Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m on Fire’ is James’ song, a handsome, kind and very sexy Australian I met in Barcelona. After nearly a month, I think I’m ready to talk about him now.
James was a one-night stand. The best I’ve had so far, we met sharing views on the monarchy, then our shared love of Bon Iver and The Boss before chatting about our lives over drinks, fags and the offer of a red rose (which, though I refused, he would have bought had he a smaller note than his 50). James was lovely.
He invited me to his room for JD, which I swigged out of the bottle since coke was not to be found (classy). Escalation was foreseen, and enjoyed.
What I didn’t expect was his reaction post-enjoyment.
“No. Please, no.”
With his head in his hands, it was obvious what had happened. I tried not to panic. It was evident that he was.
“It’s ok, we can get it sorted.”
I remember holding each other for a bit whilst we sorted out our emotions. He offered for me to stay, but I couldn’t. I had to go. I needed to cry.
I had completely underestimated the trauma of taking the morning after pill, more so in a foreign country after a one night stand.
I cried in McLovin’s arms for at least half an hour after leaving his hostel room.
“What are you going to do in the morning?”
“Take the morning after pill.”
“And what are you not?”
If it hadn’t been for McLovin, the single person who knew until I told the suspicious Bethlehem two nights later, I don’t know how I would have coped. She figuratively slapped me across the cheeks, raising and reassuring my drunken spirits.
I did not sleep a wink that night, and neither did James. We met as we’d agreed, at 9.30 downstairs, in order to get the drug together. Quizzed by the Spanish pharmacist, it is not an experience that I’d particularly like to repeat. Refusing his invitation to what I perceived to be a guilty offer of coffee (which I regret from the bottom of my heart, looking back), I left him by the lift, running away to my room in order to swallow the single pill, in the comfort of McLovin’s presence.
That was the last time I ever saw James.
That following day was fucking hard. I was an emotional wreck, trying to hide any emotion from the others who I didn’t want to know at that time. I pretended that I was ill, dealing with lectures on how “it was the heat” and that I should eat or drink or lie down or whatever, masking the real reason behind my shaky behaviour.
Nearly a month on, I have learnt much from my experience in Barcelona with James. I have learned how volatile my defensive attitude towards men can be. I have learned that I need to embrace romance rather than shut it down, be it from guilt or not. I have learned that not all men are arseholes that leave you to deal with complications utterly alone: some ask you if you’d like to share their bed for comfort, Google information to aid the process, come with you to get the necessary tools and even ask you to sit down and chat over coffee afterwards. I have learned not to instantly distrust men solely based on my own experiences, to stop being so self-toxic and to boost my confidence. I have learnt that casual sex isn’t always as casual as one may want and I’ve learnt that taking the morning after pill is emotionally draining. Most of all, I’ve discovered an overwhelming compassion for other women that have had to go that step further in aborting; I can only imagine how traumatic such an experience would be. The truth is, if this was so hard for me, how in the world will I be able to cope with an abortion if I’ll ever need to have one?
Let’s hope this is a rhetorical question which will never need to be answered.