Photo by Diego Moncayo
Your first conversation with him was in a gas-leaking, dust-encrusted, over-sized van filled with paragliding students and their instructors as it bounced up the side of a mountain. He was sitting behind you with the boss of the paragliding school, Jose, and asked what you do.
“I’m a writer.”
“What do you write?”
“I write my own magazine. Kind of a travel magazine. I write a series of personal essays, centered around a location, through the filter of being disabled.”
“What’s it called?”
“Sex Icon Magazine.”
“Why Sex Icon.”
“It’s a long story.”
“We have a long drive!” Jose piped in.
Later, he you told his first impression of you. “You were wearing these huge, dark sunglasses. You seemed distant. I don’t know when that changed.”
But you do. It was Jose’s camel joke in Spanish.
A soldier new to a base in the desert asks what the guys do when they want to have sex.
“Oh we just ‘take’ a camel.” His commanding officer tells him.
After much resisting, he eventually and very desperately gives in and tries to have sex with one of the camels. He gets pretty beat up by camel hooves in the process.
“Oh my god! What happened?” His commanding officer asks.
“I tried to fuck one of the camels!”
“You said that’s what you do for sex around here.”
“No, I said we take the camels... into town... where the brothel is!”
The joke is how you learned that coger - ‘to take’ - has entirely different connotations in Spain than it does in Latin America. The dirty joke made you and Mau laugh the same kind of laugh. You made a dirty comment, he made one in response. You had a dirty in-joke. You took off your huge, dark sunglasses.
“I called it Sex Icon Magazine because I center myself in stories disabled people aren’t typically a part of. And disabled people aren’t often part of sex or sex appeal! Generally disabled people are told as tragic tales or inspirations for no good reason. I’m not very tragic. So, if I’m going to be an inspiration, I will decide what to inspire, and I like to inspire arousal.”
You started writing about him right away. How he brought you grapes and sandwiches with ‘#sexicon <3 <3 <3’ scribbled on the plastic wrap for your lunches out in the mountains. How he carried you from the van to your wheelchair, from your wheelchair to your paragliding harness, from the harness back to your wheelchair. How he sometimes just carried you around. How he flew ahead of your first solo flight so he could record the entire thing, so he could be there when you landed.
Your first ever essay published in print was about him. How he helped you when you had to pee in the mountains. It won a literary award.
You took a selfie, lying on a sprawl of papers. Pages of essays you’ve written over the years up for consideration in your future memoir. You were wearing leopard print, high-heeled boots and a suit jacket. You were not wearing any pants.
“One of those piles I am lying on is all the things I have written about you so far.” you texted him.
“I’m getting used to being in your writing.” he said.
You wrote a post about when he came to visit you in the summer when you took a bunch of selfies together. Selfies he called ‘romantic’. You took screengrabs of the instagram comments and sent them to him.
“Am I misunderstanding the comments or do people think we’re together?” He asked.
“Are you surprised by that?” You were worried that you’d misspoken.
“Everything you wrote was true, though.” he said.
There was a television show when you were young called Ghostwriter. A bunch of high school students went around solving mysteries with the help of a ghost who could manipulate whatever text happened to be around to give them clues. A colorful swirl would jumble up the letters in their notebooks and on their early 90’s computer screens and leave messages like, “Be careful after dark, my children.” It was like a reverse Ouija mystery club.
You are the ghostwriter of your relationship. You are a colorful swirl, manipulating words to give you both clues. You write him until you are weightless with mystery. Only a glimpse at a time. Just enough to keep you moving.