LETTERS FROM ANGEL-ISLINGTON, MARCH 2016
Tuesday, March 1st — Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016
Islington, London, UK
Post-coital tristesse – Wikipedia
Post-coital tristesse (PCT) or post-coital dysphoria (PCD) is the feeling of sadness, anxiety, agitation or aggression after sexual intercourse. Its name comes from …
In my hand: a black leather harness, a pink mesh sack of dried lavender, and the steel clothes-hanger I pulled from Bunny’s closet, rifling through her intimates in her absence. The hanger rings like a tuning fork upon contact with the pale wood of her kitchen counter. The rifling was not my first intention. I borrow the hanger to hang my shirts on as I unpack, steaming the wrinkles out over Bunny’s electric kettle. I’ve arrived at her flat in Angel/Islington off a ten-hour direct flight from LAX and it is all neat, white, and she has left me a letter and a hand-drawn map of the area, of her favorite things. The seal already broken, I shift through her small collection of erotic playthings: the harnesses, a leather whipping crop, a copy of The Sexual Life of Catherine M. I eye the postcards I’ve sent her from California displayed below eye-level; my gawky handscript.
What seems to have been this morning was, in fact, yesterday’s. This one, I woke some thousands of miles over the Atlantic Ocean. Last one, in my lover’s bed, in Los Angeles. Our love is reluctant to be named, but has been a love of some theretofore unarticulated species, alive and ravenous from the moment we met – but the second I call it a love, he winces, asks me to dial it back. He communicates so clearly and respectfully that he doesn’t love me, I can’t be mad at him. He makes sure I can’t reasonably be mad at him so that he can keep fucking me. We trust each other; we know each other; we don’t love each other. Because I trust him, and he trusts me, he comes inside of me, I let him in, and it is spoken when we are afraid and unspoken when we are not. It is our creative act. Not procreative but a devotional practice, a celebration of the worthiest pain: the implanting of a copper T into my uterus. Our ejaculate is not perverse nor beckoned by perversion, for there is no objectification in our lovemaking; it is earnest, therefore undemanding, and truly connected, therefore detached.
With a delicate hand, I replace Bunny’s leather harness and the lavender pouch on the metal clothes-hanger, return it to her closet.
As we dressed that last morning he recited Shakespeare from his heart but not for the love of me, and he reminded me, reminds me, no love, stay but no love, but stay.
The present is an infinite loop ever changing and disintegrating and forming new combinations, variations on a theme.
To what should I attribute this clarity? It isn’t a state, but a practice. Not permanent but a fluid set in motion by a change in the chemical processing structures in my brain. Serotonin reuptake inhibitors make for uninhibited vision. I see neither best nor worst.
I began writing before midnight yesterday. I’ve been awake since 4am. The time is 6:35am. The city is already stirring, I hear it.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2016|
At Caravan café in Exmouth Market, late morning
—Thank god for the IUD, Lover said, after one of our many conjoined climaxes.
Then was not the time for pedantry, but I wanted to argue: Why give thanks to deaf ears when you should be thanking some scientist, some real person? So now, after hours of sleeplessness — gentle jet-lag, have mercy — I’ve learned that the idea of using copper wire to neutralize sperm was conceived (ha!) in 1969, by a Chilean doctor. Patent WO2014090976 A1 credits André Ulmann, Erin Gainer, Delphine Levy, Christine Seguin, Florian Battung, and Regine Sitruk-Ware with the invention of the contemporary copper intrauterine device. Hippocrates was apparently the first (that we know of) to propose inserting objects into the uterus to prevent pregnancies. Thousands of years of history have enabled my lover and I to have sex without the use of a condom, and without my having to take artificial hormone pills, meanwhile avoiding the terrible fate of creating a dependent.
Sleep a few hours, wake at 4, ponder in stillness. Now the
time is 7:32. Google, what is circadian rhythm?
a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings endogenously generated, although they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature.
Time travel has triggered a manic state and Bunny is still in Cornwall. My ego is translucent; I am a wandering eyeball. 9:06am, I eat shaking, I paw Weird Fucks, I admire the fair waitress’s long, blonde braid that lays down against her back between her shoulder blades like a ladder. Would that I could climb up into her head.
Text from Bunny. She, too, is too a wandering eyeball. She recounts a night of art-school kids on copious drugs, conjuring spirits in a 500-year-old farmhouse.
Since arriving, alone, in London, I have regarded my surroundings with quiet reverence, the age and history of everything unlike anything I’ve seen before in North America, such that it gives even total banalities of commercial civilization an enigmatic sheen.
On repeat in his voice:
—I want to feel you come on my dick.
He asks me to come so earnestly, helpful, spoken with encouragement like my therapist, a performance of true care.
—Come for me, baby.
The memory repeats. My insides awash with his lather, only to be rinsed in order to repeat in a few hours. I can scarcely concentrate on anything but the sensation of being pulled inside-out by the man, several days and more than five-thousand miles ago. I am walking back to her flat from the café, vendors are setting up shop in Exmouth Market. I look around at the handsome Englishmen, at the handsome architecture, at the handsome blue sky, at the naked trees. I shiver, no longer used to the cold after a year in LA. I turn, again, as always, to the internal. The internal universe, like the greater universe, recurs eternally, like in Schopenhauer, for whom time is not linear but cyclical. The rhythmic in-and-out of lovers recurs infinitely, too.
I’ve always found it challenging to keep my head in love/sex relationships; I get deeply invested too quickly and/or for the wrong reasons, I feel pressure, external, invisible, but oppressive and suffocating pressure to belong to someone, this pressure to possess and to be possessed feels to me an imperative akin to mortality, la petite mort, orgasm as a conclusion. To be rejected is, too, a little death. Millions of microscopic deaths occur inside of me in the days after he climaxes. However far from him I go, however much I wash, his DNA continues to live and die in and on me. Google, how long does sperm live in the vagina?
After as much aimless walking as I could take, I surrender and go to sleep not knowing that the time is but that it’s still dim-light out. 5am, awake again, I get myself off to his memory. I write the world, though such things hardly concern me. I suck wildflower honey off my fingertips and replay Lover’s best piece of last-minute advice, said as he drove me to LAX: Forgive yourself if you can’t sleep, pressuring yourself to sleep will make sleep impossible. Wrapped in Bunny’s coarse Pendleton blanket, armed with Albertine Sarrazin’s Astragal, Max Richter’s Sleep, and chamomile, on the verge of collapse, I try. I return a sigh.
I lost myself for a few days in the whirlwind of total displacement. I asked too much of this place and its hair-trigger frenetic pace. On the third day the nearsighted patterns broke like a fever.
FaceTime, all smiles, we bring ourselves to climax. We please each other by the emphatic YES of our naked-eye seeing, roving voices, but we long for the heat of other bodies. I come twice after watching him come with 5.4k miles, a (x)-megapixel camera lens, and a (y)-resolution iPhone screen between us, more barrier than any condom to be sure; but the technology of the moment allows me visualization of the reddish-pink shade of his dick where the skin had been cropped; where the skin is sheer, it turns colors with the rush of blood to it, and at the moment of climax I recognize the spot in his house where he spills himself, and he knows how true the coral hue of my areolae in the light. The illusory sensation of his lip upon it is stimulant enough, we know that it has to do, and it does. After that, I resist the impulse to smoke a cigarette.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Paris, France, then 32,001 miles above the Atlantic Ocean
Reuniting with Bunny lifts me from my fugue. We wander the city’s art galleries and museums. We eat and walk and talk together for days. I wish it could stay like this forever.
We ride the 14hr22 train from London at St. Pancras to Paris at Gare du Nord, traveling in the opposite direction from where, she tells me in our snaked business-class seats, some refugees tried to enter the UK by crossing through the same tunnels, on the same day the jungles of Calais were torn or burnt down. Everyone just trying to find a place for their bodies. It all finally feels as real to me as the tens of thousands of homeless in Los Angeles, how I wish I was the kind of person who does something about it.
Paris is a blur when we first step onto the street. Its pace on foot reminds me of New York’s: Too alive and unpredictable for comfort, compelling me to scurry from place to place as if avoiding gunfire.
We share a bed in a walkup in Montmartre. We walk through the ancient graveyards, showing equal interest in its living denizens as in the dead. Cats, dark-striped fat fluffy tails ringed like raccoons, pudgy and feral, languish on the mossy graves. Once the living, the toast of Montmartre, imbued with import, now furniture. One fat fluffy young one leaps from the top of a tombstone through the shattered stained-glass window of a sepulcher. Black-and-white magpies, their body parts blocked out in full contrast, flit among the naked, jagged branches of tall, old trees, singing, mockingly, as I shiver. Crows, a chorale of them, jeering. A pair of them land not a meter before me, on a moss-bitten tomb, their shaggy raven feathers unnervingly shining in broad daylight. I think Deleuze: on becoming-animal; on the animal as familial versus familiar, the awfulness of a human relationship to animals as opposed to the noble pastime of a human enjoying an animal relationship to animals.
In the night, I am overcome with a desire to hold Bunny, but don’t dare disturb her.
The next day, we go our separate ways, plan to meet at the Palais de Tokyo. I try to find a certain café said to have a secret garden beautiful for hiding out in with a book, but never find it, or it no longer exists, or it is not for tourists and so I am sent away—my French is not bad, but I get confused when a hairdresser gives me directions too confident I understand her at natural-tongue speed. Instead I make a pilgrimage to Shakespeare & Company where I find copies of an old, defunct bilingual literary magazine called Two Cities in the antiquarian section and suddenly feel closer than ever to Anaïs Nin; hers is the Paris I’ve come for.
I cross the Seine via le Pont de l’Alma when an old woman hurries herself into my path, bends down, and seems to pick up a gold ring. She hands it to me, saying It is meant for you, it’s good luck, take it and you’ll be married. I say in French that no no, she should keep it, she found it, besides it’s probably bad luck to keep somebody else’s ring. She insists that it is mine, then asks me for money. I give her the ring back and go sit on the grand stone terrace of the museum, waiting for Bunny.
We drink and eat outdoors at any respectable café with heat lamps so that I can smoke without shivering. I tell her I’ll leave the habit in Europe when I return to LA, where it is too hot to smoke anything but pot.
We return to Angel for one last sleep together before I go.
I dream the body as chaos, in utero—as in, never not part of a larger whole. I dream myself in conversation with anemone on the ocean floor. To access the story to be told, I’ve got to identify the object, not its meaning. In my dark crevice, life isn’t evident until I can ask the right questions. No apparent animation, no explanation too obvious, but there is a pattern, and I follow it through to its meta-logical conclusion. The oil-slick, fleshy, drab-green petals of these characters that plumb ocean’s depths have a will of their own, inexpressible.
When I let go of the why of everything, my awareness revealed the rich detail of the world to me, and with it, an end to questions. Some things will always be unexpressed or inexpressible; this, I know. The end to my questions is an end justifiable only by the means by which I’ve arrived at this conclusion.
From dream to waking hour, the answer which ended all questions, what it was was that I found it, so clear, cannot remember, eternal return to the logic of the brain at active rest, in the amniotic fluid of the ancient ocean, perhaps trying to locate my body, perhaps trying to locate its significance in that two-dimensional universe ever unfolding.
I had to answer for my body. In the symbolic ocean, there was an order, and I followed it. I assimilated, followed the dream-logic to its logical conclusion. Would that I could translate it in the tongue of waking. In dreams I excavate the proclivities and anxieties of an uncertain ego, I seek assurance, I seek resolution, but the inherent disorderliness of the dreamworld is itself the answer: the ego’s obsession with making sense is a pastime, vain as it is futile, that one occupies themselves with by choice, choice in all its smallness. For choice includes the option of not-choosing, and choosing not to demand orderliness is the superpower of enlightenment, letting all things be as they will, letting the universe unfold and unfold and unfold.
I take a sleeping pill with my free Dixie cup of red wine to pass the time on this flight. I deliver myself to my lover’s house, crawl into his bed, my little body gone forth and back again in time, my little body that he shelters with his tenderness. I am given to without having to ask, without getting the why, without having to explain and without being explained to, and that is my privilege. No one is going to burn where I lay my body down to rest tonight, and that is my privilege. I move my body from one place to another and wield it as the answer to another’s desire, and that is my privilege. I know where my lover hides his house key, and I am welcome to it, and that is my privilege. Travel is for fun, and moving my body and putting it under duress is an adventure, not a life-or-death decision or fight-or-flight reaction, and that is my privilege. Everything is wrapped in plastic to protect me, and it will all be someone’s landfill pickings in Guatemala someday—that is the byproduct of my privilege. I am not the beloved of either of my beloveds but I enjoy their friendship and thoughts and affection and concern, and that is a privilege. I can’t complain. I could complain, but I won’t.