TRAVEL & LGBT

My First Time as a Travel Sex Worker

Emily-Stewart-Based-Traveler

Emily Stewart

 

 

Editor’s note: This guest post contains explicit language and sensitive themes. Bisexual erasure is a pervasive problem in our community. Erasure is a reference to the outright denial of the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality. Here at DotR it is our goal to use guest posts to showcase voices from underrepresented populations within the queer world. Like any identity-based community, the experiences of bisexual people are diverse and nuanced. While this post does contain sexual content, it is the perspective of one woman and should not be taken as representative of the bisexual community as a whole.

I was woken from my sleep, that blissfully snuggly dream state that only occurs in mountain lodges, by the soft thud of James’ knee perilously close to mine. He began to peel the double duvet from my naked body. I prickled, clutched the covers, and hissed, “Don’t let the cold air in!” He sighed, plopping down next to me with his arm draped around what he suspected was my midline. Considering all the hot air I had shared with James and his wife, Brigitte, the previous night, my reluctance to let him into my bed was surprising to him and me. I harbored an anxious hesitancy that started long before the morning and continues today, as I reflect on my stint as a yoga instructor- travel guide- swinger’s prostitute.

It all started an early-summer day on a restaurant terrace at the poshest hotel in Malta, where I am still an occasional waitress. I first saw her walking across the hotel lobby, blond-tipped braid flowing above her loose cabana skirt, tanned and smiling. She found a corner seat with a perfect view of the ocean, opened a book, and slowly blinked her purple-tinted eyelashes like a baby just woken. I, on the other hand, was being strangled by my clip-on tie, long-sleeved button-down shirt, heavy apron, and wedgie-inducing trousers. And I was smitten. My face reddened as I ogled at her, although I couldn’t tell if it was due to strangulation by my collar or the temperature rising somewhere deep below my apron. In slow-motion I watched my colleague approach Brigitte. In three long strides I had intersected them. I would be taking Brigitte’s order. My colleague shrugged and walked away.

To my own surprise, my first line to Brigitte was kind of clever. “Would you like a beer with that book?” She looked up at me. Our eyes locked for the first precious moment until she replied, “Yes! That sounds great!” Her accent was Southern in the best way, like she savored the sound of every vowel as she said it.

I’ve no idea how long it took Brigitte to drink two pints in my section. By the time she left, I had given her my every ounce of Maltese travel expertise and my phone number. Then I told her I was a yoga instructor who offered private clients lessons followed by wine on my rooftop terrace. “Let me go tell my husband!” she exclaimed, jumping up. Brigitte later told me that she burst into their hotel room, jostled James awake, and shouted, “Baby, you’ve got to wake up! I’ve met someone and I am horny!”

The next night Brigitte and James reported to my apartment, carrying two bottles of wine. “I’m sorry—I must have forgotten to tell you that I supplied the wine!” I said. “We know that,” they smiled. “But we brought some just in case.” Coincidentally, one of my dear friends was also visiting Malta. One yoga session and three hours later our group was crouched around candles in the balmy Maltese night, joyously drunk. Four bottles of wine littered the dusty white limestone rooftop.

“Come back with us.” Brigitte demanded deliriously. “Let’s have a foursome.” While I was much less physically attracted to James, the couple spoke lovingly to one another and were spritely conversationalists. Yet there wasn’t enough wine to make me want to hook up with my best friend, akin to a sister, and I denied them. The night fizzled.

“Come back with us.” Brigitte demanded deliriously. “Let’s have a foursome.”

The four of us spent the next day together, beachside, with local rosé. Again, under the night sky and a blanket of wine, Brigitte requested a sexcapade. Again, I denied her. James was ever debonair, shushing her lightly when she stared deep at me, aggrieved like a child scolded for eating cookie dough. Each time Brigitte asked, I found another excuse. I had early work in the morning! What if I got caught going back to a room in the hotel where I worked with a couple of guests? I couldn’t ditch my best friend! Actually, I was equally bewildered by my own reluctance. I’d always fantasized about being a couples’ plaything, and here this beautiful woman and intelligent man were begging me to come to bed with them. I felt like a little girl being told about sex for the first time- full of questions. Who puts what, where? It had been years since I’d even had a serious boyfriend and I’d never been the type to have casual sex. Who was I kidding! I wasn’t risqué enough for swingers!

The next day Brigitte and James’ boarded a plane for Texas. But they wouldn’t leave without making plans with me. They thought the yoga session I provided them was transformative. On my roof, safely tucked under the Maltese stars, they had cleared a few cobwebs from their joints and their minds. The couple wanted more yoga. Specifically, my yoga. And, coyly, my yoga booty. They requested I visit the USA to host a private yoga retreat, just them and me. After compassionate negotiations, they agreed to hold the retreat in the mountains of my home state so that I could also attend the wedding of my American friend. As soon as they arrived, we started planning over Skype and Facebook messenger.

Feeling much braver in Skype calls and Facebook messenger, I spiked our continued conversations with sexual innuendo. Oddly, they batted few balls back. Maybe I had imagined the sexual tension? Maybe they had simply been lustful vacationers? But the plan progressed: James transferred the cost of my flight via PayPal. I accepted and purchased my tickets. It was reality: I was hosting a private yoga retreat for a couple of swingers, and although we never discussed it outright, I was sure the yoga would inevitably lead to shared sexual encounters. At least I hoped it would. As I mused on my situation, I realized that my accepting their payment for a sexy yoga retreat might actually make me a prostitute. At least I hoped it did. Deep down, some antisocial side of my psyche relished in the deviance of it all.

I had little difficulty “practicing” for our yoga retreat in the months leading up to our meeting. I prepared alone, of course—even if I was a prostitute, I was still a prude. The thought of the three of us together was undeniably sexy. And yet, each time I thought of our eventual meeting, I could feel myself becoming more nervous. Nerves became judgment, incredulity. My thoughts of them became cluttered with assumptive questions. Were they happy together? What did I think about a couple that “needed” someone else to spice their lacklustre sex life? Would they ask me to do something that made me uncomfortable? We weren’t talking openly about sex, so I had no idea how to have a typical boundary-setting conversation with them. Did I even think open relationships were morally admissible? James and Brigitte were parents to two young boys, their mutual son and James’ from a previous marriage. I imagined learning that my parents had a lover who could be my older sister. It could be devastating. It felt like watching society play chess with my desire.

Like any millennial, I sought answers online. According to Psychalive.org, 4-5% of couples admit to being in an open relationship. Open relationships seem to be the new “in” thing. I found (legitimate) Facebook discussion groups, authors, articles, and studies around the topic of monogamy, Intimate Friendships, and polyamory. I watched TIME’s popular video, “Is Monogamy Over?” While I began to comprehend that society was shifting toward acceptance of open relationships on a macro level, I felt more confused on a microbiological level. According to some subject-matter experts and journalists on TIME Magazine’s “Question Everything” forums, humans originally became monogamous because they were parents: It’s very rare for any species to engage in biparental care unless the males are guaranteed that they are genetically related to the offspring—confidence monogamy alone can provide. A scientific journal explained that nuclear relationships are actually unstable because they are small and isolated; by creating multi-partner groups, we fulfil our need for intimacy, stability, and companionship. I read that 20% of American men and 15% of American women admitted to infidelity, and it’s estimated that a total of 30-60% of people are secretly unfaithful. Many articles stated that open relationships promote trust between couples: when the couple is openly empowered to look, touch, and conjoin, there’s no liars or deniers. Every piece of writing stated that lying was the most toxic action in a relationship, regardless of whether the article was supportive of or abhorrent to open relationships. Successful couples, monogamous or otherwise, communicated clearly their desires, boundaries, and sexual satisfiers. While I didn’t know much about Brigitte and James’ private communications, it seemed they were on the right track. These literary affirmations checked my inner objections.

One article caught my eye and my tongue. Therein, a professional prostitute shares her ten secrets to a successful threesome. She warned about the importance of setting boundaries. She explained that during sex the original partners must not ignore each other, lest they suffer post-hook-up jealousy. Consider the physical and emotional ramifications prone to all three parties, she advised. As I read the article I felt my chest tighten. It was like hearing a train rumble in the distance; my bags weren’t exactly packed as a smoking locomotive barrelled my way. I sent a feeble Facebook message to the couple in attempt to begin a conversation about our presumed relations. It was something like, “I bought a new set of panties!” They returned a smiley face emoticon. So, I filed the article away in my Too Scary to Take Further Action On cranial file cabinet. Also inside that mental cabinet was a single statement from the aforementioned scientific journal: “Multi-person relationships are more complex with a higher level of commitment.” This was definitely turning into something complex. The commitment I expected was more than Facebook messenger. Then again, my expectations were based on less complex experiences.

How glamorous and sexy it was to fly to the USA as a yoga floozy travel guide. I was buzzing. I truly love teaching Pilates, yoga, and meditation. I know a great deal about the Rocky Mountains, where we were staying, and am an experienced tour operator. In the weeks leading up to our retreat, I prepared an exciting metaphysical itinerary. I did, in fact, buy new panties. Every time someone asked me what I planned to do during my trip home, I smugly replied, “I’m leading a private yoga retreat.” Complete with sexy fireside romps was the unspoken addendum that curled my chaste lips.

The couple arrived to Denver a day before our itinerary officially started. As soon as their plane landed they messaged me. “When can we see you?” I felt protective, confused. After months of hearing so much as a meep, why the pressure? They had “paid” me for a five-day trip and I still had 24 hours before Day One. Furtively, I imagined lines and read between them: did they pay for a prostitute or did they pay for a friend? I’d already discussed with the couple that I had precious moments to spend with my friends and families while in-town. Consciously, I thought the couple selfish to demand more time from me than their payment dictated. Subconsciously, I wasn’t “ready” to start whatever this journey was to become. What role was I supposed to play, and who dictated it?

At our appointed meeting time, Brigitte and James arrived outside our coffee shop meeting place in a Mustang convertible. Wearing new panties, I was the star of my own movie. The warmth I felt toward the couple grew as we drove through the green Rocky Mountain forests, punctuated by flashes of yellow aspen leaves, fluffy white clouds, and pink granite overhangs. Our mouths dropped as our wheels crunched pine cones to a postcard-worthy cabin. The excitement in our voices rose octaves as we threw windows open to crisp mountain air. As I tutted around, professionally unpacking and planning our first yoga session, James’ and Brigitte casually toked their e-cigarettes and marijuana pipes. I remained a peon of professionalism.

Why do humans create expectations? Why do we bother to conflate the world, when the world is perfectly capable of conflating itself? I had expected Brigitte and James to drink as much as they did in Malta; I was happy that they did not, but they did smoke plenty of weed. I had forgotten the manic American obsession with the legalized marijuana. While I have nothing against smoking, their actions lined up nicely with the negative expectations on the whiteboard at the back of my brain. “Unhappy relationship? Check! Hiding things from their friends and family? Check! Just looking for a high? Check!” Like an edgy squirrel, I added more chestnuts to my stockpile.

I also expected that James and Brigitte would jump me like lion in heat. Yet, as our first day cooled to evening, I earned less than a wink from either of them. What I had received was an earful of Texas-loud, incessant conversation from James. Ironically, he was a divorce lawyer. He treated the world like his courtroom, speaking constantly to the jury. He also tapped things. He also wiggled his knee. He also brushed his long undercut back. Toked his bowl, or his e-cigarette. Interrupted every comment Brigitte or I made. And generally gave me a headache. I relished in our first yoga session, when James finally stopped speaking and I could finally manipulate their bodies into the sexiest positions we could muster. Evidently, the yoga wasn’t enough to span the emotional gap slowly building between us. We spent the night sitting separately, one fire log per two butt cheeks, talking. Frustrated, horny, and totally overwhelmed by conflicting emotions, I gave each of them a peck on the lips and climbed the stairs to my loft bedroom. I curled up alone, a tiny shell, breathing sighs of relief like waves on the sea while the dejected fire burned below my belly.

The next day was mostly breathy mountain bliss. Of course, James woke disgustingly early, banging pots and pans in the house below me. I added that to my lists titled “Things James Does that Annoy Me” and “Reasons not to have Sex with Them.” I was like a wife who suspected her husband of cheating and kept finding “clues” to fit her expectations. I felt distrustful of James. Sometimes, when Brigitte wasn’t looking, he’d begun to put his hand on my shoulder. I offered little credence to someone who seemed unable to shut up and sit still, who heard his own opinions more than those of others (even though I did find his opinions interesting and agreeable). As I pushed away from James, I oscillated toward Brigitte. I loved the focused fluidity she displayed in our morning Pilates sessions. I melted when she hugged me under the Colorado sun and held my hand when we hiked. Her silence was mysterious, intelligent, soft. Every time we locked eyes I got the impression that she wanted to tell me something; it seemed to me that she wanted to be touched and heard but wasn’t willing to ask. In retrospect, I wonder if what I saw in Brigitte’s eyes was a mirror image of my own.  

Late in the evening of Day Two, after copious amounts of s’mores, we had been sitting around the fire for an uncomfortable long time. For hours Brigitte and James had been looking at me carefully and ignoring one another. It was such a curious space to be in, like being a new-born baby and a dictator at the same time. I needed to be coddled and yet I held the power. Their caution was disarming: they kept chatting, sitting next to me, not touching me, devoid of sexual playfulness, watching and waiting without saying what for. It was sexual tension, as skewed more toward the “tension” side of things. Eventually it became clear to me that I was the one who would announce if, and when, we could get naked. The whole scenario was suffocating. I couldn’t take the pressure. I hugged them quickly, like an awkward teenager hugs her first boyfriend, and bounced off the soft carpet lining the stairs to the loft. Rapunzel in her forest chateau, scared, horny, immature, and ashamed.

The little devil on my shoulder bullied the little angel on the other. “I have been paid to do this. I have taught them yoga. I want to have sex with them, I’ve wanted to have sex with them for months. This doesn’t have to mean anything. I’m sexy. I am wearing new fucking panties for ChristSake. I flew to America for this. Just fuck them!”

In the kitchen below I heard James and Brigitte clearing items away for the evening. For once, James said nothing. Did they feel deflated by a squeamish prostitute? Or by a yoga instructor who feigned friendship? It was the guilt that eventually pushed me from under the safety of my covers. I made my break when I heard James click the bathroom door closed. I padded down the stairs. Even in the dark, I could see Brigitte’s wide eyes.

“I’m really sorry, I’m just so scared,” I breathed.

“What are you scared of?” She asked.

I didn’t answer, saying instead, “I’m ready. Let’s do this. Let’s go to your room.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

I perform well under pressure. Always have. Luckily, I do so as a prostitute-yogi in a bed for three. As soon as Brigitte tore my clothes off, I was nothing but powerful, proud, and perky. Or as much of those things I could be in the short space of time that was our romp. It all happened so fast. I was kissing Brigitte, and then I was sitting on James. Brigitte clicked the lights be off. I wanted to see everything, although I don’t know if light would have helped me to differentiate the myriad of stimulus. It was finally happening, I was finally a swinger’s toy, naked and smiling on a bed next to a beautiful woman and her chosen beast of burden. But what exactly was happening? A smooth poke here, a tantalizing prod there, what belonged to who, who even knew? I wanted to watch my own pornography, but I was unable to, being a set prop, not an acting lead. It wasn’t until Brigitte went down on me that I completely gave in to the situation, pleasure trumping awareness. I was laughing and moaning but I seemed to be the only one making noise. Until James was inside me, completely unexpectedly, and Brigitte squealed, “James! What are you doing?! Are you wearing a condom?” He muttered like a little kid caught in the act and pulled back.

“You know that you can’t do that,” she chastised. “You can’t switch between us! You have to choose one otherwise that smell will happen again.”

That smell?! I shirked toward the pillows like a surprised cat. James muttered an apology, cased the snake, and the three of us began afresh. No questions asked, no questions answered.

 

Of course James “chose” me—I was the guest, after all. Now, I am probably a poor choice in whore, because, as James exclaimed, my regularly inactive girlhood was “thin as a pencil!” His being inside me was akin to holding sparklers directly in front of my face; I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed the bright tickling flames or felt too hot for comfort. I guiltily admit that I have no idea what Brigitte was doing while James humped me. I hope she was pleasuring herself; I worry she felt forgotten. Exactly as the prostitute wrote in her cursory article. Thankfully, her denial didn’t last long. Within minutes James shouted, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I came, she’s so tight, just look at her body, I couldn’t hold it!” A group flush crossed our faces.

At his triumphantly uninhibited outburst we finally laughed together, a giggling group of big kids. Then Brigitte turned to me, shouting “It’s your turn!” Was that how this worked? I wondered. The assumptive sex fairy in me thought that we’d crest together, an ecstatic medieval image replete with nymphs and scarves. Instead, Brigitte bounced off the bed and returned with a dildo. She and James picked me up, moved my shoulders, laid me down. They leaned in like a dentist and his nurse with their tools.

This. Was. It. Everything I hoped for, can you believe this happening, mind-numbing, spine-tingling, I can’t believe this is happening, surrender, and release. Again, I giggled. “Wow,” I sighed. Mere seconds later, James called to his wife, “Your turn!”

 

Ay, ay, captain! Someone handed me the dildo. I realized it was a “rabbit” with one long shaft and two “ears.” I took one look and handed it to James. He would know what to do with it. And then this was actually IT, because as I leaned in to Brigitte, my dessert, I remembered that giving her pleasure was a big reason for my saying “yes” to the couples’ advances. For years I’d wondered if I was a lesbian. Surely someone who fantasized about women as often as me was at least bisexual? In the past I’d had a couple lucky lesbian encounters, mostly resultant of that great instigator, alcohol. One of the reasons I decided to be a couples’ plaything was because it allowed me to catch two birds, or rather a bird and a bloke, with one stone.  

More focused than during my SAT exam, I explored Brigitte’s luscious curves and crevices. I was moved from my reverie when I heard James whispering, “It’s okay baby, just think about how good it feels. You know what to do, just imagine.” I peered up and around the dildo to see James caressing Brigitte’s brow. Her eyes were closed; she seemed very far away. She moaned, and she whimpered, and then she yelled, and then she groaned, and then I sat up like a good boy who’d licked his plate clean, wiping my face in satisfaction.

Sweating, complete, Brigitte and I immediately disengaged on the wide bed, resting luxuriously. After a few moments I felt the bed groan and heard James’ omnipresent voice nearer my ear. Then an octopus tentacle stretched out, grabbed my midriff, and pulled me closer. James was spooning me. At first, I welcomed my position as little spoon. Wasn’t this the best part about sex, laying there ecstatically afterward, marvelling at one another’s capable stench? Then, James began to rub me, like a cat slowly humps a blanket. Kneading, wiggling, purring. He began rubbing faster, and while I couldn’t immediately deduce his tell-tale prick, I didn’t want to wait for it. I’d had more sex in that evening that maybe my entire life. Brigitte laid near us, watching smugly. Exasperated, I finally said, “James, can you stop?” Again mumbling like a naughty child caught in the act, he said, “Sorry… you’re just so sexy!” Brigitte rolled her eyes. The thought crossed my mind: Maybe I was hired so Brigitte didn’t have to cuddle?

With my evident desire for space, the reverie was broken. The curtain snapped closed. I kissed them again, and climbed the stairs to my fortress, a proud Knight returned from victory.

…I was woken from my sleep, that blissfully snuggly dream state that only occurs in mountain lodges, by the soft thud of James’ knee perilously close to mine…

Up to this point, this first morning after our first scandalous night, James, Brigitte and I had willingly manoeuvred around various social boundaries. Thou shalt be monogamous, thou shalt not pay for thine sex, thou shalt not have sex with someone of age midway between thine and thine son, thou shalt not utilize thine’s brother’s condominium for thine sexcapades, thou shalt not seduce thine yoga instructor, thou shalt not seduce thine yoga clients…And yet, when James appeared alone in my bed I felt quite urgently the need to stamp a Scarlett Letter on his hairless white chest. It was one thing to hump when Brigitte was watching alongside, patiently waiting “her turn.” It was completely another to snatch a clandestine cuddle at the crack of a dawn, a time notoriously difficult for his night-owl wife. And what if I acquiesced, offering him a peck? Would he again turn me into a rubbing post? Would he have sex with me, without her? It took little self-reflection to register the feelings of immorality welling up inside me. Every voice in my head screamed that James was doing something WRONG. I ignored him to burrow into my pillow, ensuring a foot of space between his belly and my back. James and I both practically heard my pelvis snap shut. After a few moments, he said something—I didn’t care to listen—and left my bed.

Where does the line lie between leader and accomplice, victim and victimizer, prostitute and pimp, husband and wife? I hoped to wake up that morning triumphantly, ready to welcome a sexually liberated self. Instead, my mind became a feeding ground for introversion and denunciation. I felt protective of Brigitte and loathsome toward James. As the day wore on my patience frayed. I began inducing arguments from him that I knew would render Brigitte and I on the opposing side. While we joyously cavorted through the mountains, enjoyed big egg breakfasts, snatches of hand-holding, and Mustang drives, an underlying lava boiled and popped. As we drove home, James launched into another grand diatribe on how he was working to become a better person, to make the world a better place, and lead a life contrary to societal norms. Brigitte and I settled back into a glossy-eyed meditation. I rubbed her head from the backseat of the car, feeling the tension below her scalp. In front of the fire that evening, she returned the kindness in an intense and loving head massage. James watched from afar, the nerd at the end of the cool kids’ table. He was quiet.

That night I invited the couple to another group romp. Although hardening, my mind and body wanted to experiment more with this new challenge. Of course, I also wanted to orgasm, as any good girl does. I still didn’t know if I was cut out for this job—prostitution, asocial sexual relations, whatever. Unlike the goofy night previous, we moved gracefully into position. I missed the giddy playfulness. It was like pushing “Play” on the video we’d filmed last night. After just two days we had mechanized the process, an old married couple. Except it wasn’t successful. I faked my orgasm. I couldn’t stop thinking: about James in my bed, about how different this was than I imagined it would be, about how I wanted it to be slower, more exploratory. Behind my closed eyes I saw Brigitte’s closed eyes. And I knew the difference between our method and that of a couple who found regular orgasms in vanilla sex. We lacked an intimate shared knowledge. We lacked trust. And we lacked love.

Maybe it was just an issue of relational pacing.  Meaning, how quickly one moves from talk to tongue. On the “fast” end of the sexual encounter pace scale are one-hour stands in the bathroom at the bar. Low commitment, high wow factor. On the “slow” side are long-distance Skype relationships formed after a chance meeting at a friend’s cousin’s wedding. High commitment, no fireworks. Unfortunately, what was happening between Brigitte, James, and I was like placing two points on a single scale. On the one hand we created a “fast” fantasy. We were alone in a mountain lodge, open to deviance, with no one to intervene. On the other hand was this unsurmountable unspoken conversation, the type that comes of years at attempted relationship building. I believed we each experienced the tension differently. I could only guess what kept James’ glancing sideways at Brigitte, Brigitte glancing sideways at James, and the both of them glancing sideways at me. We were a series of Romance-era paintings, all nipples and lips and sideways-looking silence. We spent five straight days together, getting to know each other’s scents, listening to each other piss, touching each other’s darkest regions, and discussing our life’s goals. I was hired sexual yoga goddess, real far on the “fast” end of the scale, but I was acting like an old married hag, “slower” than the sound of ujjayi yogic breathing. Our relationship felt totally warped. At least to me.

I didn’t have sex with James and Brigitte again. They spent the last night in a hotel, which they hinted at having “space for three.” I opted for the sanctity of my parents’ spare bedroom. Brigitte, James and I spent our last day together in the city, embarking with a powerful yoga session on the green sun-drenched grass of one of Denver’s prettiest parks. As we walked to brunch afterward, James received a call from one of his clients. It was something to do with one of his divorce cases. He fell behind us, yelling into the phone for the better half of an hour. Brigitte and I walked side-by-side, slowly widening the space between us and him. Our steps on the concrete reverberated through our bones, to our jaws.

“It’s like this all the time,” Brigitte said. Her words sounded like coins in a tin can. “He works all day, every day. He makes me breakfast in the morning but it’s cold by the time I get up and I never eat it anyway. Then he works late. He tries to bring work home. He used to come in the house at night and keep talking on his cell phone. Until one day I told him he wasn’t allowed to bring his phone in the house. So he started taking calls from the car. He’ll sit in the car for hours, talking so loud I can still hear him the house.” Brigitte was a hairstylist who worked in the mornings and spent the afternoons with her young son, James’ second child and her first. I imagined her listening to clients all morning, her son all afternoon, and James all evening.

“I’m so lonely,” Brigitte exclaimed. “He’s never really there. The only time we’re really together is when we travel, times like this.” A worm in my brain wiggled; if this was their only time together, why weren’t they alone?

“Why did James divorce his first wife?” I asked.

“He couldn’t stop cheating on her,” Brigitte said.

And then I started saying things I shouldn’t have. “I don’t know how you handle him. He’s literally never quiet, never still.”

“I don’t know how I do it either. But, he’s not a turn off, is he?” At this Brigitte stopped walking and turned to face me. For a long moment her eyes hung like half-moons in the sky. Her pink lips were slightly ajar, forgotten in the intensity of her gaze. In that moment, I knew I needed to lie to her.

“Well, no, not really. But I recommend that your next yoga retreat be a silent one.”

End scene, door shut, road block erected. Here I was, her professional yogi, not a friend, not a lover. Sowing wariness between them like a farmer in spring. We walked the rest of the way in silence, listening to James’ voice trail us like strong cologne.

 

Later that day, as a last wishful attempt at relationship building, I introduced Brigitte and James to my family. My peculiar situation made my mom nervous. Moms always know the truth. “The whole thing was a little weird, wasn’t it?” she surmised. The way she spoke was like a vision of a child picking their way across a pebbly beach, looking for clues and avoiding shards.

“They didn’t….you know…like, try anything weird or something, right?” I chortled and then cut my caustic laugh short, worried she’d correctly interpret its edge.

“No, Mom!” I lied, again.

I walked Brigitte and James to the Mustang. There, James and I hugged first. Honestly embracing, my fingers pushing into his back, I felt an odd sensation. It was part hope, part desire, part pity, part relief. “Practice stillness, okay?” I offered my last instruction. I sincerely believed that he loved Brigitte, and that maybe, with time, the love could settle him. As he retreated to the drivers’ seat, Brigitte turned those eyes on me, eyes to dream about. She hugged me tightly, the way a mother or sister does. I whispered in her ear.

“This was an important part of my personal development. It was actually really hard for me. Thank you for helping me to explore myself, and you.” Brigitte stood back from me, holding my biceps in her tan hands.

“And thank you for finally admitting that,” she replied.

Editor’s note: The names in this article have been changed.

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