Bye-bye, Baby

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Learning to be in a relationship again after being single for a few years is no easy feat. When I started seeing my now-boyfriend, I was not sure if I should give my heart away, especially because my heart had been crushed several times in a row. That being said, I knew from the get-go that he was a caring guy and that he had a heart of gold, so I learned to trust him.

Even if I wanted a relationship when this one began, I forgot the efforts it required. Of course, I knew that every relationship (friends, work, family, love) requires efforts from both sides in order to work, but being in a relationship after being single for months feels weird.

I’m used to being very independent, so I find it difficult to be in a relationship sometimes. There is more compromise involved in being together than in being alone, but providing the partner is good, there is a lot more fun too.

I know that a good man is hard to find but even harder is finding one that is a good fit for me. I’ve dated a lot of great guys that were just not right. That is why I’ve had more lovers than boyfriends. Finding a good fit, and a man that I can actually love, seemed like looking for a needle in a haystack, because love is not about finding the man, and then done, happily ever after! Both parties need to be genuinely interested, hold common interests and/or goals and make significant efforts for the relationship to flourish.

My boyfriend is a little bit younger than me and I originally thought that it would be an issue because of the discrepancy in life experiences. He is from small-town Texas and I’m from Montreal.

We are worlds apart and yet, we can understand each other. Being with him taught me much more than I expected at first. I tended to see myself as superior because of my many stories and globetrotting life, but I’m not. We are just different, yet similar. The great thing about being in a relationship is to teach each other how to be better people. We also get to share life together, and the company’s always good.

I find that being in a relationship teaches me to be patient in other aspects of my life, such as in my relationships with others and especially with myself. Sometimes, I get annoyed at my boyfriend and at other times I get pissed off at myself. Being in this relationship has made me aware of my limitations, of his, and then of every other human being. Limitations can be overcome with courage and curiosity, things that we both have. Everyone can get better, but at the same time, people are who they are and that is why finding someone who is on the same wavelength and willing to grow with me can seem like a never-ending quest.

Accepting somebody’s love is difficult too, as it is something that grows with time. I love my boyfriend more now than I did at the beginning of our relationship because I’ve learned to accept him the way he is, and he does the same with me. I used to be bitchier around him. I guess it came from giving up my independence or rather, not wanting to give it up. It also came from a resistance to change and openness. It also came from past fears, fights and feelings.

Even though being in a relationship is hard work, I wouldn’t trade it back for singledom. I’m not saying that being single sucks, but I was ready to be in a relationship when it happened and I got into it because he was worth it. I was not looking for just about anyone. I actually wasn’t looking anymore. And then, it happened. Life has its ways.

We dated for a month before I had to go home for the holidays and an internship. He was going home and then back to school. The long-distance relationship actually brought us closer together. Because we were not physically together, we had to communicate through words only. We talked for hours online. He sent me a paper he wrote. Seeing the extent of his intellect made me fall in love with him, and kept me looking forward to our reunion.

When he went to pick me up at the bus station, he brought a big bouquet of flowers. Our relationship became stronger after that, and eventually cemented into something official.

I love having my boyfriend around me. Being together makes life easier and more exciting. We laugh a lot. We have fun even in a small town because we go on dates or we talk and chill out at home. In tough moments, we have each other’s backs, we talk it through, we make each other feel better. He takes care of me and looks at me with loving eyes. We cook for each other. I got him into cooking more, and I’m always pleasantly surprised when he whips up a new healthy recipe.

I got him into quinoa, tofu, eating more veggies, going to yoga and drinking herbal tea before bed. He got me into following music, scholarly ideas, space and learning how to be more patient.

I went home with him for Easter. Actually, he drove me there. He met my parents, who absolutely adore him, despite the language barrier. That trip made us realize that we could live together in the future. If you’re able to go through such a trip together, support each other and come out stronger, it’s a good sign.

On the road, he waited in line for food while I got us coffee. We sat down together and ate breakfast before going on to new adventures.

In the car, I read him stories to make sure that he was awake and entertained.

On the way back, I was exhausted and had a deadline the next day. Despite our intention to go sleep at my friend’s place in Toronto, he suggested going straight home and it was such a relief to know that he was willing to go the extra mile (literally).

He is extremely patient, kind and affectionate. All of this positive energy really helps me to keep going. We encourage and support each other in our endeavours. We are both intellectual and active people, so we always have something new to talk about. We keep our bodies and our minds in good shape. We always have smart conversations. We are both immensely curious.

We tell each other ”I love you” many times every day. We call each other a lot of silly nicknames, which I won’t reprint here, but let’s just say that there’s a lot of baby animals involved. The difficult part now is that despite all of this, life is not a Disney movie.

In a few days, I’ll be going home to Montreal for a few months and my boyfriend will be staying in London, Ontario. The good thing is that he’ll drive me home and that we’ll get to spend a couple of days there together. The bad thing is that he’ll have to come back to London.

When I wake up next to him in the morning, I always feel blessed. I’ve got a good, fun and smart man to hold. I don’t take it for granted, and I know I’ll miss him. At the same time, I know that I’ll carry on being both a good girlfriend and an independent woman.

When we’ll see each other, it’ll be a celebration. In the meantime, we will have to communicate over phone, text, email, Skype. We are setting up a two-people book club to deal with the separation, reading the same books at the same time.

Although it’s hard to say bye-bye baby, it’s also nice to have this time to write and figure my adult life out. I’m still an independent woman and it’s important for me to remember my individuality when I’m in a relationship. I don’t want to lose sight of the single girl because my inner independent woman is what keeps me going. Being alone for most of my life shaped who I am and where I’m going. That being said, it’s also nice to share.

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How I Got a Crush on my MD

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“ARRGHH!” I scream on the ground, looking at my ankle twisted in the weirdest angle. Ouch! I try to move my foot, but I cannot command anything. My foot does not respond. A woman helps me to get up. I try to put my foot down, but yikes! No way, I can’t. “I work at Notre-Dame Hospital,” says the kind helping lady. ‘‘We were just heading there. Do you want to come with us?” Ah, yes thank you. I am saved. Here we go, straight to the hospital.

At the hospital, I am scared. I hold my tibia against my chest. There is no position in which I may relax my leg and feel comfortable. The pain is horrible and my emotional nature makes me cry and shake in despair. How quickly did I slip on ice and find myself here!

After three or four hours of waiting with fluctuating anxiety, I get to see a doctor.
-Well, tu t’es pas manquée!*

I want him to touch my ankle, to send it some reassuring love. I want him to put the bones in the right place where they belong, but he barely dares to touch them as it is as large as my knee.

I get scanned. I am told that I have a very bad fracture and will need an operation the next day. This is all happening so fast!

Can I at least go on the Internet and do some research to find another solution first, an alternative one? Girl, this time, it’s out of your hands, you need help and you’ll get it.

I keep crying as I am so afraid of such a thing as an operation. I ask to see the scan. The doc asks me if it’ll make me cry more and I say, yes, probably, but I still prefer to face reality.

I look at it. I am in pieces. I call my brother to come and pick me up and he arrives super quickly. He is my hero, he is so reassuring. We get in a cab and go to my place, he helps me go up the three floors. He brings me some water, makes me some calendula tea, rolls a joint. We smoke. I cry.

The next morning, I am finally peaceful. I have been in pain for 24 hours because I did not want to swallow any drug yet, expecting to get the total trip during the surgery. I am reassured that I will be taken care of.

I am to be operated at Hospital Hôtel-Dieu, a beautiful hospital in downtown Montreal with white walls and tall windows.

The employees have great charisma. Some who will be working on my ankle even come and introduce themselves to me prior to the operation. This change in atmosphere from my experience the day before at the emergency room is a world apart. I am smiling, almost excited for this adventure to start ahead. And oh, as I am there, about to be operated, the first thing I ask is for strong painkillers.

It is my turn, yahoo! I am taken to the operating block. The room is big, well-lit, and the equipment looks pretty high-tech. I wasn’t expecting a set worthy of the latest TV show. What a luxury treatment. I may now sit back, relax and just enjoy.

But I’m curious, so I keep asking questions about this indicator, this number. They answer politely and smile. Then, I see the surgeon in charge: damn, he’s young and hot. Maybe early thirties? I wasn’t asking for that much.

Well, I hope he won’t be too weirded out by my end-of-winter hairy legs. I don’t like waxing my legs in the winter because when I shiver, the goosebumps hurt as there is no hair to raise. I wonder if he’s used to straight platinum-haired chicks with a Brazilian wax.

I’m getting anaesthetics  for my lower body, which means that I’ll be conscious throughout. As they start opening me, I go, “Woah, I can still feel everything!”

This 24-hour pain ride was sufficient for me. I don’t feel the need to experience all of the stuff that they’ll be moving around in there. I only have enough time to finish my sentence that they’ve added something in my solution and I fall completely asleep.

The operation is soon over, so a lady wakes me up. I go “already?” and laugh. I touch my legs. I can feel nothing and since that’s the weirdest thing that ever happened to me, I laugh even more!

They can do such freaky things with their meds these sorcerers…
The personnel kind of awkwardly laughs with me. It could be a sign that I’m starting to freak out. I guess they stated in their papers: “Well, she woke up laughing”.

I thank everyone, still laughing a bit (maybe the drugs helped). I am taken away to spend the rest of the day in another room.

When the anaesthetics’ effect wears off, I am not laughing anymore.

I feel like 14 knives are squeezed inside of my leg. I am tortured. My dad wants to take me to the parental house but I refuse. Going for a long car ride is the last thing that I want in that instant, the pain is too intense.

I say that I need some sleep before I go anywhere. My body just can’t handle it anymore, so I spend a lovely night at the hospital and wake up the next day feeling ready to head to my apartment.

It turns out I get all of these follow-up appointments with the hot doctor. He’s the kind of surgeon with a lot a charisma that all lady patients must be enamoured with.

He always asks about my weird job (I was working in a hair loss prevention place at the time) and if I eat meat again or not. I love his little teasing, it makes me feel special (which he also said about me ^ . ^). I look at his curly dark hair that I want to twirl in my fingers.

In my convalescence I hardly feel like I look hot but always make an effort to feel ‘‘okay’’ when I go to my appointments.

We fill in papers to set an operation to remove the metal that was put in my leg.
“We’ll have lots of fun,” he says. Oh yes we will. On the operation day, I am super calm and excited. It feels like such a step forward after such a crazy year.

The doc warmly welcomes me. The scene is perfect. He is washing his hands in the corridor besides the waiting area where I’m sitting and a male nurse comes in to ask him a bunch of questions about his knee, of which he is specialized.

I try not to smile too much as I look at his muscular arms. He looks tan as if he was just back from a sunny trip and I wonder whether or not he’s a gym dude. Well, he looks very healthy and energetic regardless. Oh, it’s my turn to lie on the table.

Lord, his assistant is also hot. With a mystical and serious face.The hot doc starts working on me and I feel tickled and laugh. I guess my body completely accepts his touch.

He can’t believe that I’m laughing, he’s like, “you’re a very special one”. There I am, conscious this time, looking at these two hot guys open up my ankle.

Sometimes the way he holds my foot feels so nice that I could moan. Then the not-so-fun part starts. They pull the screws out and it feels awful. I twitch and tremble and scream a bit, transitioning to singing when it becomes uncomfortable.

In between painful moments I feel embarrassed, way too aware of the resemblance between sexual pleasure and pain. Thankfully I am wearing panties. What if the sheet under me had gotten moist?!

He keeps wanting to talk to distract myself from what’s going on and I alternate between telling him that I don’t want to talk or simply not answering and shooting quick answers as if we were speed dating – even  absorbed in my pain, I still want him to get to know me (sigh).

It’s over. I sit up. I’ve been crying for a while now. The doc says he doesn’t like to make girls cry. The others laugh, as if they know about his Don Juan qualities. I ask if he’s married and he negates with his head.

My recovery is going well, although I get a really bad infection so two weeks after the operation and after a 12-and-a-half-hour wait at the emergency, I am lucky to see my doc again.

He warmly shakes my hand, his tall body super close to mine, and asks me how I’m doing. I say “hmm, not so good…” He looks at my ankle and doesn’t understand why my body is reacting like that. I tell him that one day I’ll write a novel about the reasons why and that if he wants to, he’ll be able to read it. He may first think that I’m crazy before thinking that maybe I’ve got a point after all.

We have this nice eye contact. He has the light turquoise iris of a really healthy fella, according to naturopaths. He prescribes some antibiotics and introduces another doctor to me to for a follow-up appointment the next week, as he’ll be travelling during that time. He leaves the office, saying in his cute theatrical way: “Dr S. will be taking good care of you during my absence!”

I answer with my eyes bat-lashing and a cute head pose. I love when I make him smile, which he’s not shy to do. He goes out to wash his hands but comes back to say, “You’re right, nutrition can’t be the only thing that matters” and compares some cases he knows. I’m happy that I’ve installed a little spark in his mind.

Now I know why I find him so cute: he’s healthy, has a tall and strong lean body, has clear eyes which prove his head is just as clear. He’s already penetrated me through my ankle and… he’s a doctor. For what I understood that I really seek in my man is that I want to find the one who will be my healer and for whom I’ll be the healer. I am very much interested in health, but through ancient knowledge and alternative holistic approaches. He comes from the academic background, so it is somewhat in the opposite camp that is not that opposite. Both groups want the same thing: to help and heal people.

So I can’t wait for my next and, if all goes well, last appointment. I feel ridiculous about imagining scenarios, but don’t even feel like holding back. Will I dare to say with my eyes “Will you be my own personal healer?” Will I ask him out for dinner aloud?

 

*Translates as ”you didn’t miss your shot”.

Vanessa Serhan is a brunette multi-disciplinary artist working and designing in Montreal.

Narrative Of An Invisible Disease

3b6f33f2 copyI suffer from an invisible disease. I often look put together and function well, but inside my reproductive organs are fighting a battle every day. This is endometriosis.

If I don’t discuss it, people generally have no idea that when I go to work I often have lower back and leg pain so intense I have to breathe through it. Or when I go to school I sit through seminars and hope the pressure that feels like a tiny bowling ball pushing down on my uterus subsides so that I can participate. Or if I’m out with my friends I have to avoid alcohol because the side effects are non negotiable to my reproductive system and the organs that surround it.

Generally it doesn’t come up in conversation. There are many women who are told by their family, friends and even doctors that they’re hypochondriacs or that they’re crazy because the pain we deal with can’t be seen. But it’s important to explain it, and then explain it again until we’re heard.

***

It began when I was 14. I was at school and felt so sick that I was convinced I had the stomach flu. After several months of feeling this way and one too many absent days on my report card, I went to my family doctor. He told me the pain; the nausea and the cramps, was most likely endometriosis and that there is no cure. He told me the pain could be minimalized with the birth control pill. There are many parents that would have refused to allow their 14-year-old daughter to take birth control. I was lucky enough to have a mom that could see my future. If she refused that course of treatment I would have struggled to make it through high school, potentially have failed to achieve grades high enough to go to university and certainly never would have been accepted into graduate school, where I am now.

Unfortunately the use of birth control as treatment is not perfect. I spent most of high school and my undergraduate alternating brands and visiting my family doctor. But it kept the pain at bay until I was 24, when I realized this could not be my version of normal anymore.

There is a reason the average age of diagnosis of endometriosis is 25. The tissue most women get rid of when they have their period builds in us for several years. Unfortunately allowing it to build often means by your mid 20’s it has spread to your ovaries, outside of your uterus, your bladder or your bowel. Once it gets to this stage the pain is so bad that it abides by no timeline; you are often either in stage three or four of endometriosis. I was in stage three. PMS was a week before my period (which actually is how PMS is defined, not when you have your period), followed by the pain of the period then wrapped up with the pain of ovulation. By the time the pain has subsided the glimmer of hope was in the potential of the solid week before it starts again. Most of my time was spent waiting for the pain to return. A few days of living without was is my victory.

I was 25 when I had my first laparoscopy, but it won’t be my last. Five months after my surgery the pain returned, not as debilitating as before but on the same scale of intensity. My gynecologist told me I would need another surgery in 5 years, barely enough time for the scars from the first surgery to heal. I will likely have a hysterectomy by the time I’m in my mid 30’s. Unfortunately after that there still won’t be any pain free guarantees.

There is a label on endometriosis that it is a fertility issue, and stands alone as a fertility issue. But it is a disease that affects all women that are diagnosed, not simply those looking to get pregnant. This disease affects young women long before child bearing is a thought in their mind. In that sense, it is ironic that the organs that are meant to carry a baby cause many infertile women the most physical pain. As if we need a constant reminder that this pain will not offer any reward to some of us.

I will admit the possibility of infertility doesn’t concern me. I don’t say this to undermine women that battle infertility as a result of endometriosis, their voices are important. But the voices of those of us not concerned with conceiving have been drowned out. As a single 26-year-old woman, I am constantly preoccupied thinking about how I will manage my pain and work full time. I also think about how it will affect future relationships. Explaining endometriosis to a man can be difficult, but hopefully to the right one it won’t be. Most of all, I concern myself with my day-to-day life. There are days endometriosis relates to diseases similar to Crohn’s or Colitis, other days it feels like mild flu symptoms. It is a fluid disease that uses women’s most powerful organs – the reproductive ones – against them. I have to strike a balance between taking care of my body and maintaining a social life that I won’t feel I missed once my 20’s have passed me by.

***

I want to be a powerful woman, with a great job and sometimes the toughest battle is the psychological one; silencing the voice inside me that says this disease will dictate how I live my life. So I’ve adapted. I have had to strike a negotiation with the non- negotiable parts of my body essentially deciding it’s one for me and one for you. If I go out on a weekend and have one or two drinks, I have to compensate that with two or three months of avoiding alcohol or else the flare up will last for weeks. On the plus side, I believe I have the purest liver of any 26-year-old on Earth. Regardless of what I negotiate, there is always pain. And for the foreseeable future, it’s not going away. I simply call the shots on what I am willing to sacrifice.

As is the case with most diseases, the narration of my story isn’t meant for recognition or pity, but maybe a little bit of insight. It’s to let you know that many of us fight invisible battles every day, and we will fight like hell to win them.

Leanne McAdams is a Master of Arts Candidate in Political Science. Her research and writing interests include women’s political participation, reproductive rights and gender equality.

5 Things on Love: From an Unqualified Single Girl

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Writing about Love around Valentine’s Day when you’re a single girl feels about as comfortable as a hot male gynecologist checking out your downstairs while a Justin Bieber CD plays.

Nevertheless, ‘tis the season and as popular culture, Facebook and even the news won’t shut up about it, its time to talk about looove.

Or, specifically in my case, the lack thereof; unless you count Netflix, Tumblr and my hoodie collection, then I’m seeing several things very seriously. However, I have learned a few things on love that I’d like to share with you all during this magical time of year.

First, Hollywood, books and the OC lied to you. Real love isn’t about the grand gesture or big speeches; it’s about honesty and being with the one person who gets you. As one of my romantic heroes’ once said, “If I loved you less, I could talk about you more.” The guy was so in love with Emma (Jane Austen, look it up) that he literally could not go into more details and Mr. Knightley (aforementioned romantic hero) was not a quiet guy. Love is everyday; it’s sitting through your partner’s favourite TV shows when you’d rather be anywhere else in the world, it’s the I Love You text just because they popped into your head. All those grand gesturey things? They last a moment, but someone who will bring you chicken soup when you’re sick is forever. Forget the boombox blaring love songs, a daily heart emoji will work for me!

Secondly: Love as you want to be loved. You are not perfect, and neither is your partner, so fighting over how long you take in the shower or that they are constantly late is not going to keep the lovelight burning. It will snuff it out like a little kid blowing out a first birthday candle. So many fights are over the tiny details that drive people crazy. Learn to deal, yes it sucks but if you really loved them, the little things really don’t matter. So ignore your partner’s mother’s passive aggressive comments on your tattoo sleeve and they’ll ignore your friends who are constantly over at your house playing video games.

That being said, thirdly: Sometimes, love isn’t enough. Yes, tragic and sad, but even if you really like someone, things fall apart for one reason or another. Rather than dwelling on the crashing and burning, remember the happy times. Every time you love, it’s a lesson to be learned. Maybe you’ll be a little less selfish next time, or they’ll learn to stop being a cheating jerk (even if they don’t, you learn to move on and trust someone else). Love isn’t always easy, and yes, it’s not always going to be happily ever after, but some day it could be, and every relationship that ended before just means more shit you learned to keep you and your dreamboat together.

Okay, back to happy, and I mean Happy. Four: good sex is Important. I’m not talking about huge passion, hours-long screw sessions, I mean sex with connection and joy. Don’t have sex because you think you have to, and don’t do things just because they want to spice it up. If you don’t want to do it, then tell them you don’t. Sex consists of bodies communicating together, so communicate with your words before, during and after. There are two of you in bed, so make sure both of your voices are heard. Make it enjoyable for both of you. Put down the 50 Shades and bring the sexy talk back.

Finally 5: Enjoy love in any form. Whether it be love for your Bestie, your partner, your siblings your parents, your Starbucks Barista; just love with an open heart. Who says you only have to really love just one person? There will be one person who will work by your side for the rest of your life, but there are other people in your life who contribute to your happiness. So appreciate them too!

So with that; I love you Mom, Dad, Sister, Bestie, friends, Netflix and My Starbucks Barista’s who give me so much love, support and caffeine that I so desperately need. And I love you too Blonde reader, for taking the time out of your busy day to read this. Happy Valentines Day!

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.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

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‘‘From the way that people have always talked about your heart being broken, it sort of seems to be a one-time thing. Mine seemed to break all the time.’’ ~ Heather O’Neill, Lullaby for Little Criminals

The other Friday, I met with my friend to hang out and we had a lot to talk about. She told me about what happened with her since the last time that we saw each other. She had slept with a young man and the two became a little more than cordial, but when she left to visit Toronto she never heard from him again. I was furious when she told me. “Why do guys act like this?” I said. “It’s like everything’s good and all of a sudden they disappear.”
“I know that I shouldn’t have given it to him in the first place,” she said. “But I like sex!”

Why it is the woman who should withhold sex, even if she feels like it? Unfortunately, I have found that there are a lot of assholes out there, a large number of which are disguised as great guys.

They say that three’s a trend. In my case, the last three boys I have been involved with have all pretended that I didn’t exist afterwards. And all of those guys were friends of friends and seemed like good guys upfront. Clearly, I was mistaken.

The first guy was my friend’s roommate. In August, I went to her birthday party and ended up spending a lot of time with him on his balcony. It was raining outside, and I was still hanging out, putting off going home in the rain without an umbrella even though I lived two street corners away. He kissed me after everybody left. And one thing led to another…
When I left the apartment the next morning, I felt pleasurably high because it had been months of abstinence. When I went home, it was still raining, but the warm drops felt good.
We spoke a week later after we both came back to town. He gave me his phone number so that we could meet each other later that night. I tried to contact him a couple of times, to no avail.
The next day, he finally wrote me back, blaming his allergies and the fact that his friend was heartbroken. ‘‘Even the girl at the pharmacy laughed at me this morning.’’ I accepted his excuse. A day later, I hadn’t heard back from him and our time was running out. I had to leave Montreal and so did he.
Slightly pissed off, I confronted him (something I usually avoid doing on the Internet, but hey, I was tipsy and frustrated). He repeated the same excuses over and over again. I told him that I understood, but that we only had two days left to see each other. He never answered, and has been travelling around the country ever since.

I met the second guy at a college bar in London, Ontario. Kevin was the friend of a friend of a friend, and he was sitting there with a nice shirt on (somewhat a rarity in the small-scale city). We spoke for a bit and he didn’t waste any time to flirt with me. He gave me a glass of beer, we danced, and he held my waist. I was practically sober but the attention was appreciated. I remember thinking that it was too easy to be true, and unfortunately it was.

After two hours of sweaty dance moves, I wanted to leave and so did he. We left the crowded bar and on the street, he asked me if I wanted to come over. I took a few seconds to answer because I wasn’t sure. And frankly, I should have said no. When it comes to boys, my new rule is: when in doubt, say no. But at that point, I felt like I could do with some company, so I said yes.

The apartment itself should have been a warning sign. It was a total bro pad, with tacky posters of New York City adorning the white living room walls. There were no books in sight, and when I see none, I always think about that brilliant John Waters quote: ‘‘If you go to somebody’s house and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.’’ An excellent piece of advice.

Anyhow, I was sitting next to Kevin on his couch, and we were having a good talk about sports, our lives and languages. He was telling me that my English was excellent, better than a great number of Anglophones, despite it being my second language. He probably said that to get into my pants. Again, I should have left, but I stayed. We went to his bed. It was nice to feel his body warmth, but I didn’t want to have sex with him. When he started getting more intense, I stopped him in his tracks.

“I would prefer not to sleep with you. Last time I slept with someone it didn’t go down so well.”
“But I want you,” he said.
So I gave in. I shouldn’t have. I gave in because his dick was hard and the blood flow was rushing to his head, making him lose focus. He wasn’t even good in bed.
The next day, I left bright and early. ‘‘You’re gonna call me, right?’’ I asked insecurely as I was leaving, to which he nodded. But he never said yes.

A couple of hours later, angst grew on me and I intuited that he would not call. I started playing “Fuck and Run” by Liz Phair over and over again. It comforted me in my sadness. ‘‘I didn’t think this would happen again, with or without my best intentions,’’ she sings. Sigh. I felt silly and regretful, but it was over with and there was nothing I could do but wait. I wasn’t that much into him, but I still needed to talk to him again. I realized that I can’t do one-night stands anymore. I need to see the person again to have a sense of closure. But he never called.

I hate when men suddenly ignore women, especially if they said that they’ll call or that we’ll hang out. It pisses me off even more when they push for sex, and then pretend that they don’t know your name. I’m not saying that people should marry everyone they sleep with, but being respectful and honest goes a long way. As my friend Roseline said, ‘‘they’re not able to realize that their acts impact others.’’

The third man initially rejected me, as if the red flag wasn’t large enough. But a month later, back in Montreal, he added me on Facebook. Clearly puzzled, I accepted and started an online conversation because I just didn’t get it. We chatted for a bit, he told me that I was funny and he invited me out for a drink.

I went to meet him at his place and we talked on his couch. We were both a little shy, but my shyness is manifested in more chatter. We were wondering where to go so I suggested a bar up the street for the dim lights and the good music. We had two beers, and we each paid a round, which was another red flag. When the waiter came with the second round, I counted 1,2,3 in my head before taking my wallet out. I looked at him and he was looking down.

Most women I know think that men should pay on first dates. A philosophy teacher once told my class that men should pay on first dates because of women’s inherent biological intuition. If a man pays on the first date, it shows that he can provide and can be trusted for the long term. A theory I adhere to.

But back to the date. Our conversation was flowing. He was smart yet cynical, and highly attractive. I was asking him questions, trying to pierce his mystery. We left the bar, smoked a joint in the street and he held my hand because I was having trouble walking in my heels after all of this. It was romantic.

We hung out in his room under a red light, talking and kissing. Because of my two previous experiences, I didn’t want to sleep with him on the first night. (And thank God I didn’t.) I told him that the two guys I had previously slept with didn’t call me back.
‘‘Poor little one,’’ he replied with a smirk on his face. I could not interpret whether this was empathetic or misogynist, but I thought that he understood how I felt.
He was sweet and sexy and held me for most of the night.

The next morning he told me that he didn’t sleep well.
‘Why?’’ I wondered.
‘‘Because you were in my bed,’’ he replied with a smile.
He was in bit of a grumpy morning mood. I was annoying him simply by touching his face. I finally got him out of the bed a little after noon. I asked him for a coffee and told him that I would be on my way because I had a friend to meet and I was already way behind schedule. We sipped coffee and orange juice while listening to an up-and-coming electro band. We kissed for a good two minutes before I left.

I went home with butterflies in my stomach. Two days later, I was still thinking about him and so I asked if we would see each other again before my departure to Ontario. ‘‘Let’s hang out when you’re back,’’ he said.

I was coming back a month later, and our future date seemed like a distant dream for all of October. I spent the month obsessing about him, stalking him on social media, re-playing our date in my head over and over again. I felt sick many times throughout the month, as if my body was telling me that something was wrong.

I didn’t feel any trust. I was suffering from his indifference and from my romantic ideals. I was holding on to something that didn’t exist. When I’m playing ‘‘How will I know?’’ by Whitney Houston over and over again and I’m singing it at the top of my lungs, I know that I’ve gone too far.

I complimented him on his blog via Facebook chat once. He replied two days later, brushing it off, not saying thank you. Then, three weeks later, I wrote to him because I was coming back to Montreal. I just mentioned that I was in town. No reply.

Love mixed with social media obviously adds to the lethal cocktail of dating in 2014. The entitlement generation I am a part of ignores each other more often than not and fails to make plans (or cancels them) on the regular. Friends do that to friends, lovers do that to lovers, and strangers do that to strangers. So that’s also part of the problem, and it’s not only about women. Two of my guy friends recently protested when I spoke about the issue. They said that things like this happen to them as well.

Eventually we connected and he replied that he was willing to out for a coffee. I answered and tried to arrange a time, but he never agreed.

It becomes stressful to communicate when you witness the object of your affection online on Facebook. Talking to him too much could kill things quickly, but not talking to him could lead to nothing at all. I’ve had endless conversations with my best friend about how e-communication is tricky. Online chat traps us. ‘‘What should I type next?’’ we wonder to each other in various states of despair.

The problem with silent treatments is that it drives the other person insane. It happened to me a couple times before, and in most cases, I’ve had the opportunity to put guys back in their places. They have apologized because they have realized that their behaviour was stupid. They came to understand that silent treatments are awful. Indeed, they are a form of psychological violence and manipulation.

A couple of nights ago, I was watching a panel on the CBC. They were talking about how ‘‘women are afraid of coming forward’’ after being assaulted. I would argue that it’s the same with women who have been wronged: they are afraid to speak up.

If they do, they will likely be portrayed as crazy, sentimental and manipulative. I have been discouraged to speak up many times. My friend Kyle told me not to write to Kevin and to ‘‘spend your energy on your new guy.’’ Look how that turned out.

On the one hand, it is true that spending energy on a loser is a waste of time. On the other hand, if nobody speaks up, everyone keeps treating each other like garbage and the world loses its humanity, one cold heart at a time.
Too many people prefer to pretend that everything’s cool or to ignore each other when they could be having a 10-minute conversation instead. It only requires a little courage and balls, something that many guys seem to miss. As Lily Allen sings, ‘‘forget your balls and grow a pair of tits, it’s hard out here for a bitch.’’

That being said, I’m conscious that not all boys are like this. I know that there are many wonderful men out there who know how to treat women like human beings and I have plenty of them around me.

That being said, it’s difficult not to be pissed off and sad. As always, I end up taking time off to be properly single, but loneliness creeps back in. The need for affection and intimacy strikes back.

Whatever happens, I’m going to take things slowly now. I don’t want to feel too invested, fooled or heartbroken for someone who can’t even care to reply. I know that I’ll eventually meet someone, but at the same time, I’m under no false impressions. I know that a good man is hard to find.


Photo: Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl for lifestylemirror.com

That One Almost Dance

He had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. He was my height (which is tall), gorgeous, thick dark hair, crooked smile, and he was my locker neighbour.

First day of freshman year high school, I finally navigated my way to my homeroom and found my locker, in a very ideal spot across from my homeroom and near the cafeteria. I remember hanging up my boy band posters and locker mirror, but I don’t remember my first meeting with the dream guy. I just remember that I was completely smitten.

Up until that point, my crushes had been on boy band members who acted innocent but were skeazy in real life, young actors with mysterious smiles and cute hair, or random boys in school who were sort of cute but as my hormone-ravaged brain needed the drama, these boys became the center of my little world.

In middle school, my friends and I would harmlessly fixate on one guy a year and give him a code name; one boy’s nickname was after a boy band song, and the other was after his unfortunate taste in winter outerwear. We’d narrate his day or talk about things we caught him doing. We’d never ask him out or dream of being asked out by these cute guys, they were simply something to pass the time.

But my freshman boy was different, he made my pulse race, my face flush and my words stutter. No nickname or narrating for this boy. I just quietly pined hopelessly, devotedly to my blue-eyed boy.

We had the same homeroom and a few classes together, and then I walked into the school newspaper meeting and he was there. He was a writer too (mine of course being the better pieces), but I read his words until I memorized them. I don’t recall any one-on-one conversations, but I assume it would have happened. My friends knew how I felt and luckily only one tried to constantly shove me in his path, but I resisted. I was the damsel in the tower, I wasn’t going to call after my prince charming; he can find me himself.

Then it was the first dance of the school year. None of my peers could go, an older friend was supposed to meet me at the dance later on, so brave 14-year-old me, I went completely alone.

Much Music Video Dance, I wore hip-hugger pants, my platform heels (although being 5’7 at the time) and my Backstreet Girl crop top (I may have used Hot Sticks and or glitter gel in my hair). Either way, I was here to dance and have fun and I did. Then, “All My Life” KC and Jo-Jo came on, I swayed alone to the song when a mutual friend of mine and my crush’s found me. She told me that the next slow song, he wanted to dance with me. With me.

I remember smiling so calmly, and said sure, I’d dance with him. My inner damsel squealed and danced around in my mind but as the friend walked away, I stayed where I was for a few minutes then glided down to the washrooms.

I have many fond, dramatic memories of those washrooms, mainly friends of mine having meltdowns or gossiping about girls in school but this was my own moment. I went in, washed my hands and looked at my young and terrified face in the mirror. It was happening. I was going to dance with my blue eyed prince and we’d live happily ever after. Drying my hands I went back upstairs to my destiny.

Sadly, my dreams were just dreams, as no more slow songs played and my prince never found me that night. He never asked me out or had his friend talk to me on his behalf. We just had that one almost dance.

I was crushed, but knew some dreams weren’t meant to be. I moved on and crushed on other boys (real and Hollywood style), but still have fond feelings for Blue-Eyed Boy.

Later, I found out that my crush’s best friend (my arch-nemesis all throughout high school) had a crush on me too. So I tell myself that my crush was being a good friend by not making a move on me to spare his friend’s feelings. It also explained why the arch-nemesis was such a prick to me all throughout high school.

Only fairly recently did I find out that my blue-eyed gorgeous prince was gay (okay to be fair, I FaceStalked him a little). I was a little sad for what could have been and felt a little sad for that 14-year-old me at the dance waiting for my long-waited slow dance.

However, what my blue-eyed boy gave me was much more than dreams and fantasies; he got me out of my boy band craziness and into real life boys and showed me that even if it wasn’t meant to be, I was worth being asked out and maybe fought over a little bit. So, on those days when I think I am not worth it, I’ll remember the boy who sent a friend to ask me to dance (even if there is a little part of me that thinks maybe my prince wasn’t in to me; maybe it was my Backstreet Girl shirt), I’ll remember the feeling of being in the girl’s washroom and thinking I had a happily ever after coming. Someday, my prince will really come.