Mini bus ride.

Getting on the minibus carrying Franco on a hot day with most of the seats taken, moving all the way to the back and an older douche that could have moved does not move. We seat uncomfortably, Franco on a seat in front of me. People get on and off, the seating shifts. At a the end he’s seating in the seat in front of us, he’s a damn querapito. Dressed for his querapito job. I take the gum out of my mouth and let it drop behind him so it sticks to his jacket. Felt it was the right thing to do.

 

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Regina

Regina has deep green eyes and soft brown hair. There was a pause,  a comfortable pause, we both knew what would follow and had to let it build up a little for it to be true. Then she spoke.

        – I’m going to come back.

        – Good for you.

        – You don’t believe me?

        – Sure I do.

        – Thank you.

        – For what?

       –  For helping me.

        – Okay.

        – When I come back I want to buy you a drink.

        – That won’t be necessary.

        – Then let’s go for coffee.

        – Right.

        – I mean it.

       –  I know you do.

        – So? Maybe you can give me your number or something? I don’t think they’ll let me have it if I ask…

        – I think we’re done now.

        – No number?

        – No number.

        – Good bye?

        – Good bye.

She’s 18, got into trouble here and needed repatriation to Germany. I was asked to evaluate her and write up the report for the insurance company. The situation was complicated and required tact and care— she wasn’t easy. All through our first conversation Regina was trying to figure me out, calibrating me, testing me; wanting to know what I wanted to hear, who she needed to be for me to like her. I relaxed and listened; asked a couple of questions, let her do the steering, let her take me for the ride, let her show me how smart she was.  She’s smart, very smart. Knows men and knows how to handle them.

 Last year she spent six months in Spain, living with a boyfriend next to the beach. That boyfriend was 56 years-old. That’s a 38 year age gap.  She smiled, she cajoled, she cried and finally, she was brilliant—just to let me enjoy her cleverness. We talked about violin music and violin players; I had to play catch up but she’d always slowed down if I fell to far back. I knew what she wanted— if, the insurance company could establish she’d knowingly lied to them, it was over, she’d get a tough deal, and would have to pay for all expenses incurred. She needed a break and I let her have it; the Germans would come and pull her out sometime after midnight, I signed the papers. I got a telephone call from a man in Germany; he was brief, I was brief—we both appreciated each other’s brevity.

Maybe she did figure me out.

Clemence Smiled.

The dramatics of final farewells no longer hold uncertainty.  What should not be said is left unsaid, what needs to be done is done, actions linger more than words and awkwardness is avoided.  The feeling is not pleasant but there is a sense of liberation as well as comfort when I get back from the airport, turn the key,  go in, put some music on, and sit on the sofa; satisfied  that my apartment is once again my own.

This time there was something different, and it had to do with conversations I had with Clemence.  In a sense, they were not conversations; it was one long conversation with different chapters and acts interrupted by walks, eating, sleeping, sex, motorcycle rides and movie watching but always returning to itself and continuing. Sometimes with better insight, sometimes with  exasperation.

Her words have stayed. I found them when I came back and felt the weight of unanswered questions.   We knew we would not have much time together.  We knew we had to drive everything hard into the ground and burn it all up. Crash it. Break it.  So that is what we did.

Clemence was different. I am still in touch with Barbora, as well as with Ilse, even if it is  in an odd “so, are you still alive?” sort of way, and of course with Helena we have a promise that will be kept.  With Clemence no postcards will be sent, no Facebook searches or invites to be carried out, no polite happy birthdays needed or expected. She is gone.

She was not fast, nor slow; her mind moved like that of older women I’ve known, with the unavoidable weight of unadorned certainty.  When she made a comment she did not expect approval or dissent, she expected an answer on which to build and move forward.   Sometimes it got too intense, so we would have sex to shut each other up and stop having to think. it was good sex.

She smoked.  She did so calmly or nervously, depending on her mood, always apologetically like most young smokers do now; not having known a time when smoking was not frowned upon.   Clemence, smoking in bed, said to me, “you have sex to avoid forming an emotional bond with women, you treat your body and ours as objects”.

I let her smoke in bed because I can remember how good it felt, and because it was like if we were a couple in an old movie.  I let her inhale and then said, “yes, I treat bodies as objects, however precious, that’s what they are, but apart from being afraid of emotional bonding I like sex because it feels good”.   “You’re a sex addict”. “Do you think so?”. “I am sure”.

The words linger and the question of the part sex plays in my life remains.  I do not agree with Clemence.  I do not use sex to avoid emotional bonds with women, if I did that, I wouldn’t write or think about them. I like women. I enjoy being with them and getting to know them, and after having sex I discover great things.  I learn about their lives and past, their families and past loves, their heartbreaks and of their courage and victories.   I admire women.  Having sex with them is the one true way I have found to express this to them.

Have I lied, cajoled, tricked and gone out of my way to get a woman into bed? Yes, or course. Unless one is in love, and unless that love is reciprocated, I know of no other way to go do it.   Do I regret this? No.  Has it been consensual? Yes. Has it been the result of responsible and informed mutual consent with prior agreement of stipulated limitations and expectations in a rational adult way? No.   Am I an emotionally immature selfish asshole unwilling to compromise beyond my limited capacity for empathy and sharing? Probably, but I try to be self conscious of this and not let it get out of hand.

I told Clemence that I had a blog.  This blog. The Aradic Sismic.  That the header had a painting of a woman that was smoking.  “Ah. It is destiny maybe then? Destiny knew we would meet. That is nice. What do you write about on this blog?”   “Thoughts and pieces of my life I don’t want to forget”.

I told her that it had surprised me to find the amount of bloggers who were writers in different stages of development, all learning and writing, developing what they call “their craft”.   I told her of a blogger called Matt Williams who wrote interesting stuff and had commented once that I could write about the things that have happened in my life, and how, some days ago I commented on a post of his declaring that since I was not a writer myself my opinion should be taken as that of a layman, but that from that day on the idea of learning to write in a more methodical manner had began to grow in me.

“So you want to become a writer?”

“Yes.”

“It’s very hard to be a good one.”

“I don’t think I really want to be a good one, I suspect that takes talent I don’t have, I just want to be a real one, whatever that means”.

“Then you will need to make sacrifices and commitments, yes?”

“Yes.”

“And you may need a strong woman too.”

“I like strong women.”

“In English?”

“Probably in Spanish, I don’t trust my English to do what I want.”

“I wish you luck. If I ever see a book with your name as author, I will buy it, I promise”.

“Ok.”, I smiled.  Clemence can barely speak Spanish.

“Let’s watch a movie”.

“Which one?”

“Hanna. I like her. She’s brave.”

“I like you. You’re brave.”

She smiled.

Pale lager, pulled pork,a family lunch, thoughts on Barbora and Clemence

It’s Sunday and we had pulled pork and coleslaw with the family.   It had been a long time since I’d had beer with lunch, having opted most of the time for wine.   Sun all around.   It was good and we felt it that way.  Clemence has left and Barbora won’t come back.  I’ve been thinking about her lately, her smooth strong temper, the expression in her eyes when she wanted us to make love, the terrible blondness of her yellow hair entwined through my fingers.   The first times, in the amber light of my bedroom, I got flashbacks of Ilse and had to avoid saying her name.   Any way, Clemence will be back in a week or ten days, I am intrigued by that flash of madness that crosses her green eyes for a second or two when we speak. I can almost guess how she’ll be, her moves, her hair, her parting lips… but I can never be sure.   I will have to wait and see.

Los caminos de la vida / The roads of life

A 40 year-old man sits at the computer reading a letter from Helena, listening to an old song that’s not so old and suddenly he feels something odd, fragile and overwhelming rising inside him, the need to cry.   He stifles this feeling. Squints. Gets a hold. Good song, he thinks.

“The roads of life are not what I expected, not what I believed, not what I had imagined.  The roads of life are hard to tread, are are hard to walk, and I can’t find a way out”.