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As I sat writing in a Starbucks in West London, I received a message from a fellow I’d been flirting with via app. He was in the Cavendish Hotel, nearby. Room 502. Feeling bold, adventurous and somewhat uncaring, I went along. Feeling that I had somewhat of an idea what this was, and what it wasn’t.

He wasn’t handsome. He wasn’t well-bodied, although he was strong. He sat me on his knee and we kissed, then he stripped me, picked me up and flung me into his hotel bed, before growling in after me. He traced the contours of my body with his older-man’s hands. The lightest of touches, which made me moan and shiver with desire. I felt like a whore in a hotel room, but I didn’t care. He was older and unattractive but I didn’t care. All I cared about was the pleasure, as he used his hands and mouth to bring me to ecstasy.

I’d been massaged by men before. I’d been measured by men before. But this was amazing. It was tightest and most teasing of touches across my body, the skin of his hands barely in contact. And yet it felt like bliss. He teased and tormented me until he had to hold my hands down do I couldn’t squirm away and escape.

After I came, he held me in his strong arms. He ran his palms over my back, making me purr like a contented cat. And he spoke. He spoke with a mature man’s wisdom, asking me what I was doing in London and why I was here. He made me speak about the things I found hard, which stressed and hurt me.

“Will it matter in 50 years?” he advised about the daily problems which I said plagued me. “Will it matter in 50 years?”

“I came to London for the opportunities,” I said. “They didn’t have those kinds of options where I came from. Not for a fulfilling career.”

“You just didn’t see the opportunities back then,” he advised. “Success is relative, my dear. You define your own success.”

As I put on my clothes to leave, 2 hours later. I felt like an utter whore. I was scurrying from a fancy hotel, through a pink illuminated foyer where the air was heavy with scent. I looked at other people in the lift and wondered if they could see the guilt in my face, if they knew I didn’t belong in these elegant hallways and charming foyers. If I wasn’t a guest at all, but an intruder. And yet part of me revelled in it. I felt alive from the pleasure, and my back still tingled from his masterful touch. The thoughts in my head coalesced and whirled, unable to focus. Waves of lasting pleasure still coursed through me. I knew we would probably never see each other again, and truth be told I didn’t really want to. But this felt like no sexual encounter I had had before. On the one hand it was sordid and sleazy, letting an older man take me in the privacy of his hotel room, where the remnants of us would be washed away with the next morning’s changing of the sheets. A hotel room is a guiltless place because it’s an emotionless place. You on’t need to be attached to the room or the surroundings, so there’s no need to linger with feelings of attachment towards each other. But at the same time, why did I feel like I’d been imparted with wisdom and a greater understand of myself when I came away?

I was ashamed of myself for my whorish behaviour. But I was proud of embracing my own physical pleasure. I felt dirty running from a hotel to get the tube home. But I was proud of myself for taking a chance and throwing myself into life.

It was like on Friday, I somehow got chatting with a guy on the tube. We laughed together, and I thought he might be interested. He took out a chair he’d been working on in an upholstery class in the Lake District and let me sit on it. I wanted him to ask for my number, for my email address, to add me on WhatsApp. But he didn’t. As my stop came and I got up to leave there was no move, just a smile and a wave goodbye. I felt a little rejected. But, again, I was somehow proud of myself for having the courage to just embrace the opportunity. Even if it didn’t work out. Even if it ended with me alone on a tube platform.

As I sit and write this on a sweltering summer day in Stratford, watching the couples pack up their towels and bags and head home as the first chill of evening sets in, I can’t help but feel a little melancholy.
I try so hard to just be happy with me, who I am, and what I have. Having come to London with nothing, I have a lot of be thankful for. A long way still to go, but so much to be thankful for. I know that. But seeing these beautiful couples, bathed in the warm glow of the sun and in the glow of each other, I wish I could find that. I wish Chris and I could somehow have stayed together. That this summer I’d be lying here with my head on his warm stomach, discussing what we were going to go home and have for dinner. To walk home with his warm hand in mind. Warm in the glowing knowledge that tonight I’d be safe in his bed, safe in his arms. Safe.

They say love isn’t really real. That it’s just chemical, electrical signals in our brain telling us that another person represents fundamental human needs for protection and companionship. Safety or sentiment, which is more important? Can scientific wisdom explain away what we feel, or is it deeper? Where does it progress to, and can the future come too soon?

My friend Marina tells me it “only needs to work out once.” But I wish my once would hurry up and find me.

represents fundamental human needs for protection and companionship. Safety or sentiment, which is more important? Can scientific wisdom explain away what we feel, or is it deeper? Where does it progress to, and can the future come too soon?

My friend Marina tells me it “only needs to work out once.” But I wish my once would hurry up and find me.

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