Sunday, June 12, 2011

Lesbian Life Underground in Milan

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.


Four young women, standing on the Milan metro platform at 11ish pm. One is tall with a mohawk hairstyle and a tender face. The rest wear their long hair gathered up in loose buns at the tops of their youthful heads. One of the blond ones, in cargo pants and chic glasses, hugs the brunette one who's just her size. Are they consoling each other? Or just drunk? What are they doing out so late (what am *I* doing out so late?...It's my last night in Milan and I'm on my own, coming back from the Navigli canal area, where I took myself to dinner at El Brellin).

They're not drunk. They're perfectly alert and they see me, and the men, watching them. They begin kissing ardently, as though they're alone, or as though they're showing off for an easy audience.

Am I under the influence of alcohol? No, I don't drink. Am I seeing a mirage? I flash back to another business trip: Miami, early-July, 2001, when a gorgeous couple of young women emerge from the ocean, naked, holding hands and walking gracefully past me up the beach. No one comments. Most try to pretend they don't notice. Both times, in Miami and in Milan, I express a little smile, of gratitude for their gorgeous display of affection, of desire, of rueful longing for the days when I was similarly youthful, of love and affiliation.

When the Milan subway-train arrives, I enter their car. In their continual, contrasting, chaste-ness, the mohawk-sporter and the other blond-bunned woman sit across from the couple, ignoring their behavior like indulgent, ennui-filled parent-figures. At first, the woman in glasses stands in front of the other one, doing a little dance with their knees. When she sits down, her girlfriend leans into her and they begin kissing again, but just briefly. This time, again, most seem not to notice, other than me, who is further delighted and trying not to be too baldly voyeuristic, and an older woman at the far end of the subway-car. Her expression is angry, disgusted and transforms into one of dissatisfaction when she catches my eye and I do not mirror her apparent revulsion.

My stop, the Duomo, is next. We arrive, and I hate to get off the train. As I exit, I force myself not to turn around for one more look at the bold young women.

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