tagRomanceThe First Time I Ate Sushi

The First Time I Ate Sushi


I wrote this in 2000, so it's been a while, but I thought it worth sharing:

"It's been almost two years now since it happened, and I've managed to forget and remember it a hundred times over. He said he wanted me to remember - made a point of that - but sometimes it's easier and less painful to forget. Because remembering is one thing - but the longing to go back is too much sometimes. It makes the present unbearable - and I can't live that way.

So, for many months I have for the large part forgotten that I am a woman - a sexual creature. Because there is no sex to be had these days, and it's all just a lot easier to be a builder, a worker, a helper, a mother, an aunt, a casual friend; a morphodite, clad in straight, loose-fitting jeans and boots and striped T-shirt (notwithstanding the firm nipples I see beneath it in the mirror now and then, and admire.)

After all, not all of life is sexual, and perhaps I get too consumed with it when I indulge my fantasies.

But that is what it was - a real-life, flesh and blood, honest to goodness fantasy-come-to-life. And every now and then the memory of it sneaks up and reminds me that it was real! - That for one brief, shining moment, it was real; and I had everything I'd ever dreamed of come true.

There it was: a story fit for stage and screen. So magical, so fantastic, it should be set to music. The dialogue - so profound. The set - so perfect. I wonder when the rehearsals took place? Dare I remember now by putting the details to paper and ink?

We met at a Christmas party given by my sister and attended by all her dancing friends. He wore his long black hair straight back in a ponytail, and had kind of an impish, comical face - though he was quite serious behind it.

His eyes were blue, I think; or maybe brown. No, they were hazel. I remember they reminded me of my own and made me realize that hazel could be beautiful, tho' I'd never thought so of my own. There was something chrystalline about them. Something penetrating.

But he told me he worked with computers, and the conversation ended right there for me. Because I don't like computers, and I don't find much in common with men who do. So I moved on, and didn't give my initial vague attraction to him another thought.

My next encounter with him was at Midnight Rodeo, where I had gone with my sister to dance the next night.

I had spent a rather introverted, but pleasant night, dancing a little and visiting with, of all things, a thin little computer nerd, who told me of his dreams of glory for some program, or computer, or something, he had invented. Something about him reminded me of my twin brother, who happens to design computer systems.

He was also into Renaissance Fairs, and had an endearing little penchant for being honorable and gentlemanly, as befits a Knight of the Round Table. I'm a good listener, and I didn't mind befriending him, since I was feeling rather quiet that evening anyway.

So my sister and I were starting to say our goodbyes to everyone, as it was ten o'clock, and the dancers all clear out early; and I had left my place next to my little friend.

I looked over to a bar chair a bit away from where most of the dancers congregated, and saw a figure seated, looking at me. The feeling flashed through my being that someone long-lost and much-longed-for had returned.

He was so familiar to me, yet I knew simultaneously that he was a virtual stranger: at once someone I did not know and someone I knew deeply, intimately. I wanted to run up to him, throw my arms around him, and kiss him.

Instead, I walked up to him and said hello. I felt confused, caught between two realities, and I stumbled over my words, unable to remember his name.

Robert. Yes, Robert. How funny that I would forget a derivative of my own name. And I reminded myself aloud to him that I had just met him - yesterday. At my sister's party. Yes, of course. And he asked me to dance.

"Sure," I replied, and allowed him to lead me out to the nearly-empty dance floor.

He began to lead me, arms outstretched, with one on my shoulder, never taking his eyes from mine. That struck me from the start - the way he looked deeply and intensely at everyone, always making eye contact.

I seldom made eye contact with people, for I often wanted to hide from them; but with him, I gazed intently back, allowing myself to be seen.

He explained to me as we made our way around the dance floor, that this was his final lifetime on earth, and that he sought to immerse himself fully in every experience that came along. I told him I felt that we had known each-other in a previous lifetime.

"I think we were lovers," I said frankly.

"I think we still are," he responded, still fixed on my eyes.

We were halfway around the circular dance floor. He stopped and began to kiss me, crushing me against him. The colors of the bar blurred and floated around us, and I felt that we were the only two people in the Universe just then.

Yet, at the same moment, I was aware that I was being kissed in the middle of a dance floor for all to see, and I loved the brashness of it. Let them all see that I am desired! It was a feeling more than a thought.

His mouth and hands were leading me quickly down a path I knew could not continue to be public, so I suggested we get off the dance floor. He led me to some empty chairs nearby, and we faced each-other.

Mild remonstrances from a distance in my psyche warned me to slow down, but my heart urged me to embrace everything that was happening - that there was nothing to fear.

I clasped my hands around his neck and fingered his ponytail, and said I wanted to pursue whatever this thing was with him, and he said we could to go his apartment - but I wanted him to know I wouldn't have intercourse if there was any chance of pregnancy; and he wanted me to know he was infertile, but suffering from herpes at present.

So I made sure my sister didn't mind keeping my girls overnight for me, and thought I would be home by morning.

He slid his arm around my waist to walk me outside, and I thought to myself how unusual this must have looked to my previous conversation partner, who was still sitting on the sidelines and had probably watched it all.

When we arrived outside the bar, he stopped, scooped me up into his arms, and carried me to his truck. It was so deliciously fun; so different from my stolid, ordinary life!

During the rather long drive to his apartment, bundled next to him on the seat, with his arm around me while he drove the stick-shift one-handed, I had time to contemplate what was happening.

What was I doing with this man I hardly knew? But somehow, I knew him. I knew everything I needed to know about him. And I could have asked him questions about what he did, who he was, where he came from. But what did it matter? He came from the stars. He was my long-lost lover come back to me from a hundred eons, and a million miles away. And all that mattered was that he was here now.

But we also talked about the fact that I was only visiting my sister for a couple weeks - that I lived five hours away and wouldn't be here long. And I thought that was okay - that it must be meant to be brief. But he said knowing that made his heart hurt. I wish he hadn't said that.

Because then I thought he wanted it to last. And I wish I'd never thought that.

He carried me from his truck to the ground level apartment, and over the threshold when he had unlocked the door. It was a pretty, old apartment: hardwood floors, new paint - very nice for the part of town in which it was located.

I glanced into the bedroom from the dim livingroom and saw a waterbed, similar to mine only lower down. I told him the clock on the nightstand said 11:11.

"Ah," he replied. "Then we've entered the portal at the appointed time." He smiled, and I smiled back.

He took my coat, and I sank onto his bed, removing my shoes and bouncing to a comfortable spot. He joined me, lit a dim lamp and some incense, and put his arm around me.

Two years have dimmed the details of what came next and when. I only have snippets and pictures that overlap each-other like transparencies in a book, in no particular order.

I remember that he was incredibly gentle, and that when I looked into his eyes, I was amazed to see in them that he loved me. He was as honest and open as I am, showing me the sores on his penis and assuring me that it would stay inside his underwear for now.

I felt grateful that there was a binding reason not to have intercourse, because I have difficulty reaching orgasm with a partner, and always ultimately feel cheated when the man gets his and I don't. But somehow, this man and this night seemed made to order for me and my needs; and indeed, he was at my service.

He danced for me, the dance of a Raven. He made his body a gift to me, to do with as I pleased. He sucked my cunt, and caressed my breasts, and droned the song of the Bear in my ear, where it entered and reverberated through my being.

I wanted him inside me, and it felt good just to feel that wanting and wait for it to be fulfilled.

He returned me to my sister's house at about five in the morning, with the promise that he would see me again.

I don't remember the sequence of events. I know he came to a spiritual meeting at her house, and brought some beautiful drums. He showed me a ring he was wearing. It was a tiny silver Goddess, a naked figure with her legs outstretched and circling to meet together to form the part that fit around his finger.

He held out his finger after I had examined her, and I slid her legs slowly down its shaft.

He came on Christmas day and spent the day with us. But the best night was the night before Christmas Eve.

He picked me up around dinnertime, and when we arrived at his apartment, he had already procured sushi, strawberries, nuts, and other delicacies. I had not had much appetite for food since I had met him - had practically been fasting from lack of hunger. And I had never tasted sushi before.

Why does it pain me so much to remember? I will never eat sushi without remembering the very first time, and watering for it. It is definitely food made for love.

We collected the food and carried it to the bed. I closed my eyes, and he began to feed it to me. I felt like an infant, tasting food for the first time, and revelled in the unknown, unnamed textures and flavors.

He held a strawberry in his teeth, brought it to my mouth, and I kissed him, and bit it, and chewed, and sucked his tongue until I couldn't tell the flesh of one from the flesh of the other.

He rubbed the sweet, hot ginger on my breasts and licked it; fed me nori rolls with the wasabi, whose stinging hotness bit inside my nose as I chewed.

He poured sparkling water on my belly and slurped it up; poured more in his mouth, put it to mine, and I came up laughing and spluttering and gulping.

I closed my eyes while he sucked and kneaded my naked body, pressing his tongue inside the folds of my vulva, and then sharing their juices with me with the squishy, musty raw fish.

I felt very sensual and part of the earth, the lines between his body and mine and the food blurred into all the bounty of the earth.

He mounted me with his underwear on, and for moments out of time I was a young boy and he the Priestess of the Temple.

He spoke a poem he had composed many years ago about a butterfly, and I knew that I have always been the caterpillar and the butterfly.

He confided to me what I already knew - that he was a Shaman; and once again intoned the drone of the Bear in my ears.

But he could not make me come, and it was a frustration to us both, feeling this deep sense of exhaustion without release. But I felt honored that he was willing to feel as I felt - as I have felt for eons. He came and dwelt in the limbo where I have so oft been, and felt the pain - the agony of it - with me.

The energies were too strong to allow much sleep, and when dawn light began to creep into the room, we got into a warm tub. He held me from behind in his lap, and I was a child, nurtured and cared for.

He made me breakfast, and we went shopping for the last of my Christmas gifts for my girls.

Later, wrapping them in my sister's bedroom with Robert on the floor next to me, one knee bent with his arm hung over it; and my sister and her housemate also in the midst of bright paper and ribbons, I complained mildly that I was tired, not having gotten much sleep the previous night.

"Don't brag!" the housemate chided, and I had to laugh, because she had pegged me.

We spent an evening playing games with my sister and some of her friends. When her friends were leaving, Robert sat down on the couch with me and confided that all the stroking of his hair I had done during the games had warmed his body, to the point that he was "tumescent".

I liked that word. I liked all it implied. I liked that he found me exciting and arousing; that he wanted me to come to his bed again.

So we made the journey to his apartment along the dark, cold streets, preserving our own private warmth in the two-headed bundle on the front seat of his truck.

He gave me an all-over body massage that night, awakening and warming my body the way nothing else does. The bud of fire is buried deep within me, beyond circles and circles of protection.

Robert began to understand what I had told him: that I was a virgin - untouched in the deepest recesses by any man. Whether by design or happenstance, he had not yet given me, or imposed upon me, that which might touch what had never been touched, because I pulled it out of reach of those who sought to take it, rather than be given it.

And the hunger I had felt each time I was with him returned; and I suspected, and he confirmed, that his sores were healed. And with his mound pressed against my pubic bone, I wanted him, and invited him inside.

The opening was tight, and he entered gently and slowly, and like a virgin, I took him in and welcomed him, and somehow, it was the first time, because he had not taken before I had asked. And I cried tears of gratitude.

The next day we went to my sister's art studio and painted. I loved the colors he splashed across his canvas; and in his truck outside the pizza place we went for lunch, I gave him a card bearing two cherubs on the front, one with angel wings and the other with butterfly wings, saying inside, "Thanks for the magick."

But the ride was coming to an end, and I didn't know it. And I went blindly on, thinking that Robert belonged to me, that we belonged together; and trying to pull him deeper into my psyche, into my need.

He had healed so much in me; I wanted more. And I was willing to give, too. But he didn't want what I had to offer, and he didn't want to give any more.

I went home at his urging, though I didn't want to; and when I got there, what had once seemed to me to be a paradise had become brown and empty.

I composed letters I never sent. Sent one finally, and got a reply urging me not to desecrate the beauty of what we had experienced by trying to capture it under glass. So I let go, unwillingly, painfully, leaving claw marks behind.

My surrender didn't fully come until I heard in the summer that he had married - from my sister, who knew the bride as a member of her loosely knit group of dancers. She also told me about another woman he had wooed for a time and then abruptly dropped.

But I couldn't hate him. There was too much he had given me that no other man ever had, and he had never made any committment to me. On the contrary, he had spoken about living in the moment, and that all things end, but are never lost.

And I know that I carry many things with me from that time, but my mortal being can't seem to help but wish I had it all back. But I know now I can't have it with him; and I console myself with the thought that there are other magical experiences in my future.

I will be loved again someday, and perhaps my experience with Robert will help me to be just a little bit wiser next time.

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