‘Tis the Damn Season

Photo by Tracy Fuentes

By Katie Richards

“We could call it even
Even though I’m leavin’
And I’ll be yours for the weekend” 
– 
Taylor Swift, ’tis the damn season

If it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me. That sentence played over and over in my head as if it were a catchy pop song. Normally, driving through the downtown of the city I grew up in would inspire awe in me; it was always so beautiful during the holidays; snowflake lights on every pole, shops decorated with garland and lights, tiny trees in the center of each table at the longstanding café. This time, I barely even noticed it. All I could focus on was that one sentence. I was supposed to be going straight to my dad’s, fresh cookies in tow, to help him finish decorating the tree a few days before we were to celebrate Christmas. It was his favorite thing to do ever since I moved away – have me finish up one holiday decoration with him like I never left…except I forgot to take the cookies with me, causing me to make a stop at an old grocery store to pick up some of those controversial sugar cookies as an apology. If I hadn’t forgotten the cookies, I wouldn’t be thinking about unnecessary things, like how I ran into a not-quite-old-flame at the store, and how he hit on me, said that sentence to me. I just wanted to get in and out, but it was just my luck that he was there at the same time. Dad’s going to notice I’m distracted, and there’s no way I’ll be able to explain why with a straight face.

The last time I saw Ezra was three years ago, right before I moved. Dad threw me a little party to celebrate me finding a good place to live (or, as I believed, he threw a party so he wouldn’t cry too much). Ezra was invited – by my dad, not by me – and then, whenever I came home for the holidays, I never ran into him. Until now. Back in school, we had this awkward thing going on between us where I couldn’t tell if he was actually interested in me or not, and his lack of clarity always bothered me. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get that clarity three days before Christmas, five years after we’d graduated high school. It feels like people are weirdly transparent in grocery stores; he said it so easily that he thought there had been something between us, how we could maybe even pursue it this weekend. If it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me. I don’t even remember how I responded to it, and I don’t know why I’m considering it either. That time has passed. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. 

I know one thing. I’ll have to apologize to my dad. “Focus” was not a word in my vocabulary when I arrived. Finishing the tree, explaining the reason for the wrong cookies, chatting about what I’ve been up to lately – my mind kept veering to Ezra for all of it. When dad asked me why I was so distracted, I lied and said it was just cookie guilt. The more I thought about the possibility of having a holiday fling, the more I ached for it. It was something I’d never thought about doing before, but if it was going to be anyone, it would be Ezra. The idea of being his, even just for the weekend, made me feel 15 again. I think I’m going to do it. If it ends up being the worst decision I’ve ever made, I’ll just never speak to him again. Easy. I’ve got this. ‘Tis the damn season, I guess.

The hard part is admitting that this is something I want. Calling him was the easy part, because his number was the same…but having to tell someone that you do, in fact, want to hook up with them for the holidays is awkward in every possible sense. Now I’m waiting for him to pick me up, after nonchalantly telling my dad I’d be out with a friend. He definitely heard me choke on the word “friend.” 

Please don’t ask me to elaborate.

He didn’t ask.

As if on cue, I heard a car door shut as soon as dad walked into the kitchen.

Oh my god.

He’s here. 

I shouted out a quick goodbye, shutting the door behind me and letting out a built-up sigh. His smile was the same as always, and the interior of his truck smelled like mints. 

This is really happening.

The drive itself was relaxing. Ezra was easier to talk to than I thought he would be, and I learned a couple things – he opened a photography studio, his cat died last year, and his younger sister got married. I rediscovered something, too. Being with him is so easy; time passes so fast when we’re together. By the time we arrived at his apartment, the sky was dyed in brilliant shades of red and orange as if it were on fire. 

If it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me. Again. Those words sent me into a tailspin this morning, but now, they’re doing the opposite. It’s interesting how so much can change in one day. I was apprehensive, and now I’m in Ezra’s home, sipping on coffee and telling that I’m not kidding, I really do want to do this. Funny how that works out; the me holding the cookies in one hand, wallet and keys in the other would think the me right now is insane. 

I’ll be yours for the weekend. When Christmas ends and I say farewell to my little hometown once again, it’ll almost be like this didn’t happen. I’m going to enjoy this in the moment, especially because I never thought anything would happen between us for real. 

What happens in this bedroom stays in this bedroom.

The click of the door locking, the gentle whoosh of the curtains closing, the lamp filling the room with a soft light. I was hyperaware of every noise, and overly conscious of how it felt when he gently ran his fingers through my hair. 

When we kissed, he almost seemed a little scared. Like he didn’t believe it was real. When I said I thought that was adorable, he glared at me. Said I was too pretty to call anyone else cute. Good to know it wasn’t just me with a tendency to think too much. 

I woke in an unfamiliar bed, wrapped up in warm arms and a fuzzy blanket. My eyes focused just enough to read the digital clock. 7 in the morning. 

No way in hell I’m getting up right now.

My mind played the night back to me as I tried to go back to sleep. Ezra’s voice, the feeling of his hands on me, how for a few seconds, he had laced our fingers together and squeezed my hand. It’s a night I think I’ll remember for the rest of my life. How he pulled me into his arms and looked at me with gentle eyes and an awkward smile, his voice full of affection for me. The way he said he’d wanted to be this way with me for a long time, and how it took all the courage he could muster to speak to me when he saw me deliberating over the cookies. He told me how I should come see him when I was in town again; he’ll never forget what it was like to touch me. I’ll never forget any of it either. 

God, as embarrassing as it is to reminisce about last night’s events, there’s no regret to be found anywhere. 

I’ll have to come back one more time before I leave – it would be a waste to only be with him once. I know I’ll be thinking about his smile on the way back home. Even as I try to go back to sleep, I’m thinking about it. Maybe when I wake up again, he’ll be stroking my hair. Everything about Ezra is warm. His smile, his hugs, his bed. I’m sure it’s freezing outside, but I can’t tell at all. Today, I’ll be able to sleep half the day away without a care in the world.

I’ll have to tell him I’m glad I forgot to bring the cookies.

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