The Arc of a Love Affair

Here’s how it goes. You meet this man, right. He’s fucking beautiful. Like: chiseled jaw, groomed stubble, lats and pecs and biceps and shoulders and cock and TATTOOS. Sleeves.

And you kiss. Open mouth, confident tongue and his hands, twisted in your hair at the back of your head, pulling in and back, just enough to know that he’s naturally in charge. You melt, and finish in his car, sweaty, with his dog tags slapping your chin as he fucks you with all the sexy propriety of a man who plans to own you one day. Cumming, thighs and ankles wrapped hard around him as he thrusts himself up against your cervix, you reflect for seconds that you have never felt so consumed by one person in such a short period of time. (5 hours, to be exact).

That consummation continued for 10 days. In those days the two of you:
spent a day as loved up tourists at niagara falls
ate a lot of fudge
fucked in the bathroom of a dessert house at 2pm in the afternoon
watched The Hobbit
had Denny’s breakfast twice
fucked in an empty ballroom
met significant others (sister and best friend)
watched Silver Linings Playbook
gave an outstanding example of perfect road head
admired
laughed
talked
and

fell
(hard).

12 and a half months later, I have never anticipated seeing someone as much as I did with him. After a year of emotion, excitement, lust and promise I descended into that freezing, concrete city, applied makeup and perfume with shaking hands in the airport bathrooms after a 22 hour flight and then, wiggling into white lacy thong, I strode out to collect my baggage.

I saw him before he saw me. He was much bigger, broader, muscular than I remembered, wearing a green hoody. He’d snuck through the doors, to MY side of the arrivals. This was unexpected, I thought I still had the wait for my baggage to collect myself and so I saw him, and then pretended that I hadn’t. Out of the corner of my eye I watched him spot me as I glided down the escalator, and aware of his movement, I shuffled myself through the crowd in the opposite direction from him, eyes glued to the baggage carousel. I was aware of him coming closer to me and I felt terrified, heart beating and almost for a moment I wished I was somewhere else. And then he gently pinched my ass, and I turned with surprise in my face, and kissed him, long and deep, and pressed my chest against his and the world disappeared.

I never told him this, that I saw him first and my fear of him approaching me. It wasn’t HIM that I was afraid of…it was the fear of leaping off, of anticipating something and someone so deeply and then when it’s about to happen you panic, afraid that the anticipation was all in vain, that the anticipation is sweeter than reality, that the anticipation is actually the best part. And then you leap, and kiss, and the story you’ve been weaving together is now coming to life and this is sad for a moment, you’ve lost something and you can’t go back from that.

We were so very guarded around each other. I feel that we had the same unspoken agenda: protect ourselves, play it cool. In retrospect, I wanted to protect this….idea, image, dream I had of what he’d be like, what we’d be like together. I almost wanted to keep my eyes half closed and hang on to this vision we’d been weaving..I didn’t feel ready for this vision to suddenly have to be held up to reality.

But then, of course, amongst all this uncertainty was the pure wonder of touching each other, really seeing each other, looking into each other’s eyes and kissing, fucking, joining our bodies together. These opposing emotions created a strange blur over that first week. We didn’t talk much, slept in hotels in awkward angles to each other, overly aware of intruding on space that for the last year, had very much been our own personal bubble. Thinking about those first few hotel days, I feel the sadness, emptiness. It wasn’t like how I imagined. We weren’t like how we had been. This felt so tragic to me, but I was supposed to be happy and delighted and I couldn’t understand my emotions, so I numbed them.

He was distant with me, cold at times, almost as if he was trying to show me that I was superfluous, replaceable. That I wasn’t as important as I thought I was.

I think we tried, over the next 5 months. We had beautiful breakthroughs: lazy, wandering rainy mornings in Kensington market, easy conversation over pizza. Gasping, hungry sex, reaching for each other, consuming each other’s bodies and pleasure with greed and sweaty, grasping limbs. Midnight kisses at The Garrison, my hair covered with snow and icy breath. Purposeful grocery shopping, meals made with love, so many blow jobs, so many. And through all these love moments were tears, circular conversations, changes won and then forgotten, pained conversations and hurt glances that made me want to rip my own heart out. Why was it so hard? Why, when we spent the year planning us, did these plans never come to fruition? How could we not work? Were we best apart, in anticipation, dreaming of our perfect partner who could never exist? Why did we feel so wrong for each other?

I never found the answers to these. Some days I retreated into myself, pointed my finger entirely at him and relieved myself of responsibility. And then, embarrassed by my own righteousness, I’d completely flip the coin: he’s an angel and I’m the one who screwed up. The closer I’d get to trying to Figure It Out, the more wispy and elusive the answers and reasons would become, changing according to my mood, to how successful I felt like I was at creating a new life here, to how angry I was. The coin kept flipping until it didn’t matter anymore.

It’s been 2 months since we last had contact. After we broke up, the final time, I ached for him, on more than half the days I hid under my sheets and cried my pain and fear and anxiety into my pillows, living on cherries and almonds and littering my room with tissues. His trace was still there- a stray hair under my pillow, a thumbprint bruise of his on my inner thigh. My body missed him, and I’d wake from tortuous dreams…his cock grinding into my pelvis, long and hard, pushing into me until my body and mind were totally consumed by him.

But, I rode out this sadness and grief with a bravery that took me by surprise! I romanced myself with introspective solo tips: a pool bar, a beach dance party, a hiking trip, a theatre show. I used to do these things and wish he was with me. Now I do them and I feel a rush of pride and self-love: I am not broken, I am not a failure, I am beautiful and legendary. This emotional fallout is inevitable of any breakup, I’ve been through it before and although I know it well, I’m always shocked at how much love can hurt.

I observe the arc of our romance from this solitude. He is who he is. He is not the fantasy. He is his own, complex person and it doesn’t matter that he can’t be to me what I want him to be, I will always love him for exactly who he is, even when it means he can’t be my partner.

In a month I’m going as far west as I can. I’ll paddle my feet in the pacific ocean- my ocean- and view our relationship from there, as if I’m falling off the western edge of the canadian shield he is so rooted into. It’s ironic, I packed up my life to come here to be attached to this shield with him, I craved this security, I craved his solidity. But now I feel more transient than ever, sliding over the world on my imagined octopus legs. I’m water, he’s rock.

Do I regret it? Yes, in moments of rejection, low self esteem, anxiety and fear all I want to do is run back to Auckland. I feel angry at coming here for plans and dreams that shattered so quickly. But then I don’t, really. I did a crazy thing, I met a stranger, fell quickly in love and moved across the world for him. I took such a risk! And if I didn’t take this, then I would have wondered for the rest of my life, what part of me was left in Toronto, living in his heart.

(Respect to Paul Simon: Hearts and Bones “The arc of a love affair. His hands rolling down her hair.”)

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The good army wife.

And there it was. A pinprick thought. She pushed her chair back, put down her fork, exhaled shakily. Stared at the television, with it’s muted men in combat uniforms, now a procession, now cut to a politician, now a coffin, now a flag and weeping parents.

Not hers, but.

She loves this man.

Then her mind jumps forward, way, way, illogically forward to ten years in the future, as the widow of a deceased soldier, forming a group on base for other widows, organising now-solo parents, campaigning for veterans rights, and…

Being efficient in her grief.

She looks away from the tv, eyes tracing through the net curtains, out of the cheap motel glass and aluminium windows to the parking lot, minature garden, weathervane. This is a possibility. This is a possibility.

She asks herself the question: does she want to let herself fall in love with a man where this is a possibility?

And then: Is this even a question?

Ten expert tips on how to rock your long distance relationship

So, I met a man. I’m going to call him The Wolf.

December 2012, in Toronto. I went, on my own, to a club to dance. (This isn’t unusual. I love going out dancing on my own. No wall-hugging friends, no yelled conversation, no clammy men. The best). He checked my ID, said “Oh, a kiwi”, and gave me a ridiculously sexy smile. I danced provocatively in front of him the entire night, and at 4am he invited me out for a Denny’s dawn breakfast.

This started 10 days of the most incredible dating of my life. This man…and the sex…oh my gasp.

And then, because I have a killer work ethic and a ‘Grand Plan’, I hopped on a plane and flew back to Auckland, New Zealand, where I had a job waiting.

Although it was unplanned, it just sort of started. Toronto/Auckland Long Distance. And I’m talking STRICT long distance, none of this, “let’s meet in Hawaii and spend a weekend together” shit. Brutal. Admittedly, I’m only at the end of month 9 at the moment, but we’re both so stubborn I feel that we’re going to make it to 12.

So, I’m officially calling myself a LDR (long distance relationship yo!) expert, and here are my expert tips referencing personal experience.

An excellent LDR photo. My family cat and my ass.

An excellent LDR photo. My family cat and my ass.

1) Sexual chemistry. The person you’re doing a LDR with has to be the sexiest, hottest thing on the planet. You need to be able to masturbate to them. Repeatedly. You know you’re onto something good if just hearing their voice, seeing their photo or talking with them on Skype makes you wet/hard.

2) Excellent dirty talk. You can develop these skills pretty quickly, but it helps if you’re already comfortable sexting, writing your own erotic fiction and describing what you’re doing to yourself while using a sexy voice. Good words to use are: moan, thrust, cock, dripping wet. The upside is that you learn exactly what turns your partner on, because after a couple of months of no sex, having a sexy discussion is pretty fucking awesome. (And then you can masturbate about it later. Win.)

3) Celibacy and monogamy. Okay, I know some of you will be like, “well, duh?” But I came to this through a circuitous route. In the months prior to meeting The Wolf, I was very happily dabbling in polyamory. Even to the point where I had declared ONE DAY before I met him, that “I was not interested in a traditional, monogamous relationship. Ever”. (Oh fate, you tricky thing).

It was late January when he put it to me. Choose him, or choose to be poly. He was only interested in monogamy, and he was only interested in me. This level of commitment took me by surprise (no, actually, it scared the crap out of me). I was tempted to negotiate a sort of middle ground- like, still keep in touch, but sleep with other people- but I sat myself down and had a stern look at where my fear was coming from. In the end, I figured out that although the commitment was making me nervous, there was definitely excitement there too. On top of that, we’re talking about the sexiest man on the planet, and my pussy was voting for him.

So, if this is you, chose monogamy. Commit to each other early on, and outline exactly what monogamy means for you.

4) An end date. Crucial. I am landing in Toronto on 29th December 2013, at 11:30pm. This date is tattooed on the inside of my eyes. It’s circled in every diary I own. Open-ended is way too painful. Set the date, and stick to it like a mother-fucker.

5) Perspective. My mantra is ‘acceptance and impermanence’. Nowhere has this served me better than in a LDR. I accept that we will both go through periods of ambivalence, where we wonder why we’re doing this. I accept that, for lack of physical contact, I will replay our conversations, line by line, until I interpret a meaning that was never there. I accept that subtle emotion will be lost in text, email and even Skype.

And, this is the hardest of all, I accept that a 12 month LDR is not a guarantee we will work as a couple when I get to Toronto. The best we can say: we shall see. No, this is not comforting on those nights when I just want a fuck and a cuddle. Yes, holding this perspective does keep me sane.

Take a deep breath. Accept that…one day of crippling insecurity will pass. A week of doubt will pass. Three more months will pass. One year will seem like a blip in the span of your life. This is all so impermanent. You’ll be just fine.

6) Communicate like a BOSS. This one is quite simple. Be honest, be congruent and reflect on how your communication develops. We spent the first 3 months sharing our opinions: childhood, families, food, music, sex, religion, fitness, gender roles, careers, future plans, social habits. It was full on. And pretty dicey at times! (I wonder if this would be easier for established couples?)

We spent the next 2 months trying to negotiate the weirdest stuff, which at the time seemed crucially important. Like, for example, IF we ended up together, would we have guns in our house? Or, would I take his last name IF we got married? (It makes me laugh writing this, that we always put the IF in there, as if that would soften the fact that we were already talking about marriage?)

As ridiculous as these discussions (and yes, sometimes they were laptop-lid slamming) seem, I think they were important for a) establishing boundaries and individual identity and b) learning how to disagree. I think we were symbolically marking our territory.

Now we’re at a calm, mature, holding-on stage. We’re not as rose-tinted as we were at the beginning, and we’re not as emotional as we were in the middle. We’ve compromised and softened. We talk about our feelings openly, pragmatically. We share the best of ourselves. We say we love each other. We count the days.

7) Embrace ALL the technology. Get a smart phone. Use Snapchat and WhatsApp. Diversify: email, text, share photos, make videos, Skype, write letters, talk on the phone.

Although I had to move past my “Snapchat is just for horny teenagers” snobbery, I can honestly say it has saved our relationship. There was a stage where things were feeling a bit too raw for Seriously Dedicated Skyping, so we sent pictures. Of ourselves, of our lives, our family and pets and office and car and favourite view and sunsets and food and grocery shopping and latest tattoos.

Other sexy technology things I’ve done? Strip and masturbate to music, film the whole thing, send it for Valentines Day. Leave naked dancing Skype video messages. Put on red lipstick and film myself enthusiastically sucking my fingers pretending they’re his cock. Delicious.

8) Be stubborn. At the beginning, figure out why you’re doing this, and what you’re going to get out of it. Don’t rely on your partner to provide the why, find it within yourself. Because it’s going to get hard, and you’ll need to stubbornly stick to your reason, stick to your commitment, even though it might seem illogical.

9) Love the fuck out of yourself. You need to have your self-care down. Can you give yourself what you need when you’re feeling lonely, insecure, angry, or scared? Is your self-worth high enough that you can say you’re definitely worth this level of commitment from your partner? Do you have the strength to trust their word? Are you secure in your attachment? And if the worst case scenario happens, can you pick up your own pieces and rebuild yourself?

I had a good base in some of this stuff, and the rest I had to learn pretty quickly. It’s hard work. (Across the top of my mirror, I’ve written “You are so definitely worth it”. It helps.) The upside to doing this work is powerful. For the first time in my life, I can look in the mirror and unblinkingly say that I love and accept myself.

Relish masturbation. In the last three months, masturbation has gone from something I’d quickly bang off to the most intense orgasms of my life. What’s changed? For the first time ever, I’m focusing solely on my own pleasure, slowly building up arousal through touch, rather than relying on porn or erotic fiction. I take about half an hour to masturbate, I indulge every weekend, and I tease myself, getting close and then pausing, relaxing and feeling my sexual energy build. It’s incredibly satisfying, and I feel such gratitude for being able to receive so much pleasure from my own body.

10) Be proud. Tell people. Own this. It’s hard, and it takes skill. Give yourself respect and credit for trying. This is clichéd, but let yourself dream. Dream about what it will be like when you see your partner, in the flesh. What will the first minute, hour, night be like? How might you evolve? What’s your ultimate fantasy? You don’t need to share this, keep it inside yourself, to fuel those daydreams during boring work meetings, car trips, quiet Sunday afternoons and nights when your bed just feels too empty.

You’ve got this. You can do it. It can work.

A new (or old?) coat of submission

This is how it goes:

K: Love you
Me: Love you too
K: Just remember
You’re mine
You belong to me

This is how it goes, the heart-beat quickening response, the breathy breaths, the stomach flipping Love. This is how it goes, the rejection of should and should-nots, the angst of semantics, the intellectual reasoning and double-checking and theorizing and reading and writing and endless, circular thinking…

This is how it goes. The unexpected familiarity of something deeply known, relaxing into submission. The sudden, peaceful calm. This is how it goes, full of perceived indecision when really, was there ever a decision? Didn’t I first make it, when we kissed and he tangled his hands in my hair, drawing me in and holding me? Was there ever really a question, after suddenly stumbling into him and waking up to who I really was?

This is how it goes, side-stepping the what-ifs, witnessing my frantic ego build walls, watching myself work up into a terrified frenzy and then, with three simple lines, just…knowing.

This is how it goes, this path to being owned.

Blissful nights. Toronto December 2012

Blissful nights. Toronto December 2012

 

Monogamy, celibacy and long-distance submission

We locked eyes in a freezing city, and spent 10 days hungrily exploring.

He opens me like no-one else.

“I’m going to fuck you now. You know your safe word. If you call orange I’ll stop what I’m doing and fuck you like I usually do. But use this carefully, because you can only use it once. If you say red I will stop everything immediately.”

Eyes wide, watching him. Wary, but trusting. He pushes inside me, gently, confidently, swiftly. Gasping, clinging to each other, my body molds his. I burrow my face in his neck, squeezing my eyes shut in the slow intensity of it all.

I wrap my legs around his back, arch my pelvis towards his, invite him into me. I feel greedy for his cock, and urge him deeper with my legs. He quietly instructs me not to move, and holds me possessively, hungrily, firm hands gripping, handling, manipulating. Dark brown eyes staring right into me, noses touching, lips bumping, breath quietly mixing. I am remarkably present, oblivious to anything outside our bubble of touch, taste, sound and sight.

“Tell me you love me.” My throat constricts, heart beats fast. The transition from dreamy pleasure to alert fear is instant and threatens to overwhelm me. I’m scared at how close his eyes are, how vulnerable I am. I want to sink into the car seat and disappear, shy out of his grasp, away from his stare, out of his enveloping arms. I start to panic, contemplate my safeword, try to push his arms away from my sides (impossible). He doesn’t let me, he traps me, he holds me, he forces me to relax. And I do, I return his gaze, muscles softening, quiet quick breaths. I submit to him with a sigh of relief, sadness, acceptance and love.

“Babe, I’ve got you. It’s ok.” I’m suddenly close to tears. He’s got me. I don’t have to survive on my own. I can relax. He’s got me. No-one has ‘had’ me in a long, long time. I am so moved, so grateful to this man. He thrusts into me, impossibly deeply, and I feel my entire body offer myself to him. I am his. And I cannot remember the last time I felt this safe.

Laughing, teasing, curling my fingers around his bicep, questioning, questioning, questioning.

Do you read?

Why did you decide to renounce religion?

What’s your ultimate sexual fantasy?

What do you look for in a partner?

What scares you about marriage?

What was your childhood like?

Top three most attractive body parts?

Do you enjoy your job?

Does semen have protein in it?

Do you want children?

What is your relationship like with your Dad?

What kind of wedding do you imagine for yourself?

What music do you listen to?

Who is your best friend?

Our difference fosters mutual fascination. We’re so far apart, but are growing closer together with noticeable speed. We delight in finding each other, basking in the other’s company, appreciative gazes, loosely locked fingers, forehead kisses.

His body is magnificent. Lean, muscular, a finely tuned machine. I greedily stroke the planes of muscle and skin, tracing his beautiful tattoos. In bed I wriggle my back into his chest, grinding my ass into the big-spoon curve of his crotch, getting teenage butterflies at how well we fit. At how small I am compared to him. At how my soft femininity is so complimentary. God. He’s so sexy.

I enjoy being led, being second in command. I try on this new coat of submission with a shy inquisitiveness. What would it feel like? It surprises me how good it feels, how natural and easy. How happy it makes me! How much trust I put in him immediately. He’s got me. I smile, relax and bask in this new role, and feel myself open towards him, grateful that he has enabled me to do this. I needed to open. He made it safe.

After a year of polyamorous ethical sluttiness I chose monogamy. For a man I had only spent 10 days with. And then, I flew to live in another hemisphere, with a frustratingly inconvinient time difference. Crazy? Yup.

We’ve been apart for 5 months. We have 4 more to go. At times it feels almost too easy, and then others it’s impossibly hard.

However, I am without a doubt that this is what I’m meant to be doing, because simply, in my world, nothing ever goes wrong.