February 4, 2012 § 1 Comment
One city is quietly special for me. It’s the place where I first truly committed to doing this, to arranging a life of men and travel and money. I already had those things but it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I still want more. And it matters that I made that decision while I was in a place I’d never been before, alone in a hotel room, like I was pushing pause on that moment, sustaining “alone in a hotel room” across a long field of time.
I continue to have trouble feeling love across distances yet I don’t stay at home. When I’m away, I forget about people who are supposed to matter to me and I feel forgotten by them. Once the older man found a copy of How To Disappear Completely And Never Be Found in my bookshelves and he confronted me with it while I was doing something in the other room. I remember him shaking, demanding, what is this? And I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do with the way he was looking at me, eyes wild as a horse’s. It must have been something he sensed about me already. That was back when he said contemplating the inevitability of my death made him nauseated. He’d placed that much of his hope on me. We haven’t spoken in years.
Though I’ve never been a romantic, never fantasized about weddings or marriages or having children, I’ve realized I want one man to love me behind everything else. I want his love to be my scenery while I do whatever I want on the stage. I suppose this is what a father is supposed to do, but mine can’t, or I wouldn’t ask him to now. There were moments in my childhood when he managed but ultimately I pushed it away. His love was poor so I thought I’d rather not have it at all. Let the stage be empty until something better fills the background. I guess that’s too much to ask from most people. I’ve been told it’s too hard. What would I be like if I were an easy person to love? Hardly myself: easy to become infatuated with, impossible to partner.
“Do you think you’ll ever turn yourself over to one man?” a client once asked.
I laughed. “Turn myself over,” I said. “Like he’s a sheriff.”
He told me it was the defining question of his own life, whether he could subvert the unsatisfied aspects of himself, could quiet or erase them in order to please another. He acted as though I might not know he was married, so I played along. Finally he admitted that once during a romantic dinner at a vacation spot, his wife told him, I had a dream that you were paying for sex. And he leaned across the table and said, at least I was buying something worth paying for.
“She doesn’t realize that the ooey-gooey stuff isn’t enough for me,” he said, meaning the emotional intimacy or rather the illusion of it, the platonic massages, the flattery he dispenses so relentlessly. (“You’ve ruined me, you know. I can’t see anyone else anymore, because they’re not you.”) “But, it’s like no, Honey. I need my cock sucked. And I need my cocked sucked like Charlotte sucks my cock.” I smirked. Moments earlier I’d knelt before him and he drew my head back using my hair as a handle, pulling my face perfectly parallel to catch all of his come. “Oh, baby,” he gasped the first time I ever put my mouth on him, eventually yanking me away by the ponytail in his fist to kiss me. “I love the way you take care of me.”
My most generous client is an astoundingly tall man who I first met while I was high, or at least I was at the point where all the symptoms of feeling high bled into the symptoms of having been up for a long time without sleeping or eating. I was in a good mood and probably even more expressive than usual, and when after less than two hours he left the suite he’d reserved for us, I knew not to take it personally. Occasionally they have to be businesslike about sex, practical, either because that’s their dominant mode and it’s too hard to shake or because they’re making an effort to keep the encounter elemental. It’s not that he’s spent more on me than any other person but that he leaves exorbitant amounts given that we won’t be together for very long. It seems all he usually wants to do is go down on me and fill me with his massive fingers.
I saw him again in another city, and then again, and sometimes it doesn’t take much for me to feel attached. Sometimes a tenderness can bloom even more readily without the long dinners and the shows. When I saw him most recently there was something unusually warm in how he treated me. We hugged goodbye for a long breath while the sun was setting. I had the impression that we meant something to each other and it was terrible to be left by myself. I sat on the bed in the robe pouching around me like a deflated gown, my iPod still playing on the room’s stereo system. Expansive loneliness seeped out to fill the corners of the room. I could barely move. I felt sad enough to shatter.
It could be that I’m so good I even trick myself. I thought of how other girls I know sometimes say they can’t stand to think of any part of the man’s genitals touching their own, and they try to keep his strokes shallow so he doesn’t press in past the rim of the condom. That never even occurs to me. I always go for depth. I always touch their faces or at least their necks’ smooth slope to the base of the skull. I lay my head on their chests uninvited.
“I wish we’d met under different circumstances,” one client said recently. “Not because the circumstances under which we met are wrong. But because I’d like to know you personally.” It was preoccupying him. It was all he could talk about while we laid together, how he wanted to be my friend. I didn’t ask him why—I barely spoke at all—but he told me.
“I think you’re special. I think you’re incredibly intelligent. You might even be frighteningly brilliant.”
I laughed. “You have no evidence of that.”
“I know X,” he said. “I know Y.” I just shook my head.
“I’d like to go out to dinner with you and have you talk. Just talk.” He stared into my eyes and I remember his next words exactly. “It would be a blessing to listen to you.”
When we’d met for the first time in a different city, he was describing his day without saying exactly where he’d been, but it was obvious, so I made a casual mention of what the company’s space is known for, and he admitted that was where he’d been.
“They have so much money there,” He said. “Silly money—so much money that they don’t know what to do with it all. And do you know what all of them want?”
I smiled because of course I knew. “More money.”
“More money,” he whispered.
Gradually I’ve come to see how often good people can be behind bad things. Once I saw a client just hours before he was to speak at Pat Robertson’s university. And he was nice. He wrote me an email afterwards calling me an angel, enchanting. It’s so easy to be angry with broad strokes. It’s too easy to hate people because of how they look on paper but then you meet them and they’re not so bad. The truth is not most of us are not trying as hard as we could. And maybe most of us don’t deserve kindness or forgiveness but what other options are there.
I had a convoluted dream involving a man who was supposed to be my father but who wasn’t my father. He was getting a divorce and I said, “I’m sorry,” and I meant it; I felt personally responsible for his sadness. There was a car crash in a rocky desert and my not-aunt and possibly my real mother were there. One was injured and childlike and I took her hand. At our feet a long path wound down to a valley full of people at picnic tables alongside a massive home. “Torment,” one of the women said. “Torme?” the other asked, as though that were the name of a place. “You want to go to Torme?” But I understood where she wanted to go and we started down together the path together. As we approached, I was suddenly suffused with the most complete love I’ve ever felt in my life. A melody much like “The Very Thought of You” was playing slowly, languorously. Time moved like molasses. I knew the people we approached were not all my friends. Some of them didn’t know me, some of them didn’t like me, but this overwhelming love existed anyway. I woke up and my eyes were full of tears. I don’t know how it could have ended any other way.