Consider the new year christened

Christmas wasn’t the best.

But there was new year.

Antoine invited me to spend it with his friends in his small hometown about 2 hours away. I wasn’t sure about it.. I wanted to see him, fuck I wanted to feel him, but I didn’t want to get a train to hang on his arm, to meet a bunch of younger people who wouldn’t believe I just came here on my own and by coincidence found myself right next to him. But my friends had mostly gone home or gone away for the holidays and of course I wanted to see him.

I knew as soon as he invited me, that I’d be there with him at midnight feeling weak and conflicted but that I’d be there.

I made myself consider it, consider my options, mull it over, although the decision was made as soon as he asked.

I took the train on the 31st and a bus after that. I snuck a peek of my face in my hand mirror, embarassed to be checking myself out in public. Because I felt insecure and inadequate, and the other passengers would surely know. I looked tired from all the Christmas drinking, bloated from all the eating, and I had a couple of little spots on my chin because I would be getting my period (hopefully not tooo soon)

I felt pathetic, 25 years old, a marriage behind me, travels and jobs and parties and wilderness and so much trial and error, all leading to this, following a younger guy back to his parents’ town, to spend the new year of my new life in someone else’s world with someone else’s friends.

I got off the bus and my skirt was short for a small town (short for France, even) and a young, attractive black guy at the bus stop looked me over and drew in a whistling breath through his teeth and said Ooh, la la… and something like mon dieu. I looked away embarassed about my skirt but grateful for any kind of boost…

And I saw Antoine in the distance, walking towards me all lazy confidence, limping a bit because he twisted his ankle recently. He kissed me and said I’m so happy you came. I missed you.

He showed me around his town, immune to the clusters of drunk creeps, because he grew up a tall man, so he doesn’t feel the same sense of danger or intimidation that I do. Walked right into a group of these guys to show me the view of the river and the town perched romantically on its banks. The guys started saying stuff to us, he answered, they were clearly very interested in me and if I had been with anyone less tall and French I would have been scared. He answered them and they asked me something and I didn’t really understand so I just said I don’t speak French. They threw a few more jocular comments his way, I think they were complimenting him on his slutty looking foreign acquisition, but maybe I’m just being paranoid-egotistical.

He has no idea of the danger-filter I see the world through.

We left and walked elsewhere, and then drove back to his place.

There was nobody there, the house was empty, everything was built big and tasteful. He showed me his childhood photos on the walls without embarassment. He showed me his brothers and sisters, he poured me a glass of cognac and told me we could drink it up in his bedroom “not to do anything… but because we can smoke there”

I thought the prefix “not to do anything” kind of idiotic, because we have made love so many times and of course we were going to do it again, and again, and again, so I was hardly going to accuse him of moving too fast. But that’s what he’s like. He hates the distasteful, the tacky, the vulgar. I love vulgarity, but I guess I do also appreciate the lack of it in a man.

We went upstairs and drank the cognac and put on some music and then we made love and I thought every time is different, every time it gets somehow better. What I love is that when he comes he doesn’t turn aggressive, not even for a second. He thrusts more violently, faster, harder, sure, but all the while he kisses my neck, my face, so gently and so tenderly. Even if I don’t come too…….. it feels perfect. Afterwards he kisses and kisses me, and I couldn’t imagine any words telling me more about love than those times together.

There was one thing lacking when we were together in Ireland. He wasn’t really comfortable with oral. He tried a few times but I didn’t get a feeling of him actually wanting to do it, so I would pull him back up… I couldn’t relax if I didn’t think it was really an expression of passion or desire. But this time…. well, either he’s had some practice elsewhere (don’t really want to think about that) or else he’s made a conscious decision to do it… or maybe he’s just grown more comfortable with me.

Either way, it was perfect.

He asked me what I was going to wear, which was odd for me because men don’t usually seem to consider or take an interest in the process of getting dressed. They usually watch, bemused, as I fling outfits around scowling and cursing my lack of black high heels or how I just don’t have anything to wear. I showed him one dress, a short one with a sexy lace back. Maybe a bit too slutty for meeting his friends? He ran his hands over my body and kissed me and I sucked in my stomach because that dress is a bit unforgiving. Then I showed him another dress, a more grown up dress, classier. He told me he liked the first, hotter one better but it’s my choice. I wore the first dress.

He brought a big mirror into the room for me to use. His younger brother came home for a while and I was introduced to my first member of his family. Then he left and we made love again and took a shower together. He always wants to shower together, and he wanted to fuck me in the shower which I guess he’s never done so he doesn’t know how disappointing it is. He’s too tall, though, so we couldn’t. There was a plastic step in the bathroom that we considered using but I was afraid it would slip and he might not catch me with his bad ankle. I promised we’ll do it some time…

In the car he told me in his always carefuly chosen words, that he was proud to introduce me to his friends. Of course I couldn’t just take the sentiment, I had to say something stupid. So I said “oh, are they really cool friends?” and then I retracted it and said “sorry.. so you’re proud?” and he said yes, and I kissed his hand.

I felt sad because we both know it’s not going to last. Normally at this stage in a relationship, and actually I’ve never felt so passionately with anyone… not so consistently, anyway, but normally at the intense-passionate honeymoon part, you imagine it lasting forever or wanting it to anyway.

And fuck, I’m in love with his physical presence, with his body, with how he looks at me, with how he gets hard in a split second if I kiss him, how all he has to do is touch me and I want him, how we fit so well… I’m in love with waking up with him, with falling asleep touching as much of my body off as much of his. And then we both know it can’t last, it won’t last, and sooner or later there will be the pain again. If we take it day by day it’s beautiful, utter turmoil turned into complete peace. And then when I think of the day after and the week after and the month and year and where is it going, it hits me hard and I can’t bear it. Feeling like this should come with hope, enough hope to make it light and giddy. But it’s not light, it’s heavy around us. It’s not giddy, it’s serious, it’s finite. I lie on his chest afterwards and his heartbeat counts down to the last time I lie there.

And just when I wind the consequences, the strings of possibilities around in my mind trying to find an end to pull on…. his thumb is there tracing the line of my jaw and his eyes are soft and his lip between my teeth and all I can do is pull him to me, inside me, and there’s the peace again.

What do I do with that?

We spent new year together with his friends and I held my own, I was interesting and nice, I was funny and energetic, I drank champagne and was jealous when he spent so long talking to the girl with the massive cleavage but I held back and let him come to me, let him find me having a good time with other people, living up to his expectations, I hope.

At the end of the night he took my hand and we had our own room and the champagne and the desire from spending hours together but not alone, gave us a wild, brutal session. I woke up so sore and so much in love, and again and again and again. And back in his place we made love and showered and he packed a bag and we took the train together back to my place. My flatmate was gone as it turned out, for the next 3 days, but we didn’t know so we kept to my bedroom.

It was incredible. I had the best time of my life, in that bedroom. I didn’t imagine it could be stronger than before but fuck, I’m lost. He told me he didn’t know how long we would last, but it’s wonderful. I was sad but felt the same. The doom over it all and the openness we have about it, seems to have brought us closer. The sex is never the same, never dull, never boring. Even in my most passionate affairs before, there always came a time when I just wanted to guy to come already because I started to get bored or sore or feel disconnected from the rutting animal who took over from my lover. Or where he’d touch me and I’d feel nothing, and not be in the mood, or when I’d touch him and he’d say not now, we don’t have time before we go to the cinema/party… etc.

But not with Antoine. We spent 5 days together, condom wrappers like confetti in my bedroom. We went to the cinema and restaurant and I took him to my favorite wine bar and we wrote a nonsense story together on a scrap of paper in French and English, and he insisted on paying most of the time.

After 5 days I’m glad he’s gone to visit his friends now, and then back home, I need some time to myself but I wish he was here nonetheless. We didn’t get sick of each other, we didn’t wake up a single morning without being ready for more, we didn’t fall asleep a single night without it being a true collapse from exhaustion. In the 3 days we spent in my place, he lost 1.5 kilos and I lost 2 kilos.

If only he stayed 3 more days I would be back at my ideal weight.

And now I have to find a job, find an apartment… find one with a double bed.

And do something with all these fucking thoughts.


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