Witch Store: An Elegy

Do you believe in magic?

Witch Store and I were never meant to be together. He wanted to be Swiss Family Robinson – lots of kids, a nomadic artist lifestyle… I was attracted to what he is now: a passionate professional with his shit together. I find comfort in clutter and organized chaos, and he doesn’t get attached to anything, material or otherwise. He correctly observed that my anxiety around minimalism had to do with feeling like that person would have no room for me. I fell in limerance with him right away – we had the most incredible first date walking around midtown writing a treatment for a TV show we knew would make us rich (though as anti-capitalists, that was never the goal). I quickly learned that he throws away more brilliant ideas in a day than I will have in my life. It was easy to trust him not to hurt me in exactly the same way Eleven or Harold did – Witch Store is teetotal and is driven by desires beyond the sexual. Athletic, well-read, artistic, busy… he threw himself into projects and seemed to have perfect time management skills. He, like me, relished pushing himself to the limit and learning hard lessons.

Still, I knew it couldn’t last. My views on motherhood were largely formed by reading We Need to Talk About Kevin and, while we never explicitly said “This is doomed,” it played a huge role in me not seeing WS in a monogamous light despite being completely enraptured.

He never told me anything about himself. I never learned about his family (though I stalked his estranged brothers and their wives on Instagram for a few weeks – WS doesn’t do social media at all), or when his birthday is, or what he dreams about. His quietness during sex was unnerving at first, but once I learned to interpret his breathing, the silence became beautiful.

That theme – me projecting beauty and depth onto his dark canvas – blossomed into love. I told him everything and he stayed with me; it was more than anyone else could offer and more support than I’d ever received. Aside from discussing the latest development in some of his projects, he never really divulged any details about his hopes or dreams. He is a master of deflection and would always answer the same way when asked how he was doing: “I’m doing wonderfully, how are you?”

I spent hours staring into his bright green eyes, running my hands down his lean, olive torso (and then wrestling with him when he’d get ticklish) and playing with his long chesnut-coloured hair (I loved the way his ringlets bounced while we fucked). He was the first person to touch my feet without inspiring a body-conscious panic attack. He wore a perfectly-fitted suit to a party I threw to celebrate receiving my professional designation, which led to his status among my besties as a “Sexy Coat Rack.” He dressed like Patti Smith for my drag karaoke birthday party and sang a perfect, sultry “Mein Herr” before declaring that he would likely never do karaoke again if it’s all the same to me. That night after he left, I got more drunk than I’d ever been and texted “If you said so, I’d make you the only one.” He replied with “Sounds like something to discuss when you’re sober. Goodnight.” We never brought it up again.

I came close to ending it a handful of times. He confessed early on that he has resented his past partners for taking him away from his art (oh boy, my friends had fun with that). He elaborated later on, when pressed, that he had never resented me and used words like “refreshing” and “inspiring” to describe our dates. He would offer grand gestures in moments of passion and rescind them just as quickly. He invited me to join him on a leg of a grand six-week European tour he was taking, and took the opportunity I gave him to retract it a day later (I was going to say yes). He offered more than once to add me as a dependent at the university where he works so I could do some academic upgrading, or help subsidize braces. I always gave him an out there as well, and he always seemed grateful to take it.

He outlasted eight other flings in those six months. Smart, fun, troubled people who were better for me in some ways but none of the ones I was looking for. It was always Witch Store. I was bound and compelled. A raw vegan, he’d bring me my favourite vegetables and introduced me to fruit I’d never heard of. “Have you never had an atemoya?” He gasped. “I’m going to change your life.” He always had perfect avocados and one time slipped me a bag of peas (my favourite) on my way out of his apartment. He winked and advised I not eat them all on the way home. He facilitated a DJ gig for me at an after-party for a conference he organized, and he out-cycled me when we rode out to a small town beyond even the suburbs. He constantly surprised me sexually and kept track of my stories and friends.

I didn’t know him, though. I didn’t press it too often – even the basics, like favourite music. I knew he liked Radiohead (my least-favourite band) and he enjoyed Grimes when I played her in my DJ set. He wouldn’t let me take his picture. It was annoying, but part of his charm. We’d pitch awful Fringe shows to each other and I’d save the best ones in my Twitter drafts. He was the perfect mix of obnoxious and loving and beautiful, and he brought out amazing things in me.

One night he invited me to a concert, but wouldn’t tell me whose. My friends, who think he’s a Portlandia character most of the time, tried to guess. “I bet there’s going to be a didgeridoo!” One squealed with laughter. I was excited for other reasons: he was going to show me something he liked! I kept dragging him to my things and was now going to reciprocate!

He dropped a pin and said “Just meet me here.” He had made reservations at my favourite vegan restaurant, and I swooned. He winked and said, “Oh, I had no idea you liked this place.” We walked towards downtown, away from all the small venues. We arrived at throng of people and I realized that we were at a sold-out charity show where my favourite band was headlining. He surprised me with my favourite band! He let me hold his hand as I buzzed with delight.

He introduced me to some friends of his and they asked if we were joining them for the after-party. This had, of course, all been planned. We danced and chatted and were temporarily interrupted by the bassist of my favourite band. “Beat it, Slim. I’m cutting in!” he said, recognizing me. WS smiled and said “I was warned this would happen.”

The bassist and I danced and discussed the new album, but I was surprised – I was antsy to return to WS. I ended the conversation gracefully and said “Sorry, I’d like to get back to my date.” The bassist hugged me and told me not to be a stranger. I ran and kissed WS on his beautiful mouth and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

It was the best date I’ve ever had, but it didn’t solve the problem: I still didn’t know him. He did a lovely thing for me, but wasn’t including me. I was head over heels in love, though. Everything felt like progress.

I called it off with all my other flings. I didn’t even care if he loved me back: I’d tasted magic and anything less was ash.

When I asked him to be with me – no ambiguity, no other people (not that he was seeing anyone else) – I expected some negotiation. I didn’t expect him to break up with me. I made him a great dinner and we had great sex and we were cuddling and I just said “I want to be with you. Like, for real. A Real Thing.”
And he said, “What does that look like?”
And he said basically that he didn’t see himself long term with anyone.
That he has loved being a safe person for me but he would never be able to reciprocate my trust or openness because he just isn’t like that. It wasn’t a matter of paying my dues and earning his trust – he isn’t that person and never has been.
I confessed that I love him. He kissed me and told me he still wants to be that for me, but we both knew I needed more. We each cried, though we tried to hide it.

We spent five hours breaking up. We kissed and tried negotiating and I knew: for him, it would never be me. It might never be anyone.

It’s a damn shame. He’s magical and beautiful and he inspired new depths of creativity in me. I’m not sorry for any of it. If six months is all I get, that’s six months more than anyone else.

2017 was many things: the year I was doxxed, the year I received my professional designation, the year I finally felt secure in my amazing friendships… Witch Store was exactly what I needed when I needed him, and his legacy is the spell he cast on me the day we met: I’m trusting more, loving more and creating more.

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