the Aussie made me do it…

I have been avoiding publishing this blog for days.

This blog is the floodgates.

Everything I’ve been packaging up and tucking away and pretending doesn’t exist in the world is about to come pouring out around me.

Or, I guess, it already has.

I suppose there’s no getting around being rescued from a drown if you’re unwilling to admit that you’re drowning in the first place.

I blame an Aussie, entirely.

great things never came from comfort zones

—–

Soooo, in my world, I believe in travel karma. I believe that if you’re really good to travelers when they’re on your home turf, that the Universe will reward you with really amazing travel experiences when you’re on somebody else’s.

When The Aussie struck my Tinder radar I was pretty excited to connect with him. What I didn’t know is that my turf was about to get jostled up forever.

—–

It was in the middle of a random, drunken Tinder game with one of my favourite humans. She was standing in the kitchen while I sat on the bar stool opposite the island with my elbows holding me up against the counter.

No.

No.

No.

No.

No.

Tindering sometimes makes you wonder whether your standards for split-second attraction ratings are unreasonably high.

No.

No.

No.

No.

…. Wait.

He had the shape of face that I totally dig – that sort of Irish/Scottish/light-haired-pronounced-chin type of face face. A great smile. He was wearing a backback backwards in his photo – suggestive of a true traveler.

“Aussie traveling around the States” – read his caption.

Well Aussie, you must be on a layover in Toronto, then….

His second photo, a selfie in an elevator. I’m not typically a fan of the elevator selfies.. it’s one of those, ‘I look good today so I want everyone else to know I do too.’ moments.. but he did look good.

I’ll give it to you, Aussie.

Another selfie… this time a pseudo-shirtless shot…. solid pec definition and some killer blue eyes….

I do appreciate a good not-looking-at-the-camera snap.

Then a photo of him with a girl, looking particularly young – back when spikey gelled hair was a thing. Young, but still cute as hell. Maybe spikey-gelled-hair is still a thing down-unda?

A black puppy… lab, maybe? His? Who knows. It matters not.

And, finally, an Aussie on those jet-pack water-things…. basically showing off an adventurous side (or a side that has money to spend on frivolous attractions at random tourist destinations).

Either way, the Aussie was a yes.

*swipe right*

We didn’t match right away.

Lame.

Tinder does this thing sometimes where the servers line up and you’ll end up with 45 matches in a row, and other days you’ll literally not match with a single soul.. even the test-souls that you swipe just to see whether or not Tinder is working (that you’d never swipe on otherwise). (thank goodness for the un-match feature if these do happen to pan out).

Alas…. The Aussie’s Tinder profile came and went.

I did make mental note of the elevator selfie, though. It was a good one. I like me a gentleman in a well-pressed dress shirt.

A day later, driving back from an early morning downtown meeting…. I’m notified of a Tinder match.

The Aussie.

Oh. Hai.

“Hey. How’s it going”

He doesn’t use question marks. Lame. But he’s a handsome man. Forgiven.

“Hi Handsome. Welcome to Canada :)”

“Haha thanks. It’s pretty nice here, I love it…”

In the same breath I ask him where his travels have taken him to lately.

“Ummm, quite a few places lately. (I note it’s 11:11 and secretly hope he’s made a wish… because, well, that’s what you do on Tinder.) I left home mid April, went to Coachella in LA then went down through Central and South America for a month. Then came back up to the States for a bit. Then was in Niagara Falls over the weekend. Now I’m in Toronto!”

(I’ve corrected most of the lack of proper punctuation for blog purposes).

“You like to travel a lot too, hey?”

“Once or twice.” – I’m being cheeky.

“Haha does once or twice mean lots and lots…?”

Smart Aussie.

My TravelBuddy gear began to kick in.

Hmm, he’s here for a few more days. I wonder what I could show him? Where could I take him? What would be worth seeing if I was just passing through Toronto?

I thought a roadtrip to Ottawa would be fun. Kind of like how Emma drove me out to Wicklow when I visited Ireland so that I could see where P.S. I Love You was filmed. Alas, timing wouldn’t have allowed it.

We connect on WhatsApp.

“Boo.”

“Oh hi. Fancy meeting you here.”

“What were the odds!”

“Well, technically, pretty slim to none. Odds of us meeting ever are basically nothing.”

“Hmmm, I’d say they exponentially increase from microscopic with every word typed.”

I like him.

And his diction.

Between his romps around the city and lack of internet, our conversation was sporadic at best.

We talked about buying guitars, random dates, Australia, traveling Thailand.

He owned a business before he became an engineer and dreams of doing it again. Having recently quit his job to travel, and basically “jump and build wings on the way down” I figured it was no coincidence that this particular gentlemen struck my Tinder radar so hard.

We talked about who would have the cuter accent if we ever spoke in person.

(he won, by a long shot).

I told him he was cute as hell.

“Haha I’ve never heard those two things put together before….”

Good. Nobody ever forgets their first.

He had plans to check out the aquarium the next day. I told him to take pictures of the pink jellyfish for me.

I was watching reruns of Lost on Netflix. He told me he’d have to ignore that before his mind imploded. Still uncertain what he meant by that.

The next day he checked in around lunch time. I was on my way home from a business chat, and he said he was off to the aquarium ‘to get those pictures for {me}’.

(brilliant choice of verbiage, Aussie. I wonder if it was on purpose?)

We chatted on and off.

I got my jellyfish photos. (and a spontaneously cute CN Tower selfie – but for anonymity purposes, I won’t share that gem…. I was happy, though, that the degree of attraction remained consistent. Some men share moments on Tinder that entirely warrant immediate unmatching.)

Toronto Ripleys Pink Jellyfish Aquarium

Somehow our WhatsApp conversation turned to real-life things like whether I think it’s possible to find someone to spend the kind of life I dream of with.

“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible… I just think it’s rare.”

“Have you found anyone that comes close?”

“I’ve found lots of them in lots of people.”

“Have you ever had a long term bf?”

This man clearly had no idea what was coming when he found out about the girl I used to be.

We text-flirted over the course of dinner… he went out to eat. I had Ben and Jerry’s.

“Potentially, if the planets aligned, hanging out afterwards could be an option if you’re up for it?”

I was running errands.

His texts made me laugh out loud the entire time.

I suggested a middle-of-the-night roadtrip to see the Falls lit up.

“Sounds like fun, barring the unlikely situation that we hate each other.”

“It’s quite possible. I’d be willing to drop you at a train station or something.”

10 p.m. and I was pulling up to a condo on the waterfront to meet a fabulously photogenic Aussie with a killer knack for witty banter.

I wondered whether I’d have trouble understanding his accent.

“Where are you?”

I sent him a screenshot of the lobby doors.

“Is your car silver?”

And that’s when Ella jumped up in the window and started wagging her tail at him.

I don’t remember the obligatory pleasantries we exchanged when he got in the car.

He was still handsome as hell and smelled stupidly good. It was the kind of good smell that either all foreigners from Australia take for granted and it was residual from his day downtown, or the kind of good smell that he purposely crafted before he got in the car. Either way, I approved.

I like meeting people while driving. It provides the right amount of external distraction to not have to 1. Stare them in the eyes and 2. Focus on nothing else but the conversation at hand. The only thing about this particular get-together was that it was taking place on a night when I still had a leftover event in the back of my car.. and by event, I literally mean floor-to-ceiling, ram-jammed with shit. And on top of that, shit that rattled every time I went over a bump. BAH.

The Aussie was pretty quiet; and I don’t mean in the shy, untalkative way – he was really soft-spoken.

Not only did I have to strain to hear what he was saying, it was multiplied by an accent so the words didn’t quite sound as familiar as they would’ve without the facet of unfamiliar. I didn’t love how frequently I asked him to repeat himself, but once I gave the disclaimer that I actually wanted to know what he was saying, I’m hoping he knew that I thought he was just as rad in person as he’d been online.

+1, Aussie.

I asked him how long he’d been traveling for.

“I already told you.”

…. Fuxk.

“Are you speaking with that many people that you forget already?”

He was sassing me in my own car.

The truth is, I’m so good at detaching digital / cognitive connection from physical ones that I often disjoint the two in the same person. I’m usually used to really likeing someone digitally and not having any chemistry in person. The “right” answers electronically thrill me in the digital sphere, but I don’t let them hold water anymore. Physical connections are so rare to me that it’s like I need to start over the moment I realize I actually care to know.

Yes. It was a roundabout way of saying that I liked this dude in both spheres.

He had to reiterate how long he’d been traveling for. He had to tell me again where he’d been. He explained to me what civil engineering meant.

That’s when we started talking about the things that totally get my juices flowing – US politics, conspiracy theories, debates on things like national security surveillance. He had to confirm the differences between Assange and Snowden for me (I’ll never confuse the two again). But somehow as the kilometers passed, so, too, did our conversation. There were sentences that entangled me in his accent and I just wanted him to keep speaking so that I could keep listening to it. There were others that pulled my mind in so hard that he could’ve been speaking in Russian and I would’ve been equally enthralled.

There were moments he pinned me to the wall (metaphorically speaking) and questioned what I was saying to me. I was equal parts off-put and engaged. Challenged.

He asked questions I’d never been asked before and challenged me on points no one has ever thought to challenge. It made for a quick jaunt over to Niagara, that’s for sure.

We started off in Fort Erie… along the Niagara River, watching the lights of downtown Buffalo twinkle on the water. I chose to forego his Belgian beer offer for steeped tea from Tim Hortons. We leaned on the stone wall and stared at the flickering-lights horizon while dark blue waves of water ebbed and flowed a few feet below us; the perfect late-night soundtrack to a conversation with someone more random than anything.

He talked to me about his family.

We talked about travel.

I still couldn’t make a judgment call on him. His quiet tone frustrated me – I have a moderately oversized personality large enough to take up two roadtripping Jeeps.. and he was a touch more reserved, more calculated, but the kind of wildly intelligent that makes you nervous because you know they’re operating two steps ahead of you.

I would compliment something he’d done or said in the past few days.

He’d call me introspective but not actually deny that he’d done said thing.

Sneaky Aussie.

We drove down the Parkway toward Niagara Falls. More talk about family back home – his mother, his brother, his motivation to change careers.

Excited to show off the illuminated Falls, imagine how disappointed I was when I realized that apparently the lights get shut off at midnight (or at some time earlier than we were there). We drove by and the only lights to be seen by the edge of the water were yellow lanterns along the walkway and the odd flash atop an Asian tourist’s selfie stick. Sad day.

The next leg of our roadtrip took us from the Falls to Niagara On The Lake. The conversation just kept unfolding. We’d circle back and forth between wildly intellectual debates and our personal lives. In moments when I least expected it, he’d unveil something new that was suggestive of his crazy amounts of cognitive capacity. I think I inadvertently taught him about attachment styles, love languages, neurochemicals and the Attentional Blink.

We stopped at the lookout at Queenston Heights. The conversation turned a touch more intimate. The questions became more pointed and the answers became more and more raw. Suddenly it wasn’t just a face-value chat with a stranger. At that point, in that parking lot, sitting on the cold metal barrier between the road and the forested cliff down to the river, layers began to peel away… mostly from me. The curious thing about this particularly salient conversation? The emotional stuff didn’t come across as having any more or less value than anything else we’d discussed. Facts. Feelings. Beliefs. No judgment, no aversion, just speaking in like. With an accent.

It was becoming increasingly clear that across a few topics in particular, we were strikingly different from one another, tet somehow we maintained a position of positive regard. Judgment-free, and totally safe.

I’m not exactly sure how the shroud around his darker side was torn away. He seamlessly transitioned back to my aversion to engage in playful-yet-suggestive banter via text.

“It’s just not really my style.”

I explained how a female’s experience of Tinder is so much different from a male’s. He seemed to disagree with the fact that I was aligning his queries with the men looking just to get their rocks off in a artificial space.

“I ask to gain an understanding of the person I’m interacting with.”

I didn’t understand.

As it turned out, my handsome Aussie had grown a taste for the atypical … and not in the ‘bullshit 50 Shades’ was that just generalizes and waters down deviant play for the masses.

The gazebo beach in NOTL was our final stop of the evening…. It seemed appropriate here to join the Aussie with a bottle of Leffe and sit along the rocks at the water’s edge.

Faint downtown Toronto lights dotted the horizon, while a small motorboat traced the edge of the NY shoreline through the orange reflected lights flooding down from their old fort walls.

More stories about life, love and the Universe.

We bantered about fate, destiny, and agency in the world. It was one of those conversations that wasn’t necessarily headed anywhere, but was equally comfortable and riveting to have.

We headed back toward Toronto, stopping for another tea on the way.

I ended up so caught up in talk that I forgot to drink it.

I had no intention of driving the Aussie back to his place. We stopped at mine. Two rocks glasses of bourbon were poured. I don’t think I got out more than a handful of sentences on the couch before he unexpectedly, without word, leaned in to kiss me.

“Well, that was a surprise.”

“Was it?”

Touché, Aussie.

Onward.

He was short and gentle. The tiniest amount of kissing sound emanated from his lips. God, I love silent kisses.

It was the sound of his breath around my face that caused me to lose mine. He had a slow, methodical pace… gently but sternly wrapping his left hand around my face and clenching his fingers at the back of my head.

Maturity.

Experience.

Confidence.

– the factors that separate the men from the boys in these moments. It was clear that Aussies must’ve been given some kind of a handbook at some point.

You can tell everything about a man’s bedtime acumen by the confidence with which he holds your face when he kisses you. And this gentleman had it.

He was strategic.

Nothing about his actions was rushed or with an agenda. He poured over me like nothing else in the world mattered…. slowly, carefully, with the kind of passion that makes a girl’s toes curl.

Sophisticated.

He was so sophisticated.

Not a slobbering, blubbering, self-indulged-goal-oriented mess… but calculated, cautious, and so very confident.

Every delectable morsel of that moment melted one into the next, without missing a beat or losing a step. Foreign or not, this traveler knew how to navigate his way around a pillow fort.

“Is it alright if I pull your hair?”

….. hold up.

He asked?

He asked.

You mean he had the respect, decency, and chivalrous sense to ask permission?

And not only did he ask permission, he asked with this soft, gentle, guiding tone that made it pretty much impossible to do anything but oblige. And after asking? … he knew how to do it properly when, via breathless nod, permission was granted.

He knew to wrap his fingers around a substantial handful and gently, with enrapturing precision, draw my head back out of the way of the neck he was trying to get to.

I squirmed with unresisting pleasure.

It was his slow, methodical, calculated moves that created a scene straight out of a scripted film. He was, indeed, a dominant.

Knowing I was mostly completely squeamish about his darker preferences, I think he diluted his typical unfolding. The details don’t matter beyond that moment…. it was all of the things which unexpected and unforgettable trysts are made of.

And then he asked if I was a cuddler.

“Nope.”

“Are you sure?”

When we wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into his chest, the wanton smell of leftover cologne swirled around and intoxicated me. Even his cuddle was calculated.

Then, sleep; the kind you get when you’re equally high and exhausted, spun and calm.

And dichotomies; I was surrounded with them. Quiet yet assertive, forthcoming yet welcoming, soft yet strong, intellect and parsimony at the same time. God, I love me a good puzzle. And accent.

Bahhhhhhh. His accent. (!!)

Our early morning drive brought with it more of that genuine, kind-hearted, yet intellectually tantalizing discussion that I’d come to be thrilled with the night before. Less focus on politics and world headlines, our chatter weaved from personal to more personal.

I became spun in a strangely curious way –

How was someone who incredibly intelligent, sarcastic, witty, full of the best kind of A-Game banter, so two-sided when it came to streets vs. sheets?

…. or was that why?

Two days prior, his pointed text questions made me uncomfortable and put me off completely.

“Do you always shy away from what makes you uncomfortable?”

…. Don’t we all?

And that’s how it began…. with questions.

For the first time in a very long time, I was questioned.

Between the border bridge, river lookout, the beach, and downtown Toronto drive, he questioned me.

He challenged me.

While continuing to show the utmost compassion and sensitivity, he poked holes at the very core I’d become so comfortable with.

Slowly.

Carefully.

With the same kind of sophistication he’d used the night before…. the methodical, passionate, calculation that engulfed me entirely in his presence in bed, his strategic conversation took a firm hold of my sapiophile-self and squeezed. Dominant, indeed.

And I was every kind of happy to submit to whatever it was that this character in my story was written in to inspire.

Little did I know……

—–

I have been avoiding publishing this blog for days.

This blog is the floodgates.

But if this is how simultaneously terrifying and exciting it feels to be drowning, then maybe it’s exactly what I need to feel more alive than I’ve ever been before.

… and this blog, will, without a doubt, be continued.

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—–

pt. II – flood gates + pool toys

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