Lea and Monic. I sold my tent to Lea and she just kept hanging around, liking me and talking on and on, mostly about her hippie self, and not knowing how to open up to the fact that she liked me and wanted me to make a pass at her. Monic, instant kavorka, we just lusted for each other with our eyes. Happened last night.
I’ve been doing things lately. Different things. Some of them exciting or intense, like going out into the mountains in bad weather or starting an affair with a married woman in spite of knowing better; but also more mundane things like catching up on paperwork, reading books and blogs, as well as writing back to old friends.
I had decided to only have friendships with married women because of all the inherent complications that usually ensue if you go further. Sarah has been married for nine years and we met four years ago in work related activities. Hers husband is a jerk and I am in all probability an even bigger jerk, it made sense. We knew something was happening back then but nothing happened in the end since we were very much aware of the inappropriateness of it all. We were both also workaholics that took pride in sleep deprivation and skipping meals. It is also true that back then I was madly in love with Helena and was preparing the ill fated expedition to Guyana, which of course made me solidly faithful to her. Sarah is romantic in an intense and almost existential way, explaining attitudes and actions through what she feels to be love; which is why she found my perceived renouncement to job, predictable income and prestige to go after Helena to be such an admirable action. I no longer believe in love as a driving force in my life.
Anyhow, while coming out of The Blueberries cafe last week we ran into each other. A coffee appointment was made for a day later. She’s working independently now. A week later I asked her to skip her morning obligations and go moto-riding with me to the countryside. She accepted last minute and we had a good time together. We then rode very fast to get back into the city for her to make it in time to a lunch appointment. She liked that. She texted a week later and asked what I was doing and I answered, “Waiting for you to come over.” I gave her my address. She came by and I answered the door in a T-shirt and white judo-gi pants. She understood we weren’t going out and we both stood there looking at each other for a long minute. I pushed her against the wall and kissed her. That’s how that got started. All along I knew it would be trouble but I feel no remorse, four years of wanting someone is a long time. She’s a very fragile woman, strong and delicate; I can feel the weight of her emotions surrounding me when we make love, I can feel them when she tightly closes her arms around my back, as if she was afraid of being swept away by them.
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?”
“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?”
“And you may need a strong woman too.”
“I like strong women.”
“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”.
“Hanna. I like her. She’s brave.”
“I like you. You’re brave.”
Clemence is French. When saying her name, the second “e” is meant to sound like an “a”. I enjoy spending time with her. During the weekend we watched an old Jean Paul Belmondo movie. Belmondo is a tough guy, but also a funny one, running around Paris karate-chopping, punching and kicking at long haired seventies villains; cracking witticisms all along while he does it. Clemence feels a little embarrassed by Mr. Belmondo and explains to me that he is not to be taken as a parameter of what French cinema has to offer. I smile and ask her who she thinks would win a fight between Belmondo and Bronson. She looks up, thinks and then says, “That is not possible, Belmondo and Bronson would never fight each other, they are both good guys, yes?”, and looks at me as if she’d just had to explain something to a not very bright child. She knows her Seventies tough guys: Bronson, Belmondo, McQueen, Eastwood, Marvin, Coburn and even a few I can’t place. Her father would watch these movies every other weekend with Clemence and her sisters when he was still studying and her mother had a weekend shift. Her father is 55, fifteen years older than I am. We both have the same profession although not the same area of specialty. She tells me it is strange to find similar attitudes, opinions and verbal mannerisms in two persons who are so different, so she asks to know my opinion on it. I tell her the psychoanalytical implications of this are better left unexamined for our own sake. She opens her eyes wide in mock shock and then smiles.
Clemence has seen many things, good and bad, has lived in Nepal and India, traveled through Africa and laughs with innocence. She does not believe in religion. She asks personal questions with a very serious expression on her eyes; listening then, no matter how long the answer is, with intent attention. When I asked, she told me the story of her tattoos, two small ones on her wrists. I listened without interrupting. When she was done, I nodded, we both fell silent for a while and then I asked her if she wanted more tea. She drinks tea. Darjeeling. I drink expresso, black and with no sugar or cream, just like her father. She is falling in love with me and I with her, we know it, but we’re also both cowards when it comes to love; she will run out and I won’t go after her, we’ll both then tell our respective friends that it just wasn’t meant to be. And now that I think about it, this post is the beginning of our goodbye.
Update on the life for personal posterity.
A sense of vanity seems to pervade the minute documentation of minute lives such as the one presented here before you; day to day routines in search of some higher form of existence, an entrance into the life of the man that should be instead of the man that is. Not a higher self in an altruistic sense, but a more efficient self. At this stage, there is no longer pretense of virtue or redemption through the approval of peers, there is instinct, there is belief. One foot moves forward, the other one then moves in front, one step, two steps, the road is walked upon, a day at a time, yes, that’s how it’s done.
There’s a new lover. Claudia. She’s too young for me and never stops, always trying to move to the next part or thing, always trying to escape unto the next page or song, afraid of growing old if she starts taking it slower, afraid of missing whatever it is that must not be missed. I pin her down, arms held at her side, keep it long and slow, deep, strong, grinding; she opens her eyes and there’s submission in them, almost devotion as she parts her lips and holds my gaze. After, in between, or when we’re getting dressed, she asks questions, she wants to know who I am, she wants to hear about my past, she wants to find a door through which she can step in and learn how to love someone like me. But she can’t; only Erika found that door, and as far as I know, she kept the key.
There’s also a new enemy. The name will not be written down. We had been associates and it has to do with money and respect. Unpaid debts, broken trust and disloyalty. Money, will come and go, it was not the issue of importance at hand. They all know that, approached in the correct manner, I will always consider a renegotiation of terms to save a friendship, but he made me call him and search him out after he missed the deadline. Made me send someone to talk to him. He tried to keep low, out of sight, thinking I’d let it pass, but even feeling his despair I could not let it pass, not after he had failed to be a man about it. I listened to the excuses, weighed them all silently, remained unchanged, and then set new dates. His word was accepted, and so was his apology, but the eyes betrayed him and I felt his fear and hate blaming me for his mistakes. Time will now have to pass, in due time, long after the money is counted and forgotten, he will be made to pay for his disrespect.
The rainy season is over which means its back to the mountains, back to the rock. Yesterday I went to them, placed my hands on the wall, leaned forward and pressed my face against the rock. I closed my eyes and smiled, it feels good to climb again.
A post by Blue on high dating standards puts forth the question of selectivity in the area of relationships. Compatibility, interests, religion and goals are mentioned as important criteria for partner selection and congeniality; as well as increasing the probability of building an acceptable mutual future. On a more recent post, Blue mentions the phenomena pertaining to when people fall in love with the wrong person. Both these subject matters are related.
The function of mate selection in the human species has established neurobiological substrates which in turn have genetic determinants. These neurobiological factors have a direct expression through neuroanatomic brain structures and neurotransmitter physiology. At its most basic expression we find the physical characteristics that attract us in the opposite sex, characteristics that indicate from a primal stance those qualities that would make a specific person a good partner with whom to have offspring. We are hardwired to seek indicators of strength and health and avoid possible weaknesses or illness. Much of our sex drive is motivated by the conditioned response the species has to specific physical attributes in the opposite sex.
Apart from the basic but incredible complex biological function of sexual arousal (desire to mate), there is a powerful emotional component that comes into play when attraction between two individuals is established. A primary and usually initial component is characterized by the overwhelming desire to be in the presence of the other individual, to feel acknowledged and reciprocated by them, as well as to have exclusivity. This is an ideal time to establish initial sexual contact as receptiveness to pleasure is primed and favors mutual satisfaction. Past this stage, multiple exposures to sexual stimuli of repeated nature will cause the interest to wane.
At almost the same time a different emotional component will start to develop as the two individuals develop a sense of trust and safety in the other. This emotional trust fosters a feeling of well being and diminished stress levels when in company of the individual. Predictability is an important element for the sustained growth of trust, which will make possible the establishment of accepted exclusivity. Coercive exclusivity cannot be trusted.
It is usually in the context of the mentioned primal responses that people “fall in love”, “fall in love with the wrong person”, are “unfaithful”, or take unsustainable decisions.
Next, we find a more complex and hard to describe aspect of human relationships; the one concerning complex cognitive functions (“what” and “how” we think) which has to do with the way in which reality is interpreted, how the individual interacts with his cultural environment and how problems are understood and solved. It is important to point out that by reality we mean the whole of the situational conditions in which the individual is immersed, independently of the subjectivity pertinent to the human experience. If X-person has to deal with an inner reality conditioned by very real and intense emotions for Y-person, this will have a definite influence in which X-person interprets personal, social and biographical circumstances.
These are the ways of love.
In addition to all this we must consider the importance of social and cultural aspects that are learnt as the individual matures in a given society. These cultural aspects have the purpose of promoting the establishment of functional couples in society and stress the desirability of traits such as beauty, intelligence, wealth acquisition capacity, dependability and productivity. These characteristics are important to foster and protect offspring and hence their importance. Factually, it has been the female of the species that has dealt with procuring protection for the precious offspring while males are intent on attempting to mate with as many females as possible. On a side note, it is not as rare as could be believed for women to have a child with a man who has certain desirable physical characteristics but to establish a long term protective relationship with a more dependable man in order to raise the child.
Being “choosy” is therefore the result of a complex series of elements that interact in order to produce the best possible result of sustained survival and prosperity.
These concepts have been amply studied and described by proponents of the gene-centered view of evolution, which I have heard about on Discovery.
So, are we all polygamous by nature? Are men hopelessly hooked on porn because their frontal lobes can’t correct primal functions that are incapable of differentiating between a woman and an image on a computer screen? Is marital fidelity conditioned by dopaminergic curves? Is the desire to have different sexual partners conditioned by neurobiological dictates that seek the greatest genetic variety in order to ensure survival of the species? Why don’t they teach this in school?
Description of Woman Number One. “The woman had a young, graceful walk, a dark, shining crown of hair, and a beautiful face already tanned (unlike a Parisian’s) by the summer sun. The child, unexceptional in any way, had thin, long legs, bristling red hair generally in disorder, and the attitude of a leashed terrier quivering to meet every challenge. Yet he aroused no feeling of like or dislike in Alexis until it became evident how jealously the boy made demands upon the mother. He could not bear for her to pause and speak to anyone without pulling irritably on her arm, and it seemed odd that the woman remained undisturbed by the boy’s possessiveness, smiling on him as frequently and tenderly as at an angel by her side.” Mrs. Andrews, Heart is a Masculine Noun, H. Burnett.
Description of Woman Number Two. “She seemed to him to be glowing from the memory of many whispered conversations with young men who had been anxious to touch her hand or her arm; she smiled and went on dreaming and her wide dark eyes grew soft with tenderness. She began to hum as she walked over to the window and stood there looking down at the street in the early winter night; and as Jeff went on watching her he kept resenting that she should have had such a good time at the party that he had found so dull. She had left him alone a lot, but he had always remained aware of the admiration she aroused in the young men around her… Mathilde tried to stop smiling, but her dark, ardent face still glowed with warmth as she stood there with her hands clasped in front of her.” Mathilde, Rigmarole, M. Callaghan.
Description of Woman Number Three. “She was a sub-editor at the publishing house. She was small, slender, dark haired French woman in her thirties and of an odd beauty –a mouth slightly too wide and too thin, her chin soft, almost receding, but with a smooth, caramel skin and dark eyes and dark eyebrows that Austin found appealing.” Josephine Belliard, The Womanizer, R. Ford.
Haber. Te cuento. Te cuento que cuento contigo. Cuento contigo no para hacer tratos benedettiescos o si quiera para benevolencias parecidas. Cuento contigo para que me sorprendas, para sentirme orgulloso de ser tu amigo, para que vayas más allá de lo que tu misma te propusiste y para que yo sonría cuando te vea feliz. Cuento contigo para ejemplo de fuerza, dedicación y lucha, no para mí pero para los y las que te siguen y seguirán. Cuento contigo para alimentar la esperanza de quienes flaquean en el camino aunque no entiendan que tú también a veces flaqueas. Cuento contigo para descubrir tu camino intelectual, académico, literario y espiritual, independientemente de prejuicios y supersticiones. Cuento contigo para olvidar el refugio de la mansedumbre cansina del asalariado y su desesperación por llegar a fin de mes, y también cuento contigo para algún día romper aquel terrible yugo llamado feminismo, doblemente terrible por ser voluntario y autoimpuesto. Y entre otras cosas, cuento contigo para algún día, aquí o allá, finalmente irnos a tomar una cerveza… con maní.