Three unsatisfied beginnings…

The three unsatisfied beginnings started in the subway, brewing in the heat of the underbelly of Paris, the steam rising up from the sidewalks only to be cut short by the brisk breeze of passersby on street level. It is warm for December, deceptively so. You are not cold, but merely, more aware of the difference in temperature. As you come up from the Metro, you will feel it blowing on the back of your neck, a temptation and an invasion on an intimate part.

That is how it started.

~

The first was in a glance as she tugged me onto her bed, a chaste peck on the lips heralding the thinness of the walls of her host family and suddenly I was back in high school but better, stronger, more confident and cocky in my gait and in my mind. I had never been to her house, the smells and sights alien and intoxicating in my throat. I held my breath as I sank into her with two fingers, withdrawing once more at the mocking creak of the bedsprings and paranoia of the movement of the door. The awareness of the movement and sway of the world outside pained me, aching in the chest and soles of my feet.

Ominous bodies, amorphous and rendered grotesque by the stained glass windows of her French doors, milled outside like encroaching nightmares and I gasped into the pinkness of her body. She gave herself to me in bits and pieces, in chipped mugs of coffee and postcards I would later resolve to give back filled with words. I would relegate them to the back of a drawer and find them years later, wondering who, and where, they had come from. (I write this now so I will write her one in the morning, over tea.)

I kissed her on the eyelids and felt her gaze flutter beneath my embrace, and in a moment, we shuddered in tandem on a bowed, used bed full of crumbs.

~~

The second unsatisfied beginning, curled and smoldering on the shelves of a library we did not belong to. We snuck in the back and brazenly left out the front doors. In the interim, I fucked her in the biography section in the basement, giddy and illicit as Anxiety and Affluence tumbled from the shelves. “A study of power in the Depression…” burbling onto my eyes, her yes, two fingers tearing a hole in her tights, craning up upon her thigh and inside, snagging merino wool cardigans and knitted scarves against the craggy concrete wall and the adoration of apathy toward it all. Yes, she said. Yes, I gave.

Undeterred, I kneeled and paid respect, to the words falling at my feet, to the expanse of whiteness and the pulse of warmth. She gazed ahead and sighed, the cream of her body falling toward me in the slowest and slightest of motions. Theodore Roosevelt, Vanderbilt, powerful men reduced to ink and pulp fell down from the shelves, and only when they were down did I realize they were there.

~~~

Sitting on a train to the airport, the last beginning knitted us inseparable, small indicators passed back and forth to the pulse of hand squeezes and shared sweaters. The most abrupt beginning started with an impulse, a concept, whirled into the air and scribbled onto a small piece of paper that would later be tucked into the breast pocket of a jacket right above her heart. She whispered something in my ear, muffled by the motion of the train hurtling toward finality and the raucous Edith Piaf blaring from the musicians in the next car over.

I didn’t hear what she told me.

Lately when I dream of her, I am strangely roused from my sleep—bloody nose, Blue Oyster Cult, raindrops falling from a window blown open. In my dreams (or are they nightmares?) I try to piece together what she said and never come up with what it is that I want to hear. It’s a sick self-fulfilling prophecy of Coppola films and travelogues wrapped up in pithy glances and sleepy Sundays. I hate it and I love it and I need it and crave it when it is gone, (although life is long, she says) my breath will go short and my tongue sour and I will feel the chilly face of the true indifference of the world. Already, she is moving on to what she knows and my audacity is a mere novelty in the face of grander goals. Who am I to wrench her from familiarity and enjoyment, to stain the fabric of a universe she loves?

When the scuffed boot, the lukewarm mug of tea, the compel of gravity causes the books to tumble from the shelves, eventually, won’t our affection abruptly cut short? Won’t we, in time, find things to hate?

I ask these questions to myself late at night, when I cannot sleep, but my lips shape words of sweet, quiet affection and more and more, I find it easy to say to you, I love. It is with this ease that I move forward, to whatever this new year heralds. Three unsatisfied beginnings bloom to an ending of possibilities and intrigue.

C.

Breukelen and Mainhatten Under our Shivering Feet.

Once upon a time, two women fled the country. We plotted and planned and took up three rows of a bus headed to the Netherlands, overnighter in hand.

We started with our names and cast them aside, if only for a beat, exchanging the rote of Starbucks scrawls and initial necklaces for foreign clumsiness on our tongue, Jack and Jade.

We were strangers, now, but for the pattern of our fingers on our skin and the hot, sweet smell of coffee on our tongues.

Once upon a time, in a beautiful, scarred country, we left Paris and didn’t look back, our overnighter clunking down dark metro stairs and sticking on errant cobblestones.

We intertwined our fingers and let the rails take us away.

It was evening on the countryside, fluorescent inside the train, lights flickering over each hilly knoll and rocky patch along the tracks. She read her book, I listened to music, melancholy raindrops punctuating each throb of the drums, wail of guitars. I had forgotten what a pleasure it was to sit and watch, to exist without doing and remain in transit all the same. A body in motion stays in motion, hurtling through space and international lines just the same. Within the blink of an eye, you can disappear.

She took me in the shower, her face screwed up with lust, with fear. The soap trickled down my legs and onto the floor, pooling, crudding as we rutted ourselves clean. The sheets were sullied with our lovemaking, the room puddled with our socks and disheveled clothing. In the morning, I sank my teeth into raspberry pie and thanked God for still days and the canals beneath my feet, and I resolved to let things come a little slower.

My shoulder was an embankment for her soft hair, and we trailed back into Paris in the deathly chill of the night, awaking in the morning as though it had never happened, but for the tulips in our hands and dirt under our fingernails.

Everything means nothing to me and other stories of 90’s heartbreak.

In retrospect, it was a fairly cruel song to play at the time. In retrospect, the entirety of the evening was centered around cruelty, the nastiness of two 90’s kids nostalgic for their playlists and slap bracelets and fakeouts. The Connection came at 9 on the dot. I told her she was late despite that we’d preorchestrated it in advance. She was my callgirl, I was her John. Her name was Jade (the name of my kitten back home in another life in another time) and I fucked her anonymously, lazily, it was seedy and painful and cruel. The cruelty was what she wanted and because I was not myself (I do not know when I have been more not myself) I felt content with indulging it. But after when I confessed what was on my mind the cruelty was real, and it hurt me ached deep inside of my chest more than slapping her tits, throwing a $20 at her, ever did. I could tell that what I did reverberated through her skin and shudders and

I felt like a bad person.

Like a bad guy, like baseness and nothing special. Garden-variety mean, the dull kind that doesn’t even make you think, the kind that just reverberates meanness. I held her and told her I was sorry. In another time, in another place, we wouldn’t have looked at each other on the street. God only knows that we’d passed each other on the worn streets and snow-crusted sidewalks in an evening, illuminated for a pop of a second under the knitbombed streetlights plastered with advertisements. But in Paris, we were found and entwined and then,

We had to stop, for a moment, forever.

She says we don’t have to I say we don’t have to all the don’t have tos in the world can’t stop the irrevocable hurtle of time and of girlfriends on the motivation and tenacity of a human mind but damn it, the curve of her shoulder blades puppy teeth fingernails is enough to momentarily stop it all, isn’t it? Freeze time and cut to the credits so we can see what’s happened, fast-forward and skip a song. Isn’t that what it’s all about, the physical recognition of necessity as both a concept and a manifestation, the scientific name for the point in time when the recognition of wanting someone occurs, not nearly bold enough to be considered an epiphany but better than just a fucking realization, the moment where you stop being a footnote or a reference in a back chapter of someone’s story somewhere but a presence in a life, pages, chapters, breathless streams of whispered words?

That is what it is all about and that is why it hurts.

I can picture her walking out and yet she’s still here even after I tugged at the back of her hair and played Lovefool (love me love me say that you love me) and the sheer stupidity, the cusp of our dying childhood and burgeoning separation. 1996, she said, was the end of anonymity and the beginning of the grand age of technology and internet. Without 1996, we wouldn’t exist as we are, we’d be wounded little girls trapped in time and grasping at the feeble connections afforded to us by our sufficient backgrounds and Hula Hoops of social circles. Without 1996 the burden shouldered with disappearance could make sense, draw the pain out less than clicking through a Facebook in the middle of the night.

But we are lucky.

Aren’t we?

We weren’t girls together but we were women in the same bed and that counts for just as much as all of the books we read and songs we listen to, and Paris has seen us stripped bare and sobbing and remained, stolid, capable of holding secrets, and present amidst it all, and really, isn’t that all? Isn’t it? Lenny Kravitz and heartbreak. My questions ring out in the dead of the night, harsh little screams and yelps to myself and to the vast ocean of anonymity lost.

The 90’s encapsulated this rumination of loss upon our psyches, our poor little souls ravished by Disney films and happy endings the harshness ensured us might not come. Our love laments set to a steady cadence of a drum machine, our emotions laid out on the table like a deck of cards. This laptop could just as easily be an issue of Discovery Girls and we could just as easily be suspended in forever 2002, forever the 6th grade as I check my horoscope for a glimpse into what can come. (Do you want to kiss?) I want the blow to be softened. We, the special generation makes itself feel better by talking about it, but even after we’ve spent an hour on the garish new red bedspread I can’t even fathom a recovery outside of the scope of lyrical comfort.

Q: What’s going to happen when I leave?

A: Nothing.

That’s what scares you the most, the infinitesimally small changes that seem so large to you, mere drops in the endless river of Paris. Your departure doesn’t matter, whether you languish another night in an abandoned luxury apartment or retire to your cramped efficiency six flights up, you are still lying motionless on the floor in a blanket and nobody will ever know.

-C.

Lovemaking in three acts.

I.          I whispered what I’d thought (in so few words) and she thrust into me with a bang, her hand exploding inside of me, blooming fluorescently as though I was struck. In the mirror, I could see the rain stop, reflecting my life in fragments across the apartment. The x-ray of my lungs is still pasted on the window, pale and sun-stained, the organs appear to drip and heave as did my own. With each thrust, I panted. She socked me in the stomach as I looked her in the eye. The pain was sour in my mouth, each blow a hit of endorphins to my nervous system. We held each other closely and pushed each other away, my cunt desperately clinging to her hand.

And suddenly I am in the air and clutching her tight as I spasm around her, looking her in the eye and I am laughing loudly, too loudly for this room or for this apartment building, for this tiny arrondissement and street. I laugh because I bought us lychees, because we shared a croissant, because it ends too soon and starts too late. My heart beats in the heart of the city and I laugh, even though I know it will soon turn into tears dripping down my face and into the hollow of my breasts, crying but from her palm on my stomach, fretful, yet still. Her eyes worried for a moment above me and she slid out, slick on my sheets, holding me as I wept before taking me once more. We were not done.

II.        I cracked the lychees over the sink, memories from my childhood (Yann Tiersen, piano melancholy) softly soothing the edges of the background. Snow billows in the window and beats against the shades. I can feel goosebumps prickle on my exposed skin, warm and red and covered in the feathering of handprints from where she has left her mark. The breath leaves me in a whoosh as she kicks me, hard, in the stomach, and stars float into my eyes. Maybe snowflakes.

I scream into the ether and demand how I got so lucky, and my response is a wordless slam, my head falling back on the mattress. Luck has everything to do with it. She is relentless, athletically lithe in her pursuit and I am a machine, a part of a greater whole and a greater function than just the pumping of blood through a worn body. I feel and exist in segments and thrusts, and my yelps are punctuated by the sneer of exertion, my lover.

I know that I will never eat lychees again back home, and after the storm, I feed her one translucent petal at a time as the keys click in my neighbor’s door.

III.       I’d never been spanked with a Bret Easton Ellis novel, but there’s a first time for everything. It didn’t hurt as much as I expected, but I could feel the cut and wit of the pages as she slapped me from behind. When she touches me, I cease to think, like her fingers are magnets interrupting my internal circuitry. She electrifies and mollifies and I collapse in her arms as she fucks me raw. I look dumbly over to the trash can, which holds her pubic hair, lychee shells, and newspaper, and cry out, once. It pains me to think, and so, I bleat.

There is no sensation as pure or as linear as the build-up to an orgasm, not the sensuality of raw tea nor the smell of clean rain or autumnal smoke, the absence of senses renders it clear, sharp on the tongue and aching in the loins. I am bleeding around her wrist circuitously like a cuff bracelet. It is with this in mind that I clench around her and come, small, dirty, filthy orgasms where I bury my head of the pillow and wonder, if she stabbed me, if I’d move.

Atmosphere.

My only concept of time was the light of dusk, creeping across her face like a veil as the hours slipped by, dramatically highlighting and rendering stark the softness I touched. Intimidating on equal footing, but downright terrifying incapacitated on the bed, bound by electrical tape and a spellbinding gaze, she became otherworldly, blue as the sky above.

Later, we would talk about the moon in metaphors as the orb, unusually bright, watched us hurtle across the sky. So much negative space, so dark and vast that the moon almost appeared to be a small tear in the curtain, a peek out into the light and consuming brightness of perfection, taunting us from above in an endless cycle of redemption and rejection. My life is bitter with thy love to inhale Paris consumes the soul to thee I sing, I whispered the words of others before me into her ears as she spoke of riding in the backseat of a car as a child, followed by the moon, tattoos, bamboo, and I lost myself in the quiet of the night.

“I don’t mind getting lost.”

“Well, it seems like you like being found, too.”

Two days ago, a classmate and I were shivering in the wind of Saint-Malo, on the beach as the masts of the yachts and ships, boarded for the winter, intoned a ghostly rhythm unto the dark of the night. Our words were punctuated by its high-pitched whine. It’s not that I don’t like The Traveler, it’s that, in name as well as personality, he reminds me of my father and I like to think of myself as more than a cliché, a little better than that. I distance myself but he keeps coming back. What I feel for him is the same begrudging affection I feel for most men, the wisdom of hindsight forever keeping me careful of how hard I laugh and how long I gaze.

What he said stopped me in my tracks. I considered leaping into the sea—“Who’s lost now?” and never coming back, an impressive gesture for nobody to see. I considered kissing him, tossing away my principles like a handful of sand into the inky black, because secretly, I wish that my words were so pithy and succinct that someone would do that with me.

Instead, I walked back to the hotel. Got high and drank Pernod, held a baguette in between my legs and bit off the top. Bawdy butch. Rowdy butch. Butch of the night, of the sleet, of the wool and water, of the Baskervilles and hills of France. I walked to the beach alone and screamed into the vast, and in the end, all that came back was the sound of my own voice.

She sat on my face and enveloped me in her pussy, laughed in my ear as I struggled for breath. Each orgasm only feels as good as the last, and with every sensation felt in an instant, I can feel a little bit of myself dull each time, that ache in my stomach forcing me to crave more in the next encounter, and the next, and the one after that.

“Tell me something I don’t know about you already.”

“I can’t have an orgasm,” I told the moon, pure and clean, “as hard and as intense if I’m being fucked tenderly.”

Insatiable, I say, and she slaps me in the face. Bombastic, I yell, and she shoves her fingers down my throat, pushing back hubris, aloof, power-hungry, the sweet heat of her hand and bite of her nails quelling the darkness of angry, impassive, absurd, futile and I come hard and fast, gagging and fighting it.

There is no moral to the story, only words on a page for you to decipher. Hedonism loved and lost, the sweetest regret in a city of two million people.