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It was around 10 in the evening when Gareth finished his rounds at the hospital. I’d been waiting all evening, grip on my phone viselike, for him to get home. When he did, he messaged me via Grindr: hey you can come over now if you like ;)
I grabbed my overnight bag. The floorboards of my summer sublet creaked as I put on my sneakers. The harsh fluorescents in the building lobby flickered as I stepped out onto 151st Street, beginning the hundred-block journey to a queen bed and a park view.
At Gareth’s, I pressed the heels of my palms into the headboard. I was careful not to get any lube on the tufted fabric. It was a French wing piece in slate gray. Restoration Hardware, I guessed. I’d seen something like it the other day, still well beyond my price range after a handful of markdowns.
I told Gareth to slow down. He complied, I got to breathe. His chest was hard and hot against my back, his duvet soft and cool beneath my knees. I’d asked him where he got it once, but he wasn’t sure. I wanted to order something like it online, but packages tended to disappear from my sublet lobby.
After Gareth set his alarm clock and began to snore, I slipped out of his arms and into the shower. I loved his bathroom. I loved the granite countertops, the tiled floor, the soft glow of the wall sconces. I toweled off and put on Gareth’s white terrycloth robe, one size too big for me.
I made a cup of the Earl Grey he always drank for breakfast. I opened a floor-to-ceiling glass door and stepped onto the balcony, the stone warm against my wet feet. The air was different up here, 40 stories above Manhattan. The summer heat would smother you on the sidewalk. On Gareth’s balcony, it made my skin tingle. Maybe these were aftershocks from a very good orgasm. Either way.
Some blocks north, only a few paths were alight in Central Park. Cabs and town cars orbited Columbus Circle. It was a bit past midnight, as Gareth’s Movado watch read, dangling like a tennis bracelet on my wrist. It was on the bathroom counter, as usual. I’d borrow it, just to try, always careful to put it in the same spot next to his wallet.
I leaned back against the balcony railing and sipped my tea. Lukewarm, bland. I went into the kitchen, hoping Gareth had some honey or milk or something. But I couldn’t find anything in the dark, not in this place where I didn’t quite live.
That summer, I sat for hours at coffee shops in neighborhoods I loved — Chelsea, the West Village, Columbus Circle. I told myself it was to find inspiration and write. Instead, I found myself facedown in queen beds with handsome men. I forgot names and numbers, but committed TriBeCa addresses to memory. Some people browsed the Times’ real estate section on Sundays; I was on Grindr.
Casual sex was like an open house. My fantasies were built on beefy forearms and exposed brick, so I had a tendency to check Grindr while I was on expensive blocks. Sure enough, I’d receive invitations from men with selfies in suits or on sailboats. As I’d take off their socks and shirts, I’d ask them how long they’d been in their apartments, how much they were paying, usual first-date chatter.
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