Moving, shifting.

I moved house last night.

Out of the cold, old, dilapidated apartment with space for things and a good solid table to be fucked on. But it was too cold and old and the wooden window frames trembled at passing buses and I found myself retreating into my bedroom, first, and then my bed, where I lay with my solitude and my drinking and never wrote anything.

Yesterday my long suffering mother, still mothering me long past the gestation period of an adult, helped me move into my new place. Maybe I’ll get some writing done here.I’m all excuses. Recently I spoke to an artist, an actor, and he told me I needed to DO things and get up in the mornings and live my life like it’s not the waiting room for something else, and I felt like crying because he was right, no, not because he was right, but because I’d let my guard down and forgotten that intelligent people can see right through my flimsy bravado. I must have relaxed and let someone see me for what I am, my sadness pouring out in excuses and defence of doing nothing.

I feel happy, I have the symptoms of happiness. But I’m not independent, my life is paid for by the state, my mother shouldered more than half the weight of the fridge-freezer. I’m just like so many others. But I feel wrong, like this. You can justify any lifestyle, I believe, from housewife to banker to lunatic to whatever I might be, as long as your life doesn’t injure or abuse and you can pay your own rent.

It’s not my fault I grew up now, when rent is commonly half a person’s wages, and everyone feels entitled to avocados and parma ham, and craft beer. And suffers without them. But I’m a little ashamed that I grew up now, if I did indeed grow up, and failed to adapt to the world, as it crumbles and swells and freedoms are legalised and then encroached upon, and finally we’re told it’ll all sink into the sea. This is my generation. I’m built for it and by it. Maybe if I lived in the Chelsea hotel, and paid a pittance to live, I’d have been right, or right-on, there’d have been room for my dreams, but this is a bit sad, me, lamenting the fall of the starving artist, in post celtic tiger Ireland, like  a less impressive, less grotesque Ignatius J Reilly with his copy of Boethus.

I’m broke, I’m penniles, I’m cold and I’m a chancer. I’m Sebastian Dangerfield with a vagina. But I’m not, I’m not, I have cognac in my wardrobe and three avocados in varying stages of ripeness, a chilean one and a pair of new zealanders. And I have all these skirts and heels, and when I’ve worn them more than thrice they look old and like they belong to someone I haven’t been for a long time, or a week, but then I shed my passions so quickly, and I shed my skin, and need to buy it new. Because the shoes are worn from climbing walls at 4am and the skirts have been worn thrice and pulled lustily over my head by rougher hands than mine as many times. All my clothes with tags, a look of approval, lust, a compliment. From that moment, the clothes became his, like a lick of paint on a sheep. The skirt I wore to meet Jack, and it was all he thought about, lifting that skirt, he told me later, lifting it. The Shoes that Adam loved so, the ones that left angry red marks on his chest, his neck. The dress I wore for dinner with Antoine, dinner in my flat, with the candles and a tablecloth and he saw me and said “what a dress.” and I wore stockings and he’d never been with a woman in stockings before, he was so young. And he didn’t know to leave them on, when we made love. He took them off me, and I could see he wasn’t sure if they should go, because socks are bad in bed, or stay because they were sexy. And in the summer, I wore those shorts, my little shorts that barely held me inside, and Max watched me paint the sign for the bar in the sun while he sawed planks and sent a breath of sawdust onto the wet paint. And I didn’t mind, because he was so gentle, so adoring, then. And he held me while I was in crisis, not sure what to do or where to go, on the verge of tears at any time, and he made all sorts of promises. He should have let me be and stayed away, and he would have stayed away, but then I would were those shorts.

 I bought them for myself, for how I’d feel, who I thought I was that day and how she would look. But those men, they like to own things, and maybe the don’t know they do it, but they wear me down and they take possession of my clothes, and then I don’t feel like that girl I wanted to be in my skirt any more, covered in fingerprints. Perhaps I just want to give myself fresh to each new lover, and I’m afraid he can see the wear, and it’ll remind him how my mouth isn’t new either, how many hands have reached under my hair to release a clasp. Perhaps it’s not, it’s just there’s so much hope and possibility in new clothes. I remember when I bought my little black playsuit with the high neck and the short shorts, and I saw it in the mirror and thought I looked so sexy, and glamourous, and like I belonged draped on a couch somewhere fabulous drinking something expensive. But then where did I have to wear it, really? I wore it to Bob’s kitchen, to dance to 80s music, which was lovely and fun but my little playsuit went to waste. And then I wore it to the Market Bar, and it was too short, and I felt uncomfortable, but I looked great. And then I went home with Steve, and I shouldn’t have because he’s so wrapped up in himself, he can’t even tell that I don’t care about him, so there’s something insulting about how he never calls or sends a message later. These clothes have too many memories.

What I’m trying to say here, essentially, is that I need a new dress, and I hope you understand how I need a new dress. It’s not wrong, to want a new dress, when you can see how all my other clothes are tarnished so.

But ah, what was I telling you? About the move. Out of my hermit’s cave, into a bizzare houseshare of over 20 inmates, an old hospital of sorts, padded handrails down the corridors and three floors, and everyone has their own fridge, fridges littering the two kitchens and when I scurry down the corridor to the bathroom there’s a ladies and a gents.

And the inmates are friendly and some seem lovely warm people, and others seem obvious like characters written lazily by someone lacking imagination. When I was a child I entertained the thought that I was the main character, and all others were minor, or bit players, or extras. When an adult chastised me I felt sorry for them, that they were written that way, their only contribution to the world as a fleeting villain.

I eventually grew out of the idea that I was the centre of the universe but I never gave up feeling sorry for those people who were written by hacks.

It’s strange to be back in shared living… but it seems like a good thing. It’s warm, I’ll be less inclined to go out every night, maybe, maybe I’ll save some money too.

But the thing that struck me straight away is that I now find myself in a censored environment. For months I’ve surrounded myself exclusively, truly exclusively, with people who I can be so open about, tell every secret, every filthy secret and thought. And now I’m in this area where I don’t know the people, and some will be open minded freaks and perverts, too, but some will not, and so I’m keeping myself to myself, a little. Which is odd for me.

I got so used to being just me, living in a world of my own creation where nothing in nature is twisted, or dirty, as a man said long ago, I think it was Servius.

Changes, anyway.

I hope I write more here, I hope I do. I’ll try.

But it’s not, as people close to me who don’t write seem to thing, some kind of muscle I can get up in the morning and knock out 20 reps of 100 words.

I could write 50,000 words right now, and I’d forget to eat, drink, pee, masturbate, yes, even masturbate. But what kind of words would they be, and is there any point?

My friends tell me to just DO it. Do it and you’ll have written, and you can edit. But I don’t like to edit, because then I read back and it’s not the voice in my head any more, it’s something I’ve crafted. And why did I do that? It’s the honesty of writing I love… and beautiful turns of phrase, and sentences that make something lurch inside you like arousal of your sense of harmony. But mostly honesty, and when I edit I think why did I do that? What am I trying to say, and what’s the point?

And I collapse in nihilism, and I don’t do anything, and I feel bad about it, because even though I don’t think anything matters, it matters to me that I don’t fade into a sad future. Also, I don’t edit because I don’t know what’s good.

People tell me to just write. Just write, write all the time. You have so much free time, you should be writing. I know. I KNOW. I know. I just need to… do it. I know.

In my old place, you see, it was too cold. It was so cold, I couldn’t think, my fingers were cold, my brain was occupied in being cold and suffering from it and overcoming it. In France you may know, I thought I’d recreate the misery and solitude of my life in Italy, without being so miserable and solitary that I’d hate it, like in Italy.

But it seems it’s either one or the other. I’m too unhappy in Italy to live. I wrote there, maybe nothing great, but I was so unhappy I wrote like my writing was my friend who understood me and it just kept me from the abyss of true misery. And France, oh I didn’t speak French, but I learnt French. And I didn’t know anyone, but I met people, and I met wonderful people and they made me laugh and I somehow made them laugh in my awful French. But I wasn’t truly happy because I was like the dumb princess, the little mermaid, clumsy on my legs and deprived of my singing voice.

The prince didn’t love me without my gifts, but he was compassionate, he thought me charming with my strange ways and my clumsiness. But that’s fine, for a short time. In France there were men, but none of them loved me for what I was, they just loved what they could see, a ballsy travelling girl with a love of wine and food and a tendency to make clumsy puns that didn’t really work in French. And they murmured things in my ear, that sounded less beautiful as my French improved and eventually just made me roll my eyes. Fucking French, everything so doomed and poignant. On a beach somewhere near Bordeaux we watched a sunset together, feet curling in the sand, and one lover told me he was glad the clouds were there, on the horizon, because had it been any clearer the sunset would have been too much, too cheesy. “I ‘ate cheesy” he said.

“I ‘ate you”, I remember thinking. But I loved him a while longer.

I missed my wit and humour and I felt dulled. I drank far too much and snuck my bottles out of the lovely, jolly house I shared with 6 people so they wouldn’t know how far it went. I couldn’t write there, because I was learning French and my head was full of French and I was being pestered by romantic men who felt no shame in throwing themselves at me.

I had so many friends, there, I couldn’t muster enough loneliness to really write. I was aware as I made this excuse that I could never make myself be lonely, Italy was a mistake, I was trapped there with my husband and my mortgage and my debt. I’d have run home, long ago, had I not been caught that way. I told people I moved to France to be lonelier.

Really I think, now, in hindsight, that I knew full well I was moving to France to have a legitimate and shameless reason to be lonely. I was desperately lonely in Ireland but I was from Ireland, there was no excuse, how could I not find the right people? And I couldn’t write there either, because I had to work in this awful call centre and I didn’t have time to write because I had to work from 9 til 5.30 and didn’t get home til 6.30 and then I was tired and sad, and needed to relax and watch something absurd and funny and forget about my life, and I’d do that til 1 in the morning and then I had to go to bed because i had work in the morning. And if I tried to write anything I’d write how I felt, and god, that was awful, and I didn’t want to think about how I felt because I felt sad and hollow and like something really awful had been done to me and I was being made pay for it. Some awful wrong, my whole life was an awful wrong that had been inflicted on me by my parents, my teachers, my friends, my boyfriends, my parents, my parents, my parents.

And I was such a lovely girl with such a sweet heart and I loved so strongly and why did they all do that, tread on me and make me so sad and break my heart so now I haven’t been sweet or loving in years.

So I didn’t like to think about that, it was too dark and I cried so much when I thought of how I felt and who I had become or was becoming. And my eyes would be puffy in work the next day. Maybe I’d write at the weekend. That’s it, I’d get a bottle of whiskey and lock myself in my bedsit, quite a nice bedsit, not really suited to drowning your sorrows, but I’d make do. And then Friday I’d be half drunk and thinking of typing a few words about something, and I’d get a call from some man I’d vowed to stay away from because he kept giving me false hope and then hurting me, and whenever that subsided I’d remember he was no good, not very interesting and not at all impressive. But I’d be lonely so I’d go and meet him, and sleep with him, and start to feel the rumblings of emotion again, and then I wouldn’t write because all I’d write about would be how I liked him, and maybe I didn’t, and why wouldn’t he call when he said he would.

and what’s wrong with me.

Well, that’s all sort of gone now. I’m not that kind of unhappy now. I’m quite happy, really. In the short term. Long term, I’m not sure, because I need to prove to myself that I am what I claim to be, a writer, and that I’ll do something with that and not just be a drain on family and the state. Not that I care about being a drain on the state, because look at everyone else, and look at all the corruption. But it’s still not right for me, personally.

I am quite happy, really. I don’t cry, I don’t feel like I’ve been hideously wounded by life any more. I feel like I’ve been wounded just the right amount, to make me someone I could respect, if only I got off my ass once in a while and contributed something to the human experience. Because no, it doesn’t matter one bit if I drink and fuck all day and get old and then no one will want to fuck me any more, but it matters to me that I leave a little bundle of pages behind, with something in them that can be picked up, and read, and maybe enjoyed, and maybe someone will read and know me through them, and my life will be in there, and all the silly things that you couldn’t invent, that don’t matter at all, but that contain everything of me but my DNA.

Drunken rant I think about sex

I’m in French classes from 9am til 1pm Monday to Friday. So basically I have more time than I’ve EVER had to get drunk and make foggy memories with sexy accented strangers.

Except for two problems. One, nobody else I know here seems to be an alcoholic, and two, somewhere along the way with my marriage and the rebound and the falling in love with a younger guy… I’ve grown out of the random hookup.

I used to have pretty low self esteem, I used to get a kick out of sleeping with a guy… as long as he was decent looking, I felt like it was a point in my favour. Someone wanted to have sex with me! Woo woo! I hadn’t grown out of that thing where I was a teenager and my eyebrows were very close knit and thick and makeup just looked like it had landed on my face via ballistics.

But now it’s more like, yeah of course someone would want to have sex with me, I’m a woman in pretty nice shape considering I don’t do any excercise and 100% of my meals contain cheese and I drink a lot which is fattening. So I don’t really get the ego boost out of it any more. And for years my best friend told me I should stop doing that thing of just sleeping with guys, because it made me feel shit about myself and I did it because I felt shit about myself and it didn’t make guys like me any more. And she was wrong because it didn’t make me feel shit about myself, but she was right in that the only reason I did it was cause I felt shit about myself. Also I was very very horny.

I still am very horny. I have a ridiculous sex drive. It’s a BURDEN.

I’m horny but the idea of going out and approaching some dude and doing the old “hey, grab your coat” or whatever routine…. just makes me cringe now. Not that there’s anything sad or wrong with that, it just wouldn’t give me what I want.

What I want isn’t just to find a man willing to fuck me (come on, I’m totally awesome) it’s to find a man who wants so badly to fuck me that he will spend time finding out about me, or paying attention to me, or basically risking wasting his time for the chance that maybe it won’t be wasted after all. I want a weighted compliment.

At th time of writing this, I should tell you, I am pretty wasted.

But.

I want to have sex but I don’t want it to JUST be sex. I don’t want a relationship exactly, I just want someone to put in the legwork. I’m not going to be so easy I’m on a plate any more, and it’s not because I think sex is something to withold from all but the most worthy— sex is something for me too. I just want to sex the person who realises the value of the thing and shows it by putting in some effort. A chase.

I think that’s how it’s going anyway…

I haven’t had much opportunity to flirt with the locals yet, unfortunately.

On the metro I see so many hot specimens but I have this paranoia that if I meet anyone’s eyes, I will have given them permission to talk to me. I am too afraid to look at a guy to see if he’s attractive, in case by the time I have given said permission I will have found out no, no he is not attractive at all, and then I’ll be on the fast track to an awkward unwanted conversation.

So I stare at the metro map over our heads and the journey is not very long but it’s too long for that to be a reasonable use of my eyes.

Damn.

Ugh.

I started, because of limited…ahem… resources… looking inwards for satisfaction. Inwards, into my class.

Now I know I’m here to get some serious Baguette action, and some “oh que tu est belle…” whispered into my ear and whatnot. But… I DID get waxed. It was so painful and I’m so fucking smooth right now, looking at my vagina no longer makes me feel too ashamed to masturbate. I feel empowered. Beautiful. Sexy. I feel inclined to take pictures of myself and then delete them because just like a penis, an out of context vagina is not a good lookin’ creature.

But I digress.

So I looked around my school, the guys I eat lunch with everyday. My fellow retards in the language of love.

And one is a very good looking guy who I thought was muslim and therefore not someone I wanted to get involved with but that’s only because I am awfully racist sometimes and I accepted his friendship on facebook but it wasn’t him, it was another guy with a tan and dark hair. A guy whose facebook background was bits of the Koran or the Quoran or however it is spelt. He also listed Islam as his religion. But it’s a different guy. And now I realised it’s a different guy… I was like, oh. Ok. This guy’s hot and actually doesn’t look anything like the muslim guy. But we were talking outside class the other day, and it was interesting, and he’s cool… but.. I caught a glimpse of short chest stubble through his shirt collar. He shaves… SHAVES his chest. SHAVES. No. Absolutely not. Will not go there.

Eww.

So there’s another guy.

He’s in my class and we have a lot of banter in class. He’s the person I get along with best in class, he’s nice, he’s funny, we laugh, he’s a bit older but not too much, he’s got a seriously cool job… he test flies fighter jets.

I had made up my mind to fuck him but we were in a bar one night and I thought we were flirting but he just didn’t take the leap towards it actually happening. I got bored with it and gave up. But in retrospect… he must have been flirting. He must have been….

But… every night I go home alone and I think RIGHT THAT’S IT, gonna fuck the fighter jet tester. He’s cool, I like him, he’s a good laugh…

And then I go to class and he speaks French with a GERMAN accent and I’m like, oh… oh no.

It’s not like his french is bad… and his german sounds awesome… his english is great too… it’s just that…

I’m like, here because I think French sounds so fucking sexy.

And German french does not sound sexy.

I want someone who can make me jizz in my pants just by giving me directions.

So that just puts me off, and then later I’m like shit, I should have just fucked the German guy.

And then I think maybe the German guy doesn’t want to be fucked, maybe he’s not into me.

And then I laugh.

Of course he wants to sleep with me, I’m a woman. I’m a woman goddammit!

And he doesn’t discredit my “no random sex” rule because if he doesn’t want to sleep with me then he won’t, but if he does then it just means that he is really shit at flirting but has been trying anyway.

Very annoying though, he’s away for a week and then he’s only back for a week before he goes home to Germany.

That’s my window… fuck, so annoying. Just wish I didn’t have to do all the work all the fucking time. Where is chivalry?

Le Fear, part un

So I got off to a good start. Promising. Lots of fellow students of the beautiful language, all friendly, mostly fellow alcohol enthusiasts. Going out to bars and clubs every other night, and alllll weeekend.

Positive start. Of course today is the shit-encrusted tail of my 3 day weekend, so I’m feeling…. not so great. Still not down on France, oh no, France is awesome. France is fucking awesome.

FRANCE is awesome, but I am a hung over, snivelling, weak, binge drinking, sex- crazed, self-centred excuse for a woman and my legs are hairy and I have really bad sex hair BUT I have not had sex in several weeks now, and I’m feeling very unattractive.

The people I know here are all students and tourists like me but not so embarassed about the tourist label, so they are constantly taking photos of everything and handing their cameras to each other to ensure each person has a copy of the complete series of moments witnessed that day, and I keep seeing photos of me and thinking, oh yeah…. yeah… I’m not a good looking person, I just thought I was for a while because if I look straight ahead in the mirror I look good but somehow the exact position in which my face looks pretty only comes out when I am looking in a mirror.

There was a video of me talking in Swedish (I learnt one phrase and repeated it enthusiastically for three nights in a row. People are still inviting me out… nice) from the weekend and I just… can’t believe… that people are taking me seriously with such odd, inhuman facial movements. I look ridiculous when I talk. No wonder men flee and my ex boyfriends accidentally add me on facebook and then apologise for it and tell me they don’t care if I delete them.

Ah….

Here we arrive at what’s actually bother me.

So Antoine…. Antoine doesn’t say shit to me for three months and I move on and I’m like, so over that buster, I’m good, I’m moving to the country he lives in BUT I can say with utter sincerity and complete lack of denial that I am not intending to ever see him again, and if he contacts me again, I’ll be like, sorry bro, that ship has set sail and sunk and I got the only lifeboat and now I’m living a simple life on a beautiful island and there’s also a topless male only tribe living on the island and they all fuck me whenever I want and they are super fit from building shelters for me all day and there are no stds on this island.

BUT while I was not actually deluding myself one tiny bit, welll… I wasn’t really prepared for what would happen last week.

Last week I got a friendship request from him, the scrub who can’t get no love from me.

I was actually in the middle of accepting a plethora of friend requests (sorry can’t write this without smirking. I’m actually getting a smirk wrinkle on one side of my mouth only. Maybe I told you this already?)

So I’m mass-clicking yes to my new scool posse, and without really registering the name I clicked yes to Antoine. Again, this is actually not his real name of course.

So when I realised what had happened my weak, squishy, totally unprotected lady brain (and parts) went into hysterical overdrive. Incidentally, “hysteria” comes from the word for womb.. something about our stupid wombs causing everything. Also, interesting side note on a side note, google female hysteria and you will find some very interesting info about the origin of the vibrator. Ok back to the original tangent…

I went crazy. Did he want to see me? Did he know I’m in France… has he been waiting… does he miss me like crazy? Does he…. think he is ready to not be a dick and just go back to having the best sex either of us ever….

that sort of thing.

Not “fuck him, how dare he…”

Not “that’s a terrible idea, I should just tell him it’s nice to hear from him, I’m well, he’s well, good, good, and cut it off there.”

Nope. Square one, bitches.

Later he wrote to me asking how I was finding France and saying it’s weird I live so close, and I didn’t know how the fuck to take that… I just exchanged very cold pleasantries and then said g’luck with everything. The end.

Happy with myself for cutting off the convo, I so couldn’t take any more shit with him.

But I couldn’t rest.

Why did he contact me? Why did he contact me if he was just going to say stiff, boring things? He didn’t seem like he would contact me again, it didn’t seem like something he would do…. especially knowing how convinced he was that I was like soooo in love with him. And yeah I guess he was right there, I totally was… or my reaction now would have been more “meh” and less “gotta get my legs waxed in case this boy who broke my heart catches a glimpse of unsightly follicle when he says jump and I go to do the splits mid-air”

Course I couldn’t just be a good girl and play the silence game, so today, full fear and hangover and conviction that every person who is friends with me is probably just hanging out with me for some kind of dare, and every man who kisses me or calls me sexy is just doing it cause I give good head, and then maybe I don’t even give good head and men just like to humiliate me…..

I wrote to him asking why did he add me? I just said it was surprising.

He answered that he was looking at my profile to see if I did come to France after all, and accidentally must have clicked on add friend, and he only realised when I accepted. He said he didn’t mind, it was nice to have good news from me, although it’s weird I live so close… if I wanted to delete him as a friend he would understand.

And that’s the end of that.

Goddammit.

What I even hoped for I do not know.

I just wish he hadn’t got in touch because I was doing so well, and now I’m hung over and I started drifting off into thoughts about him, yeah I’d fuck him again but first I’d be cold and distant, make him feel like I moved away somewhere, but then it would melt away and he’d hold me and stroke my neck down to between my breasts and he’d follow his hands with his eyes, doing everything carefully, every action the result of thinking about it first. I’d breathe hot onto his ear and feel him tense, and I’d reach his ear with my mouth and he’d quiver against me and we’d kiss and touch  where we know to touch, and he’d whisper I want you now.

I loved that sex so much. When I think about him it’s all sex. He brushed my hair once in the shower, he did it with concentration, slowly, in a way that was so impractical and naive it endeared me to him.

I liked our meals together, we enjoyed wine and cheese and we drank milk after sex and it was exactly the right drink for after sex. He told me he got this habit from his older sister’s ex, who he presumably watched as a gangly little boy, a glass of cold milk and an attitude of I just fucked your sister.

But I never think about our conversations. It was just sex but it was sex that completely took me over. And I guess I would have gone there again, I would have prostrated myself on the altar of who cares, this is a sturdy surface, fuck me on it.

But it’s not to be, and I’m not sad about it, I’m really just sad that I break and I heal but there’s still a great gaping crack where he can slip right back in any time he wants.

And yes, that phrase was entirely intentional, although mine is just great and not gaping.

Ahhh, the fear.

Makes me feel like utter scrotum about my looks, my personality, everything… at least it only lasts til Tuesday.

Tuesday my ego will be back in full swing.

Really, I’m in paradise. I just need to keep going out and meeting locals which isn’t so easy when you are in a big group of foreigners with shit French, but it’s not like Italy, it’s not like that… it’s good here. Patience, my sweets.

I have seen so many hot barmen, hot binmen, hot policemen, hot traffic light repairmen up on ladders, hot cheesy sandwich vendors (also hot sandwiches and cheesy vendors)

It’ll be fine.. just gotta get through the ridiculous self loathing festival I’m holding in my hung over brain. I spent most of the day eating microwave reheated empanadas and watching bad camera angle porn, I think tomorrow the simple act of leaving the apartment and socialising with my school buddies will help significantly. Although I’m also kind of happy to have a decent internet connection again so I can watch porn.

I’ll try to write something when I’m not in this kind of mental space so you get a less skewed idea of my sanity. I was really happy every other day since I got here. And I speak atrocious French BUT I made a French girlfriend in a bar last weekend and she’s willing to hang out and listen to me talking like a 2 year old but with more Anglophonic “R”s and “N”s.

So I’m gonna get there…

PATIENCE

I don’t have much patience because I’m so eager to get there already and speak awesome French and be made love to passionately by awesome French guys.

A plus tard, my sweets.

Also, I’m actually not going to move my blog, I’ll keep this one. I’ll just continue to drop “the pursuit of ‘appiness” into my writing as a glorious pun but I won’t change the title cause… fuck it.

xxx

Abby N Flicker

Saturday night wine-in with Joni Mitchell

It’s Saturday night and I’m hemming a dress.

I’m trying to… I’m an impatient and crude sewer… sewist? Needlewoman?

But I want to hem this dress because I cut it shorter months ago and I like it, and I keep putting it on and thinking need to do that hem and throwing at the back of the wardrobe. But I’m MOVING to FRANCE soon so I need to shit or get off the pot, regards my dress.

And I’m drinking wine and that’s what I did last night too, I drank a bottle of red plonk, 6 euro a bottle, embarassed buying it really. I steeled myself for the teenager puffing up his chest when he served me, to ask some question about my cheap wine habits, to which I would reply “no I’m making mulled wine… for… eh… lots of people… you can use cheap wine for mulled wine, it doesn’t matter.”

Of course he didn’t say anything about my wine choices. He has in the past challenged me on my whiskey purchases but last night he was on a walkie talkie with a colleague whining

“I’m FOOKING STARVING, hurry the fook up! Ah here, ah here man! That’s fucking ages!” (I believe his colleague was leaving him waiting for his break.)

But I drank it on my own playing Age of Mythology and I said tonight would be different.

Anyway I can’t spend money because I’m going so soon and I have already dipped into my savings this month… I’m going to France with Fuck All savings.

And tonight I was listening to Joni Mitchell and hemming my dress and I think “All I want” was playing and it got me thinking of Antoine. Not of missing him, but just a gentle sort of thinking… I was thinking of the tender moments with this strange person who the more I got to know, the less I understood. Now, after everything, it’s so odd to me that we ever shared anything… and we shared so much, and yet it was nothing, nothing at all.

I thought, why am I still… thinking about him? Why am I still friends with him on facebook? Am I waiting for something? I don’t want him again, if he wrote to me I’m sorry I’m sorry I miss you I love you I’d let him down firmly but gently, and probably in a patronising manner because of the age difference I have recently added to our relationship, that I waved my hand at earlier. Nah, not for us. Now it’s my weapon, in case he comes back…

But he won’t and I don’t want more of him. So I opened facebook and went to his page to Unfriend him, not maliciously, but in the sense that neither of us should be made aware of changes, posts, photos… etc.

I know even now I do the odd facebook stalk session. Like a new girlfriend is just going to be announced on his page, or he’ll write something that totally references me… I don’t know. So I went to unfriend him… and instead of having that option… the button read “add friend”.

HE unfriended ME.

Goddammit.

When did this happen? I’m sure he was my friend recently, like two or three days ago. I don’t want to read it as something mean either, because from my point of view it wasn’t something nasty to do.

I guess it just means that for whatever reason, he was thinking of me, and for whatever reason, he wanted to not be facebook friends with me any more. I am sure it was really, really recent… like a matter of one or two days.

But there it is, he made the move, and for some reason it hurt me a bit.

I’m not really that hurt, I don’t need like, outpourings of sympathy… I’m just stung by it. Like a slap on the wrist of my confusing last relationship…

I don’t know what it is… I look at a picture of him and he looks younger every time. Like, really young. I don’t know what it was, what morsel I grabbed onto, that made me see him as a big, great man. I can’t recall it now. He was confident and I guess the usual men who like me are shy, self depracating, can’t believe their luck to be with me.

I wonder why I attract them..

Is it because I’m a fake confident? Like I feel confident.. I feel that I feel like I’m an attractive, fun, interesting, intelligent person. But then I don’t make decisions like I believe it… And who knows what my facial expression gives off…

When I look in the mirror I put my face in an arrangement that is just for me. I know it and I know my face and I see it all. I imagine other people see something similar but maybe I do some other expression when I’m being observed, or when I’m not… I’m terribly afraid that my personality, to other people, looks like a shabby attempt at jollyness, cockyness and spontaneity but it’s a flimsy veil over bitterness, fear, solitude and heartbreak.

I can’t tell, wine doesn’t really help. Joni Mitchell makes me feel splendid with myself, like my best friend is telling me things I always knew but never thought of. But I can’t shake the knowledge that it’s Saturday night and it’s Joni Mitchell’s voice and not a friend’s, and I’m drinking wine on my own trying to hem a dress like it’s going to MAKE me, a new outfit, new person. And here I am, a really great assortment of friends in Ireland… GOOD friends, friends who actually give a shit about me… and I’m home drinking on Saturday night and I’m about to move to France where I don’t even speak the language, and maybe the main reason I’m doing this is to prove to myself and my ex… my ex- facebook friend… that I wasn’t moving to France to be with him? Like it’s a game of emotional chicken and I’m the fool that gets run over for her bravery.

I DO want to do this, I feel like it’s my one big decision I’m making  to better myself as a person. To get over the things I dislike about myself. The antisocial, lazy behaviour… I HAVE TO get over that if I do this. So it’s good… just because it originated from a desperate need to follow a good feeling, a shallow good feeling with a boy… doesn’t mean it’s a fake plan doomed to bring me right back here even sadder.

But I also got married because I started a plan and I didn’t want to back out and admit I hadn’t a clue what I was doing.

But here I am, and I’m going to do something risky and scary and that’s good, I don’t want to wallow here making nothing of myself. Struggle is good, it has to be good. I need to do this. Ooooh I am a lonely painter, I live in a box of paints… I’m frightened by the devil, and I’m drawn to those ones that aint afraid…. Oh goddamit I will never get sick of Joni Mitchell. She’s just beautiful.

My family’s opinion has always washed off me like water off anybody’s back, but when I said I was getting married they all stalled and asked questions that made me shut down in self defence. And make up lies, monstrous lies about my view on life.

But I told my grandfather about this plan of mine, and my grandfather is a great, ridiculously intelligent man. He told my mother,

“in a way, everything Abby has done so far in her life has been leading up to this.”

And I really relish that being true.

So fuck it. Hope and enthusiasm and all that shit, while I’ve got ’em, I’m going to apply them to this situation and fuck, I just hope it brings me somewhere that isn’t the same as everywhere else. I have hope… but I’m also fucking terrified that all my life is going to be is one crisis after the next, savouring the drama to distract me from the fact that I’m never happy with anything and I’m always lonely. But that’s just wine talk, isn’t it?

I’m excited to go on my adventure I just hope there’s something out there for me….. something, anythign, to hold my attention and interest me that will stand up to scrutiny. I entertain myself with people who aren’t worth shit, like Antoine, and then it’s over and I’m thinking, who the fuck am I to continue to feel so superior when I can be utterly floored by some pretentious kid on Erasmus or before him, the cheap, mean, idiot I married, or before him, the ketamine dealer who cheated on me with his brother’s kid’s mother???

I don’t want to change myself, but I’d love to know what I can change about my behaviour, to get something better for myself. I hope my next plan is the first step…

Fifty shades of cordon bleu

I spent ten days with my family soaking up whatever sun can pass through factor fifty, freaking out about the abundance of freckles on my face and feeling like the odd one out in my family of perfect accomplished tanned go getters. Goddammit. When I spend time with them I’m the albino gorilla, I’m the prodigal son… oh how different Abby might be if only she had learnt to play piano or volleyball or  gone to college or spent more of her childhood in the sun. They don’t say it… just.

My best friend joined us for the last few days.. way to rescue me from beach boredom. Had a lot of fun, until we got dressed up and I remembered why I don’t live in Italy, why I don’t fancy Italians and why I bought pepper spray. Eugh.

Not fun… well, just a little bit fun, because I had my biatch with me and of course it was pretty off the hook, regardless of the slimey greaseball Italian teenagers we encountered.

I was glad to leave though. On to France, to Bordeaux. To my lover….

I flew without fear, the second time I really nailed it, fuck you fear of flying, I am just a normal person now who doesn’t LIKE flying but the last couple of flights I have been so cool, no shaking fear, no commandeering both arm rests to grip  them tightly while mentally composing my eulogy.

I landed with a self satisfied smirk at how brilliant I deal with flying now. The girl next to me was white and panicked. SAP.

The airport was tiny, we walked about 50 metres from the plane and entered the baggage reclaim hall. Ahead of me those opaque glass doors sliding open for the crowd ahead of me. I ducked out of view… crap.

Suddenly the moment I have fantasized about for over a month, menaced me with its uncertainty.

Would he be standing there, too far…. would I have to do the walk-skip-keep composed while grinning furiously? The romantic reunion in front of the crowd, or would it be an awkward hello how was the flight is this your bag? While I accidentally go for a kiss and realise I’m just getting a hug?

And do I look ok? I had applied some makeup on the plane but I was up at 7 to catch two trains and maybe I look tired, drawn… my so called tan is just freckles, isn’t it? What if he liked me pale and alabaster, what if my sunkissed skin is too Irish and freckly.. did I trade my classy, elegant whiteness for a bad patchy shade darker? I think in panic of my bikini like, de-haired but so fucking white next to the thighs and pink belly… oh my pink belly….

I squint into my tiny hand mirror and think no, it’s ok… fuck it. Fuck it. I just have to do it. I swing out through the doors and don’t look at anyone, hoping at least to “spot” him as we are nearly beside each other, so there is less uncomfortable distance and idiotic smiling.

He’s not there. Oh oh… but my flight was late, he’s probably having a smoke outside. I turn left through the doors and there he is, sitting on the low wall, looking at me…

He looks young, oh so young… younger than I remember. He’s so tall and thin, his face is young and lost and hopeful. I reach him and smile shyly, not sure any more about anything… do I really have the most amazing sex of my life with this young man, do I love him, do I want him? Have I just followed something shiny because I couldn’t have it, has he been one of my conquests, have I pursued him to prove I could, have I fooled us both… does he love me?

And I reached him and his hand reached up to my face and he kissed me, tender but reserved, and doubt curdled in my belly and then I hugged him and dropped the handle of my suitcase and his arms were around me and he held me so tight and I kissed him tentatively on his cheek/jaw/neck and he breathed  heat onto my neck I missed you… and I said it too and it caught me, it caught up to me, the hug lit up between us and it was Dublin airport all over again.

Shyly he took my hand and I dragged my suitcase along, giddy with the confirmation of everything being right again.

We walked to his car, borrowed from his father. It was an oven inside… he turned on the engine and I sat beside him with my freckled knees showing and talked about everything and nothing, and he asked me would you like to go to the beach? And I didn’t want to go to the beach, no, I wanted to go to bed, to lie down with my lover and tell him how much I missed him with kisses and feel him swell up and want me again.

But I said sure, cool… let’s go to the beach.

We stopped at the exit from the car park and the machine was automatic. His card didn’t work so we tried mine, but that didn’t work either. It didn’t accept coins… the intercom guy told us we had to pay the parking inside the airport first. Oh. We drove back in circles, trying to find another space to park. Parked and walked back to the terminal. Hand in hand, our eyes flicking over to each other and smiles spreading contagiously. He stopped once or twice and pulled me to him and kissed me and murmured, you’re beautiful.

We paid in the terminal, again the machines wouldn’t take our cards but they accepted my last few coins. Back to the car, back to the exit. Ticket accepted… now DRIVE!

Away from the airport… He squeezed my hand and I babbled incessantly about my holidays, my family, my friends back in Ireland. I made myself ask him about himself. His work, his dissertation… his family. Living back at home. All the time I drank him in, his smell, and I loved him and loved him and loved him. I love you, I thought. I really do love you. I mentally formed the words but didn’t say them. We drove to a petrol station, it didn’t accept our cards again. PUTAIN!

I love it when you talk French. Say something in French…

He said something quickly and I understood… he said It was so hard when you left and I missed you a lot. I smiled, I don’t know if he thought I would understand that….I squeezed his hand and said moi aussi. Which was wrong so he laughed. I think it should have been je aussi. Me too.

We found another petrol station and this one accepted his card. It’s a little bit wrecked, that old bank card. Bent and cracked in places. They took his card and when he came back I thought great, let’s be off… I want to be free of these motorways and generic shops. I want patisseries and cafes and old men drinking pastis and striped shirted cyclists carrying baguettes in their wicker baskets. And mostly I wanted to be alone together where I could pounce on my chauffeur without endangering our lives, and eat him up and make him love me.

He slid into the driver’s seat again, and elegant folding of long limbs. He looked stressed, what’s wrong? I asked. He groaned… I forgot the lid of the gas tank at the other place. What? I took of the lid, and I must have left it on the car and it fell off. Oh. Shit. Damn this I just want to go now.

He drove back to the first petrol station and we couldn’t see it. I think it is green, he said. I scanned the road out my window. Nope. We drove away, and as we left I had a brief glimpse of something green on the road, right in a busy intersection. And we were gone before I registered, that might be it. Shit. Now it’s too late, isn’t it? If I tell him now, it’s like… why didn’t you just say there it is? Why didn’t I? I don’t know. But I kept my mouth shut. I guess maybe I didn’t want to sit there any longer while he found somewhere to park, circled back, left me alone and went to pick up the lid. I just wanted to go. I felt bad though…. A little reminder of how selfish love is, for me anyway.

We drove away, away from the motorways and concrete. A long, straight, two lane road lined with trees. Forests, he told me. Important woodlands for the timber industry. Ahh. Oooh. Roadsigns loomed warning us of deer crossing. I made stupid comments about doing some deer spotting. I made stupid comments about everything. Stop this Abby…. stop talking mindlessly. He’s a silent type, he’s going to think I’m an idiot. We held hands sometimes. In traffic he kissed me quickly and his eyes bored deep into me.

This is good, he said.. This desire we are creating…

I agreed but privately wanted to smack him over the head for this delayed gratification bullshit and make him pull over so I could go to town on him.

We drove for too long. We drove and drove and then we were in a bright, summery, well kept little town by the ocean. We parked a metre from the sand dunes and tripped down to the beach holding hands and looking forward to sitting in the sand and kissing properly. We sat on a towel… smiled quickly and he pulled me over, grabbed my bottom lip with his two and kissed me passionately. My arms fell around his shoulders and my hands caressed his neck. He’s beautiful. He’s beautiful. He fits me better than anyone, he slides around me and fills the spaces, he’s never uncomfortable, there’s never a spare limb, never a clash of teeth or a nose in the eye. He’s beautiful, I kiss him and kiss him and my chest overflows with love. He’s my prince, my young prince… I kiss him and he holds me close and I feel him breathe me in and gently hold the back of my head like I’m a baby, delicate.

We breathe together like this and I’m perfectly happy… with a touch of sexual frustration. We struggle to our feet and dip our toes in the water. It’s cold, the ocean… cold but not too cold. I thought it would be too cold… I picture myself in the water in my bikini, holding him semi naked in the cold water, my legs wrapped around him, the salt buoying me to fucking height. I could twine around his body and devour his face, and no one would see us from the beach because the sun is starting to set and they would probably just see a couple holding each other and kissing. I tell him we should get in. I’ll change into a bikini. He smiles with all his teeth and pulls up an edge of underwear and snaps it. Black lycra. Swimming trunks…. well, briefs I guess. There’s a flutter in my own underpants as I picture my hand reaching in there and pulling him out. I want to kiss his penis like it’s a tongue. I want his head lolling back and I want his hand on my hair. Oh I want him… I wonder how far the city is from this place? The airport was far but we messed around with a lot of petrol stations and shit.

We head back to the car and I take my bikini. I hope he likes it… I look good in this bikini, well, for me… I’m not a bikini person. I’ve never been “beach ready” but this year I am something close to it. Glass of wine first?

YES. As I realise the water is cold and alcohol will help.

Sit at a little table outside a bar-restaurant. Two glasses of wine. Two euros each glass. Lovely wine. Little pretzels on the table.

The sun sets behind him, sinking into the sea in a partially visible ball of fire. There are a few clouds just there so it’s not magnificent, but he says “it would have been too cheesy if the sunset was perfect.” We talk about our plans. I realise he isn’t still studying any more, just this dissertation and he’s finished his degree. He wants to do a masters but is going to leave it for a while. My heart sinks because that’s what made me feel like he had no choice about going home… the studying. He’s starting work as a teacher’s assistant and that’s something I know he wants to do, so I guess yeah he’s tied to France but not as strictly as I had thought.

I didn’t want to tell him my semi-plan on the first night as I have to find the right words so he doesn’t think I’m moving to France to be with him. In some way, yes I am… but I am doing it for myself too. I want to study a TEFL course here in Ireland over the next couple of months and then I’ll go to France. If he doesn’t want to be with me, or he’s just not willing to be in a relationship, whatever happens… heartbreak, but I know I will love France anyway. I’m tired of the parties in Ireland. Fun fun fun but too much, too often, too expensive, and too destroying. I want more elegance, more class, more good taste and manners, less howling and stumbling down streets and less fear on a Monday morning. I want fine wine and cheap wine, but not too much wine. I want cheese and bread and olive oil, I want to throw open shutters in the morning, let a pale yellow light flood my home and write amongst coffee and crumbs. I want a French man to make love to me. I want it to be this Frenchman but I’m open to interviewing replacements if it’s too much for him, too much passion and intensity for his first relationship.

I could find another Frenchman to swoon at.. just… let me love this one a little bit more. I want him to want the same thing I want, but I don’t know what that is yet. I have a flimsy image of us sharing weekends in the city, working and living our lives during the week and coming together Friday in glorious hedonism and enjoy each other for three days, regular but not suffocating. But I can’t tell him this because he’ll think this is my plan, my real plan, and I’m waiting for a YES LET’S BE TOGETHER WHEN YOU COME HERE. I’m not, I just want a “yeah that would be cool… let’s see what happens.”

Maybe. Maybe I’m bullshitting myself.

So I tell him I want to do the TEFL course, that I’m saving money, that I think I’d like to try France and I want to learn French but I don’t know what part of France yet. It’s true. He thinks it’s a good idea. I’m obviously not happy in Ireland. I tell him my dad’s take on the subject:

“You didn’t like Italy, you don’t like Ireland… if you don’t like France you know where you should go? THE PSYCHOLOGIST.”

Ha ha. Maybe he’s right, but I think I could try a couple more places before I can be considered jaded.

Antoine says he wants to travel. He feels the same sometimes, maybe he is looking for something that doesn’t exist. But he wants to work in France for two years, then travel… hitchhiking across the globe. I feel a twinge of annoyance. Like it’s a personal rejection of me. Dismiss the idea. Not everything is about me… I think his idea is swell. I tell him go for it, but I mean NO DON’T GO TO THOSE STUPID PlACES… it’s all here, what you need, here with me… but I’m jealous too, because I can’t hitchhike around the world staying in random houses, it’s just too dangerous. The height of it for me would be to couchsurf, I casually think I might do that some time but I’ll still freak out that maybe I’ll get a creep….

I tell him I want a new adventure, I want to write. I want him to know that I have a life I want to lead and I’m not hanging around waiting for his invitation. He leans in as we finish our wine. Looks sincerely in my eyes.

He says, “I know you’re gonna do it.. I know you’ll do something great. You make all these tough choices and you keep trying… you will do something great, I know it.”

I feel like crying. I don’t want to do anything great, anything, anything. I just want him to wrap me up in his arms and plug the hollowness that keeps creeping back in my chest. I want promises and kisses and I want him to lay me down and remove my meticulously chosen dress and peel down my knickers and kiss me there, and not notice the awful white triangle with the red bumps from the ingrown hairs, and just notice how non-hairy it is for a change.  I don’t care about learning french or writing books or teaching English or having friends or doing anything all I want is this man inside me. It’s crazy, why does he make me feel this way? Why does lying down with someone, touching them, looking at their eyes, why does that make me happy? Why am I always a little bit lonely, a little bit yearning for something that feels impossible, until I feel his face against mine, nuzzling and breathing, kissing and sucking. Why is this something I want? Why do I feel so peaceful in his arms, like nothing matters, like nothing can go wrong. He’s nobody, he’s a man I met and he’s smart and sweet and generous and polite, and funny and gentle and passionate and romantic. But I’m in love with him and nothing but being with him, totally and completely, fused together in an embrace, nothing else will make me happy.

I want to tell him I love him but I know it’s something we aren’t going to say. Maybe not until tomorrow, or maybe not at all. We walk back to the beach and I change into my bikini awkwardly, under my dress. I boasted I could do this ninja underwear change because of PE (phys ed) changing rooms as a teenager (and not wanting other girls to know how weird my nipples looked when they weren’t erect) But I changed awkwardly, and when I finally was ready, bikini under dress, I realised he had miraculously changed trousers without my noticing. Oh. Ok. A better ninja.

We ran down the beach. The sun was still behind clouds, hovering over the horizon. Red light behind the clouds. Waves crashing on the shore. I whipped off my dress and he took off his trousers. My belly seemed more bloated, suddenly. I wasn’t feeling so cocky any more. He was slim but had put on a little bit of weight. Tanned, he looked good. His legs were brown up to shorts height… and under his shorts was the part of him I use to love him. I couldn’t wait to take it in my hand and look up at him and for it to be that time…

We ran into the sea and it was cold. Up to our shins was too cold so I decided to pretend to be a daring, life-living, day seizing individual and I just dunked my body in, and as I crouched into the water I was drenched in cold, cold saltiness but it wasn’t so bad, it was a nice shock. He followed my lead but better, he went underwater. I didn’t want to mess up my eye makeup.

And the waves were suddenly high. We were standing up to our thighs, I needed to pee I realised. But the waves were breaking on us, up to our shoulders. Up to my shoulders, his ribs. I wanted to pee and we were standing far enough from each other, I knew I could do it. I just needed to get a little deeper…. But a wave was coming, a big one. So big, this close to the shore. We were 20 metres from the shore. He yelled get down but I didn’t get down, and the wave battered me, pumelled me, dragged my bikini bottoms to one side. I started to tighten the strings but I realised I was at the right depth to pee. I released a tentative stream of pee while re-tying my bottoms, but he started to wade towards me. Ack! I might be discovered, my filthy juvenile sea-peeing. I waded back a bit, away from him, unable to stop the stream of pee. He looked at me like why are you running away? And then another huge wave broke, and again I didn’t get down because I was tying my bottoms. The wave jolted me forwards, stung my eyes, stung up my nose. I spluttered and realised it had also dragged my bikini top down to my waist, and the bottoms down to my ankles. My pee was startled into submission and I clutched my bikini to me… retying furiously as another monster loomed. Antoine told me come further in, the waves are worse here at the shore. But I was panicking, it was too deep with the waves. I’m not a good swimmer… I’m not a good swimmer. I’m here, he said. I’ll take care of you. But I had my bikini to sort out and it was scary, the waves one after the other, mercilessly battering me and dragging my clothes from me. He came to me when he saw the fear and he held me in his arms and I hoped he didn’t have an impossible pee detecting sense but of course the waves had already dispersed my pee, he would never know. Maybe he peed too….

He held me all wet and cold and kissed me saltily. I just wanted to leave with him, back to warm and dry. But I didn’t want to seem like a pussy. But  was too freaked out. I garbled my excuses, not good at swimming… not used to the waves… scared of drowning… not enjoying the forced nudity… and he wanted to stay in and maybe he was thinking of fucking standing up in the salt water, but I couldn’t stay in I was too scared of the salt in my nose and eyes. So we sloshed out defeated, more waves to dodge and surfers to be ashamed in front of. He wrapped a towel around me although I wasn’t cold. From the beach the sea looked beautiful and it was beautiful. I wished I had stayed in, the sea felt amazing, and I needed to finish that pee that was interupted. But it was scary. He rubbed me with the towel and then I took his towel and wrapped it around him. He pulled it over his head, a blue towel, and I laughed and said he looked like the virgin Mary.

He said really, but actually you know I’m not a virgin…

And it was the first allusion to our magical sexual relationship since he left me in Ireland. I grinned.

“really? Did we have sex?”

“You don’t remember?”

“Ah I must have been drunk..”

We kissed and his hand pulled my face closer, owning my face. His lips forced my upper lip into his mouth and he kissed and bit it. I had his lower lip, the full one, always a little chapped… I sucked his lip, I squeezed him with all my limbs and then tore my mouth away from his, kissing his jawline, nipping his skin, to his neck, I love his neck. My nose fits in there and it’s warm and tender. I breathe into him and he holds me, wet and sandy lovers on a beach in France, nothing like the environment we met in, but the feeling just the same, just lovely. I’m melting.

Another glass of wine? Some food? Or back to the apartment?

I just want to get you home, I say. Apartment. I’m not hungry…. I bite him again. I can’t have ever wanted anyone as much as I want him. I try to remember how I saw him earlier, at the airport… sitting on that wall, looking like a lost boy. He doesn’t look like that now. It’s his character, the way he acts, the way he drives, the way he kisses me, the way he  talks… they fill in his face, they make him a man.

Ok it’s about an hour though. And it might be tough to find parking… I am filled with rage. Why did we come to the fucking beach, I just need to get him to a bed now… now… noww… but I know I’m glad we came to the beach, it was cool, it’s why I’m so ready for him now. But I wish there was a closer beach, or a closer apartment. Depressed, I slip into the car, throw on my dress over my wet  bikini. I sit watching the deer crossing signs and forcing myself not to make any more inane comments. He talks a bit, I talk a bit. We listen to music. I think about his penis. I can’t remember it very well… it’s lovely but I can’t remember what it’s like exactly. He tells me the road is boring to drive along, it’s so straight… people can fall asleep. I quip, but was actually serious,

“If you’re bored I could suck your penis for a while…”

He says no that’s probably not a good idea… haha.

I tell him just for safety, I don’t want him to fall asleep.

My half-joke-half-desperate plea for sex falls flat. I’m feeling grumpy and rejected. It takes AGES to get to Bordeaux.

Eventually we arrive but the only space outside the apartment is half on the footpath. It doesn’t look like you can park there… he might get a fine .At this point I couldn’t care less if he gets a fine, if the car is clamped, if it spontaneously combusts. I just want to get out, go upstairs, sit down and start touching hidden body parts. I make sympathetic noises and statements. He decides to risk getting a fine. We go upstairs and he opens the door.

It’s an old, bright, slightly messy apartment. Two medical students live here but are on holidays and are lending us the apartment… they are friends of a friend. They don’t know him or me…. pretty decent of them actually. He has made the bed up and there’s wine in the kitchen. We put on music and open wine and sit on the couch uncertainly. For a second.

And then fall on each other, kissing, whispering, Touching, stroking up under shirt and dress, running hands up legs, hand cradling back of neck, fingers through hair, mouths everywhere. He lies back on the couch and I fall after him, kissing and moaning. I am almost embarassed of how wet I am. He tries a finger… it’s ridiculous. I remember what I was waiting for all night and slip a hand inside his trousers. The fabric is soft and there is an opening at the front, they are kind of pyjamas really… He’s there, hard and smooth, curled underneath. I pull him out of the fabric he is caught in and he springs up.. I feel tenderness wash over me. He is his penis, it’s his delicate part of him…. the part of him I can concentrate my love on and he will feel the most. That’s what it is, it’s not a SEXUAL ORGAN, it’s an extension of the person you want… their avatar for sex, their vulnerable bit.

I lean over and kiss it and it tastes like the sea. I kiss it wetter again. He closes his eyes and tightens his grip on my arms. I kiss him again and again and then I stop because I want our first time to be closer than that. He pulls me up and takes my hand. Leads me to the bedroom and we collapse on the bed. Kissing and kissing. So lovely, so gentle.

I want him NOW. He murmers I want you, in my ear and it thrills me that we’re in sync like this. I bite hard where my mouth is, somewhere on his body, and I can hear a packet unwrapped beside me. It’s the plastic, he didn’t remove the plastic first. Rookie mistake, and sure enough it’s a few agonising moments before the condom has been isolated and I put it on him because we both know I am better at this because I have more experience…

He’s big and beautiful and he’s leaning over me, on his arms and knees, my legs closed between his. He looks at me full of fire and emotion and sweetness. I have been waiting for this moment for a month and a half. He kisses me and guides himself in. It’s the most incredible feeling, he’s so close to me. It’s a little painful at times… I cling to him, we rise and fall, we kiss like our mouths are also having sex. He wants me to come too… he feels around for my hand and brings it to me. I try but no, I just want to feel him. I don’t want to remove myself from the back and forth to try and come. So I tell him I just want to make love now, and I want him to come when he feels it… And I get on top of him for a bit and I grind onto him, and it feels so good. I’m full…

And finally we he turns me over but it’s not doggy style, which I don’t really like… I’m flat on my face and he’s flat on top of me. His body all over mine, his mouth behind my ear, his breath hot and his arm reaching around under me to touch my breast. He shudders into me again and again and it’s too hot, I can’t move and I love it. He nips my ear, kisses, pulls at me. And I feel something… I hear a snap or I feel it, but it feels too good, him inside me… I don’t stop him. He comes and I know the condom is broken. I think he knows too. He comes gigantically, mashing me into the mattress, gripping me with his whole body, and as he is tensest he lets go and moans into my sweat-drenched neck. He kisses me gently now, quietly. We pant and he hugs me and buries his face in my hair. A single last moan. That was incredible. Intense…

He lifts himself out and we sheepishly eye the broken condom bunched around the base of his cock… We both make some half admission of maybe noticing it happen but not being sure. It’ll be ok, we can get the morning after pill.

Now we can have sex without these fucking condoms…

I looked away and muttered, that’s not why we use condoms…

He said yeah but it’s already happened twice with us, that they have broken… so…

We smoke a cigarette, smiling at each other, drinking each other in. Holding hands and rubbing each others fingers. Kissing between drags… finishing the cigarettes and lying back down, kissing and touching, gazing at each other through the haze of emotion. He cups my face in his hands, those big strong hands. My skin against his skin. I shift forwards and feel him hard under my belly. Kiss with more urgency. Sucking his skin between my teeth. Reaching down and massaging him and his breath catches in his throat. Eyes closed. He’s so hard, so big and hard. I love your penis. My penis loves you too…

I move further up and I’m sitting on him on the low couch. I feel him strain up instinctively and I pull him up and into me and sit lower and he reaches to my buttocks and squeezes and my thighs and pulls me forward and back, we rock together more and more urgently. Sometimes his head jerks forward and he seizes a breast, pushes a nipple to his mouth, sucks, bites too hard, oh too hard. Then he lets go and clasps my back, tightens me to him and I shift my thighs and urge him on, squeeze him inside. He lifts me… we glance at the couch and decide on the bed.  Dart back to bed, he climbs onto me, he looks hungry, the hungriest I have seen. My legs over his shoulders and this time I touch myself and we come together, violently, disgustingly, beautifully, perfectly synchronised and I whisper I love you as he groans to the end and I don’t know if he heard me but I don’t care.  I love him so completely then, I want nothing, I’m at peace. He lies half on me half off and kisses me slowly, his thumb running over my freckles. I think cloudily about his body, his eyes, his face.

I wonder what  I look like to him. He has brown eyes and a slightly mournful expression in them. His lips chapped because they are full, and because I bit them very hard. His cheeks are not pudgy like mine. The bones sit just under the surface. An attractive skull…

I notice big pores on his cheeks. Wide pores… I wonder if he sees all my blackheads, all my facial hair. I get rid of my moustache and the ever growing beard hairs, but they are always back. I feel self conscious about a bit of a moustache that is about a week away from needing serious intervention. It’s ok… is it? I look at his pores and they seem oddly like part of why I’m attracted to him. I wonder does he love my defects too. I wish we were having a sweetheart’s conversation and not just smiling at each other. I ask him to tell me something. I want him to compliment me or tell me he loves me but I pretend I mean a fact, a story… something interesting. He  stares at me intensely and says sometimes you don’t need to talk to tell something. And I check the way he is looking at me for clues, and then it’s obvious what he’s saying, just what I’m thinking. He’s thinking I love you. He’s thinking I love you and I can practically hear it. I know why he doesn’t want to say it. I kiss him with as much love as I can…

We make love four more times that night and fall asleep in total happiness.

Waking up is perfect, his limbs warm and soft with mine, his face peaceful, together slowly realising awakeness. We kiss the chaste kiss of the unbrushed morning smoker teeth. He’s stirring, I’m still wet from last night. We make love again and come again, less violent, more contented. We lie together then he gets up and dresses, we have coffee and he goes to buy croissant.

I sit in this stranger’s apartment and listen to the sounds of France, the cars and shouts in my lover’s language, the slammed doors and barking dogs, probably poodles. I want to call my best friend to share my sexscapades but it’s too early. I giggle to myself about my lover going to buy croissants for breakfast. I think about Dylan Moran’s stand up about French people, naked from the waist down and padding around the apartment picking up croissant crumbs with their feet.

I stroke my belly which hurts… not my belly but something deeper. I’m sore inside, the sex was gentle but relentless. I’m raw and have something like period cramps. I wonder how it will be to buy the morning after pill in France. Embarassing… he’ll have to speak for me.

He comes back with two croissants, two delicious pain au chocolate and some juice. And the morning after pill. I love that he bought it for me. Saved the embarassment. The pharmacist insisted I come in person, but he refused. “It has just as much to do with me as it does with her.” She relented and sold it to him. I took the pill.

We drink coffee and eat and then smoke and shower together, intensely and slowly washing each other badly, just feeling the soap suds, nobody getting very clean. We leave the shower and make love again with a condom, careful this time and then again, and then I’m too sore to move but I still want more. He kisses me with questions in his eyes. He looks like he can’t believe it, how good this feels. We talk and make plans for the day. I want to see the city but I don’t care what we do…

Outside the car has a yellow fine tucked under the wiper. We wince but it’s only 15 euro.  There’s a proper space free now so he moves the car…

Walking around the city goofy with love. Holding hands and stopping to kiss. Lunch with wine, delicious and simple. See the sights, the cathedral topped with a gold Mary. Towers and parts of the old city wall. A palace-like building he explained to me but I don’t remember. The river and the fountains. The people so elegant and relaxed, the streets wide and leaf-shaded. Beautiful, everywhere beautiful. We go home and make love again and eat cheese and bread and I wonder when will I be able to go to the toilet. The toilet is a little closet with no sink… the bathroom has no toilet. It’s too unprotected. My body seizes up and demands a 20 minute safety window so I can relax, go to the toilet and not have him realise.

We go to the cinema, it’s lovely…. sit in the dark and he feels my fingernails, the badly applied polish addictively smooth to touch. We go for a drink after and want to meet his friends but they are going to a concert and don’t reply to his text asking to meet up later. We drink wine, talk about life, I make a comment about how I think my family thinks of me as someone deeply unhappy…

He holds my hand and tells me I deserve to be happy, so happy. It feels like something I would say to someone I wanted to find their own happiness, but had no intention of contributing to it personally. Like a breakup platitude…

But then, let’s go home and make love.

We go home and make love and I don’t want to sleep because the day will be over, and we will only have one day left.

We sleep sweetly and wake and breakfast and make love and shower and make love and shower and it’s all so perfect. We drive out of the city again… to see the vineyards. Lunch at a tourist-heavy medieval town full of wine and cafes. I order the chicken and it’s boring and dry. His is duck, and it’s succulent and lovely. He shares his with me and we have an expensive, lovely wine. Flies surround us as we eat. It’s annoying and I stress about the flies maybe being more around me than other people. But no, everyone has a lot of flies.

I still can’t go to the toilet. It just isn’t happening. My belly is a drum… It’s awful. I want to be slim like I was when I was in Italy. I want to look good…

We drive through towns in the hottest car in the universe, and stop for flan which is delicious and a cool drink at a boulangerie. I ask him what a boulange is and he says it’s nothing. Boulangerie means bakery. I have to stop saying stupid shit… But he often comments that I’m intelligent. For a woman… it’s a joke we have because his friend said that once, perfectly serious but drunk out of his mind. I tell him he’s pretty smart… for a man. We are in a bubble of stupidity really, but nothing matters.

I want him all the time. He kisses me every chance he gets. He touches me… he puts an arm around my shoulders and I feel like a woman and I feel loved. We drive for ages, we talk about everything. I talk more of course. He leans and kisses me passionately at traffic lights. I want him again… we can’t find a parking space so we drive far away, I’m going crazy because how can we not find a parking space? It feels like a massive conspiracy against us. Our precious time wasted in a car. Finally a spot is found, miles away. Long walk back to the apartment in the sweltering heat.

We pick up food in the supermarket and I feel like crying because that was the last day. I have to leave tomorrow and I don’t want to go, I want to be with him and it’s so hard…. I’m so happy with him by my side.

He notices the things I like about myself. He’s intelligent… he’s lovely, he’s polite, he pulls my chair out before I sit down…. he’s sweet and passionate. He’s interesting and he likes a lot of things I like and a lot of things I don’t know about.

Back in the apartment we fell onto each other, a whole day in the car and all that longing. I gave him the really, really, really good head. The stuff reserved for people you are afraid of losing. The effort, the diligence. He whispered that’s incredible and he came with a flicker of fear across his face. He held me tight and kissed me all over and told me it was amazing, incredible, amazing. I swelled up with love and so did he. We showered together again and he made dinner while I contemplated what I had to ask him, what I needed to tell him.

We ate duck breast, beautiful and pink inside. Potatoes with peppery, creamy sauce. Drank red wine while the words jumbled around in my head, waiting for the moment.

We smoked after dinner and kissed each other and I breathed deep.

So how do you feel about this? Now that I’ve come here….

He told me he was glad I came… it felt so good being with me. So happy, so relaxed.. but he didn’t want to make plans for the future, he couldn’t handle it. He couldn’t think about the future… his eyes widened in panic as he spoke.

I wanted to reach out into him, some special part where decisions could be made, reach out and press DO IT, JUMP WITH ME. Let’s be together…

You’re young but you love me, I’m young too but I’ve loved and risked and lost and started again and it’s worth it my fuck it is worth it. I’ve suffered.. I’ve cried and cried over worthless men but the feelings… the feelings were worth it. I don’t ever want to run away from the happiness because it’s scary, I’d rather take your hand now and lose you in a month than stand alone now to avoid the hurt. You can’t fall in love and avoid the hurt. It comes either way. But we can have more happiness before it comes. To make it all worth while… but I didn’t say that, I said something like that, something about how I wanted to try… but I didn’t want to make big plans either.

I knew I wasn’t saying all the right things that I needed to say but I was afraid to  say the thing that would make him run for the hills. We didn’t say we loved each other but it was obvious.

I told him how I was so hurt when he left because I thought he didn’t care, that it was all bullshit….  he stared at me incredulous… how could you think that? How could you imagine that?

And I explained, he told me he wanted to try move on, be happy without each other… but he said no, no, it’s easy to say… it’s hard to do. It was so tough losing you. So hard to say goodbye… I missed you so much. We kissed and held each other and I felt like no matter what he said it was fine, he obviously loved me, he made it clear. He just didn’t want to plan to be together. But I was in his arms and it didn’t matter, he clearly loved me, he couldn’t turn this down….

We went to bed and made love. And then again, the last time although I didn’t know it then. It was perfect. It was the most wonderful time I have ever had with anyone. He gasped I love you and we came together with our mouths together, kissing and still kissing as we came, and he stayed inside me and we kissed afterwards, until eventually we had to make sure the condom was still intact. We gazed at each other and our sweat shone and our eyes shone and I loved him so much and I have never felt so loved.

We smoked a joint but I became paranoid and couldn’t sleep… I wanted to go to the bathroom but I still couldn’t go. The joint made me panic, nearly three days without going…. could I die? I sat in the bathroom with paranoid thoughts for a long time, worrying about something vague, worrying worrying about it until I realised I was just thinking about goats…. my mind full of pictures of goats. Tried to shake it off… until I heard something, just when I thought maybe I could go, maybe… I got up and skulked into the kitchen, freaked out… thinking maybe someone had broken in… of course it was just him, of course… but the joint made me so paranoid. I found him in the light of the fridge, lean and tall, drinking milk with a straight back. He saw me and told me, he had been paranoid too. Thought I had just left… got up and left the apartment. We laughed at our paranoia.

We cuddled and smoked a cigarette and then went back to bed. I was sad because I don’t want to leave him, I want to sleep with him next to me. I want to wake up with his face to kiss, and I want to do beautiful things with him, make love and feel warm. He fits me so well, I wouldn’t need to be jealous, protective, paranoid… when I’m with him it all makes sense.

We had breakfast and a last glass of wine and we said we won’t be sad today, ok?

We bought a good bottle of vodka for the girls who lent us their apartment and left some money too. We packed our things and cleaned the apartment and changed the sheets and he collected all the condoms. Some of them hid, under the mattress, behind the bed. We rounded them all up and I realised that was the last time, last night was the last time. It was perfect. It couldn’t have been better. We left it at that. He drove me to the airport and said I don’t think we should spent an hour together in the airport, that isn’t good and he was right. He parked in a taxi spot and we kissed goodbye quickly and with a slight wrenching and parted suddenly. I walked into the airport without looking back and he drove away and I felt like crying but not like when he left me before.

I wanted to tell him so many things, I wanted to tell him I loved him and would he just cop on and be with me, whatever it takes, just stop being confused, realise how special this is.

I got my flight with a slightly broken heart but I was able to cope… after take off I picked up the last book I was reading, One Day. The bit at the end… the sad bit. I don’t know why I thought I could read that but I cried on the plane and for the first time as an adult, I cried on a plane and it had nothing to do with thinking I was going to die. I had to stop reading the book but it made me realise I was not totally ok. It would be hard, off course it would… the easy lightness when we spoke about everything, barely touching off what we should have spoken about… it doesn’t seem so cool and fine any more.

I’m not as desolate as I was last time… he made me feel sure that he loves me, and I still do…

It’s just…

Yesterday my mother got married to her long long long time partner. Official stepdad now. They were very sweet… I had a great day and a great night, I was in top form. But there was so much drinking and I only got about three hours of sleep. So this morning I had an atrocious case of the fear. I yearned for my lover. I ached for his warmth beside me, his sweet face and murmuring you’re beautiful.

And I wrote to Antoine saying I miss you. And he replied pretty quickly, yes it’s hard for me too to be separated again.

But then it went downhill… He said he thought it was pointless to write sweet things to each other because it’s not a substitute for actually being there. And he said we can’t just see each other for a few days here and there…

He would love to have a chance to make things happen but it’s not like that. I told him, look I’m not making plans about this yet, but I might be in France in a few months and we might have this chance. I really don’t want him to think it’s for him, it’s not. Without him I still want to do it, but with him I’d probably go to his city. Without him I’ll avoid his city. I do love his city… but I’m going anyway.

But he said, please don’t have these expectations, I don’t know, I’m lost… He said he loves me, he loves who I am, but he doesn’t know what he can offer me.

I told him I haven’t got expectations, I just love being with him and I’d like to see him again, even if just for a few days I think it is worth it. But he said, I have to go back to work, we can talk later.

And I remembered his dissertation and he only has a few days left to work on it. And here’s me badgering him about our relationship when he’s got a serious deadline…. Because I need hung over confirmation of his feelings, of things we have already talked about. MY best friend tells me move on, he isn’t worth it. He’s too young, he’s not ready.

But I want HIM, he’s the man I want. Why can’t I have the man I want, if I’m so freaking awesome? She told me I don’t realise how great I am, how special I am. But if I’m so special why isnt he chasing me across the globe, begging to be with me? I know he loves me. I know I’m special. I know he’s had the best sex of his life with me., the best time with any girl or woman… But what does that add up to? I don’t know if he will want to see me if I go to France. I would love to go to that city, I loved that city… but can I really go there if I’m gonna bump into this man who gives me goosebumps, who I love, tenderly, passionately… who loves me and loves being with me but doesn’t want to risk saying “ok let’s try this!”

Again I’m doing mental gymnastics for a man, to try and make sense of his love but disinterest. The feelings are sincere. He may say confused things but I know he is sincere. So where am I?

I had the best three days with anyone I’ve ever met, the best sex, the best romance, the best dates, the best time. And I should be happy… so happy… but I’m hung over and my love says he’s lost and doesn’t know and we’ll talk later but he was online later and didn’t write to me.

And what does he have to offer me? What is it? I’m addicted to the feeling I get when I’m with him. The first night we met and walked in the sun back from that party…. we talked a little bit, about our hopes, our families, our pet hates. I was ready for someone to sweep me off my feet and he did it so effortlessly, so simply. I fell for him that morning, that night… he was romantic. I don’t think I’m asking for anything. Just two people enjoying each other… does he think that’s too much or does he think if we lived nearby, I’d expect him to be at my side night and day, just like when we were in Ireland or France with limited time? If that’s his fear then no, no… I know that’s not sustainable long term. I’d want my own space too, even if only to give myself a chance to use the fucking toilet.

Some part of me knows I’m lying to myself and him, that I’m head over heels and stupidly so, and I won’t be happy until I’ve smothered the fire, worn out all the passion we have and can be finally bored of him and cast him off, lost and confused, and be my own woman again. Maybe all we have is passion and an appreciation of another lonely intelligent person who isn’t quite a nerd or quite a party animal, somewhere between romance and sex addiction, somewhere between doing what’s right and doing what feels good. Maybe I just opened my eyes to someone who’s kinda like me right at the moment when he came along, and now it seems like he’s the only one…. I don’t know…. is it him? Is it me, aching to make someone fit and be my companion in a life that’s lonely and confusing? I don’t even know where I’m fooling myself. I don’t know if maybe he’s being naive, making annoying decisions about what’s right and what’s wrong, or if he’s totally right, and his doubts are right, and I just can’t see the problems for myself because I don’t want to let go of something sweet.

I have lied to myself about every man I’ve met, and it’s a hard habit to break.

But I’m ok… I will survive. From one romantic crisis to the next,

yours, and always…

Abby N Flicker