Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's okay with fish cos they don't have any feelings.

I once had a semi-boyfriend who was so out of my league he was in another stratosphere. Let’s call him Sh. I tend to not do things lightly so I threw myself into him like a car crash. He had the most sensual lips I’d ever dreamt of licking. We’d met briefly when he lived in South Africa (a drunken night after the school dance, he, myself and the slightly inappropriate but terminally hip music teacher shared a half-jack of Scotch at a nightclub called Idols, a fitting tribute to eighties hedonism). I found him compellingly sexy but he was heavily involved with the only non-Jewish girl at his Jewish school. Can’t get cooler than that.

I re-met him two years later when visiting Melbourne with a girlfriend, C. He’d moved there with his family. C had been given his number by her ex. We were house-sitting for C’s wealthy cousins. He came to the door. My first thought: ‘I wonder if I’ll sleep with this guy tonight’. The words that came out of my mouth were less sexy: 'The people who own this house are so rich they use triple ply toilet paper'. It was an inauspicious beginning, but I had just turned 21, Kurt Cobain was still alive and each moment was sizzling with possibility.

We went to The Espi, a Melbourne establishment. I was thin and my jeans fit really well. I met his girlfriend. I am blessed and cursed with incredible hearing. It’s almost bionic. Amidst the garage band noise I heard her say to him 'shine your love on me'. It was pretentious and needy enough to annoy me and I was openly pleased that it seemed to bug him too.

That night he and I stayed up talking and listening endlessly to The Lemonheads. Don’t want to get stoned, but I don’t want to not get stoned. We did get stoned. And laughed. And decided we both wanted to market a product called Fake Face. It comes in a can and you can spray it on just before you go out. It’s very Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock. Prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet. I wanted to kiss him more than drunken hillbillies want moonshine but I was involved in a creamy debacle with a man I had just discovered was married with two kids. And Sh had a girlfriend. And she was having her wisdom teeth out the following day. And the thought of her swollen faced and chipmunkesque delighted me. It also meant I had 2 whole days with him while she was incapacitated. It’s amazing how sadistic you can be when you’re in a sexual and metaphysical frenzy. In the other room my girlfriend C discussed Nietzsche with a man she met that night. He is now her husband and they’re expecting their third child. But Sh and I had a different path ahead of us.

I went back to Sydney and he sent me a tape of music he’d mixed. He drew an album cover for it, an advert for Fake Face. It was one of those tapes that ripped my guts out and made me want to cry and fuck him at the same time. I didn’t know how much to read into it but I did know that boy-men don’t make tapes unless some part of them – maybe an unconscious part, let’s call it their penis – wants to make love to you with their music.

I was rapt. I was captivated. I was really excited when we went up to Byron Bay and he was waiting there for me with a colour-in book. And his girlfriend, who was exactly the kind of girl-woman I would have fallen in love with had I been going through my bi-curious phase (that came later).

Conveniently, she had a cadetship journalist job that she had to be back in Melbourne for. I found myself unwittingly counting the days until she left. While she was there I had a dalliance with an odd, slippery-tongued boy who was in a band named after a vegetable. And I toyed with a nerdish lawyer who is probably very wealthy right now. But those were distractions. Anything to keep me from thinking about those lips and the way his skin would feel if I was allowed to touch it.

Which I did. The night his girlfriend left we lay under the stars on the damp lawn and I touched his face and lips and we both pretended it was nothing sexual and merely an exploration of friendship. I’ve never had a friend whose face I’ve examined so closely with my hands and heart and mind but pretending was safe and it bought us time.

So he invited me and C to come camping with him and his Nietzsche-loving friend. C was excited – a chance to explore her relationship with her new love. I was freaked out. I invited a buffer friend along, L. Just before we were leaving for the trip Sh cleverly picked a fight with L. L refused to come. It was going to be the four of us.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a more idyllic or lust-driven holiday. I had no idea where we were. We had no agenda other than to find forests to hike through, rivers to swim in and good weed to roll into fat joints to smoke at fireplaces. C and Nietzsche boy were clearly in love and Sh and I were… we were talking through the nights and playing intellectual games and trying desperately hard not to jump each other.

I wanted nothing more than to completely possess him. I wanted to feel him inside out. I wanted his body, his spirit, his mind. I found it increasingly hard to be near him and not touch him. He was driving me into an insane flurry of desire and then he’d phone his girlfriend and I’d feel sick.

And even then I knew the relationship was not long for this world. We couldn’t be. We were too similar. We would have destroyed each other. It was too intense and euphoric and nonsensical and beautiful to be real.

And the night it all came together we were at a quite camping spot somewhere peaceful. We met a woman whose boyfriend had gone out for a pack of cigarettes and never come back. Despite the fact that he’d left her with two kids and no cash, she was most bitter that he’d taken the good camping gear with him. Sh and I sat around the campfire with her and her kids. And I think he played guitar and I looked at him with the fire dancing on his exquisite face and I had to go back to the tent because I was going to explode with wanting him.

When he came into the tent he pounced on me and I pounced back and we began the slippery slide downwards.

After that I became utterly obsessed. I felt like he was made of pure magnet. The harder I pulled away, the closer I sprung towards him. We had a wild, joyous, intense time together. We asked strangers for condoms because we were burning up so quickly we couldn’t wait. We drank and smoked a lot and played at pretending that this wasn’t destined for disaster. I was totally consumed with him. I couldn’t eat. I’m Jewish. And I couldn’t eat. You understand how far off its axis my world must have been spinning.

It ends how you expect it to end. The night we say goodbye he finally tells me he loves me. I’d been waiting for it the whole time. It’s an admission that I’m not dreaming the whole thing up. I tell him I love him. We plan to meet in Israel six months later.

I go back to South Africa and proceed to date a series of unsuitable men. I talk to them endlessly about Sh and explain I can never love them because I’m waiting for him. They fuck me anyway. Sh and I speak regularly. He becomes increasingly distant. He tells me he’s taking a lot of drugs. He tells me he told his girlfriend about me and they broke up. She’s angrier than the colour red. She dumped all his things on his driveway in a garbage bag. On his 21st birthday I ring Sh and tell him I’ve been sleeping with someone else but it means nothing.

He rings me back two hours later and politely tells me to get fucked. And he has no intention of meeting me in Israel.

I go to Israel anyway and sleep with an amazing array of soldiers. They smell like sweat and uniforms and aniseed flavoured Arak and it’s bloody marvellous. But I pine for Sh in a sick to the stomach way. He won’t take my calls and I start feeling like he’s been brainwashed against me. Then I feel like a stalker. I later discover he’s seeing a psychologist who’s telling him to get back together with his girlfriend. And I think it took me about five years and many many sweaty men before I ever really let go of the idea that I had business I wanted to finish with him. Preferably bent over backwards. Repeatedly.

But because our connection was always more than physical, we’ve remained friends and I genuinely like and respect the person he is. I’m interested on his take on the world. This may sound a bit inbred but I sort of feel like he’s a cousin I grew up with. You know the one who always laughed at the same jokes as you?

I recently got the invitation to his wedding. And I’m genuinely happy for him. His fiancé and he seem to be a perfect fit. They have a gorgeous little girl. They understand each other. They have a calm that he and I never had. And my beloved R and I have been married for ten years and we have something more deep and real than I could ever have had with anyone (as I write this he has a twin feeding pillow strapped to his waist as he feeds both kids at once. That’s dead sexy). So I’ve been wondering why this wedding has brought up all these things for me and it’s 2.19AM and I wake up realising the obvious. It’s not the relationship with Sh that I’m mourning. It’s the me I was then. Thin and young and carefree and erotic and erratic and impulsive and completely devoid of responsibility. And powerful. I felt like I could make anything happen. I was f r e e.

And here I am caring for 3 babies and craving sugar all the time and desperate to have some sense of power or control. I’m going for a blood test on Sunday to be a potential bone marrow donor for people with leukaemia and I’ve started rehearsing a scene in which I’m having the marrow drawn out of my hip and I’m holding hands across the operating table with the car salesman father of four whose life I’ll be saving. All the doctors are telling me how noble I am and I’m being faux humble and telling them I just did it so I could get a good deal on a second hand car. And then I wonder why I suddenly want to be a marrow donor and it’s clear that I’m desperate to have some purpose, to be something other than a breeder.

Today is my official due date. My babies are three weeks old. If these fucking hormones don’t move along and leave me alone, you’ll be hearing more about my other ex-boyfriends soon. Like the one who had crooked teeth and dreads and the most amazing tongue I’ve ever had the pleasure of exploring, or the guy with the broken nose and darkest blue eyes who is now in a Canadian jail on drug charges or the Argentinean misogynist who asked me to dress more like Gabriella Sabatini… Trust me, you don’t want to get me started…

6 Comments:

Blogger Calliope said...

wow.
As always I am amazed at how well you string memory & the present together. I often catch myself in mourning over certain eras of my life. & certain dress sizes...

9:55 am  
Blogger Lin said...

Loved this one. Great recall. I can just imagine you typing it out in the wee hours of the morning, one baby over the shoulder and the other on your lap. I'm impressed with your ability to still string compound sentences together!

4:09 pm  
Blogger Teri said...

God, the synchronicity. I have been feeling the same way, mourning that light, care-free me. I love my life now, but sometimes I feel so heavy. (and not just with baby weight but believe me, there's quite a bit of that.)

Beautiful writing. xo

7:28 am  
Blogger LJ said...

I just end up gaping at these entries sometimes. Slack-jawed and awe-struck.

And then I do the inevitable Wrong Thing - I compare. I compare honesty levels, sheer guts, ability to catch all the shades and undercurrents, to engage and put it down on a page so magnificently.

Then, I stop that stupidity and fight off the niggling envy - and wonder at what a magnificent stumble it was when "next blog" turned you up.

I am not (she said proudly) jealous of your hormones though.

What can I say? It's always a fantastic read here. Always.

And babies grow up. You won't be 23 again but you won't always be baby-central either.

4:20 am  
Blogger Neil said...

The very fact that you can recapture that sensuality from years ago means that that girl from the past is still within you, even with the changes in your life.

10:03 am  
Blogger surly girl said...

late to the party, but i had to tell you i was captivated by that.

6:38 am  

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