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Subject: {ASSM} Hjemve (MF, rom)
Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2002 06:10:02 -0400
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Hjemve

by Parthenogenesis
(aka threefriedeggs)

Helena and I talked when we met on the patio during smoke breaks at
work.  Our conversations were both restrained and strangely direct,
the way conversations tend to be when there's a bit of a language
barrier; restrained because of cultural differences or uncertainties
but direct because of limited vocabulary.  We granted each other the
immunity that those kinds of conversations require, where each party
trusts completely in the goodwill of the other and exhibits a great
willingness to forgive both cultural and linguistic gaffes.  Despite
Helena's unfamiliarity with English we were nonetheless able to
discuss differences in customs worldwide, differences between
languages, Jespersson's contention that Danish is the closest language
to English, things to do weekends within a day's drive of Silicon
Valley, and a Danish bicycle company that went bankrupt by
misassessing the market in China.

Helena was Danish, a student doing a six-month internship in the
United States as part of her work on a Master's Degree in
International Business.  She was a knockout, plain and simple.  The
only thing that prevented her from fulfilling Everyman's dream of the
perfect Scandinavian beauty was a slight underbite, a flaw so picayune
it's scarcely worth mentioning.

Her hair was cut in what I'd call a European bob, not being at all
familiar with the names of women's hairstyles; a bob, but not
symmetrical, slightly longer on one side than the other, and it was
always clean and shining.  She wore no makeup at all, not even
lipstick--but, then, she hardly needed any.  Although she had been
quite pale when she first arrived, she seemed to be enjoying the
California summer, because during the first few weeks of her stay, her
face and her arms took on the golden color that only true blondes can
achieve in the sun.

Helena's and my rapport may have been due in part to the fact that we
both were, in a sense, strangers in a strange land.  My tidy, and, I'd
thought, secure, world had crumbled beneath me nine months earlier,
and I was still lost and wandering, trying to relearn who I was, where
I was, and what stability was.

A little more than a year ago, I'd decided to cast my lot with a
start-up, still the Silicon Valley dream twenty years after the
microcomputer revolution.  Get in on the ground floor, get a large
stock option package, help the company succeed wildly, and get rich.
Within two weeks after I started working at that company I was aware
of a massive amount of internal tension, the lack of team spirit and
single-minded focus essential in a start-up, and the presence of too
many wrong people in the wrong places.  The board of directors did
hire a new CEO, but far too late.  Three months after I started, the
new CEO cut the staff of forty-five in half, and, three months after
that, the board of directors decided to throw in the towel.

At just about the same time, my wife and I decided to throw in the
towel on a twenty-year marriage, and maybe far too late for that, too.
Although our marital relationship had been strained for more years
than I like to admit, there hadn't been any bad guy--nobody was
screwing around with anybody else, nobody was abusing anybody, nobody
was raiding the checkbook.  My wife and I just discovered, one day,
that our paths had diverged widely over time, and we were standing on
opposite sides of a chasm that we were unable to bridge despite our
best efforts.  We were worn out; worn down.  Though at that point it
felt like we knew each other not at all, we knew each other well, and
it was time to stop the hurt.  Neither of us wanted to inflict any
more pain on the other, neither of us wanted to take financial
advantage of the other, and neither of us wanted lawyers to get the
lion's share of our community property.  We made the divorce as
civilized and fault-free as we could.

The upshot was that I suddenly found myself without a job and without
a home.  A frantic search for employment showed that the job market
was very tight right then, and I accepted literally the first offer
that came along.  The new position was two levels below where I'd been
with the start-up, this company's product was way behind the times,
and this company, too, had more than its share of internal troubles.
I came to work in the morning, I did what I was supposed to do during
the day, and I left in the evening.  I had no burning desire to make
my mark on the company or its product, or to move to a higher
position.  The place where I took my evening meals and slept was an
alien and very empty duplex.  Home was where I used to live.

My conversations with Helena were a bright spot in a dreary and
plodding existence where a future had yet to take on shape and color.
And, despite my belief that I fulfilled a paternal or avuncular role
in Helena's life, I had to admit that our meetings on the company
patio provided a measure of warmth to my emotional chill.

Although Helena and I spent a good deal of time talking, and although
I sometimes had to speak to her very directly to explain English
slang, nuances of words, or what her occasional misuse of idiom meant,
I followed her guidance in subject matter, and we said little about
ourselves or our feelings.  Thus it was quite unexpected when, one
morning, she said, "Please excuse me if I do not talk too much.  Today
I do not feel right."

"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.  "Are you sick?"

"No, I am not sick.  I just do not feel _right_.  It is lonely, or
something," she said.  "It is not just lonely, but empty, like
something is not there."

"Have you ever been away from home before?" I asked.  "For a long
time?"

"No, not really," she said.  "In Denmark, I went to summer camps when
I was young, but only for two weeks.  Sometimes holidays, but only
with friends.  I have never been so long in another country, where
everything is different."

"It sounds to me like you're homesick," I said.

"Homesick?" she said.

"That's the English word for that feeling of being hollow inside, of
feeling like something's missing.  It happens when a person has been
away from home for too long."

"Ah," she said, looking off into the distance.  "_hjemve_.  How
foolish of me.  I should have known.  Now I understand.  I always
thought homesick was only for children."

We both glanced at our watches and saw that it was time to return to
work.  I was busy the remainder of that day, and didn't encounter
Helena again until the following afternoon.

"Hello," I said.  "How are you feeling today?"  Are you still
homesick?"

Helena sat, looking into the distance again, chewing on her lower lip,
for so long that I thought maybe she hadn't heard me.  Just as I was
about to repeat the question, she turned and looked me directly in the
eyes and said, "I want you to make love to me."

My hearing is not good, particularly in my left ear, thanks to the
percussive effects of rifle and howitzer fire, and I have a
particularly sharp drop at about the frequency of female voices.  For
a moment, I thought Helena had said "I want you to make love to me."

"I beg your pardon?" I said.

"I want you to make love to me," Helena said again.  No doubt about
it.

I suddenly experienced that otherworldly, light-headed, weak-kneed
feeling that often accompanies the receipt of unexpectedly good news.
My heart thudded and saliva rushed to my mouth.  I was at a complete
loss for words, and I feared that if I said the wrong thing, this
delicious moment of invitation would be gone forever.  How long I sat
silent, I don't know.

Helena cocked her head a bit and squinted slightly, examining my
expression closely.  "Alan?"  she said.  "Alan, did you hear me?  I
said, 'I want you to make love to me.'  Am I too blunt?  Do I offend
you?"

I snapped out of my trance.  What I said next must have come from a
protective reserve of Puritanism tucked away in a corner of my mind.
The words tumbled from my mouth without forethought or planning.
"Yes, I heard you.  Are you too blunt?  Have you offended me?  Of
course not.  Helena, for Heaven's sake, I'm old enough to be your
father.  There are young men around all over the place, here."

Her expression changed so subtly that it would have been impossible to
know which of her facial muscles contracted and which relaxed, and she
was transformed from animated young woman to seeress, oracle, medicine
woman, displaying in her eyes the collective wisdom of all woman of
all time.  "I have thought very hard about this.  I know there are
young men around all over the place," she said in a patient voice.  "I
know what I am and what I look like.  I know that I am the blond woman
from Denmark.  I know that men in nearly every country of the world
have fantasies about Scandinavian women.  The young men spend stupid
amounts of their time finding excuses to visit me.  They are like
young horses; they show me their muscles.  They want sex so much they
almost show me their penises.  I can smell it on them.  Not even all
their horrid shaving lotion can hide what they are and what they want.

"While we have been talking during these weeks, you have not shown me
your muscles.  You have shown me inside you.  I have been away from
home for a long time, and I am lonely.  No one has held me for a long
time.  I need to be held and comforted and made to feel safe and
secure.  Those young men could not comfort me or make me feel safe.
They do not want to make love, they want only to fuck.  I do not want
only to fuck.  I know that you will not be in a hurry, I know you can
hold me, I know you can give me what I need, and that is why I want
you to make love to me."

The length and completeness of Helena's speech made it clear that she
had indeed thought very hard about it.  To say that I was stunned by
her directness and expression of confidence in my ability to satisfy
her emotional needs would be gross understatement.  And, even as I
began to picture in my mind what might ensue from my response, I also
had to give serious consideration to whether it might be better to
continue to nurture my own fantasies than to attempt to experience the
reality.

"Helena," I said, " it could turn out to be a big disappointment to
both of us.  I haven't been with a woman for a long time."

Beneath the joy of this moment, a wave of anger and bitterness swept
through me.  Before my wife and I were able to figure out what the
problem was, we exchanged far too many hurtful words.  I suppose that
I could have dipped into the abundant pool of middle-aged divorcees
who were ubiquitous in the workplace, but I was almost certain that,
at least very soon after my wife and I had separated, any new
relationship would be doomed to failure because I'd unconsciously
attach some of my wife's attributes to a new partner and respond to
her in ways she scarcely deserved.  And I was fearful.  I hadn't been
a single man for almost two decades, and I didn't know how to be one
any more.  I was comfortably set in any number of ways, and I wasn't
sure I wanted my precarious equilibrium to be seriously challenged.
Although I suffered periods of aching loneliness and occasional bouts
of acute sexual desire, I knew that I didn't want anything to do with
the entanglements and entrapments of a long-term relationship.  Nor
was I comfortable with a series of one-night stands.  My body wasn't
what it had been once upon a time.  In short, I didn't feel like I had
much to bring to any kind of a relationship just then.

"Alan, you must trust me.  I know that we will be just fine," Helena
said.

I trusted Helena, there was no doubt about that.  But _I_ didn't
_know_ that we would be just fine.  I was seriously worried that I'd
bungle it, or not be able to perform at all.

Truth to tell, I knew from the moment I understood that Helena was
serious about wanting to make love with me--or, more correctly,
wanting me to make love to her--there was only one possible answer to
her request.  I was so hopelessly besmitten by Helena that I probably
would have done all kinds of silly things just to get close to her.

"I trust you, Helena.  My answer is yes.  I may not have acted like a
young horse, but did you know that I've been infatuated with you since
the day we met, and that I've entertained all kinds of fantasies about
being with you?"

"Of course," she laughed, with one of those little smiles that make
men feel instantly foolish.  "That was part of the inside you showed
me."

"Well, okay," I said, ignoring the heat of a blush, "what do we do
now?"

"Can you get off work this afternoon?" she asked.

This afternoon?  Ye gods!  I was thinking that maybe I'd have a little
more time to get used to the idea, to get mentally prepared.

"Yes," I said, "I can do that."

Helena jotted the address of her apartment on a scrap of paper and
handed it to me.  We decided, for discretion's sake, to leave
separately and rendezvous there.  I went back to my office and made
arrangements to be gone for the afternoon, pleading urgent personal
business, which, as far as I was concerned, was the absolute truth.
As it happened, we left the company at the same time, and I
essentially followed Helena home, never more than a few carlengths
behind.  We arrived at her apartment at the same time.

We walked together from the street to the building and climbed a
flight of stairs to her second-story unit.  After the eight-mile drive
to the hilly side of Sunnyvale in nearly 90-degree weather, the air
conditioning felt crisp and welcome.  Without saying a word, Helena
walked straight to the bedroom.  When she neither returned to the
living room nor called out after a few moments, I went along to the
bedroom, too.

When I entered the room, Helena was already out of her pants and had
her arms over her head, tugging off her tight, short-sleeved jersey.
Until that moment, all I had seen of Helena's skin was her face and
neck, her arms and hands, her legs from her ankles downward, and her
feet, in sandals.  Then, suddenly, there she was, all of her, and I
was stunned by her beauty.

Only blue sky was visible through the window behind her.  Because of
the sudden plunge from bright sun into subdued indoor light, my eyes
were not yet adjusted, and I couldn't make out her features.
Goosebumps were making all the fine hairs on her body stand out, and
in the backlight from the window, she appeared to be glowing,
surrounded by an aura of golden light.  Nude, she stepped to the bed,
turned down the covers, and lay on the white sheets.  Only after she
was in bed did I think to take off my clothes, too.

She was lying on her back with her arms at her sides.  Once undressed,
I lay down beside her, propped up on my elbows with my arms crossed
against my chest.  Teasing from the seam between her arm and her body
was a small tuft of ash-blond hair.  I brought my face down until my
nose was resting lightly against her collarbone and inhaled her aroma:
soap, the slightest hint of perfume, the earthy smell of fresh
perspiration, skin, her own pheromones.  The scent of Helena was more
enticing and exciting than anything Chanel or Calvin Klein could put
in a bottle.  Wholesome.  Healthy.  Delicious.  Meadows and clouds and
trees.  Life and freedom.  I was hard before I had time to worry about
it.  Then Helena moved, and in an instant, I was on my back, she was
astride me, and I was in her.

She sat perfectly upright, with her eyes closed, that little
half-smile at the corners of her mouth, her arms at her sides.  Her
ribs were well defined below her small breasts, and her abdomen was
flat and taut.  Externally, she was absolutely still, but she was
moving on the inside, moving and squeezing, moving and squeezing.  I
lasted about twenty seconds.  To give myself full credit, maybe thirty
seconds.

She remained upright and motionless while I shrank.  When I had
shriveled to the point that I was, for all intents and purposes, no
longer inside her, she twisted and deftly plucked some tissues from a
box on the nightstand.  She raised herself off of me and tucked a few
of the tissues between her legs, then dried me with the rest.

"Helena," I began, "I thought you wan--"

Helena placed her right index finger on my lips and said, "Shh.  Do
not talk now."

She lowered herself down and lay on her side, her head on my shoulder
and her left hand across my chest.  I wrapped my arm around her
shoulder.  Not knowing what else to do, I lay there quietly and
concentrated on nothing but the feel of Helena's skin next to mine and
the clean scent of her hair.  After some time, I dozed off.

And awoke about an hour later.  Helena had fallen asleep, too.  When I
turned my head slightly to look down at her face, my motion woke her.
She smiled at me, then got up and went into the bathroom and shut the
door.  Presently, I heard the toilet flush and the shower start.
Helena had said that she wanted to be held and comforted and made to
feel safe and secure.  Had she already got what she needed?  I didn't
feel like I'd done much, and I certainly didn't want the brief time
we'd shared to be the end of it.  My appetite had only been whetted.
Like a glutton, I wanted to see and feel and taste Helena until I was
sated to senselessness.  I felt guilty about wanting to get when I'd
agreed to give.  But I stayed where I was.

What I really wanted to do was kiss Helena.  I had to admit that I
needed to be held, too, and I was beginning to fear that our afternoon
was going to be far too impersonal for the needs I was just
acknowledging.  While living through twelve years of a deteriorating
marriage and the couples counseling and individual therapy that was
part of it, I did learn to be honest with myself about my feelings.
Sometimes.  Right in this moment, I felt like I was in love with
Helena, and if I still had the same confidence in immediate emotions
that I'd had twenty or twenty-five years ago, I would have told her
so.  What else I've learned along the way is why there's no fool like
an old fool:  he should have learned better a long time ago.

Before long, Helena came out of the bathroom, still nude, I was
relieved to see, toweling her hair.  She stood in the sunlight that
was beginning to come into the room, and I was able to see her body
for the first time, her light fur still glowing all over.  Her
ash-blond pubic triangle spread from the point of one hip bone to the
other.  Her pubic hair was so light in color that it would have been
unremarkable, had it not been for the extreme whiteness of the skin
that had been covered by the panty portion of a two-piece bathing
suit.  The three triangles of white set off in high contrast to her
suntan made her an intriguing study in both spherical and plane
geometry.  Under her arms she had a rich growth of the same ash-blond
hue, now fluffed out after having been freshly washed and toweled dry.
She smiled at me and inclined her head slightly toward the bathroom
door.

In the bathroom, I was delighted to find a fresh towel and washcloth
neatly placed on the toilet seat, where they could not be overlooked,
and a stick of unscented dry deodorant conspicuously near the
washbasin.  I could take a hint.  I gave Helena her opportunity to
hear the toilet flush and the shower start.  After showering, when I
went to apply deodorant, I saw that it was not new, but Helena's own,
and it struck me as oddly intimate that she would be willing to share
such a personal item with me.

When I came out of the bathroom, toweling my hair, I found Helena back
on the bed, with her hands behind her head and her legs slightly
parted.  I once again feasted on her loveliness, her three bushes, the
length of her legs.  Again I lay down beside her with my arms folded
across my chest.  I kissed her--at last--and she returned the kiss,
soft and warm, both giving and receiving, touching my tongue with
hers.  I kissed her cheeks, her forehead, and her nose; beneath her
upraised left arm, and her left nipple.

Then I said, "Turn over."  She rolled to her stomach without question.

I lifted myself up and put my lips near the nape of her neck and blew
very gently, then kissed the same spot that I had warmed with my
breath.  Helena shivered slightly, and goosebumps appeared on her neck
and shoulders.  I raised to my knees and began to massage her neck,
lightly, lightly, inviting her skin to lift up and meet my fingers
rather than pressing with any force at all.  After massaging her neck
for several minutes, I straddled her body at mid-thigh, and moved the
massage to her shoulders, starting at one side and working my way
across and then down, moving on down her back slowly.  When I got to
the small of her back, I applied a bit more force, just at the base of
her spine.  When I'd finished rubbing her back, I returned to her
neck, and traced with my lips and my tongue the same path my fingers
had followed, ending with a kiss in each dorsal dimple and a quick
flick of my tongue at the top of her gluteal cleft.

I then reversed the process, starting with a gentle massage of
Helena's toes and the soles of her feet, working my way up the
smoothly undulating landscape of her calves and her thighs, paying
minute attention to and reveling in the textures of her body hair and
her skin.  Only when I reached her buttocks for the second time did I
focus my attention there, first rubbing gently, then kneading lightly,
then kissing and biting ever so slightly.  With my tongue, I teased
the tuft of fur that lifted from the juncture of her legs, traversed
her narrow canyon from legs to spine, and tasted the sweet pucker of
her tight button and the short hairs that circled it.

When I said for the second time, "Turn over," my voice was no more
than a hoarse whisper.

And I made a similar tour of the front Helena's body, starting with
her fingers and hands and working up her arms.  When I'd reached her
shoulders and her chest, I stroked her sides and her breasts.  After
kissing and licking my way up her legs, I spent a long time in
between, savoring all the aromas and tastes that were uniquely
Helena's.  When her thighs and her bottom were glistening with her own
lubrication, I raised myself up and looked down at her.  She lifted
her knees and spread her legs, and extended both her arms toward me in
invitation.  I leaned forward, lowered my body, and slid in.  Home.
Safe.  Warm.  Wet.  Helena wrapped her arms around my chest and held
me tightly, and we remained like that, motionless, for some good time.

And then we began to move.  For more minutes now than the number of
seconds we spent on our first coupling, we hugged and we clung, we
thrusted and we parried, we danced the pas de deux of all time,
inventing choreography to suit our needs.  I wished that we could go
beyond mere twistings and turnings, that we could exchange places,
that she could penetrate me and I could take her in unconditionally.

I felt my awareness begin to change.  The headboard and the pillow and
even Helena grew dim, and the sounds of our joining faded away.  Then
I was gone.  We were gone.  We were no longer in our bodies, but
somewhere else, without form.  I was not in her and she was not in me.
We were lost in the cosmos; we were the universe, time and God and
everything, disembodied molecules, atoms, electrons, whirling and
intermingling.  I was her and she was me in a kiss of essence, pure
energy expressed as light and motion with no gravity, expanding to all
corners of space and time.  We shimmered and sparked and cut bright
intertwined whirligigs through blackness and vacuum.

I began to recoalesce into something that could be called a self only
when Helena's body suddenly went taut beneath me.  She clenched and
then shuddered, clenched and then shuddered.  I raised my torso to
give her some breathing space.  The so-white skin on her chest was
bright red.  When she clenched, the cords in her throat stood out.
Perspiration beaded all over the upper part of her body and ran in
rivulets down her neck and into the pillow.  She clenched and
shuddered, clenched and shuddered.  After one final shudder and a long
moaning sigh, she relaxed, and the color began to fade from her skin.

Had Helena really been out there with me, I wondered.

I tasted the salty moisture on her forehead, her eyelids, the tip of
her nose, and kissed her lips with just a touch of mine.  I nibbled
her earlobes and brushed the wet hair back from her forehead.  I
teased the sodden whorls in her armpits, darkened with sweat, and
traced my finger down the middle of her slick chest.

Without warning, Helena wrapped her arms around me and gave me a hug
that threatened to crack my ribs.  Then she pushed me away and looked
at me with a wide, very wide smile.  "You see?" she said.  "I told you
I knew we would be just fine.  I feel _wonderful_!  Oh!"

After a few more minutes, we separated.  While we had been making
love, the sun had come further into the bedroom and had overcome the
capacity of the air conditioner to deal with it.  Helena went into the
bathroom and returned with our towels.  Then she went to the kitchen
and brought back tall glasses of ice water.  As if a dam had burst,
Helena began to talk.  As she dabbed at her perspiration and sipped
water, she told me of her fears about being in the United States for
six months, about her impressions of American society and the people
she worked with, her feelings of loneliness and isolation.  When her
English failed, she used Danish.  And I listened to it all, even when
I couldn't understand a word.

Now was the time for talk.  I think that when, earlier, Helena had
said, "Shh.  Do not talk now," she was also saying "Just be.  Just
feel."  Just being and just feeling were something my wife and I could
never do.  We used words to create our lives, words to explain and
words to rationalize--and words to accuse and words to defend.  Words
gave birth to more words, words that concealed, words that confused
and confounded, words that built walls and fortresses, words that
littered the floor and accumulated in the corners, words that
ricocheted off one another and sometimes dented the walls and stuck to
the ceiling.  Each weekend, we swept out huge quantities of words that
lay used, bent, broken, and lifeless all around us, and the next
weekend, the heaps of ruined and futile words would be back again.
But with her words, Helena did not try to explain or to hide, she
simply gave of herself, freely and without reservation, and, in so
doing, showed her acceptance of me.

Four glasses of ice water later, Helena ran down.  She got off the
bed, and, to my astonishment, began to do exercises.  Facing me, she
raised her arms over her head and locked her thumbs together, then
bent as far left as she could, then as far right, then back, then
forward; then she moved her upper body in circles.  She turned away
from me and touched her toes--and wiggled her bottom when she was
fully bent down.  Facing me again, she bounced up and down on the
balls of her feet, all the while smiling her broad smile.  She
appeared to me to be having a conversation with herself, and enjoying
every word of it.  I saw in Helena the imp and vixen she kept hidden
beneath the reserved, urbane image she presented at work.  With
Helena, what you saw was not what you got.  It was ever so much more.

Helena had said that she felt wonderful, and showed me how she felt
with a fierce hug and a sharp "Oh!"  For the most part, I tried not to
feel.  When I permitted myself to feel, when I thought about what I
was feeling, when I looked to see what was there, what I found was
mostly anger, pain, and fear.  Just at that moment, at that one
moment, I felt happy--or, at least, content, satisfied, relaxed, and
other words that were not anger, pain, and fear.  My ability to feel
was so stunted that I couldn't truly claim happiness, only the absence
of feelings unpleasant.  For an instant, the essential male in me
wanted to possess Helena, to own her and to make her exclusively mine.
She had, after all, made me think about happiness, and if I could have
her forever, then I would be happy forever.  But in that same instant,
I knew that a desire to possess was the antithesis of love, and that I
could not demand my happiness of another.

The lesson Helena offered to me was a simple one:  that it is more
blessed to give than to receive not because giving is inherently
superior to receiving, but because until one learns to give
unconditionally, one will never be able to receive.  Giving and
receiving are not two separate acts but opposite sides of the same
coin, essential parts of a single transaction.  Giving without
receiving is demanding; receiving with out giving is taking.  To get
what she needed, Helena gave of herself.  In offering to give to
Helena, I was able to recognize my own needs, and to receive from the
act of giving.  The lesson was simple, but to be able to benefit from
it, I had to be willing to learn.

As I sat on the edge of the bed, watching Helena doing her exercises,
unselfconsciously being herself, I felt ... I _felt_ ... full.  Inside
of me, I felt the pressure of something that wanted desperately to
burst free.  And it felt good.

Helena stopped bending and twisting and bouncing.  She picked up her
towel and wiped it across her forehead and down her chest, and dabbed
under her arms.  She stepped over to me, laid her forearms on my
shoulders, and gave me a kiss.  Then she placed the end of her nose
against mine.

"I am very hungry now," she said.  "Can we go get food?"


parth_nogenesis@XXXhotmail.com

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