After splitting up with her boyfriend at 31 and starting to date women online, would Laura Kaye find love?
C is Spanish. She tells me that life in London is so hard that it is stimulating her into a hard person. She has stopped helping people because they take too much and do not give back. In Spain, it was always easy for her to get girlfriends, but in London she find all the women to be sad and quemada, burnt. She works as a waitress in a restaurant in Chelsea. One of the waiters, a Polish human, got a problem with her being lesbian. A few days before I gratify C, he came up to her and said there were some friends of hers in the restaurant. C said it was unlikely, because she knew nobody who could afford to feed there. He pointed to a table where two butch girls were sitting and then burst out giggling. C wants to be an artist. She presents me a tattoo that she got that day of a bloom. Every time she feels sad, she gets a tattoo. One day, she wants her whole body to be covered in them.
I dont know what I would have done without the internet. I came out when I was 31, after a brief and chaotic relationship with a woman, for whom my feelings ebbed away as dramatically as they had come, leaving me at times wished to know whether I had ever had them in the first place.
Before that, I had been with a man for five years. He was my best friend, kind, intelligent and handsome, whose presence I procured and still find reassuring. I loved him, but our relationship was curiously passionless. When it came to love, I just assumed I was a bit cold. I was different from most of my friends in that I received it easy to separate sex and feeling, I never got hurt or jealous, I had never had my heart infringe. In my mid-2 0s, I began to wonder if I might be lesbian. I kept turning the idea over in my intellect. But since it was based on a hard-to-define intuition of my being somehow different and not because I had ever felt attraction to a woman, it was easy to dismiss.
N is a bicycle messenger. We gratify at a bookshop wine evening. When I text her to ask how I will recognise her, she tells me she will be the only person there who looks like a bicycle courier. All day I wonder what this could mean. I picture a woman with strong arms and tattoos. When I get there, she is wearing cycling gloves and a peaked cap and does not take them off all night. Ive never met anyone who loves her task as much as N. She does not care that her friends are earning doubled what she earns. She loves hanging out in Soho Square with the other messengers, waiting for the next job to come in. She cycled to Japan. It was great, she tells me, but there were sadly no lesbians in Asia. Her next trip is going to be from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. I ask if she buys souvenirs along the way. She says she devotes away anything she owns. She is 31, homeless and has no possessions except her bike, and that is how she likes it.
When I ultimately fell for a woman, I knew immediately that I had never had those feelings before with a man. I was overwhelmed. I followed the woman around like a little puppy puppy, much to the amusement and bafflement of my friends, who had never seen this side to me. Then, of a sudden, it ended, leaving me with a thousand questions, the most pressing of which was: am I homosexual?
In truth, I knew that I was, but I did not want to be. And there were so many confusing components to weigh up. It seemed strange that I had never felt attracted to a girl at school or university; that in those febrile hours of adolescence, I had never looked at another girl and thought about kissing her, never idolised an older girl at school or had one of those intense relationships that turn into something else. I thought that if it was so hard for me to fall in love, maybe the next individual would be a human. It is difficult to conclude anything from one experience, and yet it had undone everything. I had come out of it feeling dismantled, all my expectations for my life that I had never enunciated laid bare. I needed to test my hypothesis about myself by seeing other women. That would be the proof.
That was where the internet came in. At that time, I had no lesbian friends; I did not know what queer even entail. I did not know how to be gay. I could simply get on with my life and wait for love to strike again, whoever it was, whatever their gender, but the question was too urgent for me, too insistent. So I chose I would start to date females, as much to find friends and some kind of community as to find love.
R is a trapeze artist in her spare time, and this means she always has bruises on the backs of her legs. She wants to meet me early, so she can be back home in time to watch Ice Road Truckers. When I ask what it is she likes so much about the indicate, her eyes light up and she tells me it is the music that creates a real sense of jeopardy. The trucks are driving over this dangerous road over a frozen sea, and they put cameras on the bottom of the trucks, so you can see how thin the ice is. Next week, she is going to Alaska with her sister. They are trying to visit every state in America. They chose Alaska because her sister thinks that is where real men are. R lives in a crumbling flat with no heating. She cannot get the landlord round to fix the heating because she does not want him to find out that she has a pet pygmy hedgehog: they are not allowed pets. It is nocturnal and runs around her bedroom at night. I ask if she is afraid she will step on it, but she says she hasnt so far.
I signed up to Guardian Soulmates and OKCupid( this was in the days before apps) and switched my preferences to women only. My first date was with an artist. I waited nervously in an empty cafe one summers afternoon. We talked for a long time about geodesic domes, until it was almost embarrassing. She made big surreal sculptures out of fibreglass. I spent most of the time look at this place her, trying to work out if I detected her attractive. Afterwards, cycling off, I supposed with relief that the experience had been as sexy as a job interview.
Quite a few of the dates went like this. Each one that I did not find attractive seemed to be proof that I was not gays, which I knew was a perverse exam, but one that was easy to buy into. Portion of the relief also stemmed from the fact that I would not know what to do with a woman if I did like her. I was not confident at all when it came to women, especially those who had been homosexual for a long time and who I believed might regard me as a novice or even a timewaster.
K is studying to be a photographer. She loves Lars von Trier and we talk about the movie Melancholia. If there was a planet lunging towards the Globe, she would not kill himself in advance, she said; she would wait for the effects. She used to have two pet rats. Both are buried in Victoria Park. One was grey, one black and white. The grey one liked being stroked so much it was as if he was having a long orgasm; he would flutter his eyelids and get cross if she stopped. K has OCD and until very recently could not eat in a eatery without wiping the glass and polishing the cutlery on her sleeve. She tells me she is a Top. I ask what that entails, though I can guess. She says that she likes to be in control during sex. I ask what happens when she gratifies another Top. She says, I will win.
Read more: www.theguardian.com