This Is How I Date Now

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A while ago I was rummaging through the Internet, and I came across an article that dozens of my Facebook friends seem to be enthralled by, entitled, “This Is How We Date Now.” So I read it. Then I sat and stewed for a while. Then I wrote six versions of this piece, at least three of which began “FUCK THE FUCK OFF OUT OF MY LOVE LIFE YOU ASSHAT.” Then I figured that was probably not a super great way to get people to listen to me (but, privately, between you and me, Jamie Varon, fuck the fuck off out of my love life, you asshat. I’m sure your intentions are good, and I bear you no ill will, but at some point in this piece I needed to call someone an asshat, and the unhappy position falls to you.)

Let’s gloss over the slut shaming. Let’s gloss over the wild generalization. Let’s gloss over the fact that technology in and of itself is not the devil – in fact, quite the opposite. Let’s gloss over the fact that I’ve had the same career choice, and been friends with my best friend, for fifteen years, so maybe who a person dates isn’t a great way to measure their commitment. Let’s gloss over the fact that everyone dates in different ways, and since the dawn of time there have been people who prefer commitment and people who do not, people who compare themselves to others and people who are unhappy with their chosen partners.

Instead, I’m going to tell you a story.

I had a gentleman lover for a semester. As people we did not get along, but our genitals got along splendidly. As a result, this gentleman and I did not speak in public, we did not really speak in private, we really only had bunches and bunches of sex and then after the semester he left and I never saw him again and that was how that ended. And that was fine with me, because apparently technology has broken all my feeling glands and all I need now is meaningless sex from nameless, faceless bodies.

“Goddamn it, Calla, stop actively destroying dating,” you say? “Goddamn it, Calla, you’re the reason there’s no more beauty in the world and everyone’s always on their texting machines,” you say? “Goddamn it, Calla, why won’t you young people learn how to connect with each other in an actual human way and not just via your genitals?” Ha! Got you. My genitals are, in fact, as human as the rest of me. But I digress.

One evening I went to this gentleman lover’s place of residence and we made a very satisfactory beast with two backs, as per usual, and then we cleaned up and turned out the lights and I rolled to one side of his massive bed and he rolled to the other, because dammit, we may insert our bodies inside each other but cuddling is drawing the fucking line. Didn’t you hear? Romance has DIED.

I awakened the next morning, and, coming out of sleep, I realized that, sometime in the night, my gentleman lover had scooted all the way across the enormous bed, wrapped all of his limbs around me, buried his face in my neck, and fallen asleep.

“Did you cuddle me all night?” I asked, surprised.

His voice still hazy with sleep and muffled by my hair, he mumbled, “I got cold over there. I was lonely. You’re so warm.”

His heart beat against my back. His breath was tickly and hot and terrible-smelling against my neck. His arms around me smelled of sweat and sex and laundry detergent.

We breathed in time. For an instant, we were one, lost in the rhythm of our own breath and the heat of the other person’s skin. In that instant, I loved him wholeheartedly. I loved his smells. I loved his breath. I loved the pound of his heart. I loved that he had created a perfect moment right here, even though out there in the real world he was an ass and I would absolutely never allow this. I loved the sudden vulnerability that had led him the long, long way across the bed to soothe himself with my warmth. I loved the desire that many of we humans seem so desperate to share, even in these technologically plagued times, the overwhelming need to feel the warmth of another person’s body and know that they are alive too, thereby reassuring us that we do exist, and that we are not alone.

“But Calla,” you say to me (I forgot to mention I’m super telepathic and I can hear you through the Internet, so I know what you’re saying), “That was real connection. Don’t you want that all the time? Why didn’t you date this gentleman lover? You had a connection.”

And the answer is that… yeah. We did. But no, I don’t want that all the time. Moments such as that, truly tender moments involving such romantically flighty people as me and my gentleman lover, do not come along on the daily. And that is why they are precious. They are a shock, and the better for it.

I am not discounting True Love. I have been in love and I know that it is a joyous thing. But it is also joyous to find the vulnerability and the clumsy tenderness that resides in strangers – and, since they are strangers, this kind of vulnerability is often only visible in flashes.

It is a very sad thing to me, that in this world there is perceived to be Love and Connection and Relationships, and anything less than this is nothing, just cold meaningless fucking. Lust. I shall not deny that it takes time to Fall In Love, to Commit To Love, for it does. Truly. But, lovers of mine, be assured that I have loved you. I have loved your vulnerability and the things you say and the things you’ve taught me, and your taste and your smell and your texture. Even if only for a moment, I have loved that look in your eyes and the shape of your hands.

We are fundamentally lonely beings. Regardless of how long your relationship lasts, regardless of how slow and beautiful and “real” it is, you are a lonely little soul locked away in a single body, separate from the rest of the world, and that has always, always been the case, and it will always, always be the case (probably). Personally I enjoy my lonely little soul. It’s very pleasant in here all by myself. Occasionally, though, it’s nice to let my lonely little soul press up against the walls of its human prison, and feel the throb and hum of other lonely little souls. These moments are like sparks of life. Like little floods through my body.

You could, if you wished, look at my life and see voids, an endless cover up of how lonely and sad my inability to be permanent has rendered me, an endless repeat assembly line of lovers, again and again, no meaning in any of it. I could do that, if I wished. But that would be like looking at my chosen line of work and seeing an endless repeat assembly line of plays, again and again, write, rehearse perform. Write, rehearse, perform. Meet, love, move on. Meet, love, move on. You could look at my life and mourn the death of romance apparent in the impermanence of my existence. But why, in the name of all that is good and beautiful and holy, of everyone I’ve loved and all those still to come, would you ever want to do that?

Calla Wright is a playwright working in Edmonton and Montreal. When she’s not cavorting with lovers of varying genders and getting angry at articles online, she makes theatre.

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Thunder Thighs

 

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Good day to you all. My name is Calla. I have thunder thighs.

When I was quite a young child, I recall reading a book wherein a young woman was on a diet (said young woman was a dancer) and she only drank massive glasses of what is described as “green gunk” for breakfast. Her father offered her bacon, and she said, “Oh, great, then everyone can start calling me Thunder Thighs.”

I remember my reaction being, “Well, yeah. That’d be amazing. I wish my nickname was Thunder Thighs. That’s the coolest thing to call your thighs ever.” Almost immediately after, I read a Terry Pratchett book wherein the unstoppable Nanny Ogg (a woman who has been married three times and had innumerable children) hangs upside down from a broomstick in a storm by her “thigh muscles of steel”. I remember thinking, “I bet Nanny Ogg has thunder thighs.”

Of course, at a certain point, no matter what utopian homeschooled society you grow up in, at some point somebody is going to explain to you that no, actually, “thunder thighs” is actually supposed to be an insult. A few years later, I learned of the concept of the “thigh gap”, where, uh… yeah, that’s exactly what it sounds like. There’s a gap between your thighs and it’s good and you want one so you can finally be adequate as a human being. Or so I’ve heard.

To me this concept was entirely foreign. Not that I’d never heard of fat-shaming or the notion of society demanding women conform to a certain style of beauty – I had always just assumed that thighs were exempt. They’re thighs. They don’t have to try to to be awe-inspiring, they always are. Foolish of me, I know.

When I hear the phrase “thunder thighs”, I think of the thighs of the Valkyrie. I bet the Valkyrie all have thunder thighs. I bet Wonder Woman has thighs of thunder. I bet if Mother Earth was an anthropomorphized goddess again instead of the planet, I bet she would have the greatest and most thunderous of thighs. And let us not be female specific – Thor definitely has thunder thighs. Zeus is a weenie, and does not. Hephaestus does though, even though his legs don’t really work. (Let’s be real, if Zeus had thunder thighs, Zeus would have sewn Fetus-Dionysus into his thunder thigh instead of his dumb calf.)

When I speak of “thunder thighs”, I do not necessarily speak of large thighs, or muscular thighs. Thunder thighs are simply thighs that do not apologize. They are the thighs of those who realize and revel in the glory that is the thigh.

My own personal thunder thighs jiggle when I walk. They never tan. (I lay out in the sun for four hours once, and they remained a stubborn porcelain white). I have five beauty marks on my right thigh, and three on my left. There are little indented scars on both, from the chicken pox that I contracted very late in life. They are patterned with faint purple veins. Sometimes they chafe when I get too sweaty, but this is merely because they are exhausted from the tremendous responsibility of daily being thunder thighs.

They carry me home on long, long, long walks. They’ve been a seat for romantic partners and friends alike. They’ve always been a perfect little segue from my pelvis to my knees. They’ve closed many a door when my arms were full. They have embraced lovers when mere arms were not enough. They are soft and squishy and warm, like bread just out of the oven. I love my thunder thighs. I love your thunder thighs. May all your thighs be thunderous.

 

Calla Wright is a playwright working in Edmonton and Montreal. She has thunder thighs and also some other body parts.

Image: Guinevre Van Seenus by Txema Yeste for Numéro China, 2013

The Dragons Are Dead And We Killed Them

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A few days ago, I was riding the subway, and there was a man talking to himself. Now this in and of itself is not entirely an oddity – there are subways, and men ride them, and sometimes the men (and, indeed, the women) who ride the subways talk to themselves. However, while I don’t usually listen to the people who talk to themselves (I prefer to eavesdrop on conversations and sneakily record them to use as dialogue later), something about what this man was saying caught my ear, and I decided to listen further.

            This particular man was speaking about dragons. More specifically, he was talking to Lucifer about dragons – how us, humans, as a species had doomed ourselves from the beginning, because we killed all the dragons and pretended they were just regular dinosaurs.Back when the world was new, we killed all the dragons, and cut off their wings, and that’s why we are so awful as a species, and all bound for hell, etc. And yet, when this man told other people about how we as a species killed all the dragons, the other people would simply say: “Whatever. Everyone’s done things in their past that they’re ashamed of.” And this man was so very upset, because why couldn’t people understand that this was not just a minor transgression – we killed all of the dragons. There used to be dragons, and we killed them, and we cut off their wings, and we tried to pass them off as regular dinosaurs, because we were so afraid of what would happen if people found out there used to be dragons. And then this man said, “I wonder if these people” – meaning the other passengers – “I wonder if these people know that they’re a bunch of soulless robots, because they don’t believe in dragons.” And then he said; “I wonder if these people think I’m a robot. Probably they do. Sometimes I think I’m a robot.”

            These three sentences, to me, were so heartbreakingly human: the condemnation of others for being different than you, while inside there lurks the fear that you secretly embody the very thing that you hate. For all that I am (supposedly) going into the business of recreating human emotion and human suffering, I have never experienced half as much emotion as this man did, simply over the fact that we’ve killed all the dragons, and over the fear that he is a robot. His final statement also spoke to me, like nothing has for a very long time. I frequently fear that I am a robot living in a world filled with robots.

            Now at the same time, there was another man on this subway, sitting across from me. He was an attractive young man, with coarse black stubble and large glasses and a dark brown vintage hat that went well with his tan vintage coat. He was holding a new edition of 1984, and every few minutes he would glance up at the dragon-man and glare at him. He would shoot these awful, disapproving looks at the dragon-man, every time the dragon-man uttered a swear word, or got a little bit too loud, or stumbled around drunkenly.  This young hipster is a part of My People. He is smart, well educated, comparatively wealthy (although he complains about how poor he is), and fully immersed in the culture of Montreal. This young hipster embodies the sorts of people that I surround myself with on a day to day basis, and he is the sort of person that I frequently hope I am – well put together, smart, engaging, cultured.

            However, as I reached my stop, and stood up to get off, I happened to glance down at this young man’s copy of 1984… and it was not a copy of 1984 at all.

            It was a Kindle.

            It was a Kindle encased in a 1984 book cover.

            This image, of this intelligent, well put together lad holding a Kindle encased in a 1984 book cover, led me to a lot of revelations. Most of these involved jokes about books and judging them by their covers. Some of them included trite commentary on robots hiding in plain sight – the technologically cold hidden by the intellectually human. A clockwork orange, if you will. (I stole that!)

            I think this may be the point when I should worry about myself – when the man talking about dragons and robots to himself has become the person with the most real and stirring words. The attractive, well put together young man has become the crazy phony, and the man talking to himself has become the sane one. A homeless person with severe mental health problems has said a deeply deeply personal thing about himself, and I had thought, yes! That is true of me as well, this deeply personal thing! At this point you’ve got to think – would it be a good idea if I started maybe seeing someone?

            I feel as though this young gent with the Kindle could have told me what’s going on, and that seeing someone might maybe be a good idea.

            Or, instead, I could keep having empathic life connections with homeless men in subways who talk to themselves.

            Let’s go with that one.

Calla Wright is an aspiring playwright and all round theatre-beast, hailing from Edmonton. She likes a bunch of things and also has hobbies.