europe, travel log

the Everything That’s Ever Turned You On List

on the café table there’s an apple, a cup of lapsang souchong smelling of bonfires and the queen of wands. the perfect cocktail for simmering arousal.

my cheeks feel warm, the soft skin of my stomach tingles. i am sitting with every single lover i’ve ever had or wished i did, scribbling away. filled to the brim with quiet fire.

when gorgeous meg told me about the list, i didn’t get it. “write the qualities of your perfect lover?”. it sounded like idly wishing for something that wasn’t there, feeding daydreams. like a horny 13-year-old’s craving, before you learn that the greatest thing about love is that it comes in marvelous, unthinkable flavors.

“the way it works is : you identify and name qualities, behaviours… then instead of hunting for them in someone else, you cultivate them in yourself.”

that caught my attention.

“you start by writing down everything anybody’s ever done that’s turned you on.”

oh, mama. caught again.

it started like a shower of sparks. one memory would suddenly flare up, then the next. a trail of butterflies in my stomach that had me giggling.

patterns then emerged from these isolated moments, traits that would come back time and again, gaining sharper definition as time went by.

as i sifted through these moments i watched my needs change. from the people who wanted me instantly to others, who can bide their time. from the one i could talk to, to the one with whom i can share silence. i wrote “closeness to nature” and suddenly remembered a boy in chile, who first made me notice that i touch every single plant i come across.

there was : the light touch of fingers on my wrist. a slow, hour-long foot massage. though sensual delight made an appearance, it was scant compared to the details revealing a certain temperament, a vision, a set of values. a playful mind, a gentle heart. a respect for boundaries. speaking uncomfortable truths, that need to be spoken. the list included friends and unlikely faces i did not expect to add there.

when i was done, i had an ébauche, a recipe for the best version of me i could imagine. me in my days of radiance. i fell in love with myself a little more.

the greatest impact was yet to come : i skimmed back through my words, looking for patterns. i was in for a surprise.

years ago, i’d climbed the creaky staircase of a dark, dank parisian library, and came to a doorway.

a hand had painted on the lintel :

“Be not inhospitable to strangers
Lest they be angels in disguise”.

the message had hit me like a sledgehammer. i’d spent the rest of the day in a daze.

the imprint of that sentence was laid out in front of my eyes : that time a love of mine left his shoes to a sleeping beggar, and walked home barefoot, mine de rien. that other man who got lost for hours on any simple errand, happily making lifelong friends along the way. people’s attitude to strangers was a key player in my list. i had no idea that this was so important to me – maybe because my default role in people’s lives is often “the stranger”, the traveler, the new face. it made me think of a card on the postsecret website that read, in a similar vein : “i judge you by how you interact with my mentally retarded brother”.

the last one, added like an after thought, was : “knows their medicine.” to know what you need, what you want, and how to get it. i blew a kiss goodbye to my past self, who had no idea of what she wanted in a lover. i felt a page turn.

that night, i dreamed of giving painless birth to miraculous twins, that glowed like the sunrise.


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