In all my life, I’ve only spent the night with four people—and I’m talking about the entire night, sleeping in the same bed, not some late-night screwing followed by a pre-dawn scurrying home. There’s my spouse, of course. There was a man a little over a decade ago for whom I had deep feelings, and with whom I spent a romantic night in which he lost his virginity . . . as a top. There was a reader of mine who offered me shelter on a long drive home. And then there’s Spencer.
There’s only me rattling around my house these days, so I couldn’t begin to count the number of times Spencer has stayed overnight. He knows he’s welcome anytime; all he has to do is announce his intentions.
We have a rhythm to our evenings, now. Most nights of the week he’ll drop by after he’s finished for the day at the studio. I’ll leave the side light on and the door unlocked for him. He’ll park in front, let himself in, kick off his shoes, and come find me wherever I might be. It’s always a genuine pleasure for me to see him. Even in his winter coat and his head half-covered by one of his outlandish hats, the sight of that square, dimpled chin and scruffy jaw, those tea-brown eyes, always sets my heart thumping. He’ll shoot me one of those slow, easy smiles, and we’ll embrace, and kiss.
He’ll make himself something to drink as we talk about our days, or he’ll head to the pantry and help himself to some of the snacks stockpiled there. Some nights I prepare dinner for the both of us. I miss cooking for others. Having someone to take care of comforts me as much as it does him. I’ll stir-fry some curry noodles with vegetables and chicken and crushed peanuts on top, or I’ll grill some salmon and vegetables, or a chicken breast with rice. Or we’ll simply grab a bag of chips, a tub of hummus, and head for the den.
We watch television on the sofa, him at one end and me at the other, our legs entwined. Over the course of the night we’ll swap positions several times. Sometimes he’ll have his head in my lap, and I’ll absently stroke his hair while we watch the screen. Or he’ll pull me down so that I’m reclining on him with his big arms around me. We’ve watched our way through seven seasons of The X-Files this way, and all of Full Metal Alchemist and several seasons of silly sitcoms from Comedy Central. Lately I’ve gotten him hooked on Doctor Who. We’ll pause the playback frequently to discuss what’s on the screen, or go off on a tangent together, talking, snacking, and companionably spending the evening hours.
It’s cozy and warm, like napping beneath a warm blanket on a winter’s night. It’s a domesticity with Spencer that I know I can’t always have, but is still as sweet as honey upon my tongue. Even as it’s happening, I know that I should be storing up the sensations and the memories, saving them for lonely nights in places I don’t know.
Then ten or ten-thirty will roll around. Either he’ll stand up and stretch and announce that he should get home, or he’ll turn, give me a smile, and say, “Want a sleepover?”
My answer to that question is always yes.
This is the part of the night I like best. He’ll put his cups and glasses and plates in the dishwasher while I turn off lights. Up the stairs he’ll climb. He leaves his clothes in a trail to the bathroom—a shirt on the bedroom dresser, his jeans draped over the upstairs hall railing. Socks on the bathroom floor. Save for the one time I saw him in long johns, he doesn’t ever don underwear. He’ll turn on the shower and collect his things—he has his own face wash, his own soap and shampoo. The toothbrush I’ve given him, he’ll into the stall with him, and disappear into the clouds of vapor billowing over the shower door.
It only takes a few moments for me to ready myself for bed. I brush my teeth and take out my contacts, then leave the bathroom and slip into bed. I sleep naked. One of the great pleasures of winter for me is feeling my nude body against the soft flannel sheets, contrasted by the cool cotton weave of the pillows. In the low light I’ll wait as I listen to the sound of splashing water. It’s followed by the rush of the faucet as he turns it, and then the roll of the shower door on its rails. Through the heating vent between the bedroom and bath I can hear the soft noises he makes as he towels himself.
Then he’ll pad into the bedroom, cocking his head as he walks and giving me a goofy grin. Sometimes he’ll be wearing an athletic tank top with straps that accent his pecs and strong shoulders, and show off his big arms to their best advantage. It’ll cut off just above his round, pert dancer’s butt, which gyrates cheek by cheek as he pads to the bed. Sometimes he’ll come out of the bathroom still steaming, naked and unashamed of his body. He’ll pop his iPod into my clock radio, and start his sleepytime playlist.
Into the sheets he’ll slide, his butt snuggling firmly against my dick. We spoon together well, Spencer and I. I’ll insert my left arm beneath his pillow and let my arm hold him tightly around his chest. I’ll slip my hand beneath his tank top and run it over the firmness of his abdomen, the broad muscles of his chest, the soft planes of his nipples. Then he’ll turn his head and kiss me over his shoulder, long, slow and deeply.
“I like sleeping with you,” he’ll always say, in the softest of voices.
“I like you being here,” I’ll tell him, as I run my hand down his side, past his knife-sharp hipbone and around the soft peach-like globes of his ass. Often at this point we’ll make love. Sometimes we won’t; we’ll just cuddle, and talk in low voices.
But this is what’s vital, on the nights he sleeps over, what I really want to remember: the warmth of his damp skin against mine, like a stoked furnace. The smell of him, all soap and shampoo and astringent. The unguardedness of his voice, as we murmur in the darkness. The cat, settled between our two sets of feet. His mouth against my ear, his hands on the back of my neck. The gentle strains of music from the speakers, playing a lullaby. And finally, the heavy breathing coming from between his lips as the motion of the day slows to a standstill, and he falls asleep, protected in my arms.
It’s not fucking. But it’s important. I want to store up as many of these nights as I can, while they last. And I want to remember them in all their simplicity and beauty.