During sex, I see things. She touches me and all I do is revisit places. I am walking down a customs office with my shadow swimming in front of me on the shiny linoleum floor; I am walking down Berrenrather Strasse at dusk, the way it always looks in my dreams; I am walking in the woods by Decksteiner Weiher, watching the brown leaves catch fire in the sun, watching the spirits step out of the trees. Places I haven’t been in years: the library on Bishopsgate where I had the last exam of my degree; the DIY shop in Pimlico where I’d stock up on mothballs and blocks of cedar wood. I’m climbing up the steps of Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn and surveying the view down below.
“I like how conventional things don’t get you off,” she says. “It keeps things interesting.”
She breathes on my eye, and I come.
She looks me in the eye and holds my gaze, and I come.
(What the actual fuck.)
I touch her, and I see: a white room, a wide road in the Mojave desert, cracked earth and a blazing sun, a snake sleeping in the shadow, a ridge of soil running like a wall alongside a ditch by the side of the road. And it seems that thoughts matter, whatever it is I do in my head matters. I look at the back of her head and her curls falling on the pillow. Over and over again I think: you are beautiful, you are beautiful, come to me, come. And she does.
“Before I met you,” she says, “I was at the point where I wasn’t sure the highs were worth the lows. I was really thinking of just going celibate.”
— “That’s where I was at too!”
“So how did we end up in Eroticaland?”
We talk about our lives, our aunts, the common threads between experiences had 5,200 miles apart. We talk about American and English culture (in a reversal of our backgrounds, my archetype is “lone American man in the night”—like Springsteen, from her native New Jersey—hers is “lone British man in the night”). I tell her about my shamanic journeys and she shows me her scars from fixing cars, while a Courtney Barnett song plays on Sirius about two women who are opposites in nearly every way.
She says, “I like how we go from these intense discussions to these very erotic moments. I’ve never had that with anyone, have you?” I shake my head no, and she—so ballsy and yet so self-deprecating in moments—says “You don’t have to be complimentary.” It baffles me a little. I think: just what sort of life do you think I’ve had?
Moments later, we’re back to making out, she gripping her fingers around my kneecaps, trying to find out where I’m ticklish. “That’s not ticklish for you? You really are from outer space.”
I keep thinking of that Ani Difranco lyric: “taken out of context, I must seem so strange.” For probably the first time ever, I have a clear sense of myself as something that’s happening to her, just as much as the other way around, in spite of my being—what is the word?—passive, submissive—a sense of the dynamic between us being like a room of our own making.
At two pm, I say, “We really should eat something. Otherwise soon it’s going to be sex and fainting, which will be alarming rather than sexy.”
— “Alright then. I don’t want you to wither away. You poor waif,” she teases. “But this isn’t sex. You know that, right? That’s too simple.”
She tells me about this movie, Room in Rome, about two women who meet in Rome and have a passionate encounter that turns everything upside down. They have different lives on opposite sides of the world, and the question is whether they can, will pursue a relationship. “The answer to that seems totally obvious,” I say. She doesn’t tell me how the movie ends, and I don’t ask.
Later on, lying with my head on her chest looking up at her, I say: “For the record, I haven’t experienced anything remotely like this with anyone else. And I do mean all of it. And I think you’re fucking incredible.”
— “You’re pretty incredible yourself,” she says, and adds, in reference to my previous admission: “I wondered.”
— “No. You can’t hide anything. You know that, right? But I can’t either.”
Emma Rault is a writer and translator who belongs to many places. Some of her literary translation from the German has previously appeared as part of Queen Mob's Teahouse Queer Translation feature.
Gem Blackthorn is QMT's Sex Columnist, and the author/curator of Lust Thrust Thursdays. Send her your submissions and questions at sexsexsex [at] queenmobs.com Image from Room in Rome (2010).