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.

The Band that Changed my Life

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I remember more music than I have memories. It has become so engrained into my life that I have tattoos dedicated to it and spend a good chunk of my paycheck to go to concerts.  I listened to music to fall asleep, to soothe a broken heart, and to celebrate life. Sometimes my taste could be questionable, but when I discovered my band my life changed forever.

Growing up, I listened to a lot of my parent’s music: Irish Folk music, female singers and more folk music. Before we had our Walkmans, my sister and I would have to endure hours in a car of songs like “The Fields of Athenry” and endless jig music. When my dad finally got “Hot Licks” by the Rolling Stones we had him play it constantly as it was the only music we could ever agree on. Then finally: we got our own Walkmans and stereos, which we used to play our radio mix tapes and CDs my mom got from Columbia House. She was pretty hip with the times: she bought me Fugees, TLC, Jennifer Lopez and Fast and Furious soundtracks. My first favourite tape that I listened to repeatedly as a kid was the Dirty Dancing soundtrack (years before it became one of my favorite movies).  I also distinctly remember blasting Celine Dion and Whitney Houston while playing solitaire on my little computer in my room, and having my headphones on listening to the Backstreet Boys.  Then there was Spice Girls and Destiny’s Child air bands, lip syncs with my bestie to “The Boy Is Mine,” and dance routines to ABBA. Very eclectic taste.

Then as I got older, I picked up artists that my parent’s hadn’t heard of:  Blink 182, Sum 41 and my favourite band for years and years, Lifehouse. I discovered them on a That’s What I Call Music CD and played their first album so often I’ve had to replace it three times (its still one of my favourite albums of all time). While I still like Lifehouse, my heart grew to love a different band.

In my “victory lap” year of high school, I was set on becoming a writer. I was the editor and pretty much sole writer of the school paper; I worked on yearbook and wrote stories for local magazines.  Then I took a co-op at the University of Guelph Radio station, CFRU 93.3 FM.  I was working with this very hip woman who wore hand woven tops and went to yoga (before it was the “thing” to do). As part of my co-op I got some airtime, two hours of “spoken word,” which meant that I could play music but I had to talk or have stories for 50 per cent or more of it. I only remember one story talking about education, where I had my only call in (which incidentally turned out to be a boy I hated), but I do remember the music. I would scour their little CD room filled top to bottom with CDs of all kinds of music, any genre you could think of. Then there was the “new release’s” room, with a little boom box to test out the CDs. I carefully cultivated my musical taste in that room.  Weakerthans, Constantines, Gossip and one song that I still listen to but have no idea who the band is. I remember filling out sheets and sheets on the songs I played, I wish I kept copies of those sheets.

Then I found that little single.

I remember being intrigued by its pink and gold cover, it was a promo single sent by the record label (we got lots of those). I put it in the little stereo and I was instantly hooked, it sounded quite a lot like 80’s new wave I was really into at the time (huge John Hughes Fan) but yet different. I had never heard the song before.

It was The Killers “Somebody Told Me.”

I played it literally every single show until I heard it on public radio then had to retire it. Soon after I first heard it, I bought their debut album Hot Fuss and played it to death at home.

Lifehouse and the Backstreet boys was one thing, but this evolved into something else entirely. WhiIe I’ve outgrown the other bands, I’ve become a bigger fan of The Killers. I have all of their CDs, some B-Side songs, follow a YouTube Channel with live shows and was gratefully gifted their vinyl collection which could be my most precious thing besides my autographed Chris Hemsworth magazine.

The truth is I listen to the Killers every single day, even if it’s just one song or their entire discography.  From “Mr. Brightside,” and “All these Things I’ve Done” to “Read my Mind,” “Runaways,” “Human” or “Here with Me,” and list goes on and on.  At some point in the day, guaranteed you will hear me listening to them.

While I don’t always like the music that The Killers put out, I am still a faithful follower, a Victim as they call their fans.  I’ve seen them twice in concert, and soon will go to see them a third time (floor spots- as close to the stage as we can get).

The first show was special because I dragged my cousin to it and I was very high. Sitting in the grass at the Molson Amphitheatre, it sounded so amazing that it was like I was in a tiny room and I was the only person there. I felt the music float over me and out into the night sky (I romantically think it was because of how much I love the band but it was probably the really strong weed). The next time I went was with my best friend, and we sang and danced our hearts out. It was a dream come true.

While they may not be the first band I discovered on my own, they are the first band that no matter what is happening around me, when I listen to them I feel like “me.”  They give me the words that I can’t find and tell me stories that I can relate to. On sunny days I walk around the city with my headphones repeating the words “I’ve got soul but I’m not a soldier” in my head. On dreary days I hum “Mr. Brightside” and I wish I could have written, “It’s funny how you just break down/Waitin’ on some sign/I pull up to the front of your driveway/With magic soakin’ my spine/ Can you read my mind?”

They remind me of my good times, bad days, my past, and they get me through my present. The Killers are also part of the reason why I am so close with my best friend, because she understands and shares the same love for them as I do.

I know I will be a Victim for life: I dream of naming my hypothetical daughter after a cover they have done, plan on following in their footsteps while in Vegas and I’m deciding on what ink I should get to commemorate them.  How was I to know one little pink and gold CD would change my life?  Music will always be my religion, and the Killers are my saints.

Lonely in London

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So many times I have packed and unpacked, moving along to new cities in a effort to constantly feel alive, to make my dreams come true and to fulfill my inner free spirit. Every time I move to a new place to live, there is a big reality check coming along with it. Effectively, I need to learn how to live all over again. I need to understand the city and its culture. I need to meet the right people with which I will have meaningful relationships. I need to know the spots to buy cheap and tasty groceries, the cool cafés, the best parks, the splendid street art. It might seem easy and of course, it is blissful to stroll through new cities to discover new haunts. Alas, it is quite another thing to settle down in an unfamiliar place.

I just arrived in London, Ontario to start a Master in Journalism. I will stay here for one year and I already knew before leaving that it would be quite a challenge for me as a big-city girl that feels comfortable either in the countryside or in the city. I’ve always had trouble being in a small town or a suburb, as I feel that difference is more or less accepted. Despite having lived in London UK, Vancouver and Erlangen in Germany, moving somewhere else is always a challenge, even if it is the tenth time you’ve done it. It always means starting over.

Before leaving Montreal, I felt heavy, as though my past was weighing on my shoulders. As I was sifting through drawers of stuff from my twenty-five years on Earth, I reflected upon the fact that in life, nothing is forever and objects eventually have to live another life or disintegrate. I also pondered upon past trends, old friends, and my very identity.

It took weeks to sort things out. I had to make sure that I didn’t throw away useful stuff, or worse, keep too much. I have been moving apartments every year and downgrading in size, but I knew that this was my ultimate move. I’m going away to study now but I don’t plan on coming back to Montreal after I’m done. We’ll see where I’ll find my true calling (New York?).

Right now, I feel torn between missing my friends and my city and knowing fully well that I need to move forward in life and that my time in London will not exceed twelve months. I am now living in an apartment without internet (a devastating misunderstanding with the girl I rented the room from) which makes me feel insanely alone, helpless and empty. It makes me realize that this is a wonderful opportunity to stop and breathe but especially, reflect.

When I arrived in my first apartment in Vancouver at seventeen, I had constant insomnia despite being an usually sound sleeper. I could not fall asleep because I was highly receptive of the melancholy and sadness of life, and the fear of being alone and starting anew was keeping me awake at night. I felt miles away, physically and psychologically, from my loved ones. I still feel the same kind of restless anxiety years later as I’m trying to calm my nerves by myself, without being able to call anyone or say anything. In that case, writing is the only thing that really helps, in an effort to open up a conversation.

I remember when I was living in Erlangen and my bedroom was by the window. Evidently, as it was summer and that there were picnic tables just outsides, engineering dudes used to drink beer and speak loudly when I was trying to sleep. A similar pattern was happening last night, as my apartment was vibrating from loud music and that shouting from drunk dudes was coming across. When times are though and that I feel grumpy, I’m trying to be grateful nevertheless, otherwise life would be too melodramatic.

Yesterday was rainy and I walked kilometres in the windy and rainy weather to go downtown. I stopped at the river where I watched the geese swimming and listened to the water flowing down. I also saw street art under the bridge. I kept walking to see a clothing store that I was surprised had an outlet in London. I was in much need of retail therapy although it had to be a cheap session, given my financial circumstances. I got a new shirt, earrings and a badass women of hip-hop colouring book. I paid for my items and left the store to spot, right across the corner, a lady in front of Wine Rack with a sign written ‘‘Free Tasting’’ on it. What better way to invite people in? I came in and started talking to Megan, as her name tag suggested. She made me try two wines and a cider and listened to my newly-arrived desperate tale. She helped me with directions and encouraged me to come again on my way back.

I kept walking with the humidity making my bones shiver. The mix of bad weather, sadness and poor architecture was putting me in a bad mood again. In a shop window on which was written ‘‘free henna tattoos’’, I saw a girl rocking multicolor dreadlocks. I thought she looked cool but especially, that she looked like an individual in a city where people tend to look the same. I was tempted to go in but she was busy with somebody else. I thus kept walking, failing to find a grocery store.

I was downtown and there was a lenghty line-up to enter a comic book store. People were either disguised or wearing normal attire, and it made for quite a scene. As I kept walking, I ran into heaps of hobos, and I felt that I had hit rock bottom for the day. Despair was seizing me, and I knew that I had to head back. Walking on the same street again, I finally entered the elusive store, where I was greeted by two sunny ladies. I sat down with the dreadlock girl for a henna tattoo and we started to chat. It did not take long to realize that we were both from Montreal and felt quite different here. That conversation brought about a much-needed feeling of acceptance and relief. I knew right then and there that I was going to be friends with that girl. We spoke French and it was so comforting to let my guard down. She invited me to an 80s night tonight and even if I have school tomorrow, I’ll probably check it out.

Following that moving encounter, I went to the Covent Garden Market and got quite long-faced when I realized that organic food in London was way more expensive than in large cities such as Montreal or Toronto. Upon talking to a lady in the store, I got a list of other organic stores in the area. She winked at me when I was walking around, and I was so thankful to her for understanding the situation and sending positive vibes my way. It calmed me down to realize how people could be lovely. I know that I will make friends here, but I’ll just have to find my tribe, like anywhere else. I might be alone right now, but it’s an occasion to reflect and open up headspace for new experiences.

If I do feel lonely, I can open up a box of photographs, look at the pictures on my walls, or else at the henna tattoo on my hand. I’ll have to be brave, but I’ll be able to go through this, once again. Hopefully, the dudes downstairs did quiet down around eleven and I slept like a baby for twelve hours. I woke up to a sunny morning. As a French saying goes, ‘‘après la pluie, le beau temps’’.*
*After rain comes beautiful weather. 


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: Autoroute 10, 2013 by the talented Olivier Gariépy. http://ogariepy.tumblr.com/

Friends With Benefits

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It was a feisty summer evening in 2011. It was around ten and I was with my best friends sipping cheap beer and chilling endlessly at an infamous park in my hometown, where I have spent an inordinate amount of time. As it is often the case in big gatherings, our crowd kept getting larger. A small group of people that I did not know arrived. Of course, as I always spot the cutest person first, he instantly caught my eye. He was black, beautiful, dressed pretty well and he seemed funny for some reason. He was instantly nicknamed the ‘‘blipster’’ (black+ hipster) by my best friend.

I was twenty-two at the time and I was sporting huge glasses that people either loved or hated. He said ‘‘I love your glasses’’, and I responded: ‘’I love you!… well, your outfit’’. We both laughed, but I felt a little awkward. We talked for a bit, and he asked what I would be doing later. He took my digits as we were off to different bars. Like many these days, this is a relationship that started by text messages. He came over to meet me and subsequently, we made out on the dance floor. We left the bar as it was closing, quite drunk and full of juvenile energy.

We were heading back to my apartment on bicycle, and on the way, we tagged a warehouse building in the Mile End. I wrote ”Lili loves you”, my classic and silly tag, with hearts replacing the ”i” dots. A couple of days later, he tried to find the tags we did to no avail. It seems like those tags were the product of a single encounter and that they disappeared into the city landscape pretty quickly, just like the possibility of being a couple.

I was living in Mile End at the time and there was a couch on my front porch. He used to smoke cigarettes in the morning, a trashy hangover gesture. He used to call me from outside ”come on baby, come over here!”. He made me laugh and it was comfortable and fun sitting next to him despite the foul smell.

After a couple dates though, I came to realize that he wasn’t boyfriend material. I felt that we had good conversations, sure, but not the most enlightening ones. Also, the sex wasn’t working, and it was tedious to get his member up and running. He became heavy or annoying at times, and I realized that I did not liked him like that. I especially recollect one afternoon when he tagged along with me and my friend to the Mount Royal and I felt that I had to take care of him. I thus ”broke up” with him shortly after this, and enhanced that we would never be more than just friends.

A couple of weeks later that same summer, I ran into him outside of a bar in the Plateau. He was going elsewhere. ”Do you want to come with me? I was going to this other bar. I’ll buy you a drink if you come!”. I agreed, but in a friendly manner only. I did not realize then but my PMS was taking over so I was moody and highly sensitive that night. I did hold his arm at some point while walking, while simultaneously clearing the fact that we were just friends now. How to send mixed signals, basically. I was also wearing my chic black cape dress and being a little princess-y. When we got to the bar, his friends were gone so we had a beer and talked. We were both feeling quite knackered and he was living around the corner at the time. He told me to come over, but I did not want to for obvious reasons. I ended up staying the night, but I slept in my fabulous cape dress. I woke up drenched in sweat in the summer heatwave. I left his house before collapsing from sweat or being obliged to take my dress off. I stopped by my godfather’s to give food to my cat that he babysat at the time. Evidently, I had my period.

Fast-forward one and a half year, he invited me out for coffee. We might have looked like a couple as I ran into one of my college friends, but I was actually on a break with my then-boyfriend at the time. He invited me to his place to drink wine. I still found him insistent and I did not want to go, especially since I was at a weird place relationship-wise. We left it at that, and we barely talked for a while. He texted me sometimes, but I made it clear that I was in a relationship with somebody else. I heard about him sometimes. For instance, the following summer when I was in Germany, he took a German class with my best friend.

A year and some months later, I was working the cloakroom at the venue I work in. I turned back to the counter and I saw him standing there, a black panther shining in the night with a neon yellow beanie like a signpost. He was with one of his friends, a small nervous girl who I initially mistook for his girlfriend. I asked her if she was, and he came back at the same moment. I guess my question kind of showcased a jealousy and a puzzlement at his romantic situation. He came back to talk to me twice and after last call, he tried to convince me to go to an after-party. Being exhausted and having something the next day, I declined. He took my number again. He asked ”if I text you, will you be answering?”. I nodded in agreement.

The next morning he texted me that he was really happy that he had seen me again, and that he had forgotten how honest and good-natured my smile was. We texted a couple times. He subsequently invited me out for diner on Valentine’s Day. Being single but not desperate, I thought it could be fun to spend time with him to rediscover our relationship under a different perspective. We went to this insanely decorated restaurant, with an incredible array of weird objects. We came back to my place to smoke a joint and he tried to come closer. I felt noxious and I kept pushing him away. ”You know, your’e like an old friend, it’s just weird, I don’t want sexual contact. You can hold me, sure, but that about it for tonight”. He tossed and turned and was sweating so much that he decided to leave. He was not mad, just annoyed I guess,as he wanted to have brunch the following day. That was a good sign, I thought. He did not necessarily want to sleep with me.

We have realized that we are a little more than just friends, but at the same time never to be lovers. He loves touching me, although he respects my boundaries. I can massage his shoulders and give him long hugs. We are very different but there is a kind of fun tranquility when I am in his presence. He expresses himself best through music and images, while I can and write, read and talk endlessly.

‘‘That’s why I love hanging out with you Lili, you’re so fun and alive and you talk constantly, you always tell stories… I’m not that great with words’’.

He told me over beer on Bernard Street one Monday evening: ‘‘your name fits really well with you. When you think about Lili, you think about a sweet, gentle girl, no?’’. That night, we kissed a little bit but could not go beyond that without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. He said: ‘‘we’re really platonic’’. I don’t know if it’s because I aimed to try to prove him wrong, but I aimed to unbuckle his belt, something I have never been skilled at doing (I think it’s the equivalent of boys trying to open girl’s bras). I put my hands in his pants, trying to go further, maybe. It had been so long and I needed some but he stopped me right there and then. I was happy that he stopped it afterwards, because he was right. We are too platonic. I just cozied myself with my head on his shoulder and my hand on his chest. Ifelt asleep in seconds.

I woke up slowly the next morning, and I could already hear him tap slightly on his keyboard.

I opened my eyes, stretched, and looked at him: ‘‘coffee?’’

‘‘Yes! It should be ready by now’’.

He came back with two cups and gave me a vintage one with ‘‘The Toronto Skyline’’ written on it in a dark orange. It was a fitting match since I was about to move to Ontario. He told me that he thought of me when he saw it and that he had chosen it on purpose. We gave each other a big hug that morning. I put my boots on, and we hugged again. I left his place to find a misty and foggy Mile-End under a slight rain.

A week or so later, there was a party for his birthday on a Friday night. It was a hype event with three other roommates and a slew of familiar faces involved. There were many people that I did not know, of which many seemed self-important. I was about to leave but he kept trying to convince me to stay. I agreed after much frustration and argumentation. We went to his bedroom, he closed the door, he poured me a glass of wine and showed me a book he made for school. I critiqued it and we talked about it, and he told me that I was the most important person to come that night. He kissed me, and was being a bit heavy on me. I left while feeling that I had to fight with him to quit his place. It made me sad as I made my way home. That night, I was battling with demons in my dreams. I woke up thrice drenched in sweat.

The next day, he texted me. ‘‘I’m sorry, I was a bit heavy last night’’. He rang me up later that night and it was probably the first time in a relationship that has always evolved around text messages.

I have come to realize that being friends with benefits is not that simple. There is always a push and pull happening and an aura of mystery and deception. But most importantly, this is a friendship I can count on. It’s another kind of love that doesn’t need to be labelled. As I moved, I found his set of keys that he had lost at mine’s a month ago. He wrote to say that he will miss me, and I responded that I will too.

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 at the University of Western Ontario.

Photo: Lili Monette

Cougar At Twenty-three

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As the delicacy of just baked young male flesh seemed to be the hormone-driven cougar women’s main nutrient intake, I was led to think that they held the secret of pleasure’s longevity, of tight thighs and happy bouncy breasts for the years ahead when other couples might desperately wonder what show to watch that night.

Looking forward to enjoying the pleasures of youngsters at a later age, does it seem normal to say that I first spent some time exploring intimacy with father figures? Well, what can I say? If their mental age was about mine, which meant just around nine, we were then a perfect fit! After touching more and more wrinkled skin, the day came when I thought to myself: “Oh! How do I crave young fresh flesh!”

What was the problem with me? Why was I finding it so hard to be attracted physically or mentally (let alone both at once) by guys around my real age? Maybe I didn’t know how to live in the now and lived my future to distract myself from my fear of it. Maybe I had met those people in past lives, forgot why we broke apart and was foolishly happy that we might be united again. Maybe I just wasn’t confident enough with myself to realize that I could get a guy my age if I wasn’t losing time dating deadbeat dreamers who were ready to craft a new world between their bare bloody hands for ungrateful me.

Well, it had to happen. Seeking to attain balance, doesn’t one often go from one extreme to another? I fell in love with the freshest flesh on the meat market: a not yet legal virgin with no facial hair but the softest duvet! My encounter with this young fella happened two seasons after I told the last could-be-my-father type “ta-tah” and started re-flowering myself to have it just like a virgin with someone I would, for once, truly go crazy for, would truly get moist for, that I would get to know bit by bit until one day, one lovely day, naturally and without any questions, we would start to… ah, I do not dare to spell that delightful and censored rite! I have shivers down my spine evoking the sensual pleasures I have once known that are no longer familiar to my body.

I did not think about this new guy too much at first, but as my interest and desire grew into a constant stream of fantasy that my body made half-real, I faced my emotional self and realized how much I was delusional in my relationships. I tried to rationalize to keep the friendship going, in a platonic way of course.

His cute attempts to get closer to me made me smile at first since we were not of the same league. Slowly, the honesty and intensity he deployed in his innocent courtship grew on me. I became more and more vulnerable to it.

As he crashed at my place when he was in town, I did really good at appointing him a bed that wasn’t mine. The dreaded day came when, out of my control, the situation called upon bed sharing.  “Oh Divine, please help me!” I cried as I sealed myself up with clothes and took place next to him (oh his fresh scent) in bed, not ready to give up on the vow I took a few months earlier. The first night went okay, I do not recall sexual dreams leading to an orgasmic awakening, although I did get drenched in sweat, being used to sleep naked.

The second night was painful. All day I had been delighted by the sight of his strong and tanned body, wet with salt water, shining in the August sun. Not being in the city nor surrounded by society, the social age conventions were evaporating out of my mind. Again, we went to bed and the following morning, it was not the sunshine that awoke me, nor heat, but my inflamed ovaries yelling at me: “woman!! Will you get us or not to work and reproduce? Come on, we’re ready for a little sport!”

I understood why my cat (my friend pet and not my own pussy) would meow and rub herself onto anything, painfully, before being fixed. I had myself never accumulated such sexual energy, since I would normally do like lots of other people do: get drunk and get low with whoever was cute enough for a blurred late-night vision. Frantically, I got out of bed and took on whatever tasks I could find to use up that energy and to hold myself from acting like my cat. But really, it was too late: I was hardly remaining focused in his presence, imagining intensely caliente scenarios.

We did get closer and closer. We slept holding each other’s hands, then bodies. One day we had our first kiss (how soft was a duvet-covered lip against my feminine mouse-stache). I was experiencing stages of intimacy I skipped with previous partners. Stepping back a little and living these moments enabled me to grow. I was letting him lead, forgetting my seducing patterns, even becoming clumsy as we touched. We went on like this for a moment until one day…

… to be continued!

*
Nessa, back in Montreal, was shocked when someone made her realize that all she ever speaks with, writes with, shares ideas or shoots interrogations at the world with are the same 26 letters arranged or not in assembles. Alas, that realization didn’t help her scatterbrained intellect to find center.

Photo: Madonna and Jesus Luz for W Magazine, photographed by Steven Klein

Hurricane Love

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“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.

When I Realized I Was A Grown-up

Girl Looking Over Water-small

Sixteen years is a long time. It’s the age of a girl who dates football players or the boy who drives his Dad’s car with a mix of caution and recklessness. Sixteen years is also how long I’ve known Lola, a woman who was a giant kid at heart and made me laugh myself to tears. We met at a talent show in 1997; her with actual talent and me trying to pass my pathetic imitation of Posh Spice as a talent. We were close all through high school and stayed in touch as I went to university and she moved to another small town. Eventually we drifted apart, tethered only by Facebook, with the occasional message and an almost random run-in on the street in Toronto.

She’s now engaged, and in celebration I invited her to visit me in Toronto for a weekend. I wanted to share this special event with her, remembering all the great times we had together. I bought loads of booze, planned all these events and things to do, and had all these expectations and it turned out to be a fantastic weekend. However, I was surprised at how I felt after it was over.

While I have aged, I’ve never felt any differently from when I was a teenager. Being with L made me realize that not only had I grown up, I was not who I really thought I was.

She came in with a whirlwind of activity and clumsiness (as always); she hardly stopped to breathe as she told me about her life with her fiancée, her two cats, and friends. She talked me into going to the Eaton Centre and proudly told me that it was her first streetcar ride (which she then almost fell out of when exiting). Her innocence, even with her age, surprised me. I had always felt older than her, but she was getting married! I herded her around town, and, for a while, it felt like old times; side splitting laughter, giggling about boys and trying on clothing. Then I had planned to take her out with a bunch of my Toronto friends and take her out we did! They loved her, she loved them, and a grand time was had by all.

Being with L made me realize that not only had I grown up, I was not who I really thought I was.

The next day was full of fun and more tastes of Toronto life, and even before she boarded the bus home, she wanted me to plan her next visit. I smiled weakly, after all exhausted with the late night and the running around and told her we’d work it out later.

I went home alone with my iced tea and confused emotions. I was happy she had a great time, I was exasperated by her and I felt nostalgic because maybe the distance between Lola and I was longer than her bus ride. The things that mattered to us when we were younger don’t mean the same to me anymore; I don’t have tickle fights with my friends (true story), I wear clothes that I find fashionable not because they were in style, I don’t even listen to the same music anymore. I’ve become a mature, wine/whiskey drinking, biography reading, staying in and watching Netflix kind of adult. The girl that Lola knew was just a snapshot of my past that had been left behind in a photo album that L carried on her trip. It was very sobering to realize that magically I had grown up without even noticing.

I later looked at photos on Facebook, reminiscing, and realized that despite how much I’ve changed, there is a tiny bit of me that will still giggle over cute boys, or lip sync to a pop song that I would die if anyone found out I knew the lyrics to. The weekend was nice to revisit the old me, laugh until I had tears in my eyes, and letting myself be goofy with a good friend, but I am better off being who I am now.

Erin Fahy is a corporate drone by day and a Blonde Mag contributor by night. You can follow her on Twitter @rockurworld16. Lola is not her friend’s real name.

Image from Manley Art