Minutes passed as we lay there, panting and exhausted.
“Am I forgiven for last night yet?” Jon asked lazily.
“And then some” I replied. I was so satisfied at that moment I could barely think.
“So, what should we do today? It’s still early and I’ve got the whole day free unless you’ve got something to do?” he said invitingly.
It was now or never and I knew this moment was coming. I braced myself.
“I was supposed to head back home today” I said turning my head away.
“What?” he sounded startled.
“I had reservations for the weekend, for the shows and the conference. But I had planned to go home and resume my life. Baby, I didn’t expect to fall in love with a rock star” I said honestly.
The silence that followed hurt as I wondered what would follow. He was just now absorbing the reality, but the thought had nagged at me for a while and I just put it out of my mind. But the questions were still there.
“Do you want to go home?” he asked, turning my head so that I could not avoid his eyes any longer. Tears welling up in my eyes, I answered as honestly as I could.
“No, but I don’t know where to go from here” I said tears falling down my cheek as he looked at me searchingly.
“I don’t want you to go” he said simply.
Well, great. I was half relieved and half annoyed. I didn’t know what to say to that. I hoped, actually willed him to say something. I didn’t care what. Just say something. Don’t leave me hanging there trying to figure this one out by myself. My whole life had always been about taking care of other people, especially men. It was always up to me to come up with an answer, to figure it out. Please, Jon, please. Not you too. I begged him silently with my eyes. He was thinking. Not staring at me helplessly like I was used to from the other men in my life. After what seemed like an eternity, his voice reached me as if from a million miles away.
“Stay with me. Come live with me. I can take care of you. We can take care of each other. You can find a job, if you want. I want you to be happy, but I don’t want you to leave. Please. Stay.”
I couldn’t believe I was hearing him right. I yearned to say yes, but …no, it was too easy. Life is not that simple. Not my life anyway.
“Jon, I … I can’t. I mean I want to. I want to stay with you. But, I …” I tried began but he finished my thought.
“have a life. You have a life of your own that you don’t want to give up anymore than I want to give up mine” he said resignedly.
His eyes were wet now and it was his turn to look away. The look in his eyes broke my heart.
“Nooooo…it’s just so … complicated. I don’t want you to feel obligated to take care of me” I tried to explain.
His words had made me feel ashamed. I wanted his help with this, but I wasn’t expecting him to take care of me like that. As much as it was appealing, I knew I couldn’t respect myself if I let him take care of me. I just wanted a plan on how to proceed. He turned to me then and he was angry.
“Obligated? Is that what you think I feel? I don’t view love as an obligation” he said cryptically.
His voice was bitter and my heart was in my mouth. I wasn’t sure what I had just triggered, but I had somehow touched a nerve and I immediately regretted my words. I swallowed hard and tried again.
“No, I didn’t mean it that way, really. I love that you want to take care of me, that you’d even be willing to. No one has ever offered to do that. It’s just that I couldn’t live with myself and I doubt you’d still love me if I let you do that. No matter how tempting” I said, trying to explain what I was feeling.
He relaxed slightly, but looked at me and shook his head.
“What do you want from me then?” he asked, obviously confused.
“A plan …a way to share our lives together without either of us giving up what we’ve worked so hard to achieve.” There. I’d said it. “And I wanted you to tell me how you thought we could do that because I want someone to share the tough decisions with. I’m tired of making them alone. I’ve done that my whole sorry life. But I wasn’t looking for you to rescue me either. I need to carry my own weight.” I added.
The answer took him back a bit and I could see him struggling to understand. He was used to fixing a problem, not collaborating on a solution.
“I want us to figure this out together. I want us to share the responsibility. I don’t want to solve it all by myself, but I don’t want you to just fix it either. Now, if the car broke down, that you can fix. But this we need to figure out together” I continued.
Slowly, it began to sink in. He looked at me thoughtfully.
“Could we live here and could you still work where you do? Christ, I don’t even know where you live!” he said with a sigh.
“I live in Buffalo. I could try it. I could work there, maybe even 4 days a week and join you here, or wherever, on the weekends. Or you could come to Buffalo sometimes. And I can look for a job here eventually” I offered and his face brightened.
“When I’m not on tour we could stay in Buffalo. And we could stay here when you’re on vacation. This could work” he offered back. He rolled over onto his back, pulling me with him.
“We can make this work, baby. We’ll make it work” he said reassuringly and I wanted to believe him. “I know we can.”
I was beginning to feel relieved. He cared enough to compromise. I’d made mistakes before. I’d given up too much or took too much responsibility for things in past relationships. I had learned enough from those mistakes not to repeat them. But I was wary of the other extreme. I didn’t want Jon to be in that position either as I knew how it felt to be a caretaker. But there was still another hurdle to jump.
“Uh, Jon, there’s something else” I ventured.
“What? Tell me” he demanded.
“Uhmmm, I have cats” I blurted out. He knitted his brows together in a look of mock concern, studying me.
“Cats? Plural?” he asked pointedly.
“Yep. Cats” I said, emphasizing the s.
“How many are there?” he asked closing his eyes and gritting his teeth and I knew it was no time to lie.
“Five” I confessed.
“Five? Five! I hate cats” he moaned and now it was my turn to look worried.
“But you haven’t met my cats yet” I said in my most convincing voice.
“I don’t know. I can compromise on where we live, but cats? I just don’t know. That‘s asking a lot” he was teasing me now.
“Please” I beseeched him.
“Awww, hell, if I have to and I can see there’s no compromising on this, is there?” he laughed and I kissed him happily.
“Absolutely none” I whispered in his ear.
He smiled, but I knew he capitulated way too easily for such a master negotiator. Here it comes, I thought.
“Here’s the deal. I’ll tolerate the furry devils, but you have to try sushi and come to the Soul games with me” he bargained.
I was getting off easy. I sighed heavily and let him think he’d won a huge concession.
“Okay, deal” I said quickly before he realized he could have bargained for more.
He didn’t need to know I would have agreed anyway, even if my beloved cats weren’t the prize. We had our differences, and we had our challenges, but we could work through them if we did it together.