She looked at me through watery worry-filled eyes. My blurred silhouette sat patiently in front of her, waiting for her process everything I had just told her. I would let her get out everything she had to say before I responded. As I waited nervously, I became increasingly aware of what I was doing with my hands. I grabbed my mug of coffee to keep them occupied. The coffee was bitter, as though it had been sitting in the filter pot for some time. “Do you have any sugar” I asked. She looked up quickly from an imperfection scratched into the wooden table she had been gazing past for ten minutes. “Sweetener, we’ve got sweetener in cupboard. The one with the red lid.”
I excused myself from the table to retrieve the sweetener. I can’t pretend like I wasn’t disappointed. Sweetener tastes like evaporated bleach dust. However, I welcomed the opportunity to do something other than stare at Emily whilst I sat on my hands as she stared at the table, thinking about how disappointed she is in me. I heard the legs of her chair screech across the marble floor as she moved her position – she was looking at me. “What if you get an STI?! What if someone hurts you?! How will you find love now Alouicious really I don’t think you’ve thought this through?” She began to explain to me all of the reasons why escorting wasn’t for me and why I would be better off getting a job in marketing again. She assured me in that way that many people do that reveals that they consider themselves a business expert, that there’s great opportunity in the current market for someone with my skill set. Although she was probably right, I couldn’t help but lumber her in with the sort of people who point out that ‘there’s a gap in the market for that’ whilst explaining the logistics behind shower goggles. These are the people who manufacture products to sell on wish.
I sat back down in front of her and placed my freshly sweetened coffee on the table. She pointed out the coaster on the table that I had recklessly avoided. “Could you? “She requested as she squirmed. “Oh, of course”, I obliged as I put the coaster to good use. Now that her IKEA table was protected by her IKEA coasters from her IKEA mug, I suppose we were ready to get into it. I was searching my mind for a good way to explain to a stay-at-home mother of three, a floral print enthusiast who winds down at the end of a long day with a good honest game of boggle, that escorting is both an acceptable and healthy profession for her little brother.
Alex had warned me about this. He had told me not to tell my family about my new profession, he said that no one else in the industry does it, and they don’t for good reason. He is of the opinion that sharing this information with family members would cause more trouble than it would do good. Alex thinks that honesty is overrated and that we are all born with this innate duality that allows us to have two sides to our true selves. He doesn’t think it’s a bad thing if he doesn’t share both of his sides with everyone, “It’s none of their business”, he says. I understand what he means, and I do agree in some ways. It’s just, there are certain people in my life that I’ve always been transparent with, I liked it like that because they loved me no matter what.
Emily was one of those people. I didn’t have to cover anything up in front of her. I didn’t have to watch my mouth or be careful about how I dressed. She’s been entertained for years by watching the collection of terrible choices – otherwise known as my ex boyfriends – unfold before her very eyes, but she would never judge. Put it this way, when someone’s seen you trying to unlock the front door with your bank card before vomiting on them at four in the morning, then watch you eat three different kinds of carbohydrate in one meal the day after without judgement – that’s special.
“Emily I’ve never been safer in my life, if any work I take involves sexual acts I always wear a condom and because of the nature of my job I get screenings frequently.” I reassured her. “Before this, I hadn’t been checked in over a year!” she rolled her eyes at me in disappointment, she wishes I had always been responsible before all of this.
“When was the last time you were tested then?” I challenged her. She responded defensively by saying “I don’t need to get tested I have a husband and two children”. I let my eyes narrow on hers with an equal amount of disapproval. I didn’t need to say anything, she knows I think she hates her husband and would give anything to climb the postman like a tree.
“As for people hurting me, I’m sure I will get hurt at some point, but not rhough escorting, and no more than they already did. Doing this, I am part of a community, I have back up. On the whole, there is very little risk. I can handle myself okay?” she replied with a nod, although not fully convinced by my argument. “You asked about love? Well – I have all the love I’ve ever needed right here, in this room, sat at this table. It’s not the fairytale about love that we were taught to pine for growing up, but its real and it’s enough for me.”
She blushed as she leaned across the table to take my hands. Her eyes were still glazed with worry, and her brow continued to furrow in confusion. “You’re happy?” she asked. I nodded at her. “Okay then” she said. She was burying all of her worry and ignoring her confusion just to know that I was living a life that brought me happiness. That is how I can be certain that hers is all the love I will ever need.