As he came into the room he stripped off his shirt, which was slick with sweat from the gym. His body was lean and perfect, with just the right amount of hair upon his chest and a stomach; a small, black frothing on his toned muscles.
“You want to go for sushi?” he asked.
I somehow kept my cool, while inside my head played a melody of desire; a jangling chord of lust, want and admiration.
What could I say? Yes.
Considering the previous roommate on this work trip had been a Mexican on the wrong side of 50, this was a decided improvement. Hell, I turned away so I could silently look to the heavens and mouth “thank you”.
In the strange way of these things, feelings gave way to friendship. He was a Bostonian and I a Brit. As different as two employees could be. But I found his mannerisms charming. I admired the way he and the other Americans just said what they thought, and to hell with the consequences. The only dent in my desire came when he said he was considering voting Trump. I won’t lie, my mouth fell open.
And yet somehow it seemed such a little detail. Political beliefs, like the barriers of language and culturally cultivated manners, seem to simply fall away when stoked by the fires of friendship and admiration. I miss him. And not just because he would bring me coffee in just his towel in the morning. Although it did give me a chance to admire his exquisite form. It was the unique challenge of two people thrust into living with one another.
The unique little obstacles and enjoyments which goes with such a domestic situation. It was a surreal, almost dream-like state. The simple pleasure of relaxing together at the end of the day. Yes, a part me longed to complete the circle and reach out to him physically. Yes. I wanted him. And yet somehow the enforced restraint held it’s own beauty, its own connection. Perhaps it’s a testament to the destructive forces of physical attraction. To be trapped in a regency era situation of communication allowed for something else to grow.
Of course, it was primarily a two-week work trip. I achieved a lot of the goals I had set out for myself. I visited Niagara Falls for an 8 hour conference and partied that evening like I was a student again (note: I no longer have the strength).
But it made me realise that, for all the wonders and wishes we fulfil through travel, it’s the people we meet in these new places which make it magical.
I went to my first baseball game, but all I remember are the colleagues I spoke with. I was re-ignited about my job and my company – the fire to succeed was re-lit in the most wonderful way – but the memories which have been burned deepest in my mind are those of Matt. Of our easy humour, of being invited out to dinner, of being tortured by him in the gym, of watching the Patriots game with he and the other fellows from the Boston office. I remember our private conversations as we lay side by side together in a hotel room in the Hilton. In separate beds while a part of me longed to lay in his strong arms.
For a trip which in many scores had caused me so much dread and much initial disappointment, it turned into a treasury of beautiful memories. Will I ever see him again? I don’t know, but I hope so. Will anything ever happen between us? Never. But I think we’re both all the better for it.
Will I remember him and our time in Toronto? Always.