Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bondage Scouts

The hangover was epic and lasted days on end, but this did not keep me from making further plans. I contacted a tall drink of water, friend, and former lover, who is in the city. The once-country girl is now all New York City. Ex is happy to meet me, so I work out how to get a hold of her once I begin to recover from my hangover. We make plans to meet for dinner and I send her my location. I explain that I wouldn’t mind having Mexican food.

I get a message back a few minutes later that the Mexican place next to me is not very good and we will go somewhere else. I think it is odd that she knows the area I happen to be hanging out in so well, but perhaps this is some kind of thing with New Yorkers that they all know the city like the back of their hands. I accept that she knows where I am and just go finish my coffee and work on the huge amount of writing I have on my plate for that day. She texts to ask if it is all right to bring her boyfriend. Being me and being cautious I text back, asking if he knows who I am. She responds with a laugh and says they will be there soon.

She walks in, as lovely as ever. My long lost Ex. I’ve always thought of her as my Ex, the last one I feel like I ever had. The one who broke my heart (and who I got over enough to be friends with anyway). She’s smart, sexy, and looks fantastic. My pulse races as she comes through the door. Her boyfriend is behind her, I smile and resign myself to dealing with it, because that is what I am going to have to do.

We end up going to a Mexican place in SoHo. I am informed that the neighborhood that I am staying in is called Uptown. I also find out the Ex actually lives around the corner from my hotel (explaining how it was that she knew so much about where I was and the food selections nearby). I’m amused.

We walk through a lot of city after we get off at SoHo to get to wherever it is we are going. The place is nice, the food fantastic. My first Mexican food since returning to the U.S., so I am overwhelmed by how amazing it is. I have some tequila as well, and strangely it does make me feel better to drink and know that everything really is going to be all right here. SoHo is a fairly hopping area with lots of things going on. I find that the bars and the art scene remind me a lot of certain parts of Korea with all the young attractive people. We have a few drinks, but in the end call it an early night as all three of us are feeling a little put upon. I agree to meet the Ex tomorrow as it’s my last Saturday before I will officially start work. They help me get back to my neighborhood and I happily crawl into my bunk to sleep.

My roommate moves out the next morning. I say goodbye to her at five a.m. I hope my next roommate will be as nice as she has been. I will move out of the hostel in another day. So far I have truly enjoyed the experience. I’ve found it to be quiet and pleasantly enough set up for all that I was worried about. I spend the next day writing in a coffee shop and then head downtown to find a movie. It seems silly but 42nd Street and a movie theater was easy enough to find. The price is what I expect to pay to see a movie and it’s cool after a day of writing in a coffee shop. I ask the Ex if she wants to join me for dinner, but she says no. I tell her I’m going to find dinner and the wine bar my magic box says is in the neighborhood when I get back.

Sadly, the wine bar did not exist where the magic box said it should. I did find a place that made hummus so I gorged on hummus. The night before when talking with the Ex she mentioned that there was a not-bad dive bar near where I was staying. I called and said that is where should could find me. We exchanged various aspects of the location of the dive bar and I proceeded in. After a short consultation with the bartender I went for a glass of red, read my book and waited. The bar had a quiet, subtle ambiance that reminded me of the Lonely Hearts Club. I like it. It also makes me homesick. This feel of homesickness makes me wonder about home. Where is my home when all of this transition is going on? I like New York City so far, I think. That morning when I had gone to a mart to get some coffee for breakfast I discovered that the ajumma who ran the store really was an ajumma, a nice Korean lady with her husband. My brain got confused and I started speaking with her in Korean even though I didn’t mean to. I get frustrated in Korea when Koreans always try to speak to me in English, so I try to assume that Koreans feel the same way in America about crazy foreigners trying to speak Korean, and doing it badly.

She is amused by my Korean though, amused by my clumsy attempts. We talk about how long I have been there. And I have been there so long, but when I talk about it is always in the present tense, I don’t feel I have left yet. I’ve moved my house, my dogs, and my love across an ocean, but Korea is still home and I don’t want to be anywhere else but Korea. I’ve set myself up in Chicago, I have a home in Chicago, there is a house, there are dogs. And Korea still feels like home.

I’m haunted by Da-ha-min-guk even when I sit in a bar to drink. I think of Hyun, I think of the Lonely Hearts, I think of my lonely hearts there. I miss it.

The Ex comes in and joins me and we happily drink together. I ask her where her boy is and she explains that he might join us later, but wasn’t ready just yet. So it’s just the two of us to talk. We talk historonics. We make polite small talk. I try not to stare at her neck, her fingers, the body that I still recall so well even ten years later. I know this is why I have stayed in touch with her, because I miss her in a way that is difficult to define. Being near her now is just happiness. It’s subtle and quiet but I enjoy it. As she predicted her phone buzzes and her boy asks where we are so he can come join us. I like the boy. He has a funny streak, a brain between his ears, and can talk tech. We bond over aspects of rampant geekiness that we can both appreciate. When he joins us I’m well into my second airplane sized bottle of red in the dive bar. He gets a Jack neat and quickly catches up with the Ex and I. I ask them why this is called a dive bar as it seems like a nice place and I wouldn’t have called it a dive at all. Neither the Ex or the boy know exactly the origin of the name so finally when I get ready to order my next round I ask the bartender. He is only to happy to explain.

“Well, the owner is a diver.”

“Excuse me?”

“He likes to dive. Spends a lot of time on boats out to sea. He is a real diver. He decided to open up a dive bar, for divers, or anyone, but it’s all about the dive. He opened up a series of them; they are all called dive bars.”

I get it now. It’s a friendly place and I like being there for the drink. We continue drinking and talking, the three of us. We talk about old times. The Ex doesn’t mind teasing me. She asks if I remember a night where we got more than a little hot and heavy in front of everyone.

“You mean the night with the pool table?”

“The pool table? Ah, yes, I was thinking of Bondage night.”

“Bondage night and the pool table were definitely different nights.”

“Bondage night?” the boyfriend asks.

“How much have you told him?”

“A little. You can elaborate if you want.”

“I can, but I also would prefer not to get punched.”

“Actually it’s kinda interesting, I mean you knew her before I did and I find it sorta fascinating. You were her only girlfriend and I sorted wondered if it was just some LUG thing.”

“Oh, no, it was a total LUG thing. I knew that when I got started with her, but you have a girl that hot walk into your coffee bar and try to pick you up, you kinda go with it,” I say back.

“She is hot, isn’t she?”

“Yes she is.”

We keep talking. I tell him about Bondage night. It was actually fairly vanilla, and was mostly for our own personal amusement satisfying our exhibitionist needs and desires. He is more amused.

He continues talking. He asks me more about bondage. I say it always pays to be prepared and to prove it I have his girlfriend locked up in cuffs before he blinks.

“I’m like a bondage Girl Scout.” He smiles and I demonstrate how my surreptitious bondage cuffs work. He is amused.

Somehow at this point the conversation moves from bondage to my love of women. I tell a few stories out of school; he is amused, and the Ex moves closer to me (still tied up).

“I can’t believe you actually get into that much trouble.”

“It’s believable, trust me. In fact if I thought you weren’t going to punch me, I’d make out with your girlfriend right now.”

“Be my guest.”

I smile, put my hands in her hair and pull her to me. I kiss her. I remember her lips so sweet. The way she smells, the taste of her tongue. I kiss her deep. I kiss her because I loved her once. I kiss her because she is my friend. I kiss her for old times sake. I kiss her because I know I won’t be kissing her again, because as much fun as this is I am happy she has found a nice guy who is not an asshole, who is more amused than offended and not threatened by the pass. I let her go and sit back and sip my drink.

He smiles. “Yeah, okay, I can believe you get into that much trouble.”

“At least I ask.”

We drink until finally some hunger sets in. The boy suggests Tom’s Diner. “It’s the place they were always eating in Seinfeld.” I agree and so we walk there, only to find it closed. But the air and walk are pleasant. We are still hungry so share some late night food before heading back to the dive bar for last call. We all walk back to mine together, the girl, again, all chained up between us. When they leave me at the hostel he goes to take them off. I say no, leave them, with my blessing, I’ll get them later. I wave them goodnight as I walk into Chocolat. My whimsy and ennui chase themselves around in my dreams of Ex lovers gone by, New York City streets, bars, bondage, and a month of work all lie ahead.

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