On my way to Berlin for the first time, sitting in the uncomfortable plane seat, I doze and I dream I am touching myself. I dream I am edging, getting closer and closer to orgasm, getting wetter and wetter. I wake myself up with a deep moan of dissatisfaction. The man in the seat next to me doesn’t know what to make of this. I check that my hand is stowed, safely out of sight, beneath the blanket, which I have draped loosely over me. I want to see if I’m as wet as in my dream. I am. I touch myself, sneaking glances at the man next to me to be sure he isn’t looking, or if he’s looking, that he won’t tell. I fall asleep again with my hand on myself, and dream of Amy, always Amy…
When I arrive in the city, bleary and tired to the point of tearful, Ulrike greets me. She has slightly crooked teeth, which are charming, and warm brown eyes. She has the perfect breasts to hold in a hand, I can tell. They are pert, not too small, not too big, just the right size for a handful. I stare at her eyes quite a lot. She meets my gaze and holds it. I also stare at her tits quite a lot. If she notices, she doesn’t let on. And she is to be my German tutor. If I wasn’t so broken-hearted already I might fall in love. You could drown in a gaze like that.
She takes me shopping for “bettwäsche” (bed linens). I can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever be in my bed with me. I can’t help but imagine it. I’m living in the dorm, so undoubtedly the bed is tiny. We’d have to huddle close together on the narrow bed. She’d be both soft and bony against me. I imagine her straight brown-gold hair ruffled, her face soft with sleep in the sunlight of the morning.
Damn. Could my tutor not have been a less beautiful person?
Jet-lagged and beyond exhausted, it takes me hours to choose a few things for my bed. I’m dismayed to find they don’t carry the thin cotton blankets of my childhood; only duvets. I keep my brave face on until Ulrike leaves me to unpack. And then first thing, I set up the bed. Second, I cry, facedown in it, until I fall asleep.
As the months go by, the sky gets grayer. Ulrike is professional to a fault. She corrects my grammar and isn’t even kinky about it. I start my classes. I start failing my classes. And the sky gets grayer. Every day, colder. Every day, grayer.
I am running along the street, Goerzallee. Running past the urban garden homes, the craggy trees, the garbage cans, the truck stops. I don’t see the graffiti. I don’t see the rubble, the construction. I am panting. I see my feet churning in time. I see the pavement beneath them and before them. I hear the cold air tear in and out of my lungs. I am a bagpipe. I play in rhythm, but there are no pitches. There is no tune. My eyes blink in time. I don’t see the men in overalls waiting at the busstop. I don’t see the young blonde boys in hoodies and sweats and baseball caps. I see their sneakers. Hi-top, Velcro, lime green, electric purple. A platform from which to view the world. An air bubble on which to ride through the city.
Converse. Adidas. Nike. Just do it. Do what exactly?
I don’t see the wan women with their prams. I don’t see the women, with their hair piled atop their heads, with their faces made up. We’re all whores. We don’t know how not to be. I’m sweating. My legs are rubbing together through the spandex. The blood is rushing down to my secret spot. The rest of my body could freeze and wither; my oh-so-lady-like rose would remain alive and red and pulsing. I should have worn a bra. My small breasts bounce and I want to touch them. Pinch my nipples until they stand out. Especially the left one, the one that hides in itself like it’s afraid of being abused. I’d like to meet the woman who has two identical breasts. I’d like to punch her in the stomach and leave her lying on the street.
It doesn’t hurt, the bouncing. But I hate what it means. My small breasts are slightly less small than before. They are big enough to bounce. They are big enough for someone to tell me I need a bra. They are big enough for someone to call me a girl. They label me. I hate them. I want to hold them in. Bind them up. Press them into my chest until they disappear. I like my ex-girlfriend’s breasts. I like lying on them. I like seeing their secretive curves from under her clothes. I like them in my mouth. The skin there is softest. Fuck. I wait at the red light, thinking about ex-girlfriend. And her breasts. The signal turns green. Think about the trucks, not ex-girlfriend. A young man with headphones is walking opposite me. He is reading my American sweatshirt, watching what moves there. His gaze moves. He is looking at my spandex legs. He is coveting them. He is mesmerized by the intimacy of my legs. They won’t stop touching each other, dirty sluts.
“Looking good,” he says with a leer. I don’t answer. I want to say something cutting in German. The moment is passed. I don’t turn back. I only run. He is probably coveting my ass now. He has greedy eyes. I am not yours to behold. I exist for more than your enjoyment. My self worth has nothing to do with your approval or that of society. I want him to corner me in an alley and pin me against the wall and fuck me until I scream and cry for mercy. I want his hands pinning my wrists against something painful and his cock inside me. I want his friends to come and fuck me too. Pass me around like a rag doll. Make me cum against my will a thousand times until I’m limp and shaking with overuse, broken with pleasure, full of cum. Call me a whore for moaning. Tell me I wanted it. Slap my ass a little bit. Pinch my nipples a little too hard. I like that. I’m a fucking hypocrite. It’s not normal, is it? Would I actually moan, if it happened? Would I actually cum?
I have to fap after my run. I grind on my fist, thinking of ex-girlfriend’s tits and being fucked violently on the street. Although I can’t call it fapping unless I have a dick. I wish I had a dick. I don’t cum. I roll over frustrated and take a shower. Tomorrow I’ll go running again. And I’ll have to fap again. And I won’t cum. Sometimes I have to stop myself from rubbing my face against people’s arms on the subway. When the subway car rattles, I fidget in my seat. Maybe it’s better if I stand.
What’s wrong with me? I dream about cocks. I dream about ex-girlfriend fucking me with a cock. Men and women of all colors, shapes, sizes. Am I even gay? Or is it the hottest new thing, another piece of clothing I put on to be part of a certain crowd, another layer of deception. She’s cool. She’s alternative. Sex-positive. She’ll fuck anybody. No discrimination, it’s all fucking after all. She just wants to get off. Being a lesbian is the best way to do it. But she doesn’t look at them while she’s getting fucked. She closes her eyes and no one knows what goes on in the closed theater behind her eyelids. No one knows what plays out on the stage of her imagination. She’s lazy. She’s selfish. She just wants to get off. If licking some girl’s pussy is her ticket to an orgasm, then she’ll do it. She doesn’t dislike licking pussy. In fact she gets something out of the feel of those wet lips soft and hot against hers. But she only likes licking pussy because it turns her on and it only turns her on because she knows her turn is next. Read my credentials to the rainbow committee. Am I queer enough for you? One long-term girlfriend under my belt and a handful of misguided and unpleasant experiences with dicks. Figurative, pejorative, and literal dicks, if you wanted to know. What secrets are in my file that even I am not privy to?
THE COMMITTEE: We saw you ogling that man on the subway. We saw you making eyes at him. We saw you staring at his crotch.
C: I was imagining my ex-girlfriend with a dildo, I swear!
THE COMMITTEE: You wanted his dick. You wanted it.
C: So what if I did! What does that prove!
[RUSTLING IN THE GALLERY. WHISPERING.]
THE COMMITTEE: We hereby rule that applicant C shall be denied entry unto the RAINBOW COMMITTEE until such a time as she demonstrates TRUE GAYNESS as set down by Provision A of the Completely Arbitrary Legal Document. The committee recommends especially that you cut your long hair, learn to swagger, and cease fucking men. You are dismissed.
So deny me membership to the gay club. I ogle whomever I want. I ogle whatever I want.
I haven’t washed my hair for days now. I can’t remember how many. It’s my way of proving to myself that I’m alternative. I’m not like the others. I don’t shave. I don’t wash myself. I’m not clean, like you, like your kids, like your baby pram, like your husband, like your house, like your bourgeois life. I just want someone to love me like this, as I am.
I put gay next to my name yesterday. An online dating profile. A new identity. I’m gay. I’m openly gay. I want the whole world to know. It’s better this way. It felt good. But I still want to fuck my next door neighbor, Mike H. I hear him shifting in his sleep. I hear him laughing on the phone. Our beds are next to each other. I can hear him through the thin walls. So close and so far. Sometimes I put my hands against the wall and try to feel his presence. Ask me a question from your prison cell and I’ll answer. We are two convicts in the same prison. Two convicts in love. Two convicts in lust. I’m carried away with the fantasy. But the reality is this: One convict in lust. One citizen visiting the insane asylum and laughing, concerned, at what he sees. I hate myself when I drink. I can’t stop the thoughts from tumbling down out of my head and out of my mouth. My cheeks glow. I reveal my secrets. I am young again and trust in all. My next door neighbor is also a musician. I don’t care. To me, he’s a body. A body that I want. Nothing more. So I tell myself as I nurse my wounds and retreat to my cell.
I remember rejection. I am made of rejection these days. Crush me, kill me, it’s just what I want.
That night was beautiful and perfect. The cold of Berlin. The lights. The thrum of the S-bahn. The exhilaration of giving up my heart to another and believing it might find a home there. The leap of boldly declaring my best secrets: I like being tied up. I have fantasies. I can never cum when I masturbate. I like being fucked from behind best, how about you? My ex girlfriend was into knife play. I’m freaky… Secrets are erotic smoke. Secrets are invitations, pleas. Help me. Help me cum. Touch me. Fuck me fuck me fuck me. Berlin reflects, a beautiful pale mirror full of lives and counterlives and halflives. That night I saw my open heart reflected in its surface. My beautiful foreign life. My beautiful foreign love. But it turned sour. Hold me. I’ve confessed too much. The incense of my secrets has dissipated and all that is left is a vague fragrance, difficult to name. I have gone too far, given too much up. I have no secrets left to give. My secrets are now torn open and you own them. I’ve given them to you without so much as a bill of sale and I can never get them back. Knowledge is like that. But you can’t love me. You can’t even fuck me. You already have a female body you own and you’re attached to it. It might as well be a paper doll for all I care. I have ruined everything. Everything. Just by admitting to myself (and to you) that I wanted you.
But I wanted anyone. Any warm body will do. That’s what I tell myself. I have no mirror in my room here. Berlin is my mirror. The violent buzz of the U-Bahn. The angry hum of traffic. The glare of the streetlight. The cold, dark night and the sadness of watching my breath purling away into the night air, a pocket of my moist warmth swallowed by and lost in the cold and dark. I hate everything tonight.
Mike H hears me weeping through our thin walls. I am weeping for him. I am weeping for me. I am weeping for every person who ever felt loneliness. I am weeping because I am a loon with no partner to return my cry. I am weeping because winter treads ever nearer. I am weeping because weeping is my right. My neighbor treads lightly around me in the following days, asks tentative questions, treats me as though I were mad. I slowly allow our interactions to return to the status quo. Nothing special. Just neighbors. Uninterested in each other’s lives. How I despise mediocrity. We tell each other bland lies to keep the gunpowder soggy. There will be no sparks here. What would he do if I slipped into his room in the dead of night and bared my soul and body to him once more? How would he react to such honesty? Honesty is insanity. I still trace my fingers on the wall between his slumbering body and mine. I can hear the faint rumble of his breathing. I am languishing. How I hate languishing. I should go out into the street and fuck the next person that I see. Just to stop the languishing. The pining. The sighing. The tiptoeing. I wait for him to come home from orchestra on Wednesday evenings. I wait to hear his voice in the kitchen, his blustery half-singing, then I emerge for a glass of water, tea, wine, anything. I should cut him from my life, so that I can go about the business that is my life.
I miss ex girlfriend. She would know what to say to make my languishing stop. She would have the magic words to end the spell. And yet I languish over her as well. I am the languishing kind.
I’m going to cut off all my hair. M said he liked it. He can’t have it. It’s gone. Where are the scissors? I want to cut open my heart.
Ex girlfriend told me she made me squirt. I don’t know if I believe her, or if I think the squirting female is like the yeti—part myth, part fairytale, part urban legend. I would like to boast about it—“I’m a squirter! Legends are written and ballads are sung and myths are told about me.” But such boasts make pressure. If you can’t make me squirt you must be doing something wrong. Or maybe I can’t squirt at all.
Soon I will travel home. I want to hide my face from those familiar faces. They know nothing about me, and yet they know everything.
In the airport again, headed home. It will be cold there, but not as gray.
Do the security officials know I’m queer? Does the man see from my black oxford shoes and obvious lack of brassiere that I’m alternative, that my secret cave is not for him or any of his kind? Does he take stock of my plain, clean face, the faint scent of patchouli and rosemary, the argyle sweater, better yet the ratty unwashed tank top underneath? Does he wonder at my lack of toiletries? What does anybody notice about another person? I am nothing but one of the many extras on the set that is his life. Perhaps I will reappear to him in a dream. Perhaps he will dream of me kissing the blonde over there with the pearl earrings and wonder why. Or maybe my face will vanish forever from his consciousness.
I have a feminine face. Round, rosy, childishly formed. I long for an androgynous face—ambiguous angles, sharp lines. I have feminine legs and a feminine butt, well shaped, as though I were carved out of alabaster. But my flat chest is far from feminine. Even in the lesbian shows I watch I see no form like mine. How will anyone know I’m queer if I don’t have a lean, lank, languid, androgynous body and choppy, tousled hair? Maybe I’m just desperate for love and not queer at all. Willing to take anything I can get. What does queer even mean? Is it the clothes I wear? Is it my hair? Or is it the fact that I sleep with women?
I feel more lesbian these days. Is ex girlfriend really proof enough of my gayness? What do I need to do, to make it obvious to you? Cut off my beauty, my hair, my ties to society? Take the curved lump of flesh that is my arse and give it to you, still bleeding? Get a tattoo? Move to LA? Is that where they live? But is that not just conforming to another ideal of beauty? Can I not just be myself?
Love is a strange flower
Exotic second cousin to the orchid
Fickle, it leans forward, a long drooping neck
Asks for tending
But when you overwater it
They wanted to see God.
So they built planes.
When I get back from the US I will fuck the first person I find. If I can’t be gay enough, I might as well embrace it and find a dick to fuck.