It was the summer after Wolf and I broke up. I was in full-on lust with Ducky, despite his having long gone back to Florida and no prospect of his returning (what is it with me and guys from far out of town?). Bones had just told me that he was going to China in the fall to teach English. We were in my car on the way to the movies, because that’s what we did all that summer, and because I always drive when we’re together. His brother had been in China for years and loved it, and getting a job in the states was practically an impossibility at the time, so why the fuck not? Why not? I’ll tell you why not, because I was selfish and lonely. I had yet to run into Roo on that randomly fated train ride, Wolf and I were still in our awkward not-talking stage (basically because I would cry every time we did talk), Ducky was a thousand-plus miles away, I hadn’t met many friends in NYC yet. But such is the nature of my friendship that I didn’t say any of this. I might have made an off-hand remark about him ditching me to travel the world, but other than that my reaction was more along the lines of “cool story bro” than “Stellaaaaaaa”.
I teased him relentlessly throughout that summer—and for a long time from the other side of the world—that if he wasn’t getting lucky it was his own fault. After all, he had the opportunity and he didn’t take it. He had had me, half-naked and willing (drunkenly so but isn’t that usually the case?) and he had played the nice guy. We were friends, it would be weird, he couldn’t do it. And again, because of the nature of our friendship, I buried the hurt deep down, the one that said I wasn’t wanted and shrugged it off. Instead, I sent him off to China with a wicked smile and a promise that it was his loss. Then I shared what he hadn’t wanted with others who did, recounting the details over late night (mine)/mid-afternoon (his) gchat sessions. I didn’t do it purposely to rub it in that I didn’t need him. It was just the way we talk, like bros. We swapped stories. It wasn’t my fault I had more stories to tell than he did.
And then one day, he pointed out that if the opportunity arose again, we should just go for it. I smirked, my inner narcissist pumping the air and vindictively proclaiming that I should now deny him what he seemed to want (sometimes I’m a horrible person in my brain). And I agreed. What the hell right?
I saw him once that summer, in the short break before he headed back overseas. It was the middle of the week, I had to work the next day, and I hadn’t yet moved to my current apartment, so it wasn’t exactly the ideal situation. But hey, the opportunity came up and like we agreed from opposite sides of the world, we took it. I know, I say this so casually like it’s no big deal to have sex with a guy you grew up with, a guy who had seen you battered and weeping in a bar over a guy who had broken your heart. We’d always been buddies, no more serious about our friendship than we were about our goals in life. The latter part of his first stint in China had us talking maybe once a month. We hadn’t seen each other at all during the last two and a half years of college. He was the guy my mom wouldn’t think twice about because he was like a brother. But it truly was no big deal. No stress, no strings, no freak outs, just a good time.
And then I booked my flight to Shanghai. To me, the reasons were simple. Bones promised me a free place to stay, free drinks, and when the hell would I get to go to China again? But as soon as I told my friends about my trip, they gave me a knowing look and began calling the visit my International Booty Call. I rolled my eyes, told them they didn’t understand, and shrugged it off. But the fact is, they weren’t wrong, they just didn’t get the arrangement (or lack of). There was sex. In fact, I had no sooner fallen into his bed after a nineteen hour flight (it was supposed to be fourteen), than we were wrapped up in each other’s arms and well…you know how it goes. But contrary to the cheeky suggestions from everyone including Wolf, Taz, Bee, and even Roo, I didn’t go to China for sex. Hell, if that’s all I was looking for, the farthest I would have had to go was the nearest frat bar. I went to China for the same reason Kennedy wanted to put a man on the moon: because it’s there. Sex with Bones happened to be an added bonus.
On paper, it’s a ridiculously complicated situation, the kind they make awkward rom-coms about (I’m looking at you Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis/Justin Timberlake!). But with me and Bones, the weirdness comes in how uncomplicated it actually is. So when Wolf, Bee, Taz and others asked with a wink how China was, I grinned and said, “Amazing”. And it’s up to them to decide which part of the trip I was talking about.