July 13 1998, Monday
slept poorly in the makeshift nest I'd made myself. Temperatures fell to somewhere in the 60s, and making matters worse, a wind blew from random directions. The styrofoam surface serving as a bed had been a good idea, keeping the ground from sucking off my heat, but the simple piece of cardboard I'd tried to use as a blanket had been grossly insufficient. All night I'd been mostly too cold to sleep. At least there were no mosquitos bothering me.
On the second floor of one of the buildings contiguous with Angell Hall is a nice rarely-used men's room. The light in there doesn't work too well, and the toilet water is always brownish for some reason that I don't care to investigate. But I like the place. I can sit on the pot in there for hours if I want to and no one ever comes by. I could get a lot of work done in there if I'd just bring my laptop. I probably killed an hour in there this morning, just warming up from the night's chill.
I came down to the computer lab and worked for awhile, but the air conditioning was set too cold for me. Eventually I took a break, sunning myself in the Diag reading a bit of non-fiction erotica sent to me by another online journal person. The erotica caused me to pause often and reflect on how I'd react to the situations being described, and at one point as I looked away from the text I nodded off to sleep.
ow I'm in here working on this entry when I should be doing yesterday's. What with my frayed sleep-deprivation nerves, mild hangover and psycho-sexual confusion, I find myself drawn in by the uniquely stalkerly online journal called Facing the Mask. Here is an obsessive graphomaniacal psychopath named Zach with a relatively obscure journal, obsequiously singing the praises of only the most popular journals, and jumping on every bandwagon as they come along. He goes on and on and (even still) on about Maggy Donea, writing as if she was some sort of seriously neglected underground genius whom duty had compelled him to hold up and exalt before a cold and skeptical world. He writes as though she is an avid reader of his journal, carefully crafting long responses to issues raised in her journal, always careful never to say anything that isn't either a well-established fact or cloying sycophancy. The truth, of course, is that Zach's journal probably gets less than 5% of Maggy's traffic, she never reads his journal, and she probably has bought at least several fully automatic rifles to defend herself and her daughter should Zach ever get the notion to swing through town.
met Kim at 2pm at her place of employment, Café Zola. I felt like an indigent and probably looked like one as well. When I told Kim I'd stayed in Ann Arbor last night, she looked all concerned and asked if I'd been okay. Just so I wouldn't have to deal with explaining the way I'd actually spent the night, I lied and told her I'd stayed with friends.
We went around the corner to a bar called Del Rio, a place that looked and smelled almost exactly the same as Charlottesville's Millers. Kim's friend from Café Zola, Missy, is a bartender at Del Rio, so we ordered beers and chatted with her and the Del Rio cook. Missy was, as usual, bubbling over with whimsy and happiness, going on and on about her new boyfriend from Wales, about the girlfriend he was planning to leave behind to start a new life with her, the whole bit. She has an entertaining energy about her, but it was all just a little too obsessive for my mood just then. I'd slept badly last night under a piece of cardboard and just wanted to crawl into a hole and sleep some more.
Kim picked up on my malaise right away and wanted to know what was bothering me. I didn't really want to talk about it, and said nothing was wrong, which is always the worst possible thing to say. She became even more concerned as I became more withdrawn. We were caught in a vicious negative feedback loop as I came to feel increasingly like a caged lion. I just wanted to leave, to run away, but I was caged by the social necessity of staying. At about this time Kim did the absolutely worst possible thing she could have, she loudly mentioned the issue of my mood to Missy, still bopping around, flirting and giggling from the high of thinking about her new Welsh boyfriend. You have to understand, I was in Kim's territory, this was Kim's bar, these were Kim's friends. To them I was just "the boy she met the other day." They probably were reserving judgment on me, having heard the story of how I Kim and I met each other and thinking it all too good to be true. When Kim asked again what was up with me, I told her to stop torturing me. She responded to this with another escalation, saying sarcastic snappy things like, "Oh... okay. I see how it is. I'll just be quiet then. Wouldn't want to..."
Silence followed, periodically interrupted by Missy's continued blissful antics. I felt a swelling energy in my chest, the kind that tells me that my relationship with someone is on the verge of being over. It was so unfair, since it hadn't even begun. Finally Kim said she was going home. I just sat there in silence as she got her things. But just before she left I asked if I could come along. She said okay.
We walked down the sidewalk in silence, though eventually I tried to explain that I was tired and weary, and that I didn't feel comfortable addressing personal issues in front of her friends. (Note the irony of me saying this on a world wide web page. But to my way of thinking, the web is a parallel universe that she doesn't have to know about.)
We discussed the issues some more in a little bricked-over parklike area, but again I felt uncomfortable because of the proximity of a couple lunky blue collar Michiganders obviously eavesdropping on our conversation and trying to look up Kim's skirt. I suggested we go for a walk down along the Huron River and talk about things in privacy.
So we walked back to her apartment and I waited for her to get Sophie the Schnauzer dog. Even though Paul the jealous boyfriend was off at work (he's manager of Blimpie Burgers, an Ann Arbor landmark), we're always nervous that he might come by randomly and cause discord and woe.
Along the Huron, we lay in the grass together, talking and such. Everytime I'd try to kiss her or something, she'd resist me. Eventually she told me it was a "family park" and that we couldn't get to hot and heavy. She also said (on two occasions today) that if I just wanted to fuck her and be on my way, that was alright. Saying this sort of thing may not have been intended as a psychological game, but it certainly felt that way. It made me insecure and hesisitant to initiate physical contact with her.
We continued walking along the river, watching people float by in canoes and looking up at the towers of the University of Michigan medical center across the river. Despite the uncertainty of my feelings, I was enjoying listening to Kim talk, since her voice and manner of speaking reminds me a lot of my old friend Heather Bissel.
ventually Kim hatched a plan for us both to go to her paternal grandparents' house in Wyandotte (a small suburban immigrant community just south of Detroit) so she could do her laundry. She said she often goes there for various reasons, and escaping the stress and bad energy of Ann Arbor would be a good thing. She added that her grandparents are currently way up north on vacation, and that we'd have the whole house to ourselves. It sounded like a really excellent idea to me.
On the way east we stopped at Matt's house in Ypsilanti to pick up my stuff. I didn't actually have all that many dirty clothes to wash, but I understood that doing laundry was just a pretense for a vacation of mutual discovery, and getting my clothes was part of the game. Matt's mother and the youngish guy who rents a room at her house were both there, and the youngish guy asked if I was "walking everywhere" (as in "walking across the country"). I said that was sort of what I was doing, but that I had found rides to all the places I needed to go so far. And with that, Kim and I climbed into her Volvo and were off. He must have experienced just a pang of envy. Matt tells me he earns $7 an hour and has sunk all his worldly wealth into a shiny new sport utility vehicle. I'm so glad I've found a higher calling in my life than a desire to impress the neighbors with my loot.
As we rolled through Dearborn, Kim pointed out all the automobile landmarks and told of the others just beyond view. Nearly every car in the town was a Ford. I haven't driven a Ford lately.
Somewhere in or near Wyandotte, we stopped at The Penny Pincher, a dress shop Kim used to frequent in her youth. It's owned and managed by a worldly gay couple (they have friends from all over the world and are good chums with the B-52s) and staffed and shopped mostly by goths and punk rock girls. The front room featured expensive new gothware mostly, all of it black and much of it either European high-fashion or retro-Victorian. Kim picked out a little black dress with a horizontal rainbow line across the chest. It looked a lot better on her than I expected.
In the middle room is a sort of coffee shop, all very dark and seemingly full of cobwebs and fungus. No one was staffing it just then, but since it looked like they might only serve blood, it was just as well.
The back room was fairly large and full of thrift-store type clothes. Much of it was floral or otherwise colourful. I've often seen goth and punk rock successfully accessorize using floral dresses, and this was the place to go for such things. There were also some large costume-type dresses hanging high on the wall with the tapestries. One was the sort you would wear if you were dressing up as a chessboard queen. I'm sure the gay couple who own the store would describe it as "fabulous."
To protect against theft, there are little purple cards everywhere that say "Smile, you're on camera (complete with smiley)," though I didn't see any cameras anywhere.
While Kim was trying on clothes, I went through the incense stick display, sniffing each one. Doing so was more of an experience than I imagined. It was like listening to intense music or watching a movie. Each scent seem to take me to some completely new place emotionally, in a sad, nostalgic, but also vaguely erotic way. It's been shown experimentally that there is a strong connection between the sense of smell and the seat of memory in the mammalian brain, so I shouldn't have been surprised.
im's grandparents' house was set in a dense, traditional, family-oriented suburb, the kind that, according to Kim, continues virtually to the core of Detroit, getting scarier and scarier the deeper in you go. Children played safely in the street, and Kim knew them all by name.
Kim's grandparents have lived in the same house for something like 60 years. It's a nice place, with three liveable floors and considerably more room inside than you'd think looking at it from the outside. They've fallen into a set of routines that keeps the place absolutely immaculate. Everything has its proper place. Glasses can only be put on tables if a coaster is employed. The burners on the oven all have metal covers for when they aren't being used. Nothing old looks old because in this environment, wear and tear simply doesn't take place. It's homemaking at its most repressive extreme. This was where Kim and I would be spending the night, dispelling the bad energy accumulated between us. No doubt we'd be leaving some entropic evidence behind, but we (or more especially Kim) would try to keep the Goldielocks Effect to a minimum.
We both took showers, and while Kim was taking hers, I prepared us both dinner. We'd been thinking about going out to eat, but we were both tired and the refrigerator was crammed with food. I fried up some sauerkraut perogies Kim found in the freezer.
Kim's likes to set a proper ambience for things, so when the food was done, she found a candle and prepared us both proper table settings. It was fine and romantic for tonight, but it crossed my mind if we'd really be doing this every meal for the rest of our lives if we really ended up spending our lives together.
Over dinner, we talked more about our respective families: the craziness of far-flung relatives (us), going to college in scary New Orleans (her), having a father who studied the planet Venus (me), that sort of thing. My life is a lot crazier than Kim can possibly imagine, and I've been concealing it all from her. I've casually mentioned that I paint pictures, but I've downplayed my writing and web work, never (for example) revealing the existence of these musings. I haven't told about Big Fun, tussin, or any of the many crazy drunken antics engaged in by my Charlottesville scene.
Kim is more goal-oriented than anyone I know in Charlottesville except perhaps Jen Fariello (of whom she kind of reminds me). Kim sees the value in settling down, having a good job, making reasonable money, that sort of thing. She's never mentioned a desire to have kids (a good thing). But there's obviously an aspect of her that craves wild decadence and "the extreme." For example, her last boyfriend, Paul, was a self-proclaimed radical, organizing violent counter-demonstrations whenever the Ku Klux Klan came to town (the Klan is big in Michigan because the Grand Kretin or somesuch lives near Detroit). From what I've revealed to her, I think Kim sees me as someone a bit more reserved and in control than her usual pick for a boyfriend. Perhaps she sees me as someone with whom to settle into an interesting but stress-free adulthood. I believe she's in for a bit of a shock when all is revealed.
After dinner, Kim was complaining about her legs, so I had the enviable task of massaging some sort of herbal oil into them. I'm not a professional or anything, but I understand the human anatomy and got the job done, in a sort of Detroit autoworker kind of way. She seemed to be enjoying it.
Next it was my turn to get a massage. Kim went all out on me, giving my entire body a thorough going over. I've never been especially into backrubs, but it's not like I don't enjoy them. It's mostly just that it feels like a weak and irritatingly platonic substitute for sex. But since Kim actually is a professional massage therapist, I have to admit that it really was a fairly intense experience. I was so tired, though, that I drifted into and out of sleep as she worked me over. And she worked on me long and hard. Interestingly, she seemed to be enjoying herself as much as was enjoying myself.
hen we finally got around to the idea of going to sleep, Kim made us up a nice little nest on the living room floor. She'd considered sleeping on her grandparents' bed, but had decided against it, fearing it might be taking just to much advantage of her rights to the house.
As we snuggled in together, I was still reluctant to initiate any sort of sexual behaviour, since all I could think of was what she'd said to me earlier, down by the Huron. "If you just want to fuck me and be on your way, that's okay." But when I didn't grab her and up and devour her immediately, she was concerned, asking if I was just tired or whatever. Well, suffice it to say, I didn't need any more encouragement than that.
The ensuing gourmet sexual feast was perhaps the most varied and complex I have ever experienced with anyone in my entire life. Included in the passionate tumult was the first occasion of our having genuine sexual intercourse. When we were all done, she was very pleased that we'd both managed to come our first time together.
Then we had one of those long, giggly post-coital conversations. Among the things we discussed was when, if ever, anyone had sex in this living room. "58 years ago at the latest," I said. I argued that when the grandparents first moved in 60 years ago, they may have made a point of having sex in every room of the house, but surely that sort of exploratory spirit had died two years into their marriage.
one year ago
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