Holding Henry Miller's Hand

I always admired girlfriends who didn’t cry after one-night stands. Girlfriends who didn’t feel like they had a gaping hole in the middle of their bodies that needed to be filled. Girlfriends who could casually date a guy first, not even be tempted to sleep with him. Girlfriends who could wait to text or call, and didn’t feel nauseous, painful anxiety when a man didn’t respond. 

“Make him work for it” they’d say. 

I had a close girlfriend in my mid-twenties who was in a relationship for years and never uttered the words “I love you” -- that was the kind of withholding I’d dream about having. I had to work very hard on not being vulnerable to a man, not desperately need him to validate my existence and “complete me”. I trained myself to be the taker so I could flip the script and make them vulnerable to me, make them fall in love with me; walk through an afterparty wasted and keep those rays of light to myself. Be untouchable. I wanted the opportunity to reject and use someone without remorse, walk away feeling nothing, gloat a little bit even. 

Why did I want to use? There is a simple answer (which applies to non-sociopaths only): 

“Hurt people hurt people” 

The love monster only feeds on love as power, because it believes it’s getting back what it lost by consuming it in another person. The love monster is strictly a consumer, it doesn’t give anything back. It’s just a love hungry bitch.

“Just be patient” they’d say.

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We’ve been sharing my bed for a few nights but not having sex. This slow, tender intimacy is unfamiliar but it’s lovely. We spend our days talking and walking and gazing at each other. We’re cuddling at one point and he says, “I know I really like you cause you keep getting prettier and prettier…” Driving back from a restaurant one evening I ask him why he’s so reticent to have sex with me. 

“It’s not explicitly about you. I haven’t slept with anyone for a year and a half,” he says back. 

“On principle? Or…?” 

“Yeah I felt like I was being used, and I was using in return, and humans shouldn’t use other humans like that…” 

“I’ve used…” I say quietly. 

“Yeah so you know…” 

“Yes…” 

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the whole spectrum of consensual sex, I don’t judge anyone’s choices, like, do what you want, just for me at this point it needs to be right,” he says, grabbing my hand.  

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The Swiss violinist pays for our drinks and we skip back to my apartment in the Beaubourg at 3 a.m. The romantic story about “The Canadian girl who moves to Paris to write her first novel” comes to life as he looks around my 5th floor flat to behold piles of books, journals and pens, empty wine bottles, ashtrays full of cigarettes, dried up roses, and a broken laptop open on a page crawling with little black letters. 

I turn on some music and stumble around the tiny flat looking for a couple of clean glasses to pour us some wine. “I love your place,” he says. 

He’s a tower of Swissness at about 6’5” with slightly sloped shoulders and a blank but handsome face. He wears tidy little glasses propped on the end of his nose. His green eyes are kind and his gaze is winsome - I sense he really likes me. We start kissing and I try to set down my glass but miss the table and it crashes all over the white tiles. “Fuck!” I yell, throwing a towel on it. 

Red hot lava burns down the walls leaving me alone on the top of a swaying tower overlooking Paris, its streets filled with reverent onlookers, the ghost of Henry Miller holding my hand. I breach the bank and the violinist ceases to be a person, he’s like a giant wave, there’s water everywhere, shards of glass, red wine, smoke and ash. 

We’re woken at 8 a.m. by the sound of an angry fist pounding on my door. It’s my downstairs neighbour, a woman I’ve never met, screaming about waking her baby in the middle of the night. I don’t open the door cause I’m terrified. “Bitch,” the Swiss violinist mumbles, turning over. I rise and start cleaning up, my head aching, the sheets bloodied and the floor soaked in wine. Not exactly the spitting, smouldering volcano of last night, but I don’t feel empty. I feel OK. 

“Can I have your number? I have a few nights here and I’d really like to see you again,” he asks, putting on his glasses.  

I’ve cleaned up the apartment and July sun is pouring in, “Um how about you leave me your number? I’m pretty busy the next few days and…” 

He gently interrupts, “I’d really like to take you for dinner."

“We’ll see…”

I feel OK. I feel OK!