life as i know it

Chapter Fifteen – Reality Check

I like to present myself as a smart-ass, a cynic of sorts, like I have seen and done it all. It feels like swagger. I am acutely aware this is a front, yet I still very much like it. I do not like to face that I am in fact a hopeful optimist. It does not go along with most of my beliefs or mottos. I truly do think that people are capable of the worst and Hobbesian in nature. I cannot however shake the overpowering gut reflex that makes me believe that people strive to be good. This striving is not instinctive; it does not come naturally. Yet there is something to be said about guilt. It would not be there if we did not, as individuals who take part in social relations, strive to be good people. There would be no such thing as remorse. Yet there is, and time and time again we regret not having been better people. We regret having lied, played games or succumbed to the easy way out—which by the way most often ends up being really complicated.

I have to stop here to exclude sociopaths and psychopaths and the likes, but also just mere and simple assholes. Some of us, clinically or otherwise, are simply incapable of being good, or have no intention of it. It is therefore also difficult for the rest of us to tell between the true assholes and the accidental ones. The ones that were that to you, at that moment, because they were too weak or did not know any better. I like that I still believe in people. I like that I have difficulty believing (accepting?) that some people are true assholes. I am afraid off course that it will ruin me. Do not misunderstand: I am a pretty good judge of creepers, thieves and generally badly intentioned strangers. I am afraid of misjudging the ones close to me, mostly men. How much understanding is healthy and necessary for the betterment of humankind? How much is simply naïveté or delusion?


We were in the crowd. His hand grazed mine, moving on to hover over my ass, up my arm and past my breast. We were surrounded by people who could not ever know what was about to happen. He grabbed my hand, hiding it ever so subtly away from curious eyes. He looked at me intensely, in split seconds. Next thing I know, his hand, the one grabbing me in the club, was down my pants, into my underwear. The transgressing hand knew exactly what to do. I held on to the sink in the handicapped stall we were in, like my life depended on it. And it somewhat did. No one had touched me like that since I had had my heart broken. No one had wanted me that intently. No one had, for better or for worse, crossed lines and taken risks for me. His kisses were intense and profound. He bit at my shoulder and shoved and pulled. I almost fell to my knees. I think I was screaming; it felt like I was. It was about 3a.m. and we needed to get back to catch the last bus. As we squeezed ourselves out of reality, maneuvering the cornerstones of our daily routines, we somehow ended up in bed. We had been so aroused by the many obstacles to this inevitable outcome that the scene entered into an alternate world. This world was a place where the wrong thing was the right thing. This place allowed for the expression of deepest, darkest desires coming into existence. Something we had both secretly been starving for so long, occurred. He was deep inside me, both through his intense gaze and literally. I wanted all of him. I wanted to feel him revel in me, like I was reveling in him. We had been but estranged fantasies up until that night. The intensity was feeding my addiction and I lost myself.

The next morning I wanted more, and more and more. The addiction was taking over me yet again. He had obligations to attend to. Real life needed us both back. It dawned on me after I closed the door on him that I had done it again. For someone who is so loyal, and bent up on her own principles, I had allowed someone to break the very rules I stood by. I would never cheat. I have never cheated. I have been cheated on, and never let it shake my trust in faithfulness. Yet it was not the first time I had made someone a cheater. I generally avoid pursuing taken men. I am not a home-wrecker. I do not however have scruples sleeping with men who intently and actively pursue me, no matter their status. The tension between these two facts is hard to qualify. I am a free agent, and as such can do whatever the heck I want. If they show no guilt in the immorality of their actions, why should I? I have never pursued a man who was taken and committed. I have conversely dragged back into my bed men that had cheated on their girlfriends with me previously. They had shown no remorse. That is how I explain my ethics to myself. It is important to note here I am not talking about married men. I do not know why it makes a difference to me, maybe I still believe in some remnants of the institution, but I will not knowingly sleep with a married man.

Now I do not know whether he had cheated before or whether he would again. I do not care. I know what he was for me: an escape. He was the distraction I needed. It is highly likely that it was mutual in that aspect. Nevertheless it does not matter to me to know whether he, or any other person that has cheated with me, is an accidental or a true asshole. I would never consider them worthy of my time, love and affection. They did not strive to be good; they never apologized for doing their doings. They wanted more. They thought because I had moments where I needed things like them, I was approving of their moral etiquette. Well, I am not. Mostly I needed an asshole to show the strength I had wanted from the men I did care about, and in some sense I needed to be an asshole myself. Here’s a toast to the douchebags: you come in handy sometimes. Thanks for that. Yet I know that that was a decision I was making consciously, a defense mechanism I was performing. I know the strength, or balls that these men displayed were but fake appearances, a beautiful masquerade.

This is all to say that it is very easy, and sometimes necessary to be an asshole, accidental or otherwise. What is easy though is not what is real. Life is messy, complicated, difficult and senseless. Life is about contradictions and tension. I was with cheaters when I needed strength for myself, when I need to be reinsured in my capabilities, in my attractiveness, in my worthiness. Isn’t it strange how those sexcapades never do quite accomplish anything other than distraction? I did not feel better inherently; they did not help me become anything other than who I already was. I just got to turn off my brain for a while, live in the moment, forget. When it all came back rushing into my head, I had renewed my energy. I had given myself the strength I needed for myself. This is why I think no one is ever responsible for anything other than themselves. You are only ever as strong as you chose to be. So love yourself. Take care of yourself. Do the wrong thing that is the right thing. But strive to be good, strive to be proud of the person that you are: because you only ever get to be yourself.

Chapter Fourteen – Let’s Talk Numbers

“Seriously though, you’ve slept with two people in your entire life! You aren’t happy in this relationship. How do you think this is going to play out? Are you going to have children and get married and finish school with this guy who is already driving you crazy and hurting you? You need to get out there!!! Two people?!?”

This was my great and insightful input into Devi’s personal crisis a few years ago. I mean I cannot fathom the idea of getting to be twenty-four and having had two very long and very serious relationships compose all of my sexual experience. At that point, even Angie said: “Well yeah, two seems so little. But chica, whatever makes you happy, we love you and will support you!” She was always much more diplomatic than I ever will be. I kept thinking of the shame it was! Devi is an amazing girl. She is tall, gorgeous and smart. She commands attention and most importantly she is freaking hilarious. What a catch! I get how the men in her life would want to keep her around. I do not get how she got stuck with them. To be in a relationship is a fantastic feeling, and sure I have had my moments of daydream, with the children and the beautiful life ahead of us with a couple of men. Those dissipated with a single touch of reality. This is why I had a hard time relating to Devi’s decision making. I could not seriously think she was considering spending the rest of her life without having tried what is out there, without any comparison. It just seemed like blind trust, or fear of being alone, or naivety. She never struck me as a hopeless romantic either- she is quite the realist. In any case, she left the guy and got into another, happier serious relationship shortly after. Some people are made for that I guess.

Yet that fight between Devi and her ex sparked a most interesting conversation between the girls and I. “What is your number?” I asked Angie. It seems like the question of our time when it comes to sexual morals and acceptable behavior. It is a question that surfaces into my life time and time again, across various cultures, religions, languages and oceans. What is your number? What is the appropriate number? What makes it usually more acceptable for men to have higher numbers? What do we do with women with morally unacceptably high numbers? This seemed to be on everyone’s minds. Women ten years older than me were struggling with it worse than I did I think. One of my friends in Belgrade brought it up around the dinner table in front of our respective families. She was just telling us a story about how funny it was that every man wanted to know. “I tell every single one of them that they’re the second one.” The second one in Serbian also means the other one, which gives it an air of affair and misconduct that is ever so attractive. She said it further took away the pressure of being the first without leaving a second-hand taste in their mouths. She clearly spent a lot of time bargaining with herself. Being in your thirties, single and childless in Serbia renders you pretty much irrelevant even in our day and age. Let me just say that I do not envy her position.

Angie started counting and so did I. Angie was probably at the average number I would say. Above ten, but way below thirty. She had had more flings than serious relationships. The only time I had ever known her to be committed was with Peter. In any case, I kept listing and listing… It took me three days to come up with a definitive number and not without help. I was at twenty-eight. The girls and I agreed a “dirty thirty” party was imminent and necessary. You know with penis-shaped paraphernalia, best and worst recounting, etc. That party never happened. #29 turned out to last quite some time and fuck with my head more than I expected. He permeated all sides of my life with drama. Some guys are like that, due to little fault of their own even. They fail to or miscalculate every single one of their own moves to the point where their baggage and intentions and story start looking like a web of crap, tangled in dramaturgy and need, wrapping you up until you lose sight of who you are and hate the person that you have inadvertently become. The point here is plans are quite useless and rarely come to fruition.

My number has not stopped increasing since. At times it gives me vertigo. Reminiscing over my experiences makes me smile, and cry at times, but I feel they are part of the riches I will always have as my own. No regrets, remember? I still struggle with understanding our society with regards to this. My male friends who know this about me keep saying they would hate me if I were a dude. They ascertain that the facility with which I “pick up” is all they ever wanted. Yet they make sure to also repeat their reluctance to dating girls like me. What is this bullshit double standard? You want a lady in the streets, but a freak in the sheets. You want to be “the second one.” You want to have someone who knows her way around life, but is innocent enough for you never to feel threatened by her, I told them. Awkward silence and guilty looks were always exchanged at this point. My guy friends recognized the logical validity of my points, yet were unable to translate it into their desires and behavior. I really do not think of myself as much of a feminist, if at all. Nevertheless the manner in which men respond to my being a “women with the morals of a man” appalls me. It is 2013 people. The mottos of our society is fulfill your individualism, maximize your potential, live your dreams. How is it then that sleeping around, taking full advantage of the pleasures of life, eating, drinking, smoking and sex is so morally reprimanded? I am not talking about excess to the point of illness. I am talking about healthy, responsible, consensual and sensual pleasures. I refuse to believe that I would need to give any of these up for a “man.” Yet I still believe in love. The right women-respecting, confident, intelligent man-slut must come around for me. And he will.

I say he has to be a man-slut not to be offended by my baggage. I may be wrong. At this point of my life however, having little emotional baggage but a large number of sexual partners seems to be a disadvantage in the quest for true love. Yes, because my knowing more moves than others and being upfront about sex is definitely harder to handle in a relationship than a lunatic ex-girlfriend, or confused unresolved emotional issues. Sure. I’ll buy that. In any case, #30 turned out to be quite memorable, as you already know, and I think that was party enough for me. It reminds me that I never did install a mirror on my ceiling like I had planned. Am I afraid of people judging me if I did? Perhaps. Oh how hypocrisy rears its ugly head. Even I cannot refrain from hiding my inner slut from the public. Slut is the wrong word, I know. We just do not have a word for “girls like me”, yet. Maybe then I will get to have my sex mirror, and be proud of it. When language and society permit it.

Chapter Thirteen – A Little Bit Of TLC

The thing about being fantastically good at being on one’s own is that reaching out becomes ridiculous. It becomes a sign of weakness, not viable. Sitting on my couch, sobbing compulsively, there is no one I want to call, no one who will not be inconvenienced by my sudden need of empathy. Of course they would understand. Of course it happens to everybody. The thing is, when you are the strong one, it is more than counterintuitive—it is unfeasible. The help that I need, it needs to come without me asking for it. I need someone who wants to care and support and carry me when I need it, even if those moments are indeed rare.

One night a few years ago, I got unbelievably drunk. I was having a great time and needed an escape from the stress, from the responsibilities. I ignored that moment, that shot I should not have taken. The greatest thing happened. I woke up utterly unaware of how I had gotten home. I was fully dressed, rightfully tucked in the utmost peaceful sleeping position and gently covered. I thought there is no way I put my own self to sleep like this. If I had come home alone, I would be sprawled sideways, totally naked and disheveled. I called my friend with the ever-so pleasant question: “what the fuck happened last night?”

–       Funny you should ask, I’m walking with your knight and shining armor as we speak. Wanna talk to him?

–       Yes… Wait, do I? Hello?

–       Hi.

–       Hi?

–       How’s the head my dear?

–       Oh, hey Tim*! Thank you so much for last night. I’m so sorry I got so drunk!!! * insert best embarrassed apologetic tone *

–       That’s really ok. Happens to the best of us. We should grab coffee later- maybe I can enlighten you on some things.

–       Yes, that would be lovely. Thanks again.

It only dawned on me then that I had put a target on Tim’s head half way through the night. I was going home with him, whether he was aware of that or not. Unfortunately, I ended up being the unaware one. He confessed to me later that day we had had great fun. I made him storm the stage where a band was playing, and run out wildly through the fire exit of the club. It was one of those typical Christine kind-of nights. He took me home and I fell asleep in the cab. I was so drunk he had to, as the perfect gentleman, resort to simply tucking me in. It was the gentlest anyone had been with me in a while. It compared with Joe’s hand gesture.

It was a grand gesture, utterly unexpected and exceedingly welcome. We eventually did sleep together, and it was as unpredicted. We had known each other for so long, and it had never crossed our minds before. We were not very close prior to that night, but gravitated in the same circles. He told me he had always thought of me as “so much older and professional.” I will never forget his exact words. He was older than me. I was a bartender. It seemed so unlikely to me that those would be the words he would choose to describe me. Now it resonates with my self-description as the strong one. Yet there is that contradicting side of me that made him do all those things, that person that I used to be much more often when I was younger.

That night I met a girl who would soon become someone very dear to me, Alicia*. She was my partner in crime that night, and so often since. She makes me do shots, even if reluctantly. I bring out the smoker and German-speaker in her. She is my sounding board so often and I will never be able to thank her enough for that.  She never judges me. There are people in your life that just comfort you about the state of humanity. She is one of those people. Her support is one I never need to ask for.

I think that is partly why I do not understand people who think they can get all that they need from one person. It just does not seem possible. Love should come from all around you- from every single person in your life. Attention-seekers like me cannot be satisfied by one and only person. I need people like Alicia to ask me what is going on in my life with no agenda. I need people like Tim who are genuinely kind. Your special someone gets a special kind of love, one that is more passionate, sexual, but also more volatile and complicated. That love is the one that can turn to hate. The love I share with my friends is stable as a rock. The simple reminder of this helps me stop sobbing, when I am having a crisis on my couch, strangled by loneliness. I remember my favorite girls and boys and all that they do, have done and continue to do—simply because we love each other. But enough with the cheese now. Love is necessary for life. And so is a big, hard penis when you need one. 

Chapter Twelve – The Way Back

I see myself as a misfit in the loner department. I like being alone. I travel best alone. I need time on my own to feel sane and compartmentalize my emotions, to hear myself think. Yet I am an extreme extrovert. I need people around me. I like to talk and laugh and dance and cry and drink. I love sleeping next to someone. It makes me feel that there is something in the universe stronger than me. I long for that feeling of unity, especially when it comes from the lonesome actions, like sleeping. That is the perfect combination of those two sides of me. They are difficult to mediate, specifically when I try to rationalize them. They usually coexist in me, taking turns in governing my actions and thoughts. This is why I have great friends and I would give them the world. I need them. They also know I need to be outside of the group at times. They know to let me live as the electron that depends and revolves around the centre, yet has a life of its own. They accept me as who I am, even though I sometimes have impulses to send them all to hell and run as far away as I can. They probably share that impulse towards me quite often.

Imagine the problem then when I like someone. Like truly, deeply, like them. I am torn between the need to be myself—that need for independence—and my love of love. I become addicted to the intensity of the feeling of being in love. I become another version of myself, the extrovert at its epitome. My heart then explodes into millions of sparkly pieces when I reach the state of perfect unity in lonesomeness. That state is however very fickle, and extremely difficult to achieve, because it involves two people being in perfect sync. When does that ever happen, you ask? And you are right to. Almost never. But sometimes, some wonderful times, the stars align and nothing compares. The rest of my life I spend longing for those moments, those feelings, bargaining solitude and suffocating togetherness. Most of the time I choose to be alone in crowded rooms. That is the red thread of my life.

As always however, bargaining with yourself is highly unpleasant. It is compromising your gut feeling, feeling sorry for yourself and painting extraordinary pictures that are but faintly based in reality, all at the same time. People are happiest when they face who they truly are as a person and stop bargaining. When you are truly honest with yourself, nothing can touch you—except for that which is stronger, greater than you. As I was sitting on the patio in Croatia, drinking and dwelling in my heartbreak, I felt unworthy. I felt that something, the Gods or the stars had sent me a sign that I did not deserve the good, the love that I had felt, so they pulled the rug from under me. And as my head collapsed onto the hard concrete, instead of caring for and soothing myself, my subconscious said think about what you did there, as if I had any influence on other people’s emotions. You can call it sudbina—I started writing this memoir. I started telling you my story. Maybe I was not unworthy of that relationship, maybe I was worthy of the words that needed to be written. It makes me laugh how shortsighted human beings are. Greater purpose is retroactive, when it is not sarcastic.

Yet here I am, in a much less romantic setting, with my coffee frapuccino and yet another cigarette, pondering the same question. Is the Inexplicable Man someone with a greater purpose in my life? His fickleness set me aback, but sprung me forward. He loved me. He loves me? Will I ever know? Can you trust someone who let you down and betrayed themselves? These are not rhetorical questions: they are real. I believe everyone deserves a second chance. I also believe people who give third chances just enjoy being shat on the head. That is their decision. Still second chances are tricky. Why would I give up on someone for a simple mistake, that they in fact needed to make to ensure it was indeed a mistake? Alright so I do not judge him for his actions, but can we ever go back? What happens when the desire for something big comes from something too small- someone too fickle? Is it ever too little, too late in matters of the heart? I cannot let myself be the kind of person that gives up on something potentially great because it might fail. I want to follow my gut feeling. The problem is, when I like someone, my addiction to the intensity, my addiction to butterflies usually takes the lead. And when the feeling has been compromised, the electron in me wants to keep spinning, never stops thinking.

I am giving him a second chance and as I do so, I am forced to reconsider the choices I have made up until now. And by forced I mean my fucked-up over-thinking-crazed brain is unable to stop itself. What made me, on one of my last days in Europe that summer, accept a breakfast invitation with the one man who had many years previous, also left me for his ex? I bumped into Damir* one night in my hometown and he insisted we catch up in the next couple of days. We had dated for a week a very long time ago. I never even had sex with him. We did however dance in deserted streets to music that existed only in our heads. We had held hands walking and exchanging the most magnificent words. He was a musician and a master of words. Not in the sense I think about words now, but in a poetic sense. His messages to me were art, quite simply. Unfortunately, he had that baggage that came back to get him. I only realized the parallels between my brief fling with Damir and my situation with Mr. Inexplicable half way through breakfast. I burst out laughing in my head. Of course, I would choose to see this man, who I adore to this day, at the same time as contemplating forgiveness and second chances in my current dilemma. The irony was overwhelming.

I made a lot of strange choices that summer, while processing the heartbreak and the meanings of my life path up to that point. Many of the situations I found myself in were highly morally questionable, if not outright wrong. Self-defense, self-reassurance or identity building, or whatever it was. I regret none of them. I wanted more, and maybe I still do. It was me searching for that intensity, for that connection that was lost and I was missing. And now, the frappucino has become a glass of wine, and I am offered that connection back. Yes, it has been compromised; it is not the same. But isn’t that what I had been doing all along, compromising, bargaining? Oh well, this connection is honest; all cards are on the table. There might be too many, and I might not know which game to play, but it is our game. I have played excessive amounts of cards that were not even mine to begin with. It is time to start writing my own rules, in chalk, with question marks at the end, and a wet cloth always at hand. At least they will be mine, part of the story.

Chapter Eleven – On The Road

All I really have to tell are stories of sex, alcohol, questioning and travel. Maybe some are about love, but I know very little about love. This one is about travel. If you ever have the chance to pack up your shit and leave, for the purpose of discovery not flight, do it. Do it, do it, do it. There is nothing quite like being on your own, on an unknown side of the planet, watching yourself having the time of your life, as if through an external camera shot. Did that really happen to me? Some memories remain in my heart with something of a foreign quality to them, not quite mine. I feel that travelling does that. Every time I say: “when I was living in Argentina,” I feel that way. The memory enters a deeper, less conscious part of my brain and lives untouched until something new and specific jolts it back to life. It never becomes quite as clear as it was. The words are lost, the names and precise places are irrelevant. Colors and smells stay. Feelings, emotions never leave me. They are the stepping-stones to the creation of the being that I am now, in even the slightest of ways.

Before my big gap year around the world I felt that wanderlust. I had itchy feet. After the trip, I was addicted. I never quite understand how people are satisfied with settling, or being settled. I can never comprehend for the first little while home, how people have stagnated, whilst I was off adventuring. At first I felt privileged, to having been given the opportunity to explore, which lead me to feel sad for the people who could not afford to. Later I started to feel that it was almost somewhat of a duty, to force yourself to exit your comfort zone to discover who you can truly be. I am still conflicted between the humility demanded of my lucky situation and my anger towards the people that I feel, are just being lazy. I understand it is not something anyone can just do, pick up and leave. Yet I still feel frustrated with people who do not even try. I think it is something that some people maybe are. Some people are sedentary, others vagabonds. Others are something other still.

My wanders seem to have harmed me in ways that improved me. I am not sure this makes any sense to you so I am going to try to explain myself. I have come to realize a certain pattern between my unhappy love life and my exhilarating life as a person- the single unit. I think I am addicted to intensity. This leads me to try and surpass myself time and time again, pushing my boundaries and self-reflecting on their mere existence. However it shows to be harmful in that I lack some sort of patience nowadays. Things have to be all or nothing, or I lose interest very quickly. I think this is a by-product of the life on the road. In that life, you have to make split-second decisions, judgment calls that you stick to. You can be wrong or right, you always know where the choice came from. When you enter a dark alleyway, or follow a complete stranger to a remote place, you never have the time to make an informed decision. You follow your gut. I think that is partly why I find it hard to relate to sedentary people who stick to the safety of their comfort zones. Luckily, my gut most often led me to incredibly wonderful experiences. A few times I was disappointed, but fortunately for now, nothing bad ever happened to me.

Coming home again can therefore also be very unsettling. It feels foreign, same but different. Everything looks just as you left it, but it feels different, as if it had been moved just a couple of inches, when most often it is only me that has changed. I have known many people who confessed to having that same feeling upon coming home, time and time again. It raises the question of what actually changes in your self, whilst travelling. I think a lot of it is linked to that different part of your brain that you activated on the road. Now the settlers are maybe incapable of such thinking and hence sedentary. Maybe not everyone is capable of following their gut, or knows no such feeling, and so they are terrified of the idea of relying on it. I think it is a bit of both. I am good at travelling and connecting because I travelled, and I travelled because I am good at those things. I need the human connection in a way that not everyone does. I think you also need to not be afraid of wasting time, which goes so unnaturally with our current values’ system.

There is a very deep and important concept in my culture called Sudbina. It is, if you will, destiny. Not the kind of pre-destined religious crap people use to absolve themselves of guilt. It is the kind that leads you to where you are, no matter how slim the chances were. When something incredulous happens, often tied to impossible timing, you blame or thank sudbina. There is some sort of reason for your experiencing this precise occurrence and you are supposed to learn the moral some day, if not immediately. I like that concept. It helps me when I fuck up. See if I get on the wrong bus, or get lost, and lose a lot of our oh-so-precious time, I think to myself: Well there was something on the “right” path that was not “right” for me to experience today. It gives me comfort, and I lose my temper just a little bit less. I try to do that with failed relationships, unfortunately it does not hold up so well against the pit-bull inside me.

Anyhow sudbina and the gut feeling could appear to be contradictory. I disagree. I think they are both coping mechanisms for a life that can appear or feel senseless. But that life is so full of magic that you just need to stop and look at it. That day on that boat looking over the river, that day making love in that car in the middle of a field with a complete stranger, that day when he hugged me and I could not breathe by myself any longer, that day driving that boat as fast as it could go… All of those memories do not serve a “purpose” per se. I cannot put them on my resume. They led me nowhere further then that moment. That is what is magical about them. They are their own riches. My riches. Forever the things I did that made me feel that I was doing the most I could out of life, and I was exactly where I was meant to be.


Chapter Ten – The Exception To The Rule

It was one of those groggy mornings. My head was pounding. I was extremely thirsty. I could not for the life of me remember how the hell I got home. Then I felt something, someone move next to me. Oh right. The pool. I remember making out topless in the pool. There were people around. It was one of those nights at the pub when half of the staff was out drinking. I finished my shift early and joined them. We never paid for a single drink there. It was the most cost-effective, ridiculously messy way to spend our evenings. That particular night there was a few new people. Andrew* had come out with our friend Elaine*. They both worked at my pub. I was really close with her; him I had only shared a couple of shifts with. They were out with some of their friends, all headed to some guy’s house after the pub. His parents’ house was only down the road. They were gone on holiday and so he was throwing a pool party.

Andrew convinced him that I was a respectable human being and that I should also be invited. So we all went. The respectable part of me had unfortunately decided to go on sabbatical that evening. Amongst the many embarrassing things I did that night, I introduced myself to Karen* about twelve times. She was one of their friends that would much later in time become my favorite dance-partner-in-crime. Luckily for me she had a sense of humor. I started introducing myself at the pub, but kept forgetting. A flashback came to me many days later; I was pretty much naked in the pool: “Hi, I’m Christine!” “Yes, I know.” She does not tire of reminding me how wasted I was that night, and how little substance was left of my inebriated brain. Anyhow, I remember never having seen Andrew in such a light. He was always so awkward and nerdy. He was very tall, and uncharacteristically good-looking. There was something about his silent confidence. He was blond and lanky, with cryptic tattoos and interests as far removed from mine as can be. I just never thought we could ever have anything in common.

I recognized him right away, even though he was back to me. I was completely naked and so was he. I ransacked my brain for information. I could not remember anything else from the night. I got one flashback, on a street corner not too far from mine, him kissing me, mostly trying to hold me up straight. I had no idea what had happened next. This was the first time I had woken up next to someone, having absolutely no idea what I had done. Or what had been done to me. He felt me awake and turned around. He smiled and said, “Well good morning you!” I returned this greeting with a grunt only extremely hung-over people are able to produce. I was hurting. His grin teased me.

–       So you drank a lot last night…

–       Yeah… I’m not feeling too great right now.

–       Haha, I’d imagine you aren’t. (long pause.)

–       So… did we?

–       Oh yeah, we did. And then you passed out. Also, you snored.

–       Noooooooo…

I was dying of humiliation. He kept smiling. He kissed me. He had the most mischievous grin.

I do not like mornings in general. To top it, I get horribly hungover after nights like those. Fetal position all day. On days like those, sex is the only thing that can convince me to wake up, or make mornings somewhat acceptable. I could see he could easily be convinced. I thought to myself, it’s already been done: you might as well remember it this time. So I turned to face him and started what I was expecting to be a nice, comfortable session of lazy morning sex. What happened next was the beginning of the most memorable fuck-buddy relationship I ever had the luck to participate in. We saw each other sporadically for the next six months. Only late at night, with as little talk as possible. We never shared coffee or chatted about anything that was not sex-related.

*My house, 20 mins?*

That was the extent of our communication, shining on the screen of his phone. My girlfriends were split in their opinions of this pseudo-relationship. Aren’t you going to get attached? How can you have sex with someone who doesn’t interest you in the least? You hit the jackpot; I want that. These were the three main reactions to my evolving “hook up” relationship. I do not think I thought about it too much. The sex was mind-blowing.

His penis was absolute perfection. I could stare at it for hours. It was the epitome of erections. Large, straight, thick and glorious. It filled me to my extremes. He was confident, adventurous and took initiative in the bedroom. He did yoga, which allowed for some innovation. He was strong, sensual and so passionate. Not the inflammable kind of passion though. It was passion for the job well done, passion for the body and the experience. It was like scientific passion, if you will. He said it was new to him my being tall. We both experienced new ways of bending and being one. We explored our sexualities together.

We had sex quite regularly for those six months. I fell in love with his penis. It was love at first sight. Well, actually I do not remember its first sight, so not technically. It eventually ended because Andrew was convinced that I had fallen in love with him. I definitely had not. Yet I understand how difficult it can be to believe that from his perspective. We are taught that feelings and sex, if the relationship is ongoing, are inextricably linked. I believe they generally are. I also believe in exceptions. This was mine. I do not know whether I would be capable of a relationship like that again, or whether it was merely a question of extremely precise timing and physical compatibility. Him and I have practically nothing else in common. That helped. In any case, we had a couple of repeats over the years and they are always phenomenal. No questions are asked. When I get the opportunity, I escape my messed-up love life with him. I think he might be doing just the same. It is merely physical and that is great sometimes. Simple and great. There is no debasement, no objectification, and no disappointment. I never think about it, except as a fond memory. I never long for him, maybe just when I have had the misfortune of encountering someone really bad at sex. Or when I have been sexually unhappy for a while. There was never any ambiguity in that relationship and that is the key for me. I never wanted more from it than what it was, and there is something quite powerful about that.

Chapter Nine – A Time For Friends

The morning after you have had sex is very different for everybody. For me, picture the morning-after-scene from 500 days of summer, just more ridiculous. I see rainbows and unicorns, while I am floating on a cloud of marshmallows and love. All of the euphoria and the adrenaline left over from the night’s sexcapades are exhilarating. It is definitely one of my favorite states of being. Sex is not everything though. The morning after is only as good as it can get if you have friends to share it with. Friends can make that instant tenfold better, or worse.

I happen to have exceptional friends. We rarely agree on things, and rarely are in the same geographical location, but man, do we ever love each other. That is truly one of the greatest riches of travelling as much as I have. The people you get to meet, and the magic that occurs when you manage to stay in each other’s lives, is a feeling like no other. Having such great support makes everything seem more bearable. Of course, disappointment occurs, and you inevitably lose great people, but the rewards so exceed the costs.

I have a hard time telling anecdotes about friendships, because what makes them so wonderful is their continuity. One night stands or trips are easier to summarize; they are exciting. Friendships are entities that have their own lives and their synopses are a challenge, to say the least. Nevertheless, my story would be nothing without them. Who would judge me for knowingly making out with a porn-star? Who would remember all the crazy things we did and did not do? Friends are the testimony to the life you choose for yourself. Mostly though, they are there for you when the fun stops.

The day I met Angie* would go down in history as the true beginning of my university experience. The week previous, John had dumped me and Joe had shown me that total strangers could make me feel human again with a mere hand gesture. The main thorn in my foot at that point was still my roommate. She remains known as “Hitler”. She despised people and was making my life a living nightmare. I had found her on Craigslist. I had little choice; I was moving to Canada to start university having never stepped foot in Vancouver. Her apartment was clean, on campus, furnished, and mostly not part of campus residency. I knew I would have a hard time living with one girl, let alone four Canadian seventeen year olds in a tiny res dorm. I was only nineteen. I felt like a child. Being European however, I had been a bartender for four years, which created a social abyss between my fellow fresh-women and I. She was a third year student and extremely neat. I thought living with her was safest.

I was so fucking wrong. She made my life hell. Due to her never-ending set of rules and demands, and even though we had a balcony, I was only allowed to smoke in the hall, which luckily was outdoors. Being out there quite often enabled me to meet our next-door neighbors, Angie and Jose*. I met Jose first. He had an infectious smile and the kind of friendliness that only comes out of warmer cultures. His Mexican accent was so pleasant to my ears. I did not want to lose the Spanish I had just learned living in Argentina. I was craving a Latin connection. He welcomed me to the neighborhood one day in the hall in passing. We had both just moved in and were excited to see what university had in store for us. Boy, were we ever in for a ride. I met Angie briefly a couple of days later, also during one of my smoke breaks. She seemed very nice and genuine. Her energy was, and is to this day, one of the sweetest, kindest I have ever encountered in anyone.

The night I was preparing to go meet Joe, I was frantically trying to come up with the perfect outfit. I had not tried to attract a man in two years. I had not even liked unintentionally attracting them. Hitler was a size triple zero so there was no help to be found in her closet. I had this idea of what I wanted to look like in my head and I was not going to budge. The one thing I was missing was a pair of tight-fitting black pants. In my folly, I went across the hall, knocked at the door and asked for Angie. Jose was very happy to see me, not showing any signs of my trespassing any social codes. This emboldened me. I asked her for the most unexpected, perhaps most random of friend pick-up lines. “Do you per chance have a pair of black pants I could borrow for this evening? You see I’m going on my first date since I got dumped and I need to look bomb.” Her eyes glistened with amusement. “Of course, chica. You have to!” Right after I left, ecstatic with my find, Jose smiled and said to her: “Darling, I think your wardrobe just doubled.”

How right he was. They were not a couple, just a couple of friends conveniently transferring into the same university, after spending the two years previous at a different college together. I practically lived with them that year. I was too afraid to do anything at Hitler’s house, but quietly sneak into my bed at night and sleep. It was a great deal for them too. I went over and cooked for them all the time. We became a happy family that extended all year long. So many nights were spent getting to know each other at the campus bars, and then back at their house, playing guitar hero, standing on the living room table. It was a blissful time. Both Angie and I were single and ready to mingle. We went out five nights a week. We still kept our studies in check. We had it all.

My first year in college was pure and simple self-discovery, in the company of great friends. Angie knew I was especially crazy because of the breakup; she talked me down and through every mistake I made. The first six months of our friendship were not easy for me; she was my rock. She had a tough time too. Single girl in college, she quickly became fed up of meaningless flings with boys. We both yearned for men—whatever that subjective differentiation means. We knew we did not know much. We knew our learning was ahead of us and we went through life, with that stereotypical fearlessness only youth displays. Nothing would stop us, except maybe for summer break. She actually came to see me in Geneva while she was visiting her relatives in Europe. We were the couple to beat.

And then came fall again. She quickly met Peter*. We all loved Peter. They would date for the following three years. Things had changed though; the dynamic was different. I was the only single one left. Yet our friendship only became stronger. Peter even became a great friend of mine—he was in on all the girl-talk and seemed to enjoy it the most. Eventually our tight group of friends came to include a few more people. Mostly Angie’s college best friend, Devi*, became a part of our little trio girl gang. The three of us have done close to everything together. There were ups and downs, trips to Vegas and Europe, and many, many shared bottles of wine. What always impressed me the most about the three of us was that, no matter how different our background and education was, we understood each other. Even when it was very hard, we knew none of it would come between us. Devi and Angie would come get very drunk at the campus pub I worked at every Wednesday during my second year. On Wednesdays, the very empty pub became the craziest of clubs, populated by hundreds of horny nineteen-year-olds and a hotbed for all sorts of inappropriate public behavior. We loved it.

They say bad decisions make good stories. We definitely wrote many stories at the pub and so many more together. Just like Lea at home, and a few other people who entered my life at one point or another, Angie and Devi were my foundation in Vancouver. Due to the frivolous timing of our friendship, they were for the longest time my first response to mornings after. I would call them and tell them everything, to the last excruciatingly personal detail. They laughed with me. Those moments will forever stay with me as the quintessence of being single and happy, surrounded by love. After we graduated, one by one it became harder to see each other. We got frustrated and distant at times. Yet we still manage to catch a girls’ night Thursday, with food, wine and Grey’s Anatomy, and it is like nothing changed. I do not know what my fate with men will be. I do not know if I will know a love like the old man’s. I get worried about love and relationships. I never doubt a true friendship, and that is what Devi, Angie and I have. 

Chapter Eight – There Is No Moral To This Story

Our lips touched and two universes collided. My weary heart and I decided to ignore it. I hoped it was one-sided and that I could pretend nothing had happened. And then he said: “Oh fuck, are you kidding me? This is not happening… This kiss…” He kissed me again and there was no denying it anymore. We did not even know we had been lost, and right there and then, we had been found. His kisses would be the hardest to forget. That first night we had a pathetic attempt at sex, on a friend’s couch. She had introduced us that night, hoping for a successful set-up. She was so right. The passion and fire between us was so strong, even through the unfortunate circumstances of being on Natalie’s* couch. We had to see each other again and it had to be the next day. We did not know we were creating a pattern right there. We saw each other every single day until I had to leave, 3 weeks later, to spend the summer in Europe with my family. Those nineteen days were a whirlwind. I have never been courted, wine and dined that much in my entire life. He made me his. He pursued me and then convinced himself he was ready for something like me.

Those few weeks were the most magically intense, comfortable days I had known in what felt like an eternity. He was kind, sweet, honest, funny… normal. He was everything I could ask for and more. We listened to acoustic covers on my couch discussing our random thoughts, while he stroked my legs. Even simply sitting on the couch together was glorious. I fit right into my little nook, on his chest. He touched my hair, my shoulder and my back, stroking back and forth. He kissed me and my entire body melted into him. His touch was the utmost intoxicating, earth-shattering thing in its simplicity. We talked, laughed and smoked; we needed nothing.

The stories in this book, I remember because I could never have imagined them. Call it a lack of imagination if you will, but they took me by such surprise. None of me anticipated any of this to ever happen to me. This particular relationship was so startling I had to take all of my friends as witnesses. They all fell for him. One of my closest friends confessed that if I did not end up with him, I would with someone exactly like him. This was potentially influenced by the fact that she was herself head over heels with her new man. Either that or she was blackout drunk.

He knew it too. We were, at least on a physical level, meant to experience our unity. It was so easy with us. Every move, as clumsy and unattractive as can possibly be, was effortless. Elegant even. Our bodies spoke to each other. We wanted each other, so bad. Neither of us had experienced such passion in light years. We did not even need to touch to feel aroused as can be. There was something there, something inexplicably impenetrable. Well, that might be the wrong word. What we had was true. I think that is the reason why it is so hard to move on sometimes. It was just bad timing.

He had a fascination for my breasts. I did not want him to ever leave my bed. We were not able to get much done when we were together. Lying in bed and intermittently having sex and talking was enough. We drank, we danced, and we ate well together. It was one of those fusional relationships that other, non in-love people despise. We never got fed up of each other. I fell in love, instantly. I fell hard and deep and there was no saving me. It was truly one of those loves from which I expected nothing but to give. I had no remarks. He was good to me. The physical greatness was surely emphasized by the emotional connection we both admitted to sharing.

I have many sex stories. Certainly this book will ascertain this. Sex with him was cheeky, kinky, romantic and intimate at the same time. He could fuck my brains out and make me feel like he was writing me poems. I guess that would be my version of making love? I was never afraid to tell him exactly what I felt and how to remedy. I was never self-conscious being naked and contorted in front of him. Granted, I am usually fairly comfortable being naked; I think clothes get in the way of my curves. Still with him it was different. He could grab and move and experiment with every ounce of fat and flesh of my body, I would be intrigued, aroused even. He liked to have me on my back, my right leg over to the left. He could firmly grab onto my thigh and had a perfect sight of my breast and my tattoo on my rib cage. He would groan; tiny, almost inaudible grunts that only became louder when I did. He never tired of me. His erection was incessant. My girl hard-ons were never more present. When he teased me, balancing on each arm on top of me, with a mere kiss I was wet. I simply needed to lift up my bum and he slid right into me. “It’s so easy with us,” he marveled. No need for a GPS, our parts had their own connection. Once he was inside me, he could bang my head against the headboard, going as deep as physically possible and it would drive me absolutely insane. I do not want to use the hand and glove analogy, but if there ever was a time… He told me repeatedly that I was the best he could remember having, that I was more than incredible and that my body was banging.

So, you say, the sex was good, I get it. What else was so magical about it? Well what it was, it appears, is complete surrender to the other, with no compromise of self. I cannot for sure know how he feels about any of this now, or whether he indeed was being true to himself then. During those nineteen days, we were one, as cliché as it sounds. We were both confused and terrified at this extremely sudden attraction and longing. I was ready for it. “I created a monster,” he kept saying. All of my friends had confirmed to him I did not fall for people often, never mind let them in. With him, I had no issue exclaiming my feelings. It was truly monstrous. He had a harder time saying the words. There was no one better equipped to understand his issue. I never pressured him, never expected anything in return. As I was leaving at the airport, he eventually returned my love declaration all on his own.

Except I was ready for it, and for him I turned out to be “just a distraction.” Ten days later, it dawned on him that his love was actually already and still directed at someone else. Someone else, what a poetic phrase for someone whose head you want to tear off and set on fire. She probably takes it in the ass, says the pit-bull inside of me.  How someone can be so fickle still baffles me. I will never understand it. I think I believe he was being truthful. I cannot be sure. He will always be something of the inexplicable. I have moved on since, and experienced new great passions. This one is remarkable in that there is no lesson. I do not understand it and that is all. It was just bad timing. 

Chapter Seven – Take Another Sip and Sigh

I was sitting on the beach recently with my childhood friend Ana*. We were both freshly single and bitter. Both our men of the month had left us for their exes. Seriously, did they get a transatlantic memo? We were reading and enjoying the late afternoon rays when an old man approached us. He had vacationed in the bay we grew up in for the past forty years. He was an acquaintance of our families and so to be polite we struck up a conversation with him. We talked about how bad the economy was, how scared we both were to graduate in a time with no jobs. He was as frustrated as we were with the current system. The small talk quickly turned heavier for me. He started talking about love. I had personally been going through all kinds of rethinking of self, fate and my luck. I could not make sense of my last failed relationship or how I would ever construct a successful one. The old man then said something that will haunt me forever. He said:

“Well you know girls, I got married at 23. I’ve been with my wife for upwards of fifty years. Even for that time, I was young to be getting hitched. My mother asked me if I was sure I wanted to make such a commitment so early and I told her, ‘Mother, if I don’t marry her now and stay myself for another 4-5 years, I will never marry.’ I mean, it is hard enough to get used to sharing your time with someone when you’re young. Imagine now? I’m so stubborn; I can barely stand myself. I could never expect a woman to want to accommodate me. That’s why it’s better to get hitched young, because you have more patience, and willingness for compromise. My wife and I were so happy and peaceful for most of our marriage. The hardest part was a few years back, when we retired. We had all this time to cultivate our individualities and discovered we are very different people. Yet we knew how to make room for each other and continue to love.”

Wow. Two things immediately moved into my heart and mind. First, will I ever know a love like this? Second, is it too late for me? I have been living alone, far away from family or any kind of selfless responsibility for over 5 years. I am so set in my ways. It made me think. Are we setting ourselves up for failure cultivating individualism and expecting romance? Are the two utterly incompatible? My naturally evolving 5-year-plans have always involved my career, geographic locations and more general happiness of self. They changed a little bit with age, because as a woman, your biological clock start ticking and it has a voice. I am finishing my bachelor this year. If I take a year off to work and then start my masters, I will be done at twenty-six. That is when I am going to start my career. It all sounds so perfect to my twenty-three year old self. Then the voice starts: Yes, well do you want to start having children early? You don’t want to be one of those old moms, plus you know you want at least two, etc. I have always known I want children in my life. I am continuously described as motherly. I am the one who takes care of people in my group of friends. My roommate calls me mom. At the same time, why did I just spend a hundred grand on my bachelors if I am not even going to have an exceptional career? You see, everything is so selfish and self-centered. My reflections revolve around me. How another person is going to fit into this mess baffles me.

The old man spoke the truth, so loudly. Both Ana and I giggled, knowing that our only other option would be to cry. The two of us said our goodbyes shortly after and proceed to drink two bottles of wine. We tried to get it all out, the advice, the heartache. We sat and complained for hours about simply wanting a guy to be normal. We were not asking for much, were we? Still at one moment, the old man’s words resonated in both our heads. Were we being hypocrites? Were we pretending that all we wanted was someone to be there, but then when someone was we felt suffocated? Are we choosing them? All of these incapacitating thoughts just magically appear. So you take another sip, and then a very long sigh. We did not have to say it, we knew. Her and I are similar when it comes to love. And I do not mean to say that everyone is like this; I cannot even begin to generalize about such things. Yet when I am in love, I know it. I know it is true and real. And when I feel that, nothing is too hard. Nothing is too far, too long, too impossible. It is an incredible feeling that takes me, at the deepest of my guts, in the dark, secret corners of my soul.

The reason Ana and I did not need to discuss this is because we both knew how rarely it happened to us and how unfair life is. She could see in my eyes I was too weak to withstand this reality. I had fallen in love and it had been taken away from me, like a rug from under me, making me crumble to my feet violently, crashing onto concrete. The plan revolves around me. The reality is very different. Plans are useless, actually. You know that cheesy cliché line: life is what happens while you’re busy making plans. Well, it is cliché because it is true. I think the old man’s words are true. I think that is why we fear our own hypocrisy. We realize we complain about being afraid to let people in, and then we are afraid to let them out. We miss and hate a person at the same time. Ana and I took another sip, looking at each other.

Is it possible to miss a step somewhere and miss out on everything? Can it all be just bad timing? If I am capable of love, but the men I meet are not or are not capable of it for me, can it all be because I skipped a beat? If I planned everything correctly, did everything right, should I not be getting something in return? Of course I am not expecting anything to fall in my lap; I am willing to work so hard. As I write this, it all sounds so guilt absolving. I am not trying to say that nothing is my fault and that I never did anything wrong in my life. That is far from the truth. I am just trying to understand what it is I am supposed to learn from this last tragic fall. That there are fickle people in the world? That nothing that feels too good to be true ever is?

When he started talking about her, I knew, I felt it. His tone was different; he smiled more. He denied it time and time again. When he finally saw it, said it, it knocked the life out of me. He was not just leaving me for her; he was in love with her. This reality of his love for me being fake or lesser was the epitome of brutality. I knew it. I felt it. Just like I had felt it with John. I never liked one of his coworkers. I never trusted her. The last few months of our relationship he spent sleeping with her. Both these men have plenty of female friends and exes. I was never jealous about anyone else but those two women who ended up fucking up my life. My instincts are still telling me that they wanted to screw me, that both of them were manipulative bitches. My heart tells me: who the fuck cares? It’s the men in your life that are not worthy. There are always going to manipulative bitches in the world.

Maybe there is no lesson to be learned. Maybe I will always see the red flags and love will keep me blind. Maybe my female intuition is more about telling you she was right, not helping. I can understand how that could be frustrating to men. I am learning how to take each hit as it comes. I am learning how to stand up again and keep trusting that I will know a love like the old man’s. I am also learning that beautiful things do happen in this world. My timing, however bad, never bores me, whatever that is worth. That may even be the lesson: learning, always and everywhere. That weekend Ana introduced me to a man, who for a day, accepted me and “loved” me in that moment, for everything that I was. I told him my secrets; I let him into my fucked up head. He smiled and embraced me. It was magical in its sincerity and genuineness. I keep learning and loving the people in my life, for whatever they bring me. Each smile of mine, I dedicate to them.

Chapter Six – The Magic is in the Moment

I was not in love for four years. I felt that lack quite starkly at times. I would get very sad and feel empty. Some nights, I just burst out in tears for no reason. I remember on one particular occasion, there was a very handsome man in my bed and I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream. I do not remember what it was about but I was panicked. He was sleeping soundly and he was a sight for sore eyes. Yet I was having a mild anxiety attack. I wrapped myself in a blanket, and quietly opened the balcony door. I lit a cigarette and tried to sob silently. As I looked over, I knew he never was and never would be mine. I am not even sure I wanted him to. I was not in love with him. I was in need of falling in love. He had potential. He would have made the perfect candidate for the college fling that I so craved. I came back into bed and he made room for me in his sleep. He put his arm around me, hugging me tight. It felt so good.

It is funny to realize you never know what life has in store. I felt this need for love, for a boyfriend mostly when I was at home, bored of my daily routine. Next to all of my loved-up friends, I just felt cursed. I rarely realized how truly lucky I was to be single all that time and fortunate enough to travel to globe. In the summer of 2010, I returned to New York City to visit friends. I needed to refuel on the city’s energy. It was a perfect weeklong layover, on my way home to Europe. The Big Apple has always been a very lucky city for me. When I am there, incredible things happen to me. It is just fascinating what such a high concentration of all sorts of people can create.

On my second night of the week, my friends and I went to grab a bite at a trendy hotel bar near Columbus Circle. Within minutes, we were chatted up by this mysterious figure sitting across from me, a few seats over. I had noticed him right away. He had long wavy blond hair and a beard that made him look a lot older than he was. He mentioned he was from Geneva and my friends thought it fitting we exchange contact information, so as to meet up once I got home. He stood up and I was left to gaze at his tall figure, swiftly walking away in his beige linen suit.

That night my friends and I moved on to a cool bar in the meatpacking district. Amongst the 9 million inhabitants of NYC, I managed to bump into my Vancouverite friend’s long lost love. I recognized him from pictures she had shown me. I approached him inquisitively and we called her together. I actually heard her fall off her couch. My timing is at times incredibly ridiculous. That of all the people and places, this man and I would happen to be at the same bar on a random Wednesday night is just unbelievable. We chatted about her, the world being so small at times and all things New York.

The next morning I received a message from the man from Geneva. His name was Robert*. He wanted to let me know that it had been a pleasure meeting me. Flattered, I considered my options. My friend was busy that night, so I asked him what his plans were, thinking what the hell? He suggested we meet at his hotel, which was only a couple of blocks away from my friend’s house. We then hopped in a cab to some shady area downtown to a taco joint his friend was opening.  His friends were nice and the evening was going pleasantly. We stayed there much longer than expected and since neither of us had made proper plans, we decided it was safest to go back to the club in his hotel. After a couple of drinks and some dancing, things got a little heated. We were both on holiday and invigorated by our adventures. When it was clear we wanted more from each other, he confessed being on a business trip and having the misfortune of sharing his room with a colleague.

Faced with this conundrum, we continued making out on the dance-floor until we could not bear it anymore. A hunt for good sex locations then started. We began with the handicapped stall on the main floor. This soon showed to be a highly demanded facility and we were forced to relocate. After some wandering, we stumbled unto a staff room on his floor. It looked like a concrete box, full of linens and ironing equipment. It is insane how romantic it all seemed when we were horny. He laid down a robe on the floor and took a little plastic wrapper out of his pocket. We managed to have successful, though awkward coitus in this little hole in the wall. I cannot even grasp how long we were in there. The mixture of alcohol, lack of windows and general NYC craziness renders all of this a bit of a blur. I cannot however forget the poor cleaning lady that walked in on my bare ass, and his face buried in my neck, peeking at her from under my hair.

Interrupted and brought back to reality, we walked down to the café, which had a beautiful patio at the base of huge brick walls with vines climbing all over them. We drank our coffees and were very affectionate, though sleepy. He then pointed out that it was about 7am and the rooftop was due to open its doors. So we waited, full of anticipation for the greatness that was about to occur. We got up there and it was grandiose. The colors of the sunrise were still tainting the skyscrapers. The view was simply breathtaking. We sat on one of those lounge chairs for a bit, embracing the moment before it seized us again. We were in awe of the simplicity of this physical intimacy. We knew little about each other. Merely we were both enjoying creating these memories; we had a mutual agreement to make the most of the beauty of the moment.

Some memories remain in your head somewhat foreign. They are present, yet feel like it was perhaps a dream or part of a movie you once saw. This memory is like that.   The bathroom on the rooftop was a little house, with a window overlooking the Manhattan skyline. It quickly became clear to us that we had hit the jackpot. The privacy of this little niche, tangled with the exposure to the whole city through the window, made this scene purely incredible. His hands on my hips, cheek by cheek, we reveled in this moment, where every thrust was a dab into the city.

I came home to my friend’s house and she awoke full of enquiries. I showered and changed, catching up with her over coffee. As she was getting ready to head out, Robert texted me to meet him again. He wanted to take me to my favorite flee-market, and so we went. He was wearing bright green pants and a ridiculous amount of accessories. Picture a blond, Nordic looking Johnny Depp attire, in color. It was a nice day. I remember feeling the way I did that time, two years previous, in the park with that kid from Kentucky. Intimacy and comfort with a total stranger, absolutely no strings attached.

That trip is just an example of my luck with that city. I saw Robert again in Geneva. He had lost all of his charm and we had no beautiful moment to connect with anymore. I never regretted seeing him again. It did not taint the memories, because the magic was in the moment. Some wonderful people were met that week. We were accidentally let into very exclusive places, without having to ever pretend. It gave me the sense that I was absolutely to come back to New York. The city was one day going to be my playground. And it would be fabulous.