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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Off-Limits

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I am from the second biggest city in Canada, and yet it often feels like a village.
Many people I know (including my best friends) become friends after a while, even if they used to evolve in different circles, and many people also date or sleep with each other.
It becomes normal to know so-and-so’s ex-boyfriend and some of the people they slept with.
It’s not only like that for others though, it’s also like that for me and my good friends, and sometimes the burden becomes heavy and the past remains too present.

Last weekend, I went to a house party at some guy friend’s place. There is one that I used to date, but we are just friends now.
The night of the party, I was getting back from my best friend’s place in the countryside. We had just spent two days without electricity under bad weather conditions.
I came back to Montreal on a rainy evening, but that wasn’t going to stop me from going out.
I wore my best weather-appropriate outfit (no easy feat, considering that I had only brought one pair of pants). I was in the mood to meet new boys that I could have some good conversations and some fun with. Hey, that’s also what vacation is for when you’re single. (Summer Lovin’, anyone?)

I arrived at the apartment early to catch up with my friends, discussing my life in Ontario and theirs in Montreal, talking blogs, art and life. The boys all commented favourably on my shoes and one of them looked at me from head to toe. ”Nice outfit,” he said. I was beaming from the compliments: it is quite rare and always lovely when men comment clothes. I was happy to come early so I could chill with the boys before people came in droves. And boy they did. A couple of people at first, and then the apartment got packed. The little yard was filled with various kinds of hipsters, some with beards, some with caps, some with side ponytails. There were some people I knew, some I barely did, and some I didn’t. But as my friend said the next day, I am a social warrior. So once again, I tried to talk to everyone, remember their names, and make an effort to hold a conversation. But that being said, sometimes socializing completely exhausts me.

I was feeling a little bit under the weather because of the evening’s dampness and the effort require to socialize with strangers. That night, I was constantly looking around for a beautiful boy to meet, and it was starting to make me dizzy. It was around then that I started talking to a very tall and handsome boy, coincidentally a good friend of my friends. We talked for a long time and the more we did, the more he was becoming someone I could actually picture myself with beyond one night. He was talking to me, and I was saying: ”you’re right” after he spoke, agreeing on his vision of things. He is a screenwriter. Like me, writing is his daily bread. He is also lanky and an introvert, traits that I have found endearing in boys since high school. Because I am outgoing and outrageous, I need a man to calm me down and hold me tight.

I wanted to offer him a beer, but somebody stole the two left, and so we shared a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
We went outside to smoke a joint, one that I had kept safe inside of my wallet, waiting for a good moment.
I got my bag from my friend’s room and went outside. We smoked, and then I tried harder to seduce him. I approached his face and kissed him close to the lips. Nothing happened. I backed off, puzzled.
”What’s up?”
”Nothing.”
”I’m sorry.”
”It’s OK.”
”Why don’t you respond?”

He told me that he was too close with the other guys and so he could not do anything with me.
”What are you talking about? I’m done dating this guy, we are only friends and the other guy, nothing ever happened, we are just friends!” He didn’t wince, but rather tried to explain.
Just to confirm the fact, I asked: ”so you’re kind of off-limits?”
”Yeah.”
He kept talking to me, but I was mad, sad and heartbroken. I left right then and there. I was walking fast and probably not in a straight line.

A few blocks down the road, I heard my name. Two of my favourite theatre buddies were on the other side of the street. We were very excited to be seeing each other again. We hugged, we laughed. It’d been a while. They told me that another friend was having another party, and it happened to be on my way home. I stopped for a few minutes, seeing one my best gay friends and making a new one. I left with a renewed sense of happiness and wholeness.

I was walking home when I saw newspapers already delivered on stoops. I took one, thinking that it would make my dad happy. He always goes out on Sunday mornings and buys it. It was 4: 30 a.m. when I made it home. I left the paper on the table and I went to bed. My dad was very surprised when he first woke up at 6 and saw the paper delivered to his table.

The next day, I went to yoga to feel alive again and then back to my friend’s place to grab my forgotten umbrella. We chilled outside, we listened to music, we shared poutine. I realized how happy I was to have him in my life. We decided to go out to the park with his other roommate to meet other people. My best friend came to meet us there with a dog she is looking after. We all went for coffee on an outdoor terrace. The light was beautiful and their presence was calming. When we were ready to go, the boys went home and me and my BFF walked in the opposite direction. Finally, I could tell her the story, and it felt incredibly liberating.

Upon hearing it, she said:”it must have been terribly awkward.”
”It was fucking awkward,” I answered.
”What can I do?”
”Nothing,” she said.
”I know,” I sighed.

She has also destroyed relationships because of sex and touch and many other of my friends have. Last year, two of my best girl friends slept with somebody I had previously slept with (one an ex-boyfriend). It did hurt a lot, and I felt like I was replaceable. Upon talking with my friend, I realized that maybe it was the best thing that nothing happened. I usually go with the line ”bros before hoes” anyway, and it sums up the ”best” way to react to the situation, although it’s more complicated than that. This story generated good conversations with my best friends. Many of us are fed up of being limited by our past or our social circles. Many of us are also fed up with dating people that are bad for us, and want to find that special person by expanding horizons. But it also underlined once again that friends are the most important, really.

Another of my best friends met her long-time boyfriend on the Internet in order to break the vicious circle of people-that-know-people.
Yesterday, I was coming back from their place with friends.
I told them what happened.
My guy friend said: ”I am especially wondering what he said to his friend so that he would reject you like that.”

I’m still wondering what my friend said to my late-night crush in the course of their friendship. I’m still wondering if I’ll ever make the guy that rejected me change his mind.
I doubt it. I know that I have to move on. Still, rejection is though.
I was hurt in many ways (it was especially hard on my ego), but hey, it won’t be the first time.
I’d rather keep my friends than my pride.

Lili Monette is a multidisciplinary entertainer and writer, and the Montreal editor of Blonde. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre & Development from Concordia University and is currently a student in the Master of Arts in Journalism program at the University of Western Ontario.

Photo: from i-D Magazine’s archives. Model: Lily Cole.

Hurricane Love

Southern Accent

“Let me take you out for a drink, just one,” he said.

It was summer and I was 20, caught between university semesters and, having recently relocated temporarily back to my parents, I was very much in lust with the idea of drinks with an older man in a city I didn’t want to leave.

So I stayed.

The drink, just one, was huge. A concoction of undetermined amounts of rum mixed with juices that very much resembled a grown-up fruit punch. Much sweeter than my usual drinks (at the time, I was also very much into gin and sodas and the occasional Tom Collins), I was hit hard by the Hurricane – both the unnecessarily large drink and, also, by him.

There are things you’ll always remember about a first date. You’ll probably tell too many stories, and as the drinks flow you may regret one or two of them. Your heart will race when his hand grazes yours and you’ll feel nervous when you laugh. There is a magical energy to the newness of first dates. I remember very vividly the way he kissed me. It caught me off guard, the way he lightly pulled me into him and kissed me with a passion usually reserved for established romance.

I thought of this last night as we took a seat at the bar, just as we had that hazy, summer night when I had a bus in two hours, but no intentions of catching it. Now at 26, I think to myself how it seems both everything and nothing has changed. How we are the same people but such different people. How sometimes I still yearn to be 20 when everything felt so young and love was so young, so young, it didn’t even exist yet.

When we met in the depths of a weekend night that summer, it was his brown eyes and tousled hair I noticed first. The dance floor was full of beautiful bodies, but I could see only him. Our first words were lost to too much youth and too much gin, first kisses much the same, but I still remember his mouth and his body and the feeling of my hands on his neck, his on my hips, his GNR belt buckle pressing into me.

While drinking Hurricanes on our first official date days later, I found myself wondering if you can love someone so soon after meeting them. I thought you had to grow up together, escape small towns together, not find each other in a darkened room, slurring words. But I believe in love at first sight because of that night. Because, sometimes, we still find ourselves sipping drinks at the same bar. On these nights, the world spins in circles round and round and it is like we were there again drunk off innocence and summer heat. Laughing and flirting like teenagers. Like if I closed my eyes and pretended hard enough I could almost believe we’d travelled back in time.

Except, when he orders a hurricane.

I order wine.

Sheena Lyonnais is Blonde’s Toronto editor. You can follow her on Twitter @SheenaLyonnais.