Melissa and I had been going out for the past five months. For the most part, everything had been good. For the last week though, Melissa had been hinting heavily to me that it was past time that we took our relationship to the next level. I asked her finally about exactly what she meant by that.
"The next level, how hard is that to understand?"
"What is our current level? I thought things were going fine."
"Maybe fine for you, but things don't really seem to be moving forward for us, at least not to me they don't."
I'm twenty five years old, and think of myself as being just a normal, average, regular guy. I work in a large office building, one of a hundred other low level corporate drones. I share an apartment with two other friends, all three of us just three years out of college.
Melissa is twenty three, having graduated from the same university as me. She was a year behind me in school. I'd seen her around at quite a few campus parties, as well as other, off campus clubs. I'd also seen her at quite a few school activities, but we'd never really gotten to know each other. We'd met again, at the wedding of mutual college friends, hitting it off well enough that we'd exchanged phone numbers, after finding out that we both now lived and worked in the same city.
A few weeks after the wedding, I phoned her for a date, and we had started going out. After our third date, Melissa had spent the night in my bedroom with me. The sex was very good, and she seemed amenable to having a relaxed and low key relationship. For the past four months, we'd been spending at least one or two nights a week together.
I liked her fine, but I hadn't been feeling any desire to take the relationship beyond its current level. She was fun to be with, but I wasn't looking for anything serious, relationship wise. If I had been looking for more than a casual thing, Melissa wouldn't be someone I'd be wanting to take it to the next level with.
While neither of us had spoken much about our lifestyles during college, Melissa and I had both been heavy into partying with like minded people. I'd certainly done my fair share of drinking, having casual sex, and experimenting with recreational drug use. I was pretty much certain that Melissa had done at least as much partying as me, and probably a lot more.
I didn't look down on her for any of that, but, at the same time, I wasn't looking for someone with her past background as a potential permanent life partner either. I no longer drank to excess, wasn't promiscuous, and, with the exception of some occasional weed shared with close friends, had stayed away from other kinds of drug use.
Now that we'd gone ahead and broached the subject together, I knew we'd have to continue it.
"At this point, personally and career-wise, I'm not ready for a serious relationship, Lissa."
"I'm not looking for a casual fuck buddy, David. We're not just two kids in school anymore. We're adults now, and adults have to start thinking about building their permanent future lives. Casual, uncommitted relationships, like what we've had up til now, don't really belong in my personal future. My time for settling for casual relationships has ended."
This conversation was taking place early in the evening, over dinner, in a rather nice restaurant. At least we were alone at our table, and both conversing quietly. I had gotten us tickets for later in the evening for a piano recital back in the city. Melissa played piano herself, and had been anxious to attend this artist's performance. I didn't want to get her upset and ruin the special evening I'd gone to some trouble, and expense, to arrange for her.
"I'm not trying to change the subject, or to avoid having this conversation with you, but wouldn't it be better for us to continue our evening out, and to table this discussion until a time when we can both relax and have it somewhere that is less public?"
"You just want to stall things for as long as you can. I've been bringing this subject up to you for awhile now, and this is the first time you've wanted to talk with me about it."
"All I did was ask you for some clarification, Lissa. Up until now, things have always been pretty casual between us. I guess I was asking you where you see things being at right now, and what the next level, if we go to it, would entail?"
Before she could answer me, our waiter came over inquiring about dessert. After telling him we weren't interested in dessert, I asked him for the bill. Five minutes later, the bill paid, Melissa and I were heading out to find a taxi to take us to the recital.
The pianist was really quite talented, according to Lissa, and she seemed well satisfied with his performance. Myself, I really have a poor ear for music, so I was happy to defer to her expertise in that area.
I knew that I wasn't going to get laid after Lissa gave the cab driver her address, rather than my own, when we got in the taxi after the recital. We never had sex at her apartment. It was a rule that she and her two roommates had established. Their apartment was supposedly a no sex zone. I got a bad premonition that our evening wouldn't be ending well.
"We can continue our talk in the apartment, David, Terri and Rachel went to a party together, and won't be home for hours."
I nodded my agreement to her, convinced that any delay in our talking would only work against any chance we might have to keep some semblance of our current relationship alive. I wasn't optimistic about the outcome though.
Inside her apartment, I went right over to the black vinyl sofa and sat down on the far right cushion. Melissa went into the tiny kitchenette and got me a beer, and her a glass of white wine. She seated herself in the middle cushion next to me and handed me my beer.
"Is this private enough for us to continue our conversation?" There was a small edge in her tone when she spoke. I didn't much care for it either.
"This is fine. You were about to tell me where you see us, relationship wise, right now, and what taking the next step would entail?"