Lesbian Visibility Day, Aka, The Five-Minute-Orgasm

It was our second date, on International Day of Lesbian Visibility in Madrid. You asked me if I’d like to go and meet you at a square near my piso. I lived in Chueca by then, the gay male district, right on Calle Pelayo where every year for Pride, El Orgullo, gay men don high heels and race down the street. In June, I would watch the race from my balcony, drunk with lots of friends, and you would not be there. You were not really part of my life. You were just someone I wanted.

The view from my balcony for the High Heel Race!

But on this day in late April, before World Pride would descend upon all of us and swarm my street so tightly I could barely press through to my front door, before all of that, you met me at the square where a group of lesbians gathered to honor the great Spanish lesbian poet, Gloria Fuertes. It was the 100th year anniversary of her birth and these women lay a blanket down on the square with her books spread out. Then, one by one, people volunteered to read a poem from one of the books at random. I volunteered, and read in warm, rapturous tones though I understood not one word of the Spanish words tumbling out of my mouth, mostly because you were watching me. The heat rose to my face and I set the book down. You showed me a picture you had taken of me on your phone as I read. It was a good picture. My hair was short and boyish looking, longer on top, shorter on the sides, glasses, a thin blue jacket because it was still a bit chilly in Madrid. I asked you to send it to me and you did over WhatsApp with a text that read, “So sexy and smart.” I couldn’t stop smiling just being near you.

A woman approached us and asked if she could interview us for a video she was making about lesbians. I said sure, why not, even though both of us identified as queer and genderqueer. The first time I saw you was at a queer and trans book club a friend invited me to. You sat on a folding chair holding your body as though trying to be smaller, but you couldn’t hide your strength. You wore a sports cap that said Grrrl on one side and flipped up said Boi. Or was it the other way around? When I finally got to talk to you all to myself in the bar across the street after the book club, your smile and your shining eyes and that accent had me twitter-painted in less than minutes. A week later, I found you on Facebook and I proposed. A meeting, if only to stare longer at your beautiful mouth, your long, stunning neck.

Now, a few weeks later, this woman standing before us wanted an interview, and we both answered tentatively, carefully, so as not to identify ourselves as lesbians. I am not a lesbian, I made that clear to you on our first date, that I’m bisexual and people need to get the fuck over it because it’s a real identity. But that I’m also genderqueer and I use they/them or zie/zer pronouns, and these identities are not incongruent with each other. You, however, would more easily fit into the lesbian category and perhaps did in the past. Or maybe you never did and only ever used the word gay. You said to me once, after I mentioned the many men I’ve dated, “Cis-straight guys, I could never date them. Cis-straight guys, we would not get along.” You said it in an almost disgusted tone, but you never made me feel guilty or bad for having sex with men.

A woman standing up for Lesbian Visibility in Madrid

I forget now what the woman said, something about women and women’s spaces and lesbian visibility, with seemingly little knowledge or awareness of the other letters in LGBTQIAA+. We looked at each other knowingly and after she left, I asked you what you were thinking. I can’t remember a damn thing you said in that moment, probably something we were both thinking, that we are queer and it is very different from the lesbian world and identity, and it’s a bit uncomfortable in these moments, but choose your battles, something, something. But I do remember your body very clearly, your wide smile, your blue eyes in the spring sun, the clarity of your skin, your naturally red beautiful lips. You said, “I thought there would be more than this. What do you want to do now?”

I didn’t know. Ok, I did know, I wanted to be some place dark and alone with you, preferably naked. But it felt too soon. We’d only been together in this square for twenty minutes. Lesbian Visibility Day is supposed to be about being visible, taking your lesbianism to the streets, not hiding it away in a dark room. So I didn’t know what to suggest. “We could get a drink somewhere. Or a bottle and sit somewhere and drink,” I said.

You said, “Or you could invite me to your flat.”

My heart skipped a beat and my cheeks turned red. “Oh, you want me to invite you to my flat? I didn’t know,” I said teasingly. I would have suggested it sooner if I had known. But part of me was embarrassed because my flat was so dirty and broken down and my room was so small. I said as much but you said you didn’t care. I’d already seen yours and it was very nice. “Well, you can come to my flat any time you want,” I said, trying to act casual, but I was failing.

You suggested we get some wine before turning in. But as we turned the corner of one square, we heard the jubilant drumming of 10,000 lesbians! Ok, so it wasn’t 10,000 lesbians, but it felt like it, the rumble of bass drums and smaller drums being pounded out in the middle of Madrid in rhythm and time, at least 40 women banging away on drums strapped to their fronts. A crowd was gathered to witness their exuberance, their Day of Visibility. You said you wanted to look and we stood at the edge of the crowd and you smiled that big, wide red smile of yours that showed your beautiful white teeth and it lit up my belly and prickled my neck again just like the first time I saw you.

It’s just me all alone on Day of Lesbian Visibility! Well, me and 10,000 lesbians!

I was standing on a stone border that encased a small tree so I could get a better look. You didn’t need to because you are taller than me by at least four inches. You came closer to me and said, “Let’s give them something to look at.”

My whole face, my whole body turned a tinge of red then, and to quell the discomfort, my mouth lunged to yours, but you pulled away. You said, “No!” in that British-German accent of yours. Surprising that just one word can elicit an accent, but it can. Then you said, “Wait.” And you actually made me wait.

I felt foolish because you had pulled away, you said no. My insides began to shake with all the pent up feelings of wanting you, of waiting a whole week to see you again, the exhilaration of touching you, of for once, getting exactly what I wanted. I stood before you and waited, the lesbian drummers to my left, the tiny tree behind me, bustling Gran Vía to my right, and you directly in front of me. I tried to breathe deeply, to slow the whirling, roiling nerves in my belly that threatened to roll down into my knees. I felt the heat rise up into my face as you looked at me. We were now the same height.

Slowly, ever so slowly, you leaned in. Finally, you kissed me and my mouth opened and everything else fell away. I came down off the step into your arms, into your mouth. I’ve never had a kiss like that before or since. All consuming, completely overtaken. The drums fell away, the crowd disappeared, there was no busy street, there were no other people. It was only you and the blood beating in my ears. There was no other sound, just your hands holding me at the low of my back, my hands on your neck your shaved head your face your perfect skin, drinking you in deeply, and the roiling ache came crashing through me down to my knees and I shook as you held me in my heat.

I’ve always wished I was a lesbian. No confusion, no guilt about dating the patriarchy. No waffling between which kind of man or woman or queer. Monosexual, so simple. Well, this would be the day for it, I thought. You followed me to the corner store near my piso, we purchased a bottle and took it up, and we made love as only two lesbians who are not really lesbians can. You gave me the longest, most intense orgasm to this day. It felt like five minutes of a wave pulsing and crashing over me and I completely surrendered to it, to you, just like your slow, patient, climactic kiss. It started with that kiss.

But the oxytocin kept me up all night, long after I walked you to the metro as we shared an arepa from the shop below my piso. I was drunk for hours after, but not on wine; it was a full-body high that coursed through me, the real love-drug. I told my fellow auxiliares de conversación, in an oxytocin-hangover the next day over our daily Spanish school luncheon, and their eyes owl-ed back at me in disbelief.

I couldn’t believe my good luck myself. I made the mistake of saying, “It doesn’t matter if it never happens again, I’m just glad it happened! That I know it can happen, that it’s possible. You know?” I was talking about the what-felt-to-me-like-a-five-minute-orgasm and that I was most definitely calling a five-minute-orgasm. And I could see the wind-whipped-jealousy look in their eyes. But these were girls in their early 20s who had mostly or only slept with men. They weren’t about to call me on my bullshit. Plus I was so high I wasn’t thinking straight. Oh no, I was not thinking straight at all. I was thinking Lesbian Day of Visibility.

I tried to play it cool. I really did.

No I didn’t. I’m lying.

I messaged you on Facebook after our first date with an “eeeeeee!” or a “That was so great!” or a “OMG that was so fun!” because that’s the kind of shit we do in America. Or at least the people I’ve dated for the last decade.

But you are German. Your people don’t do things that way. Ok, I’m making a huge generalization here, yes. But I also talked to my Norwegian flatmate Elise about it and she gave me some advice. She said, “Well, we [Europeans] really like you [Americans] because you’re excited and emotional.” I smiled at her and blushed. Elise has the most radiant beauty that shines heart-center and spills out onto everyone around her. She continued, “But we are a little more reserved.” I never thought of her as reserved. I thought of her as warm, and caring and absolutely winsome and lovely. But upon reflection I could see what she meant. Especially about you.

“But they aren’t texting me back right away! They put me off for a whole week! What am I supposed to make of this!?!? I’m trying so hard not to text them again! I’m in agony. I just want to jump their bones!”

“Well, she said she would see you next week. So she will.” Elise said.

I sighed and clung to this meager comfort Elise was offering in her clearly superior knowledge of the European mind. And then I whined one more time, “But I want to see them now!” I was being overly dramatic, but it was also how I felt.

Elise smiled and gave me a sympathetic look.

And then I willed myself not to text you again until you texted me.

But I probably did anyway.

I don’t know how to end this story. It doesn’t end well. The next time I saw you, “it” almost happened again. But I already knew I was falling for you after that day, The Day. The day I was made visible in the dark of my own room, completely exposed to you. This time, I wrapped it up, I wrapped up my poor little sensitive American heart and shoved it back in and said, “Let’s do something else!” and I changed positions, I worshipped you instead, and I shored up the dam that was about to burst. You asked me about it and all I could say was, “I think I just like you too much,” as you held me in your strong arms. I was about to cry and I didn’t want to put it all on the line because I knew I was being foolish, this oxytocin was drowning me like a hit of heroin and I knew you didn’t want any of it. And I knew, too, that you could tell.

The Three of Swords, aka, my sensitive little American heart

You were going back to Germany in a few months. You just wanted your friends and your roommates. You didn’t want a complicated feelings-fest of an American lover to jam a stick in the spokes of your heart. You wanted to maintain your German distance, your emotional freedom. And I understood, I really did. Cognitively. But my heart was already hooked on that love-drug. All I wanted was that feeling, that pure-ecstasy-feeling of your skin your hands your mouth. Your perfect red mouth.

I had crazy dreams. Daydreams, I mean. Crazy, fantastical, ludicrous, mad, daydreams. Like I would move to Germany, that we would live together, that we might even travel the world. I didn’t even know you! But I was drowning in you like a teenager. I wandered around Corté Ingles with my friend Kate (whom I also had a crush on;) before we had our third (and last) date, complaining and whining and bemoaning that you didn’t want me and I knew you didn’t want me but oh how I wanted you, and I bought a little wild unicorn toy for you, because you called me a unicorn. (I am a unicorn, but that’s another story.)

Kate and Esmerelda Estrella

And then, just like that, before it was over, it was over. I was sitting on a rooftop in Marrakech with my friend Ale, chatting and laughing with some girls from New Zealand when I got your text. I had asked to see you again in a text the day before Ale and I left for Morocco. It had been a few weeks, and in that time I had seen you for the very last time and then I flew across the world to see my grandmother before she passed away. You had sent me off with well-wishes and a sympathetic heart, but I pulled away from you in tears because I couldn’t bear that you didn’t want me in the way I wanted you.

On the rooftop in Marrakech, rolling towards midnight, I went silent, like a black hole in the corner of the awning, the night air becoming cooler and the wind whipping the flaps of carpet that hung over us. One minute I was laughing and chatting, the next, Ale was chiding me for being rude to our company. She knew immediately something was up. My whole demeanor changed when you texted me back. But Ale was right. I shouldn’t have looked at your text. It just confirmed what I already knew to be true. You didn’t want what I wanted.

Here’s the thing. What I wanted was a feeling. Yes, I wanted you. But did I really want you? I didn’t know you. In all reality, how could I even like you if I didn’t really know you?

I had made the same mistake the year before and it ended in a big agony of bloody shrapnel, jagged edges and charred heart valves. Like most of my relationships. Ok, just kidding. But that one really did end that way, in a gigantic explosion. Usually I have a bad habit of breaking up and going back and breaking up and back again.

During this time, someone suggested to me a blog about solo polyamory. I looked around and learned about the relationship escalator and got on the Facebook group about it, to dip my toes and see if it fit. I even presented the idea to the guy I was sort of seeing across the pond, who had visited me for an entire, agonizing month in December (that’s another story). I discovered that even though I had already been practicing polyamory or open relationships for several years at that point, I was still stuck on the goddamn escalator. The escalator rider is always asking, “Is this relationship going anywhere?” It’s the proverbial song, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage!” The assumption is that this relationship will progress through those stages, or at least most of them, and several more. And I knew, deep down, that this guy was not really my escalator partner. I think I’ve always been riding the escalator with someone, even while sidestepping and hopping onto other escalators, and then coming back again.

And you, you were not on an escalator and didn’t want to get on one with anybody.

I began to see this pattern, too, of jumping into a relationship all gung-ho, excited, head-over-heels-sexy-fun-times-reckless. Only to wind up a little cold and defeated a few weeks or months into it, realizing I had barely anything in common with this person, or that I didn’t even like them for who they were! And I’m definitely not good at riding escalators with people. “Move over! There’s not enough room for both of us! Stop! You’re squishing me! Goddammit, I’ll find my own escalator.” Only to hop onto someone else’s.

I asked a question about this very thing on the Facebook group, about rushing into things, and then finding that I’m suddenly not feeling it like I thought I was initially. I was asking what to do about it. The woman who started the Solo Poly blog and even wrote a book about the Relationship Escalator commented: “I think your problem is really about emotional regulation. It is emotionally irresponsible to rush into something with someone and then your feelings get cold and you hurt the other person.”

Whoa! That knocked the wind out of my lungs. I felt so bad and guilty and angry. Also, lady, I wasn’t asking you for what’s wrong. I was asking people for advice! Not helpful!

As you can see, I have a hard time taking criticism. Sure, maybe it wasn’t the most helpful piece of advice, but it was technically correct feedback. Three years later, I can see that she was technically correct. But she still didn’t give me advice on how to fix it.

I think my guilt made me stay with the same partner (off and on) for three years because I didn’t want to hurt him, even though I knew it wasn’t working for me. I kept counting the benefits and weighing them against the negatives, and trying to convince myself I could live without certain key elements of a romantic partnership. But eventually the negatives tipped the scale.

With you, I felt something I’d never felt before and I wanted to take it and run with it as long as I could. I was ready to get off the escalator with him and move onto yours. But I’m too emotional. I love too quickly, too deeply, too dramatically perhaps. You were a person that knew how to emotionally regulate, you had control, and you were much younger than me!

I could tease out all the angles of why this, why then, why me and you, but I know one thing: I am still glad it happened. Like I told my coworkers that day, I’m glad I got to experience a magical movie-worthy kiss with you, a five-minute orgasm. I’m glad I know it’s at least possible and it could happen again.

Now, I’m not saying I’d do all the same things again. This time around, now that I’m older 😉 I would like to work on my emotional regulation. Is there a way for me to have a very intensely thrilling sexual relationship without wanting to jump on an escalator with them? I’m also not saying that I wouldn’t do that same shit again. I’ve still been known to fuck a random hottie at a party in someone’s upstairs bedroom, or in a hostel room with a stranger sleeping above. But, I probably won’t do the same thing again.

What I’m saying is, I have no regrets. You were all-consuming-movie-kiss worth-it. You were five-minute-orgasm worth-it. I would do all of that again.

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