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Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299

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The last days of Roma [Oct. 8th, 2016|09:55 pm]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
My last two days in Roma. It feels like a theatre set. Everything I hated all of a sudden feels harmless and kind of cute. I am leaving this shit behind, hoping that somehow I'll be able to miss it because it's in the 'longing' that I feel the most comfortable. All is ready. The one backpack that will come with me is still empty, all my stuff is in permanent storage and all my files are forever in the Cloud. I am making myself as agile as possible and yet it is hard to understand that this is not a holiday. Things are lined up: I have a room in Vail, I have a job as a dishwasher at a Mexican restaurant, and I have trucking school waiting for me in the Spring. Snow is already all over Colorado, greeting me and falling in a pattern that spells "Fucking Finally, Drew". Friends joke around that I'm American now, but I am not and I will never feel Halloween or Thanksgiving, and a good half of me stays behind in this rotten and eternal city called Roma which looks like cardboard to me as I zip through it with my scooter for the last couple of times. Everything is messy and confused in the last few hours before leaving the place you've lived in for forty years, and it doesn't take a genius to know that washing dishes sucks and it's only a matter of days before I'll whine about it. But right now it doesn't matter at all. Everything is about to change, but I have love, a camera and a notebook. I'm steering a gigantic ship around and through a colourful and mysterious sea of possibilities. I'm at the helm. What else could I ask for?
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August was strange. [Sep. 17th, 2016|08:46 pm]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
August was strange.

I was in Napoli for the first few days, chasing my permission to permanently go fuck myself in the USA, haunted by the possibility of a rejection that never came, enjoying walks so long I had to switch flip flops mid day to give the first overheated pair a break. I took photos, dined with a wonderful friend, slept in houses with history, wore ridiculous clothes for just an hour, and even visited a barber shop only to have second thoughts and give them permission to just trim hair out of my ears.
I came back to Roma with a victory so big that it wouldn't fit my mouth. I couldn't taste it, I couldn't explain it, and I lived the following weeks by knowing what it was supposed to feel like but unable to touch and own it as I had been anticipating for years. I got my papers, I got my stamps, I was ready to go, and yet it still didn't feel real.

So I went to my mountains. Hiding, as I call it, skinny dipping in the Past because I love it so much, because I owe everything to it, and because it looks like my favourite place on Earth. I Scavenged old graffiti I left in the previous century about wonderful girls I thought I would have loved forever -and I kind of did-, recalled and felt sexual memories I almost thought were made up, I ate until I exploded and I ridiculed myself by walking up a mountain covered from head to feet because I hate the sun and decided to protest the absence of clouds. These are the places where I'll one day go to die. Basking in melancholia will never feel any better than this.

Then I went back home, and my father died. I arrived just in time to spend a day and a half with him. I was prepared, I knew it was coming, we all knew, so we processed it as best as humans ever could. He died when he quit the stage ten years ago, and since then he's been hurting, trapped in a body that kept him alive and tortured him with the memories of who he was and all the things he could never have again. When he died, I was happy because the constant mental agony that afflicted him every day for a decade was finally over. I tried to talk to him as much as I could on his last two days, but it was too tiresome and he couldn't come up with more than a couple of words. "La Tosca", he said at some point, answering a question about what was passing on the TV screen. And then he made me do a few Google searches for some girls he had a fling with about fifty or sixty years ago. It seemed like at that point he didn't have breath left for anything other than his only true love, theatres and women, and those are the last things I'll remember about him. I held his hand the whole time, and I wonder if he meant anything with it, or if I did. Did we love each other? Maybe, probably, who knows. I wish some human connections were easier, I wish some forty-two years long relationships were less complicated, but our wasn't and now as before I still am not sure if I know how I felt about him. I owe him my immense love for science fiction, and I owe him my ethics in a way, as I chose to look to him as the model of who I did NOT want to be. His being a villain is what made me strive for everyday heroism in an effort to right his wrongs. In an effort to be who I want to be and not what culture or genes were pushing me to be. Will I miss my dad? I have no idea. I know that I am so damn happy that he is not hurting anymore.

And so it went. Before I knew September was here. I was back to my office and my desk of 16 years for what was going to be my last thirty days. I came back with my resignation notice and started training this unlucky woman who will take my place. September is my favourite month in Roma, the weather is perfect and so is the light. Kariya got his driver's license, and turned 22 just today. He still plays the drums almost every day and fantasizes about "doing nothing" the same way I was at his age. Minus the two-year-old son. My mom rescued another kitty, still yells at people from her car twenty times a day and still works on keeping her decaying body together with rage, tears, a heavy dose of impatience and an indestructible sense of justice.

And then there's me. About to go, 25 days away from that airplane, uncertain of everything, excited, thrilled, confused, curious, already flirting with nostalgia, but not a bit scared. Remember that old strip that I used to love with a guy in his thirties sitting a cafe bragging about his coming move because the place sucks and everybody who stays is an idiot, and then in the next frame the same guy is still sitting at the same cafe, a thirty years older, saying nothing? You know, fuck that guy. For a long second I thought I was him, but I am not.
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17 years a coat. [Feb. 26th, 2016|02:35 pm]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
I met my coat in the 20th century. When I first saw my coat, I was twenty five years old. Now I am forty two. When I first saw that coat, it had a maple leaf on the heart, and it was red. Flaming red, so red that all the other colours looked white next to it. It talked to me, of firefighting, of Canada, of long nights working outside in a remote northern airport while dreaming of hot coffee cups and slices of cherry cake. Of all the journeys that were waiting for me and that at the time were as far away from me as a hop to the moon. It was standing on a podium (I know, right?) in a place that doesn't exist anymore, some Hollywood themed restaurant chain that made a quick appearance in Roma but didn't work out. So, on a podium, in a restaurant, behind a glass, was the most attractive piece of coating I had ever met, and it needed to become part of my life. I asked about it, and they gave me the address of the store who put it up there. I called them the next day and arranged a meeting. They didn't have the coat in red anymore, and the one in the restaurant was many sizes too small. I had to settle for black, they said. And that was the first setback. Not to big though. The maple leaf was still red, and so was my blood, still pumping pretty hard about it.

The second setback was the price. This was pre-euro Italia, which still had a weird currency that was basically worth 1/2000th of a euro or a US dollar. So the coat, they told me, was about 1.000.000 lire, something along the lines of 500 euros/dollars today. I had just been fired from a job as an internet magician in a bookstore, and my finances amounted to zero. My son was five years old, I was surviving thanks to the generosity of my parents and the fact that I was living in a squat for no rent, an abandoned building with tape for windows and stolen electricity. I had no way to get to one million lire, in fact I had no way to get even the smallest fraction of that money. You could not imagine how strange and hard and painful those years were. Yet, I was a privileged kid. And as it often happens to privileged kids, no matter how shitty their lives seem to be, money appeared out of nowhere and the red Canadian coat -now turned black- was simply given to me from my father, famous for being the opposite of generous and definitely not known to be loving. I wondered for a minute why he did that. It couldn't be guilt as he was waterproof to the concept. I guessed it was because he liked the coat and hoped it would have made me stop dressing like a hobo, but also because he wanted me to feel in debt with him. Instead, knowing I would have never felt in debt with him, I just grabbed the coat and ran.

That was the year the war in Kosovo was still going on, the year a lot of people were worried about the Y2K bug, the year Napster was released, the year TLC put out "No Scrubs", the year I saw The Matrix in a theatre, and the year I got a new job.

That coat was with me when my son won his first football tournament at the age of five and when he got sent off by the referee just a week ago, at twenty one, for picking a fight. That's the coat that I had on when I celebrated New Year's Eve 2001 from the lighthouse overlooking Roma sharing a bottle of champagne and holding on to the cork which is still, a relic, in its left pocket. That coat saw me fumble over my shopping addiction back in 2002, it saw me question my gender identity over many years, and "blog" like there was no tomorrow in 2005 when my heart was so broken I thought there was nothing left to patch. It saw me fall in love and breakup a thousand times, and with me it hugged as many people in and out of my life: the first time I said "hi" to them, and the last time I said "goodbye" to them, the coat was there. It was with me in 2006 when a judge was deciding who was my son supposed to live with (me), and it was there at the police station every time they called me, night or day, cause someone else screwed up and I had to figure out a way for us to get through it without shattering. It was with me when I dared Finland to hit me with its best Winter, and was also with me when I was freezing on the side of a football pitch three times a week hating all humans but one. It saw my knee bent sideways for a stupid yoga blunder and saw my foot get a cast after being run over by a car. It saw me go up 15 kilos and down 15 kilos over and over, and it was with me when I crossed the ocean for the first time. It was there in NYC in 2009 when I become one with the movies in my head, and when I drove all night to get to Virginia and make someone else's movie a reality. It was with me at Niagara Falls with one of my best friends, and it was with me in Michigan, where I needed to give it all out in order to learn a hard final lesson about myself.

The coat never made it back to Toronto, its real home, because I was only there in the summer, but it has seen France, Germany, North Carolina, Florida, Colorado, countless airports, infinite gas stations, and an unmeasurable number of cafes for milk and pastry. It was with me when Nathalie first came to Roma five years ago, and when we went to the mountains and let ourselves be swallowed by a sea of snow fantasizing about a timeless future, caravans, farms, animals, togetherness.

The coat was always there. You have all seen me with it at some point, and some of you probably have had your hands warmed up by it while hugging me from the back of my scooter during our winter rides. The gigantic hood. The silly oversized pockets holding all the trinkets collected across a millennium and the metal nails and screws that I claim to be part of my "collection".The front pouch harboring receipts and flyers from dead places and events that belonged to a different era. And the round, intensely red maple leaf still pointing as precisely as a bullseye straight to my heart, in case someone needed directions or didn't notice the big glowing one right there on my sleeve.

The coat was a companion, a bank, a diary, a home. But who in the world would write an ode to his coat?

Just this one guy. The one who is too distracted to remember all the things he wants to remember and delegates them to objects, things, videos, scars, tattoos, and even coats. The one who will leave one world soon to try and see what's outside of his solar system. The same guy who met a coat seventeen years ago in a restaurant and made a deal with it, to dream bigger, travel larger, and make it happen.

It is such a shame that the coat is not coming with me to the Americas, I know I will miss it. It was there every time I needed it. It inspired me, comforted me, cuddled me. It prepared me for what was coming. It is dying now, the zips are falling apart, the pockets have all sorts of holes, and the feathers bleed out from too many rotten seams. But we both know I won't throw it away. There will be this one time, thirty or maybe forty years from now, when I'll be back and I'll open that storage compartment that held safe all my treasures from the '80s and the '90s, and the old coat will come up and greet me.

Call me whatever you want, but I'll keep it on my lap, and I'll tell it all the stories and all the adventures it missed.

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"Is he on yet?" [Feb. 19th, 2016|10:21 am]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
Stuck between more than two places. Physical, mental, wishful and past places are everywhere, scattered around me like the beads from a broken heirloom. Torn between a desire to blog dissatisfaction out and keep it quiet until it goes away. As if.
Once again I am so close to start writing my long overdue novel, but we all know it won't happen because I have too many videogames to start (and not finish) and because the things I'm feeling now will be smothered to a deep sleep as soon I'll get home from work today. I'd start sex work but I would probably starve, or puke, or get too attached.

I miss things. I always miss things.
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Collect Call - The unbearable intensity between a son and Emily Haines. [Oct. 20th, 2015|03:11 pm]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
Sometimes I feel that all I'd like to do is to express what I am feeling, with words or paint or my body somehow. What is complicated is that more often than not what I "feel" is nothing else but longing. Most of the times for other feelings, people, or memories, or fantasies. All of that is so damn hard to express that I end up not doing it, cooking it inside hoping it will eventually come out as art (it doesn't). And then, some other times, my feelings are just an excited mess about videogames, movies, TV shows, or some other shallow stuff that turns me on. And even all that feels so terribly uncommunicable that aloneness becomes such a good friend. The one that too often you want to play all the games, watch all the movies, enjoy all the sex and do all the traveling with.

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Therapeutic narcissism [Oct. 12th, 2015|04:00 pm]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
When I feel like writing, it means something is not right. When everything is right, all I want to do is to fade into bliss.

As a narcissist, it is not easy to stop admiring myself and that's true even when I am criticising myself. If I'm loving myself, I celebrate it with my favourite person (me). If I'm loathing myself, I want to talk shit about that asshole with my favourite person (still me). Either way, I am always talking about myself and while that can easily grow unbearable for others, Me and Me can (and have to) listen to the whole disquisition every time.

The good part of that is that my narcissism, accidentaly I could say, forces me to take care of myself. My logic often traps me into doing unpleasant things because they are right, or keeps me away from pleasant ones because they are wrong, so when I don't feel good and I very narcisistically start telling myself what's going on by writing it down as if I had to make a case to someone, I get to be that someone so I end up seeing things with much more clarity than I could have anticipated.

In short, if I tell my best friend (duh, me) what's bugging me, he/she/it/they always manage to be extremely helpful. I wouldn't go as far as saying that I have a personal counselor or psychotherapist that keeps me sane, but I couldn't count the times that releasing the valves and dropping all I have down on paper helped me. Immensely.

I often downplay all the stuff I had to go through as a human. This is for a multude of reasons. The first one is that I feel so much better now that I -and I know it's weird- sometimes almost forget how bad I had it at some points. This is huge privilege. Some people don't get to get over their traumas that easily.

The second one is that I have been working to check my privilege for so long that I might have pushed the dial too far. But at any rate, I know so many people that have all sorts of mental health issues and have or had to go through so many hardships that I, now that I am doing good, just cannot even think about comparing situations, so almost automatically assume that anyone I am talking to has it worse than me. If nothing else, at present.

The third one is that I always have to be the strongest one. Not to brag, not to gloat, just because either I am or everything else fall apart. Is this true? Probably not, almost certainly not. But how do you question that? Or how do you test it. How do you jeopardize your environment, your health, and the health of those around you, to try and see if things would work if you took some rest, if you gave up just for a second?

I could write infinite pages about myself, my history, what "made me who I am", how Responsibility tried to kill me until I swallowed it and made it a part of me, and how I didn't break under unbelievable pressure. And I know I will one day, I need to present that story, well written and documented, to my best friend. But for now, feeling the constraints of a new journaling experience that could easily suffocate in its infancy if the pain-blogging were left unchecked, I'll just drop this anchor right here: how many times have felt in my life that I had to power through all the sorrow and madness or everyone including me would have lost their mind? How many times I had to fight tears, the chest-bursting monsters, and irresponsible self-harming thoughts to prevent what I perceived as a massacre?

Superhero complex, they say. Sure, some of it. But the photo down here will never be able to tell the story I want to tell, of how sad I was back in the late 90s, how miserable, and how all the love for that kid (and trust me, it was and it is a lot) couldn't magically make me happy. Sometimes you WANT to save everyone, sometimes you HAVE to save everyone.

And since all the photos I take will never tell me the whole story, I have to keep telling it to myself. If I'm writing it's because I don't feel good, but the more I write, the better it gets.

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The journal. [Oct. 7th, 2015|11:16 am]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
I usually say I've been writing since forever, but that's not true. Before journaling and writing about myself, I was managing "magazines" (zines?) for our 11 year-old gaming habits. I used to write articles about our football matches, then gazeteering our table-soccer League, then BattleTech, the roleplaying games. I don't think I've written a single page about my own thoughts and issues until high school. 14 maybe, probably 15. When the chest started pounding and hurting to get my attention. Like, "What are you doing?! Time to bleed, my friend, possibly on paper".

I long for the days when I vomited down words without nausea or a bad taste in my mouth. Shape, form and style creep up like an infection, but it's when I embrace the wounds that I feel really good. There was always a time when we thought chaos was amazing. My days as a wild one were a lot of fun. If only we could be alone.

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La fila in banca (2004 - 2015) [Mar. 18th, 2015|11:40 am]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
In banca avevo dietro di me un signore e una signora, due persone anziane sugli ottant'anni.
Lui si lamentava che ci fosse una sola cassa aperta.
Allora aveva cominciato a parlare, cercando in maniera evidente la complicita' di qualcuno.
La signora avanti a lui non era riuscita a sottrarsi. Non sembrava convinta, ma partecipava.
Il signore borbottava che era difficile, sempre piu' difficile (tutto), e che la sua unica soddisfazione era che da vent'anni non dava piu' il voto a nessuno.
La signora annuiva e mugugnava varie forme d'assenso. Empatizzava, ma senza troppo calore.

Cosi' lui, finalmente lo aveva detto: "Io poi, ho fatto la guerra"
Lo avevano portato in Polonia, e per poco non l'avevano fucilato.
Era anche invalido. Non si vedeva, per fortuna diceva, ma era invalido di guerra. "Quella guerra li'."
In maniera delicata aveva fatto capire di essere Generale, senza presunzione o almeno senza manifestarla. E proprio in quel momento la cassiera aveva preso a salutarlo da lontano, sedando la sua impazienza con qualche brillante battuta da banca, e l'aveva fatto riconoscendogli il titolo: "Generale".

"Come andiamo Generale?"
"La faccio aspettare perche' e' il mio preferito, Generale."
"Venga piu' spesso, Generale."

Il Generale si era rituffato nell'insoddisfazione, e sfruttando la nuca della signora avanti a lui aveva ripreso a sgranare il suo malessere.
"Rossi e neri tutti uguali" sosteneva, o qualcosa di simile.
La signora a questo punto aveva preso a partecipare. Il suo entusiasmo completamente risvegliato dal lato oscuro della fila in banca. La fatica, la vita, aveva la meglio, trasformando la stanchezza in rancore.

E' vero, aveva detto. E' uno schifo.
E' vero, e' tutto uguale.

E poi, quasi con dolore, ma con ancora piu' energia:
"Berlusconi poi, che delusione! Quello la' ha venduto bugie!"
E il Generale sembrava convenirne, condividere. Aveva addirittura rincarato.
Specificava di nuovo che era lo stesso, a destra e a sinistra.
Ma non risparmiava niente e nessuno. E, tirando in ballo i poveri commercianti, aveva sferrato l'attacco finale alle istituzioni.

"E' un macello. I soldi non servono piu' a niente. Non funziona piu' niente. Questo paese e' andato a rotoli."

La signora aveva annuito con forza, a questo punto con fervore.
Sembrava che nessuno dei due volesse smettere di lamentarsi.
Meglio di uno sciroppo per la tosse, per loro. Quasi una seduta d'analisi.
Era arrivato il mio turno allo sportello. Loro mi erano ancora dietro.

Avevo perso la percezione dell'ambiente circostante e avevo passato gli assegni, non miei, al cassiere. Uno nuovo, giovane.
Lui aveva automatizzato il denaro che gli avevo passato, e a me era venuta in mente una cosa che avevo letto da qualche parte e che mi era piaciuta tanto:
Si diceva che io facevo parte dell'ultima generazione con i ricordi in bianco e nero, la televisione, ma soprattutto le foto. Si trattava di un pensiero suggestivo, ma non era del tutto vero, non era corretto, perche' il bianco e nero e' riproducibile, e sempre utile. No. Io facevo parte dell'ultima generazione con i ricordi sbiaditi, come le fotografie a colori degli anni settanta con le loro tinte inspiegabili, o quelle ancora piu' vecchie dove il bromuro di argento si era mangiato la carta su cui era stampato. L'ultima generazione capace di ricordare l'imperfezione delle memorie non digitali, che sopravvivono a tutto orgogliose di perdere qualita' ma non sostanza, e che non cancelli con un click ma solo con un falo'.

Mentre l'uomo dietro il banco di plastica completava l'operazione per cui era pagato, e dietro di me, presumo, il signore e la signora anzian* portavano avanti il loro psicodramma pubblico, m'ero reso conto di qualcosa di molto piu' importante, o almeno mi sembro' importante in quel momento. E cioe' che io ero parte di una delle ultime generazioni che poteva farsi raccontare la guerra.

Poi non ci sarebbero stati che i libri.
O molto peggio, la televisione.
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Dead Social Networks [Mar. 17th, 2015|09:40 pm]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
I was looking for some bits of myself that I was afraid were lost forever, so I went exploring dead social networks. It's like the urban abandonment I am so fond off, minus the rust and the dust. Dead links everywhere, scrambled pictures plastering awfully coloured cyberwalls. You can smell the cobwebs, which happen to be optimized for a 1024x768 screen. Countless romances left unfinished, tales of depression and despair without any ending whether good or bad. Incredibly long strings of 21st Century digital graffiti, all mass-suicided before 2009. Infinite masturbatory lines of futile narcissism forever forgotten, where even spambots don't wander anymore.

It's beautiful.
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The Long Lost Nathalie Manuscript [Feb. 25th, 2015|10:47 am]
Fenton Scorn sulla Statale 299
His left cheek was unesthetically pushed against the window. His nose bent, his eyes sparkling, piercing the rattling glass, looking for her. He wasn't absolutely certain about that station being the right one, even less sure that he was looking on the right side, but being a control freak he had already triple checked everything. The train, so slowly, kept pushing south cutting Florida in shapes he wasn't yet familiar with. It was a morning of March, when he was erasing the last bit of separation ever between the two of them.

That was a strange girl. Maybe the strangest. “She's a strange girl” he was actually thinking that very second, while the rhythm of the locomotive was so pleasantly dying down and he had just finished collecting his stuff, ready to jump off as soon as the doors opened. He had been thinking that way since they first talked, six months before that day. The strange girl found him on an online dating service where he used to hide under layers of enflated self descriptions and cautionary tales disguised as ethical manifestos. It's not that she wasn't supposed to find him, after all the site was public and his self promotional page was the kind of involuntary bait that periodically drags home some stray emotional masochists. But she certainly wasn't supposed to write him considering the oceanic distance between them, and even more certainly he wasn't supposed to take her seriously. Yet, they started exchanging witty messages on a bruised September morning, and six months later the only break they had allowed each other was the couple of digital blackout days that the airplane and the train imposed on him on his way to meet her.

She was there. He got off at a station that didn't look like a station, but she looked like the strange girl and he forgot about everything else. The strange girl had a white dress, intricated ethnic sandals that made perfect sense, and was waving a little red kiddie balloon. She looked so little, young, a strange little girl. “Maybe that's why she doesn't kiss”, he thought. It's not that he jumped for her lips, but over those six months of internet romancing they had exchanged much more than just virtual kisses, so if he was worried about anything it was the risk of being arrested for having sex in a Winter Park train station, and the idea that they wouldn't have kissed the instant their bodies would finally be in the same space was never part of any scenario.

But she was a strange little girl, so no matter the anticipation, no matter the buildup, she shook his hand, or something, and went as far as hugging him. He wasn't disappointed, more surprised, and also surprised to notice that she brought a wingwoman that looked like something in between a very cute person, a safety net and a guard dog, cause strange little girls should never talk to strangers especially when they look like the scruffy psycho they met on the internet. He certainly thought they would have been alone, but didn't take it the wrong way. It was a sticky day, it was an unexplored land. Unusual things were bound to happen.

She never really understood how he felt in that moment, and it's like in her little girl brain busy with little girl things she never really understood how he felt about her over the whole four years, but the records tell us that the day they met in person he was incredibly happy. He already had enough experience of meeting people in the cyberspace to know that, contrarily to some popular opinions, assuming no foul is intended there is no dissociation between virtual and “real”. But the strange little girl sounded better than he anticipated in that sticky Southern noon: her voice enhanced by the perfect acoustic of the street they were walking on, her beautiful face enriched by the mindblowing high resolution of everyday life, and her size, shapes and movements improved, made gorgeous, finally three dimensional, by their long awaited coexistence in the same space-time.

She didn't get any of that. But while they were walking towards her home, he was ecstatic. Taking her all in, long breath, large whiffs, he didn't expect her to be so authentically beautiful and real, so he wasn't really thinking at the missing kiss or any other little oddity. He was simply observing time as it was morphing what they had had for six months into what they were going to have from that moment on. It was like science fiction, millions of molecules invisible to the naked eye exploding into billions of alchemical fireworks and recombining themselves into trillions of emotionally charged new codependent shared fantasies. And as infinite logical permutations of romantic and sexual short circuits swarmed between the two of them penetrating their blood streams and generating new needs -and right while they were walking home talking about silly things and poking fun at each other, and the weather, and the red balloon- he witnessed this weird new relationship transform the strange little girl into Nathalie, and the scruffy internet psycho into Drew. They walked another half an hour smiling and talking yet undecided about holding hands, but already aware that they weren't going to separate for a long, long time.

About two hours later, at her place, they had sex for the first time. He knew she was special even though he didn't allow himself to fall in love yet. He felt like he was already part of her, and she was already part of him, and the condom between them looked like the sad excuse of someone unwilling to admit such an early defeat. He was going to be in love, he was willing to be in love, he was loving to be in love. He just couldn't say it yet, and pretended a distance architectured to keep her safe but unable to keep him sane. She was that special, she was the reason he was in that sticky little town, she was having him wanting to take pictures of every step she took and every laugh she cracked. She was animating his body in places he didn't think he had a body, and making him fantasize about cravings he had forgotten. She was that special, she was incredible, she was amazing, she was the cutest and more loving wild little beast he had ever encountered, and his world got upside down, just enough to make room for her and all of her things.

He couldn't say it out loud, but she was a new era. She deserved a new era, and he was just dragging his feet to save the appearances. To make sure she had a choice, to make it clear there were plenty of ways out. It would have taken a few more months after that day at the station for him to tell her that he loved her, that he was in love with her and that she was the most important being in his life. The whole story, seen from his eyes, was a complicated collection of artificial slowdowns and unexpected turns and twists. He moved so carefully around her that he often forgot to pay attention at how beautiful she was, and every time he sat down and hugged her he got blinded but what he tried not to look at.
She was amazing, she was a new world he had to travel to and needed to enter with all his stuff. She invited him to colonize her and rewarded him with a galaxy of ever changing star systems to explore. And then she offered him a map but begged him to trash it, so they could become a new one together.

That afternoon, laying down on her bed, a mattress on the floor, he was sweaty, tired and spent, but so happy that he couldn't speak. On a side, facing the wall, breathing spontaneously with his skin exposed while she was behind him obediently scratching his back and passionately taking care of his skin. Strips of sunlight colouring the darkness and drawing patterns on the side of their bodies. Time barely moved as they let their senses adjust to their new reality. It didn't have a name yet, but we now know that on that sticky day of March they became Nathalie and Drew, and the most unbelievable thing is that for four years they have never for a second desired to be anything else.

"This Nathalie...”, he thought, while absorbing her nails and the traces she was inscribing. “I am the luckiest man in the world”. He turned around, and held her as strong as he could. They found each other in the dim, faint light, and kissed until they passed out.
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