They hang just like this.

Instagram-approved.


They also come complete with nipples.

Too nipple-y for IG.


And a smirk.  

[Ed. Note:I sent this to Luke yesterday because he has a thing for hosiery.]

I still have hope.


I have been sick for most of 2016. It began in January with a fever of 103 and is ending with laryngitis and tight lungs, the diagnosis of which will be determined this afternoon in the doctor’s office.

I am exhausted.

I have lost my muse, my cat, by many accounts even my dignity — let’s not even discuss the White House — but I haven’t lost my hope.

I hope 2017 is better than ever.

I hope that little ember I feel continues to grow.

I hope my heart continues to swell with love and light.

I hope to grow my bank account.

I hope to build stronger bonds with my loved ones.

I hope we fight to keep the world progressing.

I’m not hiding anymore pretending to have it all figured out. I’m struggling, working hard, fighting back. Everything has burned to the ground, but there is new life. It’s the way of things.  I’m still alive.  I’m still doing the things I love.

I gripped the balcony railing on the 21st floor as the owner of the condominium buried his face in between my cheeks. The city lit up below me and the cold breeze swirled around us, his wet tongue and puffs of breath hot on my skin. His moans of pleasure matched my own.  I imagined it was Luke and smiled.

I enjoy men in new ways, brighter ways now. There are no ties which bind, no words that bond. I am free as a bird and light as a feather.  This is fun again and without the stench of desperation flogging me on.

He had me keep my boots on when we came inside and made sure I noticed the sliding closet doors which were mirrors when I undressed and laid down.

He was hard and felt good; he loved my pussy, came quickly, and promptly fell asleep. I did too.

Just before dawn I crept out of bed and opened the blinds which faced east and watched the rose gold light spill into downtown like phantom lava. The reflection on the buildings sparkled and where the light met the night was a beautiful dark hue of blue, like my eyes in the dark I imagine.

I redressed and woke him up to say goodbye. “I have to take care of the dog,” I explained to his unasked question.  He’d mentioned earlier in the night that he wanted to have champagne and brunch with me.

In the long elevator ride back down I looked at my reflection. I saw a woman who never stops looking, who never gives up. I saw her hope.

I also saw a woman who lives her life as largely as possible.

This year may have tripped me up and beat me down with all its curve balls, but it hasn’t erased the core of me: an artist, a lover, a good woman.  I am tougher than 2016.  I am still here and I’m not going anywhere.

I’m not all ice and black heart.

Luke and I have been talking every single day for weeks now and it is this lone connection that reminds me I have a soft, gooey center beneath my icy demeanor.

For almost two years now my world has been a landscape of slate and black.  Jagged, torn edges that have left me bereft and alone.  The Neighbor’s abrupt departure from my life shone a light on how I have avoided intimacy my entire life, how its light scorched me like the sun upon a vampire, and in the ensuing months I have bumbled along self discovery and acceptance: I have intimacy issues.

Me, who opens up and shares the most intimate of details of her sexual life with virtual strangers.  Me, who entertains gaggles of friends with her lewd stories and tearful sharings of dead fathers and complicated mother relationships.  Me, who bares her body for tens of thousands of pairs of eyes and who elicits both hateful and lustful responses in equal measure and weathers them all with unapologetic and not not disdainful aplomb.

Yes, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

I’m a motherfucking mess.

Man after man — 14 this year alone, I think, plus the handful that I haven’t mentioned — have added to the bleak illustration of my life, some post-apocalyptic land where even the lightening bug’s glow is dim.   None have given color, none have inspired.  I have been free of a muse for too long, drained of inspiration and weighted down by the pressure to impress and be loved by the masses, but I am feeling color seep back in.  Because of him.

We may never meet.  We may never touch.  We may never taste one another, but what has happened is a tiny little fire has been lit inside.  The tiniest, just ever so, like the little diamonds in the slim band upon my finger.  It is there.  I can feel it.

I am no longer filled with dread when I think to write and the words spill out of me much like school children down the sidewalk after school: freely, with some joy, and with purpose.

I tease him about talking to me — he’s far too sweet for the likes of me.  “You’re a smooth talker,” he replies.

“Tell that to me when you’re between my legs,” I say.  “Then I’ll believe it.”

He persists in smearing color on me.  “You’re a great person.  You need to appreciate that.  I know there’s a big heart within that ice block,” he laughs.  Then adds, “For the record, you’ve never seemed as cold as you think.”

I’ve been cast a bright line to the old palette I used, rich in color and light.  His kindness, his ever-present warmth, his sweetness.  After years of grey to see this sliver of color I find myself almost afraid.  Afraid to reach for it, afraid to believe in it.  But I can’t deny that it’s there.  That little ember, ever so small, lit within me.

And I can almost breathe again.

 

My little diamonds.

My little diamonds.

I dream.

I dream of waking up and feeling strong and secure, knowing I will make enough money to provide for me and my baby.

I dream of health and no mysterious ailments which — if I am to believe WebMD — mean I am either perfectly fine or dying a protracted, miserable death.

I dream of a love which wraps me in its arms day and night, yet allows me to fly whatever strange Hy course I need.

I dream of friendships so strong I am never afraid to lean on them, to see the tears in their eyes as they hold me close having rushed to my side when I shared my need.

I dream of a future with less fear, less desperation, a time when I truly believe everything will be ok because it is.

As of today, I am only close to one of those dreams.

Having feelings really puts a damper on casual sex.

Ok, that’s not exactly true.  Having feelings for someone other than the one you’re casually fucking sucks.

I eat, sleep, and shit Luke these days; he’s literally all I can think about.

We text and send video messages all day throughout a day as we juggle our respective responsibilities.  I cum listening to videos of him telling me about the errands he’s running and, chagrined by my constant begging, he sends me selfies and tells me how he thinks about me while he soaps himself up in the shower.

He says he’ll never leave me – though what that means is more theoretical than practical – and I choose to hit pause on reality and bask in the attention of a man I find to be incredible both inside and out.  I let the smoke of his words fill my lungs and infiltrate my system and, as I exhale slowly, bask in the high that someone says he sees me and won’t go away.  Crack, meet Hy, Hy, crack.

I’ve been out with a few men since stumbling upon Luke, but none can clear the room of his scent.  Brad is a loving father, intelligent, filled with Dad Puns which make me cry with laughter, and a nimble lover, but he’s ignorant to his second-chair status.  Kent and I met for dinner after five years apart and argued over whether or not Michael Jackson actually touched those poor boys and though he smelled delicious, I went home alone.  There was another man whose brand of sense of humor left me straight-faced and deeply unimpressed.  He never had a chance past “Hi, all my dates end up saying they don’t want to see me again.”  Franklin’s presence is more life-preserver and less love interest and his existence seems to reside within a conflict-free zone at the moment.  Thanks, Universe, for that small win.

I’ve been doing my Hy thing for so long I’d forgotten that there was more to be had, more to feel.  A friend who knows me as Hy laughed when I told him I was struggling with having feelings for someone.

“All this time you DIDN’T feel alive? Wow. It must be somethin’.”

Indeed, it is.

When I lived next door and slid into a sexual, playful relationship with The Neighbor I was also fucking other men.  He was one of many, no big deal, a young, furry, inexperienced yet exceedingly talented lover next door.  And then we began to talk and hang out more and the sex steadily improved until every man I met and fucked was being compared to him.  That new, next man had to meet or exceed what TN gave to me.

TN was unavailable (and never said he wasn’t), but our attraction and chemistry overrode both of our common sense and eventually, I threw caution to the wind and decided to take what little he’d give me and go all in.  I focused on the positives until it came to a sudden end and now, nearly 2 years later, I am still sweeping away the residue of his chalk outline.  We had something special and I felt a certain way.  That inexplicable measure where suddenly you are real, you are heard.

I haven’t felt so divided, so distracted by anyone else since that early time with TN.  When I tried so hard to find someone to replace him – a man who didn’t want me – but who made me feel alive just the same.  Luke has inadvertently triggered a reawakening in me.  Not unlike the stirrings I felt while in London with Ben, but more strongly.  Perhaps they’re building upon themselves like a snowball down a mountainside or maybe I’m just becoming more comfortable with my softer, open side.

Luke wishes me luck before my dates and asks that I text him at the end if possible.  If I don’t text him until the morning he wishes me good morning and asks me how things went.  He’s jealous of the men in my life much as I’m jealous of his poofy, 5lb dog who gets to sit on his chest and lick his face like a miniature lion.

I have lost almost all interest in local adventures; I can’t muster the energy to focus on a man who isn’t Luke and I feel like an asshole.  It’s not like anyone I’m talking to thinks they’ve snagged all of my attention, but last I heard the polite thing to do is to successfully not think about another man while one is inside of you.  Just sayin’.  I’ve reached new lows.

Obviously weird shit happens in the course of a lifetime.  I have no clue why Luke was thrown into my path or I in his.  All I know is that with him I feel safe to explore the vulnerable parts of me, the parts which are so closely guarded I all but forgot they existed, and the distance between us emboldens me to poke around, find my limits.

It seems the impenetrable Hy isn’t quite the cool Ice Queen she thought she’d become, she’s also a warm-hearted fool who wants to slumber and rise wrapped in her crush’s arms while high as a motherfucking kite.

 

 

 

I might be too hard.

The script was the same, yet different.

I sat on his lap, naked and spent, resting in the cradle of his big arms. He stood and turned and gently lay me down on the crisp hotel bedding. I promptly fell into a demi-sleep, drunk off the $350 bottle of wine we’d split and the dozen orgasms.

His giant paw had slammed into me as I urged him on and I came in great rushes and filled his hand; his white mustache had crushed against my lips as he breathed in my orgasm like a drowning man. He hadn’t touched a woman in 5 years.

Franklin almost hadn’t come to meet me, he’d confessed. When I shared my pictures with him on Seeking Arrangement he’d found a couple of them to look “hard.” “Like you were a retired dancer.”

“Gee, well thanks for taking a risk on me.”

“You’re much more beautiful than your pictures, Hy. I was very happy to see you walk into the bar.”

He was an enormous man — more bear than human — and more than a foot taller than me, possibly a hundred pounds heavier.  He wore a brown houndstooth blazer, those type of 1980s metal glasses that all business men used to wear, and smelled delicious.

He’d been conned at least twice in the six weeks since joining the site, but the few hundred dollars he’d given away were such an inconsequential amount to him he laughed it off as a learning curve.

After cocktails, dinner, wine, and dessert, we headed to the lounge of a nearby hotel where he grabbed me and kissed me.  It turned me on that he’d told the servers and wait staff to pay attention to us and they’d be rewarded for their attentiveness.  It turned me on that he oozed power and confidence.  It turned me on to feel so small in his presence, taken care of.

He insisted I get whatever I wanted at dinner and urged me to not think of cost.  How different life must be to not have a care about money.  Everything I do from eating to dressing myself passes through the “Can I afford this?” filter.  It made me giddy and nervous.

“I think what you want is a boyfriend,” he’d said over dessert.  “You want to hang out with someone you like and who likes you and to not always rely on him for money.  That sounds like a boyfriend.”  I was too embarrassed, too afraid to answer.  Is that even true?  I couldn’t say and I quickly changed the subject.

At the copper bar in the swanky hotel, my lips swollen and my belly buzzing he leaned in.

“Wanna get a room?” he murmured hotly.  I nodded.

At the front desk I held his hand and giggled.  In the elevator he cornered me and smashed me against the mirrors with his weight, his hands roamed like a lech and I arched into him.

We left the room in a tangled, wet mess two hours later; I had to relieve the dog who’d been cooped up for 12 hours.  He didn’t need to stay without me and I suppose $500 for a couple of hours wasn’t a big deal.  He walked me to my car, kissed me again and sent me on my way.

It’s unclear if he is interested in me beyond our night together.  I have thrown my hat into the ring, but he has yet to respond.  The entire transaction, the entire night and ensuing days, have felt like they happened to someone else.  His lack of response has not affected me; he will either want to see me again or not.

His tender post-coital care came close to cracking me.  Kindness is my kryptonite, it’s the big spoiler.  Use me, fill me up, leave me and I will stand tall and still.  Show me a soft side of you and it is my undoing.  His distance since the date has allowed me to shore up the hardness he said he saw in my images.  Perhaps he was right.  I have been in the trenches for so long…

The story could end there, but it doesn’t.

Enter stage right a British expat who lives 1000 miles away, Luke.  He’s my age, tall, beautiful and neglected by the woman in his life.  We stumbled upon each other – as people do – completely by accident and have found in one another a salve to the wounds we carry.  With him I admit to even having them.  He knows me as Hy.

He’s realized he’s a man who is alive and not a martyr searching for meaning in the drudgery of his life and I have realized (again) that I want to be cared about and accepted.  Cherished.   Ben first lit me upon this notion and I have had a wobbly several months since our time together.  I’ve fucked and frolicked, but as usual have kept to myself emotionally.

Luke is literally in my pocket and is the last person I think about and the first when I wake up.  I want to make all his dreams come true then set him on a plane stuffed full of affection and sex.  I want the person sitting next to him on the plane to look at him and think, “That guy looks goddamned happy.”

He’ll arrive home satiated knowing he’s not alone and that someone sees him and I can be safe from long-term vulnerability even while feeling the ghost of his arms around me.  I fully recognize the irony of this, but it feels like a step in the right direction.  At least I’m trying.

Ben is across an ocean and so busy I don’t hear from him for weeks at a time.  Our distance (among other things) was the golden key to unlock my own secret yearnings for deeper, softer, kinder things in my life.  I was forced to admit to having a heart again, but not suffer the vulnerability of trying to maintain the exposure.

Luke is closer, can see me more easily than Ben, but he is still far away both literally and figuratively.  He has commitments at home that would forever prevent him from being nearby long-term.  We will always be apart even if our feelings are together.

And yet, I want him all the same.

I imagine waiting for him at the airport. He quickly closes the distance between us when he sees me standing there nervously, wraps me in his arms and kisses me deeply and passionately.  I hope everyone around us is jealous as they see our affection and joy in one another’s arms.

It feels like we’d be stealing a moment, but I can almost taste him I want it so badly.  I want to be a fucking thief because with him I don’t feel hard.  I feel soft and real, nearly a whole woman with an entire back story.  Not just some sex-kitten ready and willing for anything.

“I’ll let you fuck my face, my ass, my pussy, all of it.  You just can’t leave for 3 days and you have to hold me close and look at me like you’re the luckiest man alive,” I texted.  Tears filled my eyes.  My biggest fantasy and my darkest secret is to be cherished while I am ravaged.

“You are, without any doubt, the sexiest woman I have ever seen or spoken to.  There’s something about you.  I’m getting butterflies…” he replied.  And later, after he picked his name for the blog, encouraged me to lay it bare for him in this post when I told him I was feeling overwhelmed.

“I like what I see,” he said again.

::

How could anyone find me aloof?  How could anyone think I was unaffected by men??  I am avoiding pain and searching for myself.  I’m not trying to hide.  Clearly I’m a walking contradiction: I’m hard, I’m a puddle; I’m distant, I’m a shadow; I’m bold, I’m bashful.

I have successfully managed to untie my self-worth from the behaviors of men, but have I let loose of the ribbon entirely?  Does my understanding that I have no control somehow translate to apathy?  I don’t think I’m apathetic — Luke proves that, Ben proves that — but I am terrified of the closeness and now I worry that it’s trickled out and changed colors in the light of day.  It’s ugly out there.

Franklin’s silence is logically frustrating, but emotionally I am a flat line.  Never mind I think we could be great friends and have a very mutually beneficial relationship.  I feel a distant stillness about his non-response  He’s just yet one more man who wasn’t right for me for one reason or another.  I let go of any kind of “us” the day after I lay naked beneath his great bulk and didn’t hear from him.

There are so many others that I never bothered to include here, men whose time on the stage of my life was so brief, their impact on me negligible, that they are included in the credits as “Crowd Member.”  They’ve contributed to the story, but only as moving props.  Or as fucking ones, as the case may be.

And I largely felt nothing for any of them.  Just blips on the radar regardless of how they behaved afterwards.  It bothers me how little I feel sometimes for these local men, but it’s effortless.  I come by it naturally.  Perhaps after years of mistreatment I have become a product of it.   No wonder the prospect of Luke’s affections and attention is so utterly irresistible.

He says he has hazel eyes with green in them.  I imagine they’re like a sun-dappled forest, both deep and light, waiting.  I want to lie down on the forest bed and melt into the leaves and moss.

I want to look deeply into those eyes as I breathe his breath and hold him in my hand, feel him beneath my fingertips.  He won’t leave me because he can’t stay.

I may have overshot my target and accidentally convinced men that I don’t need them or want them, but the truth is I used to be open and I was punched again and again like a soft-bellied idiot.  No, Hy.  Goodbye, Hy.  I don’t want you, Hy.  It was fun while it lasted, Hy.  You’re all wrong, Hy.  I chose poorly again and again until I finally wizened up and took my soft self to a higher place where no one could touch me and when I’ve come back down I am no longer soft.  It’s not untrue.  But is it wrong?

A savvy, keen-eyed reader lovingly bludgeoned me in emails for months about how imbecilic I was with men.  She wasn’t wrong.  I grew hardened, memorized my lines, set my sights on the end of the story and skipped over sagging, boring plot lines.  I don’t regret it.  I’ve done what I needed to do, but now in the face of pure kindness I am forced to peel off a layer or two of armor and slow down.

I don’t want to be so hard that I miss opportunity, but nor do I want to be so soft that I am beaten to a pulp.  My friends come to me with all manner of dating questions, their hearts on their sleeves and I chuckle.

I remember when not hearing from a man after a date used to hurt.  I remember when long delays between correspondence bothered me.  Today, those are failings I don’t tolerate and I quickly move on to the next.  No fuss, no fight, just go.  Whether that’s emotionally or physically doesn’t matter.  I’m gone.

This push-pull of hard and soft is the battle between my sense of independence from the pitfalls of dating while my need to simultaneously flex my heart.  I may have stated it before, but it has become increasingly clear to me that my next relationship may very well have to start here.  As Hy.  How else can I possibly get past my own fear and armor?  My very soft underbelly is always exposed here and I am all of me: sentient and sexy, longing and lascivious.

Since I’ve come to realize I am more Hy than anyone else, it may also be time for Hy to be the star of the show.