Ryan St. Germain

Tag Archive: Harper

Fête d’Adieu

I’d slept for just a little over an hour in two days when I got home from New Orleans and Laila’s going away party was just a few hours after my touchdown. I was in a haze as I spoke to the woman next to me on the plane, as I collected my bags, as I climbed in a cab to go back to my apartment.

When I got home, I emptied my suitcase and started a load of laundry, counting the number of munutes before I’d have to leave again. I had just enough time to shut my eyes for half of an hour and laying across my bed in the afternoon sun, I fell asleep fast and hard. I hit snooze twice when my alarm went off and then forced myself out of bed and into the shower, where I found that my hot water heater was out again. The spray of cold water helped wake me up as I shivered and washed away the feeling of airports and travel.

Laila texted me that she was running late for her own party and that she’d meet me at my apartment on the way to Daniels and we could go together from there. We grabbed a cab and caught up on the way, not having seen each other in a week.

Laila had been gone the weekend before and was leaving again the next day on another short trip for a friend’s wedding. We had just that night to see each other before she left town for the weekend and then a couple of days when she got back on Sunday before she left again, possibly for good.

Laila is moving to San Francisco to take classes in coding and she’s had this plan for almost as long as I’ve known her. She might be gone for a few months or she might be gone for good, it all depends on how well things work out for her there. She’ll be staying with another one of her partners while she’s there figuring it all out.

We were the first to arrive at Daniel’s and the three of us set to work in the kitchen chopping and peeling vegetables for dinner. Laila was making a vegetarian shepherds pie, so I chopped beets and sweet potatoes while she sliced cucumbers; all of it happening in the warmth of the kitchen while I moved back and forth between states of lucidity and what felt like dreaming. The sound of the knife on the cutting board, the whirring of fan blades and their soft voices speaking sweetly to one another as summer crept through the open door all made my head swim just a little.

“Aren’t you supposed to be on another continent or something?” Harper asked, being the next to arrive.

“I was in New Orleans and I just got back tonight” I explained and she was gone again.

I found myself alone in the kitchen for a moment, slicing vegetables and thinking that it might be the last time that I saw any of the people who were there. Laila was the common thread and in my sleepless state it felt a bit like that thread was unravelling.

Others arrived, none of whom I’d really met before and all of them were colourful, interesting people. It can certainly be said that Laila’s life is as interesting and vibrant as she is. Everyone gathered in the kitchen to talk as Laila and Daniel made dinner and laid out the things her friends had brought for the pot luck.

The topic of conversation moved from sci-fi to philosophy to porn and in some moments I was too quiet, while in others I spoke too much. In my sleepless state I stepped carelessly on something Daniel was saying while giving my insight on a company that I don’t particularly care for in adult entertainment. I felt at times like I was dreaming and was often speaking before I realized that I was.

It was a good night and as people said their goodbye’s to Laila, I stayed in the kitchen and started to clean up not wanting to be in the way. I rinsed dishes and cleared the table as the conversation continued in the next room. While standing at the sink, I saw Harper coming back into the kitchen in search of another drink and I tuned off the water, listening to the drip slow as she approached.

She picked up the spatula and offered me a taste of the shepherd’s pie, which I hesitated to take, before giving in and taking a bite.

“You have a lot of shame, doesn’t you?” she asked and I laughed.

I couldn’t tell if she really believed it or she was trying to get me to argue to the contrary, but the fact remained that I felt no shame standing there with her.

We went together into the next room, but Laila and Daniel seemed to be deep in conversation, so Harper turned me around and we headed back into the kitchen.

“Let’s let them have their moment” she said.

I passed her and went back to the table to wipe it down and when I turned to go back to the sink, she attempted to get me to stop what I was doing by putting her hands on my chest and pushing me back toward the door. I let her move me at first before I dug in and stopped her. She was tipsy and I didn’t want things to get out of hand, so I was trying not to be too rough. She taunted me once, twice as she pushed against me and then I had her wrists in my hands and was backing her across the room until we hit the washing machine. She fought against me, insisting she could overcome me and then told me she hated that I was stronger than she thought I would be. We were incredibly close and the more she struggled the tighter I held her, pinning both of her wrists in one hand.

“I’m not going to kiss you!” she proclaimed.

“Who said that was even on the table? That’s awfully presumptuous of you” I answered, scolding softly but meaning it.

“I saw the look in your eyes”. she said, though she was doing her best not to let hers meet mine.

Whether I wanted to kiss her or not was irrelevant because we were at Laila’s going away and I was standing in her boyfriend’s kitchen. Being in an open relationship doesn’t mean there aren’t boundaries and I wasn’t going to test them just then, no matter how many of my buttons Harper pushed.

“Let me go please” she said and I did immediately. “Thank you” she quietly but firmly replied.

She eyed me with smiling contempt and I wondered what it was that she was hoping to provoke me into doing or if she even knew at all. It felt like there was a reason, but perhaps in my exhaustion I was looking too hard for one.

“You aren’t switchy at all, are you?” she asked.

“No” I responded and she looked a little disappointed.

Daniel came back into the room then and I used it as an excuse to go find Laila. Standing in the doorway to Laila’s bedroom watching her pack, Harper passed behind me more than once, patting me on the top of the head condescendingly on one pass, so I turned around and did the same to her. Laila shot us a curious look and then the moment was past.

Laila gathered up her things and we were ready to leave, so she went to say goodbye to Daniel and Harper. Harper left them to it, walking toward me in the doorway and while Laila and Daniel were behind her, she smacked me in the face before giving me a hug goodbye.

I laughed, finding it entirely ridiculous that she’d done it and I could see over her should the look of uncertainty on Daniel’s face about what had just happened; he’d heard it but not seen it. The warmth of her hand print on my face and the vague ringing in my ears were bringing me back to the present and while I wouldn’t dream of letting most people get away with something like that, I smiled at Harper and she smiled back. I wrapped my arms around her in goodbye and she felt waifish and ethereal.

I was dreaming on my feet then; I felt wide awake but nothing seemed real. I hugged Daniel goodbye too and Laila and I headed back to my place to spend the night. The next afternoon she was catching a bus to go to a friend’s wedding and the plan was to spend the night and the next morning together before she left. There weren’t many days left for us and I was grateful for the time that remained.

On the cab ride home I sat close to Laila, watching as the car cut quickly through the streets. I looked at houses and street signs and lights as it occurred to me that I’d started the day in an entirely different place, surrounded by different people and living what felt like a vastly different life. The car windows were down and the breeze was in my face as little drops of rain splattered me and I found everything terribly amusing just then. Laila took my hand in hers and I looked at her beautiful smile, happy to know her, happy to have her, happy to be with her.

Daydreaming

It’d been some time since Harper and I had last spoken. I’d asked her to meet me and she’d said she wanted to speak to Laila first just to be certain that it was alright;  for one reason or another enough time had passed since that was supposed to happen that it sort of became awkward that we hadn’t spoken about it again. Saturday night she wrote to me and after apologies on both sides for being remiss, I asked her if she’d like to meet me so we made plans for the following day. She sent me a text early in the morning and we agreed to meet at noon to grab iced coffee and go for a walk together. The walk from the coffee shop to the park gave us time to talk a bit and we fell easily into a rhythm with one another as we looked for a quiet place to sit and continue the conversation.

It was a warm day and we found a place in the shade, laying down in the grass next to one another. I watched bee’s circle flowers nearby as we talked about books, feminism, sex and sci-fi.  Deep green blades poked up next to her pale skin and when she rolled over on to her stomach to look at me, I noticed the shape and style of her glasses and then the pretty eyes behind them. She said the name of an author out loud as she gave me a recommendation on something that I might like to read and I made a mental note of the title The Dispossessed to look up later.

Harper is someone who I find interesting in a number of ways, her intellect and perspective being high on the list of reasons why. Her candor about sexuality and the way she expressed the freedom of choice and communication in polyamory also made an impression on me. The reason that I asked her for book recommendations is because I felt certain that she’d give me suggestions that I was unlikely to have come across on my own and she did not disappoint.

Laila is seeing Daniel, who is seeing Harper. Harper and I talked about moments that we have in common via the people we are seeing, as seen from opposite sides of the same situation. It was nice to be able to have another person to relate to about some of the challenging things that can come along with polyamory and at the same time be able to celebrate with them the better parts of what it’s brought into our lives.

People streamed past us on their way into the park as we asked each other questions while laying languidly in the Sunday afternoon sun. Harper moved down the hill just a bit, chasing the sun as the shadow from the tree behind us grew longer. We turned up toward the sky and I watched as the few clouds that dotted the otherwise clear sky floated by in no real hurry to get anywhere. I looked over at her and I thought to myself that she seemed like she’d slipped out of time; she felt strangely like she was from the past and the future all at once. There is something about her profile that makes me think of the 1920’s, but I can’t seem to put my finger on exactly what it is about her. Her way of thinking though, is anything but old-fashioned.

We left the park in the early afternoon and went out in search of food. Sitting across from each other in a tiny restaurant, we ate empanadas and talked about music. She assured me that her taste in music wasn’t cool, but I knew lyrics to songs from almost every band she mentioned so I’m inclined to disagree with her. She is a bit of a mystery to me despite the things we have in common and I like that she isn’t an easy read. I sat across from her, appreciating her company as the conversation returned to poly relationships and the people that we share in common. The time passed quickly and before I knew it, it was time to go.

When we’d finished I walked with her back to where she’d left her bike and said goodbye there, wandering off into the city by myself in search of something new for my apartment. With an orchid in hand, I headed home, thinking about the conversations that we’d had and looking forward to more of them.

Poly

“This is sort of an unusual situation” Daniel said quietly to me as both of us leaned on either side of the hallway. We smiled at each other and I agreed, but assured him I was ok with it. A few feet away the girls chatted together and I looked at them side by side, both of them beautiful in different ways.

I’ve been seeing Laila and that day I’d helped her move into the apartment of Daniel, who she is also seeing. Daniels’s girlfriend Harper helped us as well, as did her mother. I’d never met Daniel or Harper before, or Thomas for that matter.  Laila also see’s Thomas from time to time and he’s letting her store some things at his place for a little while. It was a moving day for both Harper and Laila and sort of an opportune moment for me to meet all the people Laila is involved with.

Harper’s mom had her assumptions about the relationship between Laila and I, giving me a lot of advice about what ‘we’ needed to do. I saw a little flicker of worry and then relief on Harper’s face as I played along. She doesn’t know of course and it was best to let her think what she wanted because she might have questions about Laila moving in with her daughter’s boyfriend otherwise.

Harper said my name aloud as I came down the stairs,  knowing it without having heard it out loud. Daniel and Thomas did the same; everyone knew who I was already and now I had faces to match the names and stories I’d collected from Laila along the way. There was an almost instant familiarity with each of them, all of us knowing about the others. Laila spent the night before with Daniel, the night before that with me.

When we were finished taking things inside at Thomas’ house, I offered to run to the store across the street and grab some water. Harper said she would come too and then said ‘assuming you don’t mind the company’, which I’d actually been hoping for. We’d chatted in the van, but with the present company it could only go so far and to have a moment alone with her was nice.

“So I understand that you work with some mutual friends? What is it that you do exactly…are you a director?” she asked, not quite sure how much to let on that she knows. Her smile came and went and then was back again.

“Do you mean as in producing content? No, not any more. I used to and I write now, but what I shoot is just for me. I sort of like it better that way.” I said and she smiled at that too. I found out later I’d seen photographs of and read a story by her before, but hadn’t put it into context. I also found out that she’d seen pictures of a mutual friend that I’d taken.

We wandered around the little store together orbiting each other trough the isles. She picked up some snacks and told me about her apartment, which she’d just moved into that morning and had been kind enough to offer the use of her van afterwords to Laila. She picked through snacks, considered ice cream and put it down and then circled back for it before paying. I liked her smile and the way the shape of her glasses framed her pretty eyes.

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