again.
One of the most intimate times we had had sex was on a Sunday when my parents were at church. Lauren and I were on the carpet of my bedroom with our jeans around our ankles.
“It’s just so good,” Lauren whispered.
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“You’re not fucking me,” Lauren said. She was on the pill, but she’d always said that she liked being so close without a condom. On top, I looked into Lauren’s eyes, making it last. After, she told me that I was the only guy she has ever let come inside her.
So, when Lauren said that we shouldn’t go much further, I stopped. I put my shirt back on. I hadn’t come over to fuck her.
And later when I was idling in front of Lauren’s, a half-hour drive from my parents’ house, and no matter what I did my car’s lights wouldn’t work, all I could think about was my father’s letter:
Now that you’ve been with Lauren awhile, I wonder whether you’ve thought about your future with her, how your relationship with her is unfolding. And have you given thought to the various aspects of intimacy that you and Lauren are cultivating—social, emotional, spiritual, physical? And whether you have established any boundaries to physical intimacy?
My father is the copy coordinator at Campus Crusade for Christ’s corporate magazine Worldwide Challenge™ (they always use the trademark symbol). My parents have been missionaries for longer than the 30 years they’ve been married. From them, I grew up with the commandment to save sex for marriage. But my parents don’t know that their youngest son, who mom introduces as her “baby,” has a pack of thintensity™ ultrasmooth lubricant Trojans™ in the pair of motorcycle gloves that are next to his Swiss Army Knife™ and Good News Bible™ in the drawer of his bedside table.
Bottomline: My father’s letter was way too late.
I turned off my car’s engine and I thought of all the possibilities: I couldn’t drive home in the dark on the interstate; I wouldn’t ask Lauren to drive me home; and I wasn’t going to call my parents to pick me up. It was respectively illegal, unfair, or ridiculous. I realized I’d already made up my mind, because the car’s engine was already cooled down.
I walked back to Lauren’s front door. Her dad was gone on a hunting trip that weekend with her brother. Lauren was alone and I was about to ask to stay over. I couldn’t think of anything else.
So, I knocked, Lauren answered, and I immediately started to explain that, “It’s probably a fuse or the switch,” but before I could finish Lauren said, “Stay.”
I knew I had to call home. My parents have never imposed a curfew, but I’d never not come home before, even if that’s meant unlocking the front door as quietly as I could at 3AM to my father sitting in the front room reading some proofs and him saying, “I hope you had a good time. I’m glad you’re back, safe.”
My cell phone had died, too, so I had to use Lauren’s to call home. And as my parents’ phone rang, I prayed to God: Hey man, I haven’t asked you for too much recently and I know we don’t talk a lot, but you know I’m listening and if you could, this time, would you hear me out? I realize that this is an emergency prayer that I could’ve used on having my lights work, but I’m here now; so could you please, please, please not have anyone pick up, then I can leave a message and the folks won’t worry?
The machine tuned on and I rushed, “Hey, it’s Chris. My lights aren’t working on my car. It runs. I’m okay. I’m at Lauren’s and I’m going to spend the night here. She has another bed I can sleep in. Oh, and my cell phone died. I’ll be home in the morning. Love you. Bye.”
Lauren heard my message and said that there was another bed in her dad’s office. We cleared off some papers from the blanket of the single bed. I took off my shoes as if I were going to sleep. Lauren said she was going to watch an episode of Six Feet Under and that I could join her in her room.
Next to each other on Lauren’s bed, we watched the TV. Lauren reached out and held my hand and was rubbing my fingers. Lauren had brushed her teeth and changed into short-shorts, out of her bra, and put on a loose t-shirt. I thought how less than an hour ago we had been messing around and I had been ready to sleep with Lauren, but I hadn’t even thought about falling asleep with her. I’d never stayed and slept the whole night with a girl before.
My father and I have kept a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with the silent agreement that I would come home to get back in my own bed. I knew in the morning I would have to face my father. Even if I explained that there had been a boundary, and that I thought he should be proud of me, I knew I wouldn’t be telling the whole truth: that I didn’t agree with him about holding yourself back from someone you loved. I was frantic thinking what I would say.
Lauren squeezed my hand, checking on me. My eyes were closed. I knew tomorrow would come, but I was comfortable right then and there. I was content. Then Lauren straddled me. I kept my eyes shut. She slid my glasses off of my face as gently as a goodnight kiss.
In the night, I heard a small phht. Then a sigh. And I realized that Lauren just farted. Our relationship had ended before, after I had told Lauren that I needed her to open up and Lauren said she didn’t think she could let me in any further. Lauren farting wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but nonetheless there was a certain sweetness to it, and I realized how vulnerable sleeping together was for both of us.
A fiesta ringtone went off. I didn’t know where I was. I had all my clothes on and I was under a blanket on a bed that wasn’t mine. Something was shuffling next to me. Everything was blurry without my glasses. I squinted in the hazy sunrise coming through some blinds and snatched my frames from a nightstand. As I put my glasses on a TV came into focus. Then I turned to Lauren. Her hair was a hot mess of bedhead that I had only seen after sleeping with her.
“Good morning,” I said as I tucked one of her curly bangs behind her ear and then kissed her forehead.
“Five more minutes,” Lauren said and she turned off her alarm.
I spooned Lauren while rubbing her back. She told me that she had dreamed that she had been deaf, but then was trying to convince a guy that she could actually hear. I thought that that her dream was about us.
At her front door, I turned around to Lauren and we kissed, tasting the coffee off each other’s tongues. I sat in my car—lingering—thinking how grown up all of that was.
When I got home my father asked me, “So, your lights aren’t working?” I said, “Yeah,” and showed my father the switch that didn’t work. I felt the need to prove it to him. He said I should get it fixed so I would be safe. And that was it.
He hadn’t ever asked me what was happening: how Lauren and I were doing when we first got together, or how I was after it fell apart, or anything about me and her trying again. And I almost wished my father had asked me what happened, because I thought that if he wasn’t going to ask then, he wasn’t going to ask me ever. I believed that could have been the opening to talk about the thrill of sleeping with someone you love, of waking up next to someone with the confusion of the morning sun, and realizing you are still there with them, and wanting to stay with them for just five more minutes, always just a little longer.
Originally appeared at SplinterGeneration.com