July 30, 2012 § Leave a Comment
It started in a familiar city I’d not visited for years. Dinner and then fucking. Then a show and more fucking in his room, where he told me that his wife never gave him blow jobs and hated to have even his pre-come make contact with her skin. Which I should have already guessed given what our time consists of.
He is a kept man, and when he told me about his days of orchestrating a seamless life for another person, I became almost jealous. I’d searched his wife before and I knew about her outlandish income. But his regard for his young son is nearly nonexistent or profoundly inaccessible to me. Sometimes I feel at ease with him and at other times he seems too alien for me to understand. He’s generous with praise, he lavishes compliments on his life and his wife, but I can’t figure out what matters to him or what he thinks he’s accomplishing. I know he believes we share unusual commonalities, and that’s probably right. I too have felt like I’m winning a race no one’s watching, a race with no prize and perhaps without end. He pressed me to talk more about my work, why I do it. He said many flattering things, including one about how abundance keeps coming to me because I’m willing to give it away. But I’m not asked to give it away, and I haven’t. He said something about my mystery, as they all do. Is my mystery his mystery? It could be the two of us circle the other’s deep-seeming shallow, glimpsing a reflection, confounded from seeing more. He’s a former professional dancer with a thick head of hair. Once he curled his feet for me as proof.
It was nothing like that in the mountains. A different client greeted me there with one of his lean hugs, trembling less this time than the times before though no less excited. “I can’t believe you’re really here,” he said. He’s excellent at hugging, and we clung to each other for a long time. It was maybe an hour later that another hug turned into more, and when I swallowed his come on my knees in his kitchen, I glanced to the left and saw my face in the broad side of his toaster, as though the appliance had been placed at exactly that angle for exactly that purpose.
He said he wanted to make a movie together, but I had to write the screenplay. “I can’t write it,” I said, though I thought maybe I could. We ate corn on the cob and made out. He smeared me with so many things—pieces of pies, copious amounts of custard—and then we washed it away. I came only once, rubbing myself against his erection with our hips pressed together and our torsos apart, side by side on the bed. It had been building up for hours. By that time it was dark and I didn’t want to move, I couldn’t think of any of the normal actions I might perform before falling asleep. I couldn’t think of anything more that needed to be done. Every day blue unfolded beyond the windows and the home was full of light. Every morning I rolled over him and made him come with my mouth. “I haven’t had this much sex in 25 years,” he said, and we laughed.
He played his keyboard upstairs while I listened to it downstairs, sorting my things. On the first night, without flourish, he gathered my hair in his hands and held it to his nose. And when we notched our bodies together before sleep, he kissed my shoulder quickly and lightly many times, the kiss of a man overwhelmed with sweetness, cherishing the feeling of being full. It’s almost audible, that swell of emotion, the wave that seizes up everything nearby. He did it just as my boyfriend does on nights when he loves me the most, so I thought of my boyfriend and I simultaneously thought of him, the man I was with, and whether I should feel torn or guilty or awkward were considerations that melted before they could surface. It was a deep sleep, a sleep that felt necessary.
Months before all that I’d been in the hills of a different coast, alone for the first time with a client I’d passed several days with in the even more distant past. He told me I looked younger and thinner now, which made me cross. We sat in his hot tub at night and picked food from his garden during the day, and when I wrapped a scarf around my head to keep away the flies, he said I looked like I was from “Magic City.” Then he had to tell me what that was. I tried to write something after that visit but this was all I could manage:
The mountains broke all things open. In the dream of myself, there is only future, no past. The mountains are pulses of my younger selves, wholly separate, liquid, and completely beyond explaining.
I also wrote, “It’s so easy, when you’re happy, to swear you’ll never give in to suffering again.”
The last leg of the long trip was with two people, a man and another girl for hire. Her skin may have been even paler than mine—”I like your color,” the mountain man said to me one day in the car—though she had several exquisite tattoos. She and I wrung out every moment alone together, like in the public bathroom before the movie, desperate to be candid with one another. We’d never met before, but I came shortly after we did, while straddling his face. Even when I know another woman’s noises are fake, they’ll turn me on. “He’s so sweaty,” she whispered to me while he was in the shower. “I felt bad when he was lying on top of you. Like, ‘give her some space!’” Some working women I’ve been with try to fetishize the other woman’s body (“Oh, doesn’t Ashley have the best ass you’ve ever seen?”) but when I said something to him about how soft her skin was and how beautiful her tattoos, she didn’t respond in kind.
She faked sleep masterfully in the morning. I was fooled until he got up to use the bathroom and I heard her shifting to her side. I turned on my own and we looked into each other’s wide eyes. “I have morning breath,” she said, making a face. “Me too,” I whispered. “I hate that. It doesn’t make any sense. I brush my teeth right before bed every time.” We laid quiet for a beat, listening for him. He’d come out and found us giggling the previous day, and asked something like “what are you two saying about me?” At one point, when he was taking turns fucking us, she was underneath him and I was lying next to them, and she reached out for my hand. I wasn’t sure if she knew it was me, or if she was aware of what she was doing or if her work body was taking over, touching any skin it brushed against, but I closed my fingers around hers. It felt like an honor. I don’t like holding hands with men but there is something unspeakably special about holding hands with another woman.
He asked me why I kept doing this work and I gestured to what was around us, the mostly empty restaurant, the waterfall behind the glass. I tried to explain that it was about the adventure, about experiences I would never otherwise have. I didn’t tell him that collecting these moments seems like the only point of being alive. The next day I drove up a winding mountain path and a different he was at the end of it.
“You’re so pretty in the morning, it’s not fair, you’re not even wearing make-up,” she said in a half-bitter, half-wistful rush, and I felt like I should say something self-effacing but I could only giggle and then so did she. We laughed in the morning light, hiding our bad breath behind our hands, rolling closer towards each other across the space where his body had been.