The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#1 : The Finale

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After the break up, we didn’t see or hear each other for 6 months.

I purely and simply disappeared on her on January 1st, 2014.

We had cheered to the New Year together.

I spent the first day of the year in bed in a fairly poor state. I got up in the evening and put all her belongings/gifts/memories in a big box which I donated to the street.

The day after, I organised an escape to New York for two months. I wish I hadn’t come back from this trip.

In June, I wrote her a letter to tell her what I had been up to all this time.

I was loving her, still. She was regularly visiting me in my dreams.

I found out much later that we randomly happened to be at the same place, at the same time, on the day of our 4th meeting anniversary. We had already been off touch for weeks, when I bumped into her best friend at a tube station where I never go. Months later I was told that she was there too, waiting at another exit.

She wrote me back.

We met on a Saturday, the first day of Summer. She picked me up at the tube station of her new neighbourhood. I had no clue where she had moved.

At the top of an endless escalator, there she was, exactly as I had left her.

We spoke for 12 hours that day. And we spoke for 12 hours the following Saturday.

We were respectively more ourselves without each other, but also left with an unexplainable void that wouldn’t go away.

All our pores were sweating the chemical remnants of how much we had adored each other, long before love had turned into violence.

My sister summarised it well: “Il y a de l’amour dans le gaz”. (Untranslatable).

We tried to be friends for 4 weeks. Saturday to Saturday.

Many things happened, it was all exhaustingly bouncing, as if we were dancing an endless tango.

I saw her for the last time on the 19th of July, one week after my birthday. The day after I was told that my brother almost died. I was pale and spaced out.

Late at night, she dragged me to a bar with live music. I was somewhere else, battling the multiple waves of shock that had been assailing me for months.

We smoked and drank.

I told her: “I love you, still. We won’t be together again, right?” I love making questions when I know the answer. Mantra for miracles.

She didn’t say yes or no, as usual. Just maintaining me in that sentimental fog.

Most ironic is that I am the one who left.

We stayed till 4 or 5 in the morning before looking for a way to reach our respective home. I needed to collapse under the eyes of no one.

She wanted to walk me to my bus. I just wanted her to get the fuck away. I begged her to get into a cab, which she finally did.

When she slammed the door of the car, a feeling of relief triggered in my brain.

Dawn was breaking and I burst into tears on the street.

I instinctively knew it was the last time I would ever see her.

That’s the last time I ever saw her.

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The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#2 : The Particles

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We lived at #5 Waldo House for 26 months. That’s 793 nights, because 2012 was a leap year.

#5 Waldo House was the cement between us. We had a very domestic relationship, maybe because the outside world was kinda hostile. Our families were not exactly supportive, so we were like two little birdies in their nest. We never managed to be a “social” couple, to build bridges with the external world like any sensible adults do after some time.

We lived on our own island. London NW10.

So much importance we granted to this flat. We were in fusion with each other and our fusion was in fusion with our home. So yeah, that was a lot of fusion.

After a while, we were speaking our own language, the “Freeklish” (for French/Greek/English), with our own vocabulary, idioms and declinations. People not familiar with us would miss out when we were talking to each other.

We loved our daily life. It has never been boring, or routinely, or mechanical. Not one day. We did everything in excess, laughing, fighting, fucking and being dumb.

When we decided to dynamite our couple, we carried on our day to day habits in the exact same manner, and even more intensely, knowing that the countdown had started.

Till the last days, we were like: “We love living together so much!” So fucking stupid. Such a fucking disaster.

Anyway, it had to be done.

It all happened quickly at the end. I could barely realise what it really meant. Packing boxes. Splitting the things we got together. Nothing too original I presume. You’ll tell me that everyone has been or will be there at some point. And it is true. I am not putting my drama above anyone else’s.

On the day, the 21 September 2013, I didn’t even have a moment to say good bye to the house. I was already carried away in the uncertainty of the next chapter.

Weird thing is, at that precise moment, I was barely sad. I was focusing on the field of anticipated excitement ahead.

We wanted to leave something from our months of happiness between those walls, so we threw at the top of the boiler the cap of the bottle of champagne that we drank for our 2 years together. It has an inscription on it: ” ∆ + Σ – 26/02/2012″.

Maybe it is still there?

I wonder what is left of us at #5 Waldo House. The walls must be absorbing the arguments and laughter of another couple, and so goes life.

I can’t help thinking sometimes – not too often – about all the particles of us left in the atmosphere, in the walls, in the ugly beige curtains that kept falling off, in the carpet. They have all witnessed so much love and drama.

Do you think that some physical particles may really still remain?

Particles of the bad words, the awful moments, and of the I-love-yous in every languages we knew, particles of all the orgasms we exchanged.

During the 4 weeks that we failed to become friends, months later, we went to see #5 Waldo House again one evening. Just to kill our ghosts together. We were curious to catch the sight of who was occupying our kingdom now. We hanged out outside the building for a little while, tried to stare through the window.

The lampshade had changed. That was a good thing. That’s the only clue we ever got.

The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#3 : The Bathtub

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That’s in the bathtub that we lost the battle.

It was in the spring of 2012, May or June.

We were soaking in hot waters. A couple of girls and a couple of candles.

It was supposed to be an enjoyable moment. But she brought up the sword-of-Damocles subject that I knew was hanging above my head since the first day of our common life.

Her parents wanted to come and visit in the fall, and it would therefore be very welcome if I was so very kind to plan myself a little 2-week holiday to evacuate the premises of my own home.

(The parents were told I was a boy).

We finally had hit the wall. We had gracefully managed to work our story around it for already 2 years. The state of grace was over.

I can’t remember any of my words. I can’t even remember what I thought.

I only remember diving underneath the water and not wanting to come back to the surface cause we’d have to finish this conversation.

But I soon got out of breath and emerged to articulate something like of course, I understand, I want you to have quality time with your parents, I am just a fucking dyke they don’t deserve to witness this, and you are a dyke too by the way, but yes that’s hard to admit, yes, only fair, yes, old generation, yes yes, let me just take a map of the world and put my finger on a random country and I’ll book tickets and it will be as if I had never existed.

Where is the line between compromise and self-bashing? When do we know what’s acceptable and what’s excruciating?  Should I have grabbed her hair and maintain her head under the water for a minute or two so she knew how I was feeling? Should I have walked out of the bathtub without even rinsing the foam off my body to pack my things and never come back?

It would have exploded if I had said no, so I said yes and it exploded anyway. Only difference is that we agonised for a year.

I’ve paid for my lack of courage. But I’ve never found what I could have done or said that day to prevent the explosion. It wasn’t in my power anyway. This was never my story.

On the map, my finger had landed on Iceland, so off I went alone to Reykjavik, which has since then become my spiritual retreat.

The purity of the Icelandic air burnt my lungs the first time I ever breathed it. I wandered Iceland alone under these disturbing circumstances. One day, I sat on a bench near the duck lake in the town centre. I wanted to enjoy the last rays of sun. I started thinking of what was happening in my London home at this instant.

I thought of the naked walls from which all my pictures and personal traces had been washed away – too feminine, too queer, too me. I thought of my clothes and shoes stuffed in bin bags and hidden behind a trapdoor above the same bathtub where it had all begun. I cried on all the ducks of Reykjavik that day, and she was calling me to help her cook a béchamel for her parents over the phone.

It is the most wounding feeling in the world to know that your existence has been clinically wiped out.

Picture borrowed from the wonderful I’m a Fucking Unicorn page. 

The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#4 : The Island

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We were living on the island of #5 Waldo House within the island of London NW10 within the island of the UK. We were snuggling at the heart of Russian Doll islands.

Most of the time, we didn’t need to go anywhere or see anyone. We were doing small yet big things in our Queendom.

Out of the blue, one of us suddenly had an itch for the external world and we were doing what we used to call “going on an adventure”. Which meant, exploring the neighbourhood hunting for details that we had never noticed before.

We ended up walking the same patterns over and over again, but it was a forever renewed joy. There was a certain street that we used to call “New York” because it was broad and full of brick warehouses. It was one of our favourite destinations, for want of the real Big Apple which we never made together.

Sometimes we would get lost in a new bit of our playground and make an extraordinary discovery: an arty cinema, a pond with stagnant waters, an empty building, a park as wild as a forest.

She was taking tons of pictures with her sense of detail and her obsession for industrial and padlocks. She would always spot the thing no one would ever see with her digital eye. I liked that ability in her. I was making the stories.

It is during these short urban adventures that we felt the most in tune. We would forget all the uncertainties and question marks of our story to focus on the common rhythm of our heartbeats. As we were observing our surroundings, embracing our so familiar environment, we had the similar goal that we were desperately lacking the rest of the time.

We finally were in the same space-time.

On the way back home we would play dumb or I would teach her dance steps which she was clumsily copying and we would laugh our head off.

There was no adventure, exploration or common rhythm of our heartbeats outside our island, though. Any attempt I did to make us swim away from it and reach the mainland turned into traumatising fights.

I therefore had to leave to the mainland alone.

The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#5 : The Centimetres

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We were home one night. Or one day.

She was on our bed, setting up to skype with her parents. She was always skyping with her parents and I never was. This is how we were respectively brought up. I respect both schemes.

She was always briefing me before her parental interactions, even after 3 years together, when the rules were so ingrained in me that I wouldn’t even have the distance to judge them right or wrong. This is how things were. She always had to mention: “I am calling my parents. Don’t speak.” Just in case I would all of a sudden decide to squeeze next to her and wave at the webcam to introduce myself: “What’s up in-laws! Nice to meet you! I am the one screwing your daughter!” 

I regret not doing it. I would have freed them all from a huge weight, and at least I would have given them a good reason to hate me, cause for all I know they had none. It would have been a cult coming out scene. I can be such a docile girl when it comes to affection.

In these recurrent occasions, I was like an elephant in my own house, because they subconsciously knew about me. Of course they knew. It takes tremendous organisation and concentration (and hypocrisy) from all parties to ignore something that big over so many years. They had an implicit agreement not to look at the elephant too closely to keep their wonderful family unity. If someone had to be beheaded for the unity to keep up, it had to be me.

The voice of her parents grew familiar to me as years went by. I was hearing it all the time. But I only ever saw their face in picture. I could catch fragments of their hellenic conversations. I could tell when they were talking about me, all declined in the masculine version. Her mum was nicknaming me “Parlez-vous”, most likely because she knew it was fucking nonsense to refer to me with my made-up male name.

This whole theatre piece was sickening. Over the years, not only was I exponentially suffering from my nothingness status, but I gradually lost respect for her. I even ended up despising her intellectually.

I have never met any other couple – gay or not – in a similar situation. I don’t know any closeted gays who live with their partner. It just can’t work out between 2 people who are at different stages or their coming out process. It is mathematical.

That particular day, she was getting ready for the family performance. She checked the background behind her to make sure there was no queerish hint. She stopped, looked at the poster of the sublime blonde woman on the wall. I had brought it back to her from my solitary Icelandic journey. It was the poster of an exhibition that I had seen at the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, a series of portraits of contemporary Icelandic women taken by Berglind Björnsdóttir.

She must have judged the sublime blonde too tendencious. She moved the poster up on the wall – literally 3 centimetres up. I was observing her in silence, fascinated in a bad way. I was trying to be in her head at that precise moment. What were her criteria to evaluate what was suspicious or not? How had she developed so many strategies in 15 years of her gay life to know what could betray her secret? Did she really believe that the 3 centimetres up or down the wall had the power to change the course of her life?

This is where my lost love was spending her plan making energy. Evaluating the centimetres to organise her cover and mine. Whilst she was measuring and micro-managing the practical details of her double life, how could she ever have time to think of happier questions such as:  What do I really want to achieve? Do I love my life? What is meaningful to me? Do I want to be with her, or do I want to be like her? If we ever decide to have the family we’ve been talking about, how are we going to proceed? Stuff like that. The regular legitimate late 20s stuff. Not moving a fucking poster an inch up the wall cause there’s a woman on it.

This entire chapter of my life was so fucked up. I am grateful that I stepped out of it with no serious damage but a bruised soul and a devastated heart. I really would have had reasons to hit my head against the wall.

I will never grant to anyone the power to make me sink.

Picture by Berglind Björnsdóttir

The #5 Waldo House Series – Episode#6 – The Back Touch

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This is how it all started. Like a blockbuster rom com.

We met on a Friday, made love on Saturday and were a couple by Sunday.

Reality always tops fiction.

I was in my flat in Paris, chatting with my friend ε who was spending the year in London. She told me that I had to meet this girl she was studying with.

A few days later, ε told me to get ready cause they had booked tickets, and by the way the girl would stay at my place because it would be more convenient for everyone. I was fine with it, as I knew that set ups never work out so it would be like hosting a random person for a few days. No big deal.

I met her in the most unusual context. I was attending a dance workshop the whole week with Dominique Mercy, the main dancer of Pina Bausch. The last day, the rehearsal was open to the public, and there she saw me for the first time. I remember glimpsing her coming through the door and briefly looking at her thinking “So, this is who she is.” I didn’t have time for further considerations, because I had a performance to give.

We got officially introduced to each other after the show. I was sweaty and disgusting. I think I almost liked her right away, I don’t remember exactly what detail caught me, but it was pretty much an instant thing on my side. Every aspect about her, I liked. She told me much later that she didn’t like me at the beginning. She was turned off by my social self. She changed her mind as soon as we passed the door of my flat that evening, because I apparently instantly became someone else and she could see beyond the surface.

We talked till the early hours of the morning. Flats in Paris are so small that she had no choice but sharing my bed. We saved time.

The universe had arranged all the circumstances for us, including the fact that for the first time in history, I miraculously had nothing in my diary for the next 4 days. Her, me & Paris.

The morning after, we went to the Louvre to see the Victory of Samothrace. The summer of her 13th birthday, she went to the island of Samothrace with her parents and this is where she realised that she was gay. That was her own victory of Samothrace.

We were invited to a party that evening. She was rolling me cigarettes. I still haven’t learned how to do it until now. We were looking for each other’s presence all the time – presages of the chemical addiction to follow. I didn’t know how to tell her I liked her, because I had never been serious about anyone. My “love” life had been everything and nothing till that point.

All of a sudden, in the middle of the crowd, she flippantly rubbed her hand on my back. This was the signal. I will never forget that back touch, invitation to infinite possibilities.

I remember looking at her in the escalators on the way back home. We both knew what was going to happen next. We just didn’t know how and were nervous about it.

It took hours. We were lying in bed facing each other and beating around the bushes, hoping for the other to make the first move.

We both made the first move at the same time, and that was significant for the rest of our relationship. Things got unbalanced between us over the course of time, but for sure we were evenly powerful. Without the social context, we could have had a never ending love arm wrestling.

I slipped my way closer to her, she moved back until the edge of the mattress. We had reached a point of no return where she had to choose between falling off the bed and falling for me.

We adored each other for almost 4 years.

Drawing by “her”