Ryan St. Germain

Tag Archive: New Orleans

Amidst the Flowers

 That night the flowers bloomed.

The landlord told me they were called ‘night blooming ceres’ (Queen of the Night) and he’d been waiting patiently for the night to come in which they would open. They grew in the courtyard behind my apartment on Esplanade and opened in the early days of October; true to their name, they were there one brief moment and gone the next day. I can vividly recall the way that they smell and the way the petals felt when I held one flower delicately in my hand.

I was out that evening with friends and I’d gravitated toward Vee, who I always had a bit of a crush on (and felt she was out of my league). She was in the same band I was in and one of the reasons I stayed with it so long, looking forward to the month of October when I would see her often. She made me feel like the mistakes I’d made in life were the most interesting thing about me and I sort of loved her for it. Our friendship was strange, mixed with brutal honesty and warmth: she devastated me with her smile which she was just as likely to be wearing when she gave me a compliment as when she told me to go to hell. She could speak the truth and convince me that it wouldn’t kill me to hear it, giving me advice that was hard to swallow with just enough sugar in it to help it go down. To this day there are things that happen in my life that make me want to know what Vee would have said about them. Truth be told, I could use some of her advice right now.

My landlord called that evening and told me the flowers had opened and I wish I would have asked her to come see them with me. I came so close, telling her where I was going and why when I left the bar. I hesitated though, because I thought it might be silly or cliché to ask her to leave our friends and walk the fifteen or so blocks with me to my place at midnight just to look at the flowers, no matter how remarkable they might be.

I missed out on something that night and I could feel it when we talked later. We both started seeing people shortly afterwards, but that sheepish tinge of bittersweet that you can see on peoples faces was on both of ours when we crossed paths and that seemed to me that what we missed that night in the garden might have been more than just the flowers.

She passed away a few short years later, taken swiftly and quietly by cancer. To this day, I can’t think of ‘night blooming ceres’ without picturing her. Like this rare and beautiful flower she owned the night that she lived in and was gone all too soon. Fittingly, on her shoulder Vee had a tattoo of a fleur of her own and the word ‘tojour’, which is just how long I’ll miss her for.

Night Blooming Ceres

Expectation

“Inside I still feel like the 23 year old that wanted to be your fuck toy” she said, her eyes a little wild and a little lost.

We have a long often tumultuous history, Aurora and I. We’ve spent as much time being enemies as we have being friends and only in the last few years have we been able to stand to be in each others presence.

Six or seven years ago, we had a very strong attraction and Aurora first presented the idea to her boyfriend at the time that she wanted their relationship to be open and more specifically, that she had an interest in me. Admittedly at the time I wasn’t sure how I felt about polyamory and the situation imploded spectacularly when (I learned much later on) her boyfriend gave his permission to her and then told me something entirely different. I felt betrayed and misled by Aurora, particularly because her boyfriend was a friend. He gave me the impression that she’d been dishonest and I was furious with her about it. She got the impression that I’d just played a game to see if I could get her to do it and she hated me too.

New Orleans is a small place and when you have the same circle of friends, it can feel even smaller. There was a palpable tension in the air after that and we couldn’t stand to be around each other. We were all in a band together and I stopped going to performances when I knew she’d be there. When we were forced to be in the same room, the animosity was undeniable and one or the other of us would find a reason to leave as soon as possible.

A few years ago while I was visiting New Orleans, we ran into each other and agreed to meet and talk. It was then that we discovered that we might both have been mislead by the same person and that we’d wasted years loathing each other. Even then, we were both a little reluctant to believe it and we harbored some distrust that would take us until recently to let go of. There was a sense of danger in talking to her that meant we kept a respectable distance while we decided if we really could trust one another again. I didn’t always mention to her that I was coming to town on some of my previous trips to New Orleans and I only told her last-minute that I’d be there this trip, feeling that maybe it was time to really put the past behind us.

She messaged me on Facebook days before my trip and we added each other as friends there, eventually trading phone numbers so we could text instead. She offered me a lift from the airport, but I declined, not sure I was be ready to see her and wanting to get acclimated to being back in New Orleans for at least a few days before I did. It wasn’t until the day before I supposed to leave that we finally made plans to see one another and even then I wasn’t sure entirely what to expect.

We agreed to meet for lunch at a Mediterranean place on Frenchman street and I took something of a farewell walk through the French Quarter on my way to see her. It was hot outside, even with the overcast skies, and I could smell the rain looming somewhere in the distance. I hadn’t seen her in almost two years when I spotted her through the window, standing close to the door. Her hair was shorter than when I’d seen her last and it has vibrant pink streaks in it now. Being face to face to her the familiar feeling of danger crept up on me but it was accompanied by fascination, which I hadn’t let myself feel for her in years.

She was wearing a shirt that hung long enough to nearly eclipse her tiny shorts and cowboy boots that seemed a colourful contrast to her pink hair.  Aurora is a curious mixture of brash and vulnerable; she rarely holds back when speaking to me, even if she makes herself blush with the things that come out of her mouth. She often looks at me with equal parts want and contempt and I enjoy it. The look on her face when she saw me seemed determined, though I was unsure what of just then.

We took a seat at a far table and quickly found the playful tone of conversation that we’d shared in the past. There was a hint of trepidation behind it all, but also a feeling like things had changed, become unstuck and could move forward. We were deciding to trust each other as we sat there, even if it hadn’t yet proven wise to do so. Looking across the table at one another, the tension between us felt like it’d switched from push to pull. We flirted a bit and then she rolled her eyes at me as if she didn’t yet believe that I meant it.

“This is going to be like all those other times when you get me turned on and then don’t do anything, isn’t it?”  she said, and I laughed, because we do have a long history of tension without payoff. All the buildup we had years ago was destroyed by a misunderstanding and though that was a long time ago, I didn’t feel her question was unfair.

“Want a lift to the airport?” she offered and I accepted. We agreed to meet at the friend’s apartment that I was staying at, because I needed to pack up and say goodbye to them before leaving. The we parted, we hugged goodbye and I had a feeling that she had something planned for the ride there.

She picked me up in her SUV and announced that we had a bit of time to kill, asking me where to go. I knew she already had a plan so I put the decision on her and we headed to her apartment. There really wasn’t much extra time before my flight, but I agreed to it, wanting to see how things would play out.

We pulled up in front of her apartment and sat inside the car for a moment when she told me we didn’t have time for games today and invited me inside. She was forward and also uncertain and I hadn’t decided myself just then how far I was willing to let things go.

She seemed nervous and a bit out of sorts as she led me inside, apologizing for the mess. She kicked off her boots and walked across the floor in mismatched socks, her shirt nearly hiding her tiny shorts and giving the impression that she’d already started to undress. She stopped in the middle of the room and faced me; I put my arms around her and all those times we almost kissed but didn’t were behind us.

(more…)

Bon Vivant

We sat together on the deep leather couch in the middle of the dimly lit room, only having met a couple of hours before. In front of us a woman with dark flawless skin and long hair straddled the wooden pony; her wrists were tied to the front of it and the tail that plugged her trailed out behind her. The man she was with touched her gently before starting to spank her and I alternated between watching them and watching Veda’s reaction to what was happening.

Ian was convinced that Veda was my type and suggested that we go to see her at the strip club she was dancing at before we headed to Kinky Salon. In the upstairs VIP bar, Veda joined us for a drink and as is tradition with Ian when I visit New Orleans, he paid for a lap dance. Veda led me to the back and danced for a handful of forgettable strip club songs but what kept catching my attention was the collar with the lock on the front of it that she wore and I found myself wondering as she danced if there was any merit to it. The timer counted down and when the last song ended she stood and faced me. 

“Thank you for being a willing participant in that lap dance!”.

“I like your collar” I responded.

Veda is clever and I have a feeling she takes a good deal of pleasure in seeing how much sarcasm she can pass off as sincerity. She has a beautiful smile that probably blinds most to the wild that hides behind it and I’d be willing to bet she leaves a lot of people feeling conflicted and confused by the way that she speaks to them.

 After the dance, we told her we were going to a play party at Kinky Salon and she immediately expressed interest in coming with us. Ian paid the fee so she could leave the club early and we met her at a dive bar around the corner so she wouldn’t be seen leaving with us. I saw her through the doorway in street clothes looking like a very different person than the one that I’d met and I liked the contrast.

We took a cab to her place so she could get changed into something appropriate for the event and she asked opinions about what she should wear. When we got to her place Ian and I stood outside in the humid night air waiting for her to change and when she came back, she was wearing the tight red dress and black heels that I’d voted for. She climbed into the back of the cab next to me and we were on our way. 

I’d been to Kinky Salon before, the organizer being a friend who always extends an invitation. When he found out that I would be in town for this event, it didn’t take much to convince me that Ian and I should at least stop by. Veda wanting to come along seemed in keeping of the experiences I’ve had of them in the past and I was happy to have her with us. We arrived just before midnight and were given a tour of the venue.

We grabbed a drink and went back to the room that Veda and I both seemed interested in, Ian having gone out to smoke before joining us on the leather couch watching the spanking over the wooden pony. Behind us a woman moaned and the three of us turned to see what was happening. She was tied down to a bench with her legs spread, wearing nothing only rope, with a vibrator being pressed between her legs by her partner.

Veda raised her eyebrows and said that she’d come hoping to feel something. She said she felt nothing at all lately and she wanted something that would make her feel alive, but the only thing that she felt watching people was envy that nothing excited her the way those moments excited them.

 I listened to her tell me about the things she’d been doing that had made her feel nothing and a song came to mind as she spoke, the lyrics “watching me is like watching the fire take your eyes from you” running though my head as I watched her lips form the word ‘nothing’.

Her knees were turned toward mine and her hands were clenched in her lap as she watched the spanking happening in front of her. We’d only just met, but I got the impression that it isn’t that she doesn’t feel, it’s that she doesn’t feel in moderation. There is something about her that is very all or nothing and I watched the walls inside of her climb as we sat there in the dark.

“What does make you feel alive?” I asked her, but it was too late, they were already up.

“Being choked to within an inch of my life. Sex, while it’s happening.” she said, without the slightest hint of enthusiasm.

 The scene in front of us came to an end and we wandered through the halls, peeking into rooms as we passed. In one of them there were people playing with electricity and that caught Veda’s eye so we stopped to watch for a moment. A man kissed a woman and I could see little sparks in the dark as their lips touched, the current passing through him to her.

Nearby were three rooms with sheer curtains and we peeked into each of them on our way down the hall. The people inside of them were tangled together and some of them looked back at us, giving me the impression for an instant of not knowing who was the watcher and who was the watched.

When we left the party, Ian caught a cab home and Veda and I made plans to go elsewhere.

“Make sure you look after her” Ian said before we parted.

I’ll look after him Veda chimed in response.

(more…)

NOLA Moments

I wasn’t sure she’d seen me waving hello as she passed behind me, so I turned to put my drink down on the bar and felt her arms slip around me from behind. I turned to face her and wrapped my arms around her too, both of us squeezing tight.

Cécile and I have known each other for years and have spent time together in both Amsterdam and New Orleans. She’s very direct the way that the Dutch are sometimes known to be, often changing subjects without segue, but she’s always warm and always sincere. I think sometimes people don’t know quite how to take her, but I adore her for the reasons others find her hard to figure out.

“It’s so good to see you!” she said, broad smile on her beaming face.

She ran her hand along the shaved sides of my head and I loved the feel of her fingers as they traced the scars there that I forget about until my hair is short enough to see them. She took my face in her hands and smiled at me, studying my face.

“You’re really beautiful” she said and kissed me on the cheek before nodding in the direction of the man she’d come into the bar with. “That’s the boy”.

I’d seen him in pictures from their trips together, but hadn’t met him before. She’d taken him home to Holland and to visit family in France, which I knew meant she was serious about him. I liked seeing her so happy.

We talked for a little while about their trip, including the fact that she’d thought of me when walking past the place in the Red Light District where I’d lived for a little while. She ran her fingers along the side of my head while talking and the ease and familiarity of her company and her touch fed into my feeling that in coming back to visit New Orleans, I’d come home.

“The last time I saw you, you had a lot of sadness in your eyes. I don’t see it there now. That’s good” she said and her smile made me smile. She hugged me again and then went to sit back down with her boyfriend.

They left just a little while later, but she stopped to see me on the way out the door. She wrapped her arms around me tightly when we hugged and kissed the side of my head as we made plans to see each other the following night.

“You’re beautiful” she said again, her eyes bright and warm, her fingers reaching out to touch my face as she walked backwards toward the door before turning to disappear down the steps and out into the humid night.

A familiar song came on the jukebox and I looked up to see the bartender smiling at me. She’d put it on, knowing that I’d sing along with it and we mouthed the words to each other from across the wood and copper bar. I ran my fingers along the same places Cécile had, feeling the scars under my fingertips and enjoying the unevenness of the three small places where I’d been cut and stitched years ago. 

“Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you”

– The Cure

scars

Good Girl

I spotted her coming down the escalator as I approached the bottom of it. I recognized her legs, her posture, even the dress she was wearing and I knew it was her before I even saw her face. She looked up at me and smiled, recognizing me too. This was the first time that we met, though we’d spent a few months getting to know each other by way of the internet after crossing paths online thanks to a mutual friend. It seemed a little crazy that she should travel over a thousand miles to visit me but at the same time it made perfect sense. We knew before ever touching that when we did it would be addictive and that meeting was a dangerous idea, but we did it anyway.

She came down the last steps dragging her suitcase behind her and we wrapped our arms around each other. She rested her head on my shoulder and we held each other tight. We’d been waiting for this moment for a few weeks, suffering because of the way time dragged on in the last few days leading up to it. She trembled in my arms or maybe it was me that was shaking. I took her suitcase and as we walked away she clutched my arm so tightly and pulled us close together. I looked at her, taking in every little detail as we exited the airport on the way to my apartment.

Emily is exactly what I’ve always imagined when using the word ‘lithe’. Her delicate collar bones peeked out from under a pale pink shirt and the smooth skin of slender arms led down to hands that felt needed to be held. I’d seen her shapely legs in pictures and I loved them even more seeing them in person. Her eyes swirl with blue and green and grey and even flecks of gold; her lashes are delicate and her eyebrows add a hint of seriousness to an otherwise soft, sweet face. Her hair was swept back out of her face and it fell over one shoulder; it’s a cool brown blond, with hints of honey and sunflower. Her bottom lip is slightly fuller than the top and when she smiles, it kills me.

We dropped her things of at my apartment and while walking through the French Quarter together, she reached out and ran her fingers through leaves that poured through a wrought iron fence . She did it again in the park, touching the flowers and leaves as we passed through Jackson Square. She beamed at the crepe myrtles and marvelled at the way the branches of the old oak trees crookedly plunged and rose, touching one of them as we passed beneath. I can’t see those trees or flowers without thinking of the way she ran her fingers over them.

When we returned to the apartment I followed her throughout the long hallway, watching the way she moves, studying her gait, appreciating everything about her. Light poured in through the courtyard, through the windows and on to the brick and plaster of the old walls. We climbed the stairs to my second floor apartment and as her dress moved, I slide a hand beneath the flowing fabric. She laughed a little in disbelief, but she slowed her pace and met my eyes for an instant in the reflection in the mirror that stood against the wall at the top of the steps. Her hips moved ever so slightly as my hand continued on.

We spent three days together when she visited me the first time and it wasn’t enough.

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