April 15, 2003


We had a little routine for after. After she got up and headed to the bathroom, I would wipe myself with toilet paper torn from the roll I kept on the windowsill behind my bed. Then I would go to my desk and throw out the condom, the condom wrapper, and the used toilet paper, being careful to bury the condom under other trash. Returning to the bed, I would put away the lubrication, lay our pillows side-by-side, and straighten the sheets. Then I would walk to the kitchen, where I would drink some orange juice straight from the container, standing in the light of the open refrigerator. It always surprised me how bright the light was.

She would be in the bathroom all this time, doubtless following her own routine, a sub-routine of the one we shared. I would wait for her by the coat rack, six feet or so down the hall. I don’t know if she knew about this part. Probably she did – otherwise how was I always right there when she emerged from the bathroom? – however it’s not something we ever discussed. None of this was. It was simply what we did.

When she emerged from the bathroom, I would step into the hall so she would see me there waiting for her and wouldn’t be frightened. As she walked past, I would lightly touch her arm and say something friendly like Hey or Hi’ya, and she’d mumble something friendly in response.

She was naked as she passed, which always struck me as odd. It was the only time I saw her naked outside of bed, and I sensed that she didn’t want me to look at her body, so I didn’t.

In the bathroom I would pee and wash up and maybe brush my teeth to be polite, although I loved her taste in my mouth. When I returned to bed, she would be under the covers, and as I settled in she would lay her head in the crook of my arm, although I was never quite sure she really wanted to. Instead, and this again is something I can’t know for certain, it seemed that she did it because it was what we did. Not that she didn’t want to, necessarily; I just had no way of knowing.

Similarly I could never tell when she switched back to being her regular self, as opposed to the one who did the sex scenes. Was it in the bathroom? Was it earlier, while we were still in bed? Or was it at different times each time, within a certain range? This would mirror the structure of the larger routine, in which a certain number of familiar elements were repeated in more or less the same order, although with varying intensities and durations.