Lauren has quit dating, sex and younger men, after realizing what she really wants is skin-to-skin love making, intimacy and largest-name-in-tag-cloud Benjamin. One week after her last blog post, Lauren meets a legendary love interest. And this time around she nails it.
Wednesday July 9, 2014
I’m not stupid. Of course I knew writing that manifest was important; analyzing my sexual history, from the years my aids phobia ruled my life, to the seven years of dating where I conquered my fear. That was an important step. As was sending Benjamin that email and asking him to see me. But I had no idea my life would change this quickly.
It’s been four days since he left, and I haven’t been able to write because I just choke up, and my ability to write blocks. I literally can’t find the words to describe the chapter that will undoubtedly be the watershed of my life. The beginning of a new era. Because I found love in the arms of a man on who I had a crush since 1991: Rutger.
Let me answer two important questions which will arise with you very soon. 1. Who’s Rutger?! 2. Why the fck did you wait this long?! Answer 1: Rutger is a friend from college, later on he migrated to the US. We stayed in touch through Facebook, and caught up in real life when he started taking his kids to The Netherlands every summer. This was 2011. In 2012 he had to pass, and then I saw him again on their holiday in 2013. This brings me to the second question: why we waited. These were the two summers I was going steady. In 2011 with X (see previous blog) in 2013 with Jax (see previous blog). Rutger had chosen exactly the two summers where I wasn’t free to explore what we had, and even felt guilty writing about him. I could point out some posts that are indirectly about him, but naturally I wasn’t going to write about old times and our always present sexual attraction. I wasn’t going to confess we always flirted and that despite my relationship with our classmate Jeroen, I had been disappointed every time Rutger left one relationship and immediately entered another.
I couldn’t write about all that! I had told Jax and X that they need not worry about Rutger. I was lying through my teeth. Most of all to myself, in my defense.
Rutger was in The Netherlands, and we were scheduled to see each other last weekend. “Can we pick Sunday?” I wrote. “I hope my cats will have recovered and I can leave them for the day.”
After a week of testing and unsuccessful treatments Willem had finally been diagnosed with a parasite (which was a relief: I thought it was the last stage of his kidney failure), and my other cat had a fever (also a relief because I thought he had mental stress issues that kept him from eating). My days were filled with twice a day meds for both of them, cleaning up spills, washing their dishes, providing soft meat around the clock and trying not to freak out every time I found the most horrifying diarrhea that looked as if someone would be losing his intestines soon. The VET predicted a full recovery for both, and I had hopes I was still able to make it to the date with Rutger.
Sunday, I requested.
“And how about I come to your place on Friday?” he responded.
I stared at the screen insanely happy.
I meet him at the station and had beforehand excused myself for my dirty clothes. “I ll shower after I pick you up,” I texted. “Taught classes, emergency VET visit and last-minute cleaning.”
After ten days of sick cats both my house and me looked and smelled like I had given birth to twins and was in over my head. I see him coming up from the escalators: my height, but muscular and with even longer arms and more roundness in the shoulders. “You remind me of a little monkey,” I had said, early 90s. We had gone to his place after class, and were waiting for the water to boil. “You’re so playful and you have such tall limbs and large hands.” And he had cheerfully looked at me through small spectacles: “Tall limbs and large hands? Are you going to finish that equation, or would you like to leave it at that?”
He comes up to me and gives me a hug, and every cell in my body registers that he’s single, I m single and that he’s wearing a jacket in support of our team at the World Cup.
“You re wearing an orange jacket,” I blurt out, still coming down from dating metrosexual half-models.
“I left my cap on the train,” he ruffles his gray blond hair, regretting his incomplete outfit. “Can’t believe I lost it.”
Suddenly he notices the bicycle I brought him, a bright blue and yellow bike from the public transportation company. “Wow!” and the iPhone clicks the first picture of the day. The second series is me cycling next to him, wind in my hair, the city in the background. We enter my domain: a small house with a wild garden and two cats that are hanging out on a freshly made double bed.
“This is where you sleep,” I say. “You can take the fleece off. I covered the bed so the cats are not sleeping on the pillows.”
“Or else?” he looks at me puzzled. “It’s not like I’m allergic or anything.”
He puts his phone in a charger and leaves it upstairs until we go to the beach after dinner. During his stay he will only use his phone once, to say goodnight to his children.
It is a sultry summer evening, and I take him to a festival. He takes photos of the river, the crowds and selfies of the two of us; the last hours of 23 years when we’re still neutral. Where I don’t know he’ll be the best lover I ever had. And he doesn’t know that I will drag him up under the bushes (in my defence: it started to rain!) and that after talking through our entire shared history with my head resting on his chest, and our gaze up to the stars, I will turn around and kiss him. And it will feel like the most natural thing in the world. A selfie of the last time the sun set, and we had no worry thoughts how we would manage the US and Netherlands, the separated expatriate and the stay-at-home cat mom. On the picture we were still just friends, Rutger and Lauren. Although our smiles give away we both had our hopes up.
My head is resting on his black T-shirt, I m looking at the sky. We shared a wood oven pizza together, vegetarian. Rutger turned two years ago. “Just like my dad. He was around 40 when he became a vegetarian.” I had known his dad from Rutger’s graduation party. A small, goodlooking man. Esotheric, yet he lacked the weakness I associated with astrologers or the food-conscious. He died a few years after mine.
“Was this the first time Benjamin realized you’re in love with him?” Rutger’s voice behind me asks. The chest resonates with the warm, undertone of his voice. The feeble American accent, just enough to twist a Dutch word every now and then in an uncommon direction, makes it even more appealing. It reminds me of Rutger Hauer, like many things about him remind me of this actor.
“Could be,” I answer. My muse Benjamin has still not responded to my request to see him. “But I ve written about him for years. This was merely the first time I said it directly.”
The story had come out easily. Rutger had asked the right questions, not shying away from painful answers. Painful for either him or me, or both. I lifted my head up, turned sideways, leaning onto one arm. “But this was the story about Benjamin and Lauren,” I concluded. ”There is another story. About Rutger and Lauren. And it is equally interesting I think!” We look at each other for the first time unapologetically interested, relieved even. That finally nothing will stand in the way of being honest.
“You tell me,” he says. “What is the story of Rutger and Lauren?”
I hesitate. I m curious about his side of the story, but agree to be the one telling it. I feel I owe him, having made him listen to the Benjamin one.
“Okay, it started in 1991.” And I cuddle up on his stomach again, looking at the stars, catching an occasional drop of rain. The bushes an excellent umbrella.
I told about how I always felt this sexual tension between us, right from the beginning of our freshman year. And that he was always going steady and talked about a girlfriend in full admiration about the cute, sexy, surprising things she did. And that after a year or two, he would finalize the relationship, or behave so badly she ended it, and was now totally in love and happy with someone else.
“I always missed your transfer, and that annoyed me,” I confessed. Ultimately I ran into him on a sunny afternoon in 2002 at the local supermarket and he was radiating as he told me he was moving to the US because “I have found the love of my life.” And I had sneered: “Again?”
“You were with Jeroen,” Rutger said. “He was my friend too. I would never have made a pass at you.”
Which was true. And at university I had been afraid of my reputation, if I would sleep with another man from our year.
“And then there was that thing with the condoms,” I said. I had always known Rutger didn’t used them. “Did I tell you at the time I was scared of aids?” I couldn’t remember the details, just that I had been ashamed of it and told few.
“No, not really,” Rutger said. “But you said you were not what you appeared to be. That you were not free, sexually.”
I rise up on my elbow again, wide smile, and I lean over to kiss him. Five minutes later I throw my leg over him to sit on him, while kissing him. “Your head is on a rock!” I whisper. The voices of all the other people under the same bushes are suddenly louder now that we have stopped talking and only snuggle. “Lean into my hand.”
His hair is incredibly soft. His kisses incredibly perfect. And our physical connection shoots its roots immediately, deep down into 23 years of history. Although at that moment I still thought we would merely kiss and cuddle. And that anything sexual would die out with me getting angry with him for wanting to fuck me without a condom. But just like the rest of my assumptions about his sexuality, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Because Rutger was the man I had been waiting for all along. It was intimacy with a capital I. And not the intimacy of Nathan and Samuel, who just play intimate, a skill they can use with a variety of women. Not Snow White’s brother intimate – which was inherent to the fact that he was a virgin. Rutger’s intimacy was the longing to hold me, far more than to undress me. The desire to explore me, not to conquer me. It was in the boundaries he respected when he confirmed he still didn’t use condoms. “I’m sorry. I just can’t.” And he used his fingers and tongue, time and time again. And this was when I realized I myself had always insisted on being fucked, something I usually ended up regretting because they always fucked me way too long and after the male orgasm sex was over. Or it was over until a new predictable series of foreplay-fucking-cuddling began. A menu I resented, and that had been one of the main reasons I had given up on sex. With Rutger the menu was an ongoing smorgasbord of cuddling and fondling, with new dishes arriving at unexpected moments.
Like most men, he played with my mind when he used his physical strength to turn me on, fed my fantasies with a single word or a sexual act that took my breath away, but he kept the connection. I wasn’t tempted to drift off into fantasies. It was always about him and me. Naturally I can’t share his fantasies, but I will say that as he told more I thought I had entered sex goddess heaven. First of all: the fact that he talks in bed. Not the predictable dirty talk, but sharing his feelings on moments that the sexual energy is more gentle. A man talking about his feelings must be the biggest aphrodisiac of all.
I always inquire about a partner’s fantasies, turn-ons; about his secrets and the things he has difficulty with. But nothing interesting ever comes up. They like the rapey thing, which is nice because so do I (probably to make the fucking after the first two minutes at least somewhat engaging), but that’s it. Aside from one lover, who I will not name, their sexuality was what I usually call uncomplicated. What I meant was shallow. And when Rutger told me more about himself I realized I had gotten so used to the simplistic version of male sexuality, that I had forgotten my aspiration level, or maybe curiosity level, had once been much higher. Like the things Rutger was bringing up.
In awe I looked at him, still in denial about being far beyond the point-of-return in love, and said: “It has always been my dream to have a lover like you. This would take a year, not a night.”
And then the final part of intimacy, the one that would have won me over all by itself: he was okay with tears. The grief that I feel after being touched on the inside, he welcomed it, it was rewarded with a silent long embrace, heart to heart. And after it had happened a few times he offered to massage me on the inside. If I still had any doubt Rutger was completely different from anyone else, it melted away right then. Naturally I said yes. And naturally it was entirely scary, and overwhelming, and it would have been devastating if after that a man failed to reassure me and to love me for the rest of my life.
But I don’t think that is going to be a problem.