It’s starts in Bosnia. With an other girl named Nadia. Your best friend. My sleeping partner the whole stay in Bosnia. Sleeping and hugging, never anything more, though it was intensely cosy. I already have an N, or I might write something about her too.
Other Nadia starts chatting with you in an internet café in Sarajevo. I notice your picture. I instantly like your nose. I like big-nosed girls. You also have a preference for big noses, I find out later. I tell your friend to tell you, you have a beautiful nose. She does so. I’m not exactly sure if we started texting right that moment. Possibly. You like texting. We both do. I think there have been years we have texted without ever meeting.
Back in Belgium. Your friend’s mum happens to like me. She says a few flattering things about me when you meet her. A lucky coincidence. I never mind some help in getting closer to girls. There’s probably a technical pick-up artist term for this sort of help. Social promotion assistance, SPA, or I don’t know what. I’m pretty sure we are texting now.
You come over to my place one evening. It was a quiet period. July. My girlfriend, whom I loved I must say, was doing a student job. I had exams in August, but I was mostly writing. My second manuscript. A flop. Should have been studying for those exams. It was a manuscript about a guy who rolled from one girl to the next. Sort of autobiographical, except for a next door neighbour Zulu who skins dogs and the fact that in the course of the story the guy stops rolling from one girl to the next. Comments of publishers six months later: “very well written, no semblance of a story, no room for it, sorry”
But then I still had all my hopes. It was one of those summer nights, when looking back now, the air smelled like summer in a way that it doesn’t any more. Not ever. That scent that makes you divide between the old days and the now days. Or the days with color and the days without color. We have that in common, you also make that division. It’s the hope in the head, a confidence that everything gets better all the time, that makes us smell what summer really smells like.
You had a friend living in my street who had his birthday. He wasn’t home. You got him a present. I got the present. Candy, I believe.
Of course, I want sex with you right away. Which I don’t mention. Not sure why not, but there are rules for that. Much, much later, too late, maybe, I find out that sex most commonly happens after SIX hours spent together. Not in one stretch. Just six hours spent together. Three dates of two hours, is fine. So is 6 six dates of six hours, though a bit less convenient.
Does texting count? Or does it really have to be six hours spent physically together? I don’t know. Let’s see. That first time you spent 45 minutes at my place? A small studio with the walls plastered with pictures. Adolescence hit me quite late, you see. I remember you wanted to smoke inside. You’re the only smoking girl I’ve ever had sex with it. I think. Not counting occasional smokers.
I think you wouldn’t describe yourself as beautiful, but that’s crap. And any compliment you could ever get, wouldn’t change your self-image, but still. You looked like the girl I pieced together, in my mind, lying on the floor, 16 and horribly lonely, horribly longing for the touch of skin on skin, you looked exactly like that girl. Wounded, but defiant, rebellious, but well-mannered, hot, but slightly distant, very sexy, not too approachable, without being arrogant, witty, without a need to impress, slightly self-effacing, without being too modest, very freedom-loving, sexually experienced, and always, always
Attitude: if I don’t expect much, I can never be dissapointed.
You had just moved in with the father of other Nadia. You were decorating your room. And making a really thorough job of it. You were a painter. With talent. And ambition. The ambition is gone, last time I checked. A pity, I liked your style. I liked meeting a serious artist. Made me feel less crazy for wasting time writing.
I think we talked about your stepfather, who made ugly faces before you went to sleep. Not just ugly faces, crazy ugly faces, deranged behaviour he only displayed when you were alone with him. Your dad left when you were young. He would die a few months, or ever only a few weeks later. As would mine. I wrote an entire manuscript about you, starting from the relationship you had with your stepfather and father. Also a flop. But a bit better than my second manuscript. An other writer said: “well, you are a writer after all.” You read it. You liked it. Which didn’t mean anything. Of course you liked it. It was based on you.
We talked about the divorce of other Nadia’s parents. You and the father decided to become room-mates shortly after their divorce. He worked in some boarding-school. And he played bass in a band. Hence the divorce. He was always out. The mother couldn’t stand it any more. I don’t know why I always remember shit about everybody. Must be the human capital spunge you carry with you as a writer.
I walked you to the station after your visit. Not sure what we talked about then. You also mentioned a vibrator that was so good, no man could ever emulate its performance. Never expect too much and you can’t be dissapointed. You had this look on your face: everything will always dissapoint, and let that be your solace.
I don’t know when we met again. The week after that? Your roommate, the divorced father of other Nadia, felt terrible. Terribly lonely. You asked if we could go out with him. We did. We went to Hot club de Gand, some crowded club for people who need to pretend they like jazz music. Somehow it was arranged that you would stay the night with me and not go back home with him. We mainly talked about his daughter. And how talented she was. Which she probably was, even if he was stuck in an admiring dad’s rave. I didn’t talk much. And near the end I was sort of picking a fight with him. I forget his name. He was nice, but we had other plans. He dropped us of in front of my door.
We went to lie on my couch. You weren’t planning to have sex. Remind me how did get to have sex, because I don’t remember that part. My bed at the time was a platform with a ladder. A matrass right under the ceiling. Quite cosy. Perfect place to watch movies on a laptop with girls. Like a small universe above the clouds, with the wooden ladder and all.
I wanted to make you come. And you were annoyed by that. Not just because you like being annoyed or because you think it’s necessary to be annoyed, you really were annoyed. You are most annoyed when you stop saying you are annoyed. You were also annoyed because I had said something about not being comfortable about blowjobs the first few times. That’s a size queen buffer rule. You have a beautiful body. Which you won’t believe. But you have. Long firm legs. Firm, cover magazine breasts. No excess weight to them. Not these floppy, fatty puddings, that wobble and cause dizzy spells when you look at them too long.
You came in the morning, but I suspect you faked it. You’re a chronic people’s pleaser in some strange, indirect way. Something you want to change, but can’t. You’re basically too nice. Right after the first round you say: “Well, you are a swell guy, aren’t you? You’ve cheated on your girlfriend.” Ehm, yeah, but I couldn’t have done it alone.
You eat cornflakes in the morning. A very tiny portion. You smoke. You go. We text. We’re sort of relieved the sex wasn’t earth shattering. I go back to my girlfriend. Feeling guilty. An unneccesary feeling. My girlfriend had been cheating on me too. Which didn’t bother me. I’m the grandchild of flower power free love hippies. You are having sex with an other guy who also has a girlfriend. You Some girl that’s way too young. And you’re not the only one he’s cheating his girlfriend with. I start wondering how STD’s this night with you is going to present me with. You specialize in guys who are already taken.
I bumped into you on the street some time later. Always happy to see you. Not awkward. But sort of uneventful. A hint of opportunities never acted upon.You and I have an escapist vibe between us. To stand there chatting on a street corner about I don’t know what, is unlike us. We want to run off. We want to watch a marathon set of road movies, have sex in between, and drive off ourselves round 5 am. To nowhere. A fast clean death maybe. Go out with a bang. Make it big, by some accident. “I’m gonna go up to Hollywood, they will see I’m so good. The money will roll right in and I just sit and grin.” Hollywood. Whatever. Any place but here. But we don’t. We have that in common too. Not really the self starting kind. We develop this elastic relationship. We text. We decide to meet. We don’t meet.
There’s a whole period where you text me you are wearing nothing but a flanel shirt. Grunge is our philosophy. Heavy slow, heavy slow. Grunge dynamics. We like to be in the all consuming noise. And to be spaced out in the quiet and be melancholic after the noise. We like the eb and flow of life. We like extremes. And we’re both not getting any extremes. Nothing in between. At this point in life. We don’t meet any more. I stay with my girlfriend. We do talk about having a threesome. Or in fact you ask me if you can have sex with my girlfriend first and THEN have a threesome. Neither of these situations happen. And I start having these frightful attacks. Attacks by what is called ‘maturity’. I start asking myself what the whole point is in arranging threesomes. I get this very scary mature reflex: what’s the point if it doesn’t lead to…money? We stop meeting.
You get married. In Vegas. Close to Hollywood, but not quite. With the other guy who had a girlfriend. I move to Slovakia. I’m about to get married. You say you miss the old days. You miss doing the wrong thing. I never got to see you in that flannel shirt. And nothing but that flannel shirt, of course. And you’re the only one who’s ok with having her real picture in this alphabet. Some small act of rebellion. Some people function best as backdoor lovers, it’s only real and worthwile if it’s hidden and forbidden, when it happens at irregular moments, when the rest is sleeping, our regular partners included, and there’s the faint possibility of packing one suitcase, one suitcase only, and leaving, dissappearing, without leaving the tiniest note. And never returning.
And we both know, it’s a trap. To spend all the time together, is to become regular, to kill the excitement, to slowly strangle any sexual tension, any feeling of being young and fresh, and wild. And even a flannel shirt can become routine. So we never meet. And leave it at a summer night and text conversations about having sex that never happens and never dissapoints. And the recurring day dream that somehow, way back, there was the opportunity to break free, and to go out and live fast, die young, stay pretty. Like all those who get caught up by the tangles of regular, working, married life tell themselves. But it’s nice though, it makes you feel that today’s life, is just the sleepy, somewhat boring, rockNroll-less but somewhat safe afterparty of the wild, edgy underground grunge fest that went before. When we were young and had unprotected (??) sex with strangers we’d just met, wallowing in romantic teenage depression gloom, that made sex feel like a revenge on our creators for putting us on a colorless earth, where grunge is dead. And most of our soul is too. And when we text now, it’s only to remind ourselves that we were once two entirely different people.
Or maybe not different, just alive.
You live in the US now and you have a son. You made a cover version of the Nevermind cover picture. I put some text to it, because, well, you know, a piece of you will always be in me and a piece of me will always be in you.