Ryan St. Germain

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Crossroads

“I do miss shooting, but I don’t miss performing” I said when she asked me if I missed producing adult movies.

“But you didn’t know that about me though, did you? That I was a performer as well?” I asked.

She shook her head no briefly, her eyes locked to mine and then she shook her head yes.

“How did you know about that. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, have I?”

“I read about it.” she answered quietly, sitting on my couch with her legs folded under her.

“Where?”

“The Internet” she said being honest but tight lipped.

“You’ve read my blog too?” I asked gently and she nodded that she had.

It was Sunday morning and Pandora had spent the night with me the night before. She’d done the same thing the previous  and we’ve been seeing more and more of each other, finally making the time after not seeing each other for almost a month between our first date and our second. We took things slowly, but Veronica’s assumption that Pandora and I would be a good fit were well founded and I wasn’t ever worried that things weren’t moving fast enough because I felt like everything would happen when it was meant to. It was actually sort of nice to wait for that first kiss and that it didn’t lead instantly into sleeping together. Nothing ever happened just because it’s what you do on a date; everything happened in it’s own time and that was a welcomed departure from the zero to sixty pace of some of my past relationships.

Pandora knows that I work in adult entertainment, but she wasn’t aware of just how involved with it I’d been. I’d been waiting for the right moment for it to come up and I had some concerns that things might not be able to move forward once she knew. She’s a politicians daughter and she’s expressed before that she has to sometimes be conscientious of her actions because of the reflection that it might have on her mother. I knew before we could move forward we would have to have that talk, but the moment hadn’t presented itself until I made the awkward realization that she already knew.

“Do you have any questions?” I asked.

“Should I?”

“Most people do” I said,  having been down this road before.

I’d spent the better part of two weeks thinking that Emily had suddenly been reading my blog increasingly obsessively before putting together that visitor  was reading every night except those when Pandora and I were together. I went back through my analytic’s later that day and realized that while Emily had been back a handful of times, my assumption that it was her all those times was wrong. When I looked at them closer, it was very obviously two separate people reading every day and it was Pandora that was so thoroughly combing the pages and not Emily. I’d brought up something about the flowers that I’d written about here (Amidst The Flowers) and Pandora seemed to know what I was referring to even though we hadn’t discussed it. I decided then to ask, but I waited until the next day to see if the visitor I believed to be Emily would return and rule it out, but the next day a quick check confirmed what I suspected.

“Are you ok with everything?” I asked, wanting to make sure that she really was. She’d spent the night the night twice since she started reading, but it’s been my experience that sleeping with someone in adult entertainment isn’t the same as wanting to be a pornographers girlfriend.

She’d laid her head down in my lap and I ran my fingers gently through her soft black hair as she thought about it and searched for the right words.

“If things were to move forward I wouldn’t want you to resent me…” she said.

“Because you wouldn’t want me to perform any more?” I asked.

“Yes, I don’t want to stop you from doing something you want to do”

“It’s been years since the last time that I was in front of the camera and that’s not in my future.” I said.

This moment is always a conflict for me because I don’t regret my time in front of the camera. I won’t make excuses or ask for forgiveness and I’m not going to be ashamed of it. I know that it isn’t easy for people to swallow and I’ve had it ruin relationships in the past, but it is who I am and there isn’t any changing it. I have no intention of going back to performing, but I won’t sell myself out while trying to reassure someone either.

“Performing isn’t in my future, but are you ok with it being a part of my past?” I asked and she was quiet for what felt like ages before she nodded her head yes with less confidence than I would have liked.

I looked down at her studying her face. She has such a stunning smile, but it was nowhere to be seen as she stared out the window contemplating it all. Her long eyelashes fluttered and her eyes narrowed for a moment while she thought about it.

The morning took a turn that I hadn’t seen coming and it felt like some of the color had bled out of it between the time that we woke and when she headed home. It was early afternoon and I spent a few hours thinking everything over very carefully because I had an ache in my heart over the entire situation.

On one hand it saved me the conversation where I’d have to explain my history in adult and in that it brought some relief because she already knew. On the other hand, I hadn’t given her the access to my life or the links to this blog; she’d done a lot of deep research on her own and found it that way. I suppose I understand the precariousness of having a family in politics and perhaps I should have seen the research coming, but I value my privacy. Having been outed on more than one occasion in the past, having someone dissect my life was unsettling to me.

I also wasn’t sure if she was really going to be ok with it. The last person that I really seriously dated who’d never done any sort of sex work at all was Mina and it wasn’t until we were breaking up that she finally admitted she’d never been ok with it.

I sent her a text message after the sun went down and told her that was I was a bit shaken by the digging she’d done. I told her why and she admitted that she would have been mortified had it been the other way around. Pandora accessed my life, my past relationships and all sorts of details that I would have shared with over time and in the natural course of things, but the way that it came about was very one-sided and I told her how I felt.

“I’m just going to be forward and ask because I have a hard time reading between the lines at times. I hope it’s not the case, but if it is, I can understand: do you wish to no longer to speak to me?” she messaged.  I told her that it wasn’t and she promised not to read again, letting me share what I want when I want.

I still felt disappointed though, because even as foolish as it sounds, I really liked the notion of things just unfolding naturally. We met through a mutual friend, took things slowly, had ‘regular’ dates and lives that didn’t really touch outside of Veronica and the time we spend with one another. There was attraction and chemistry and from the moment that I met her I felt like things made sense with her. There were no other people standing between us and no complications because we lived a million miles apart. She’s adventurous and beautiful and responsible and kind.  We hang out on the couch watching television, laughing, kissing, holding hands, cuddling up together and we are very sexually compatible too. It felt like, for perhaps the first time in my adult life, I was making a good relationship choice for myself. I should take some comfort in the fact that she knows and is (for now) still seeing me, but knowing that she had read the better part of this blog still doesn’t sit well with me.

Pandora knows more about me from my blog than what I’ve told her in person, which is something that those of us in adult entertainment deal with often. She saw me naked on film before she saw me that way in the flesh. She knew that I’d enjoy putting my hand on her throat before I ever did it. She knows that I enjoy bondage and not because I told her so, but thanks to google. This isn’t the typical ‘boy meets girl’ story that I thought I had this time and I have to decide what to do with that.

I realized something else too: I was both relieved and disappointed to know that it wasn’t Emily reading all those times. I was hoping that maybe she was finally close to being able to talk to me and if nothing else I could have some closure with her, but I’ve also been unhappy with the fact that she reads this blog but won’t speak to me. She has one way access to what I’m doing seven months after we split up and I don’t like the feeling of that one bit; it’s tormented me and kept me up some nights, knowing she’d been here, knowing she was lingering like a ghost. She knows that I know too, which makes it even more haunting. It made it harder for me to move on and held me back in my writing. I need to cut that tie if she won’t.

I know that in writing a blog, you are putting yourself our there for people to find. However, like most people in adult entertainment or sex work, I separate my personal life and professional life. I use another name, one that I pulled out of the ether for the purpose of keeping this blog and I changed the names of others along the way as well. I often write in non-linear format and tell stories out-of-order, just to keep some semblance of privacy for myself and those mentioned. There are a handful of people who know me as both Ryan and by my given name, but those are rare exceptions that I like to think that I have some control over or say in. I like to think that I can choose who I let into what parts of my life, but in a digital forum, that’s a misguided notion. I know the few things that connect both sides of my life, the places you can find both names side by side and there is nothing I can do about that. Well, almost nothing…

I am at a crossroads.

Histoire d’Amour

I spent the summer loving openly and honestly, trying for the first time to love and be loved by more than one person at a time. I realized that my relationship with Emily left me jaded about the notion of monogamy and I turned to something else entirely in hopes of not repeating the same mistakes. Polyamory was something I’d toyed with the notion of in the past, but I learned a lot about myself in the process and confirmed a thing or two about myself in pursuit of it this summer.

I have a new appreciation for some aspects of polyamory, but the biggest thing that I learned this summer is that it isn’t for me. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned in this regard, but I would rather hold out for that one person that I’ll be able to spend the rest of my life with and share everything with than to share pieces of myself with different people. I’m grateful for the time I spent with Laila and Aurora and I see the ways in which polyamory suits them, but I could see the outlying boundaries of our relationships and I wanted more than what was possible with them non-monogamously and from a distance. The moment of confirmation of this for me, was the day my grandmother had a heart attack and I had to leave for the weekend unexpectedly to go see her I couldn’t get ahold of either of them; they were both on dates with new people, which there was nothing wrong with, but I could never get the notion out of my head after that either of them was more than a friend that I happened to sleep with when we are in the same city at the same time.

The conversation in the car made me realize I’m not looking for friends with benefits either. I want something real, something lasting, something in the here and now that I can look forward to growing as it unfolds. I don’t know how to love part-time. I don’t know how to love in pockets or corners or between the lines. I almost envy those that can, but it isn’t me and it won’t ever be. I know myself, perhaps now better than ever, having tried something that I’d always wondered about and confirming what I knew to be true about myself. I can say with confidence that an open relationship isn’t what I want. I want one love; big and bold and occasionally messy, but above all, true.

Friends…

She pulled over to let me out in front of my apartment and the conversation came to a head. We’d been talking about the notion of ‘friends with benefits’ abstractly at first, discussing how it’d been a while since she’d slept with anyone.

“I’ve done it two, three times in the past” she told me as we crawled along the highway in traffic.

“Would you now?” I asked.

“I don’t know. My ex keeps telling me that he would be more than happy to take care of me and I’m not going to lie, it was the best sex I ever had. The problem is, there are too many complications and too much history for it to be just that. We’ve been down that road and it takes so much to just keep the friendship when we do.”

“But if you have a friend with no romantic history, could you do it then?” I asked, feeling like I was inching close to something dangerous.

“I don’t know if I could….I think I’d want something more”

She stopped the car in front of my building on the opposite side of the street and I opened my door into traffic just as the light turned, forced an abrupt goodbye. I cut through the cars before they had a chance to move and when I turned around, she was gone.

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

Vingettes

“My favorite spot as a teenager was the video store. I would spend hours in there,” she said. “I took home the cardboard cutout from ‘Mobsters’ because I had a huge crush on Christian Slater”.

“Who didn’t” I answered.

“When I was a teenager I spent pretty much every cent of the minimum wage I earned washing dishes and as a prep cook at the dollar cinema across the street from where I lived. I was there all the time and they would give me the old movie posters when the movies weren’t playing any more.” I told her.

I thought of the shiny movie posters peeling away from the tape on the walls of my room at my dad’s place when I was a teenager. I remember looking up at the curling edges of ‘Cinema Paradiso’ at night, having missed it when it played and wondering what it was about. Years later I would see it and the montage of movie kisses cut that were cut by the priest all strung together at the end would land on me like a heavy stone in shallow water.

Receiving the laminated movie rental card that I used to rent horror films and foreign movies was a right of passage and the three-for-one rentals during the week ensured that I was exposed to as much of the world as was humanly possible during the summer months in the tiny Michigan town that I was living in.

In my head I pictured her in that tiny video store wandering in the next aisle as I distractedly tried to pick out a movie and I felt like we would have gravitated toward each then too.

“I guess it’s pretty safe to say that had I crossed paths with you as a teenager I would have been as into you then as I am now” I said and she blushed.

Seasons

The days are getting shorter now and the nights longer. It’s dark when I get up for work in the morning and there’s hardly a trace of the sun left in the sky when I get home. It’s getting too cold for the jacket that I wear, but I’m not ready to give it up because I love it and it fits me like a glove. The wind comes along and I turn in on myself and I like the struggle against the cold.

I said goodbye this week to Laila, who is on adventures of her own on the west coast. I said goodbye to Aurora too. The seasons have changed and summer is gone and with it the days of loving from a distance. It felt heavy to let them go, but it was the right thing to do for them and for myself. I know who I am and it’s not someone who can love part time from afar. I know who they are too and I’ve no expectation of flowers blooming out of season.

Veronica and I went on a little road trip today, leaving work early together. We drove far outside of the city talking about sex and love and how removed the golden fields that we passed felt from the part of the city we live in. I snapped pictures of pink leaves against grey skies and I had no doubt that summer was over. I hugged her goodbye before I slid out of her car and into the rain. Cars were lined up, stopped in traffic at the corner near my apartment and I looked at our her though my own reflection in the glass for half a moment after the door closed between us. I crossed the street behind her and her car hadn’t moved when I looked back over my shoulder.

I took the elevator up the handful of floors and glanced out of the window just outside of it when the doors opened. The sky was dark, the sun having gone, but stretched out below me lights flickered and glowed for as far as I could see. Autumn isn’t a day on a calendar to me, it’s a feeling like the one that I had today. It’s rain against the windows, leaves falling from the trees and the appreciation for the light of day when you realize it doesn’t linger for nearly as long any more. Seasons change and summer is over, but I always knew that it wouldn’t last forever.

Abundant Love

The five off us sat in the dimly lit bar, the walls  of which were lined with rows and rows of books. Mila carefully folded the sweater that Madison gave her to wear so that she didn’t get it dirty, exposing her tanned, tattooed shoulders. The shirt she wore underneath it was bright yellow and more fit for the California sun than it was for autumn in eastern Europe. She wore knee high socks and tiny black shorts, showing off tattoos which all seemed to have a story behind them. She speaks slowly and carefully at times and I found myself hanging on her words because her insights and comments were clever.

Mila is a beautiful girl and I get the feeling that she’s looked at constantly but listened to less intently, so she fucks with people a little bit just to see who is paying attention and thus who is worth paying attention to. She made strange statements and weird references about puppets in shop windows and dystopian movie-esque strategies for finding the friend we were looking for. There was a darkness to her humor that borders on sardonic and every comment she quietly made drew me in a little more.

We’d met her in the hotel lobby to get a cab and when Mila joined our group I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I’d seen her around for the past few days, but I wasn’t exactly sure who she was or what she did. We all climbed into a van together with seats facing each other and I sat opposite Mila, watching the streets from my backward facing position and listening to the comments she made as the old city slipped away. The driver dropped us in a spot where we were supposed to meet a friend, but in finding ourselves under a bridge rather than on top of it, we had to find him before we could cross it. Standing on the cobblestone near the bridge is where I really saw Mila for the first time.

The four of us found our way on to the bridge and found Sam under one of the arches that soared above it. Together we walked the length of it, crossing over the river looking at the old city as we weaved through tourists, getting to know each other with questions along the way. We stopped for a picture beneath one of the bridges arches and the sun fell slowly from the sky, burning the clouds a bright pink as the day slipped away. I looked up at the arches that towered over head and when I brought my eyes back down to the bridge, she was looking at me, turning away when my eyes met hers.

 We stumbled across the book-lined bar while looking for a place to eat and stopped inside. Sliding into a booth, I ordered a Makers Mark Manhattan on the rocks and Mila ordered Becherovka, letting me have a taste of it after describing it to me. It had a hint of anise to it, which is a flavor I very much enjoy but rarely share in common with others so it was another reason to appreciate Mila.

 Mila is polyamorous and has a partner that she is very much in love with on the west coast. She’d spent the day with an industry friend and I’d spotted them holding hands on more than one occasion as we walked through the old city, but it felt less like there were boundaries in conversation and flirtation and more like we were all having interconnected moments.

I was getting to see Madison outside of work in a way that I really enjoyed: I appreciated her friendship already and in a lot of ways she reminds me of my little sister. Brian and I talked about the people that we both knew in common in the industry and I talkedto Mila about movies, rattling off ones we thought each other should see. I listened as Sam talked about being excited to go home to his wife and kids after so many days away from them and liked the bashful smile that crept onto his face when he said that he couldn’t wait to be home with them.

We said goodbye to Sam and the four of us that remained hiked up the hill looking for the old castle, getting lost along the way because we were more interested in the conversations we were in than in sightseeing. Madison and Brian talked ahead of us, Mila and I  trailed behind just a bit.

We talked about polyamory and how it worked for her. She hadn’t asked yet what my situation was, but she openly shared that she and her partner were very much in love and that one day she wanted to have kids with him. She told me that it wasn’t always easy to navigate the complications of seeing other people and she admitted that she sometimes tested his patience a bit.

“He puts up with a lot from me” she said, sounding grateful that he did.

“You don’t want to have kids, I take it?” she asked, turning the question toward me.

“I do, with the right person who also” I said, admitting it out loud a little shyly. “Do you?”.

“I don’t want kids just for the sake of having them, I want them because I’m with a partner that is so special/great that I want another of them in the world” she answered. She spoke about life, love and relationships with such candor and related to one another so instantly that I found myself wanting to take her hand in mine as we walked and talked.

“So there isn’t anyone that you are seeing?” she asked, sounding a little surprised and maybe a little sad at the thought of it as we stopped on the side of the hill, looking out at the lights and an abandoned Starbucks that looked out of place and out of time.

“There are two people actually” I answered and I thought then of both Aurora and Laila. Mila’s lips turned up at the corners in a smile and we were quiet for a moment.

We talked about the cold north where I live and she smiled when I told her what February was like here.

“I want to come to visit in the dead of winter” she said, and I could picture the snow swirling around her when she did. I could imagine the winter wind catching her long dark hair, making it dance as it collected flakes of snow. I could imagine the cold all around us and the color it would bring to her cheeks. The look in her eyes made me feel like she was imagining those things too.

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