“Mon Chéri” by Katie McCurdy


I am standing in the airport check-in line staring at my sixteen-year-old, government-issued self-portrait on my EXPIRED passport. Immediately my brain is recalculating how I am going to cab all the way to my Brooklyn apartment and back with time to board my flight to Belgium. The flight leaves in an hour. I knew I shouldn’t have gone out last night.

I panic.

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I sprint to my airline’s concierge counter and of course all the flights are booked for the next few days. I am meeting my boyfriend, John, in Brussels, where he is having his first major art opening. He had flown out the week prior to oversee the installation of his show.

The flight re-booking attendant explains that he can get me on a plane to Amsterdam where I can reroute to Brussels by train.

After an impatient cab round-trip to and from Brooklyn I finally land in Amsterdam, and am now calmly taking a high-speed train through Antwerp towards Brussels. I love to travel, but I really love to travel alone. There is something about being in transit – you’re doing something without actually having to do something. For me, it’s a moment of reflection and space and I need a lot of space.

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John’s show was during Brussel’s Art Days which was followed by an artists’ dinner held at the top floor of a very old, very beautiful building near Avenue Louise. As I stand on the balcony, the light of day fading into the golden hour of night, I notice the city’s yellow, tungsten street lamps and red car break lights beginning to glow. I’m standing in a crowd with my champagne, in a black, vintage, Max Mara dress John thrifted for me in Milan.

Edo, an art advisor I met through John’s gallerist hands me a cigarette. I’m complaining to him that I really cannot with the current alcohol situation. I want liquor, I want vodka, I want sugar-free Redbull.

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The two of us walk to the convenience store around the corner and buy six airplane-sized bottles of vodka that I hide in my purse. The floor of the elevator that takes us back up to the party is carpeted with pink rose petals.

The after-party is being held in the same building in a huge room that looks like an empty nightclub. We are promised that it’s going to be “super crazy” later. Nico, a new friend of John’s, pulls us aside and offers us MDMA.

He holds out a clear, miniature, plastic baggie in his hand. I dip my finger in the bag – it tastes dirty and salty. ‘Please, God, do not let this be bath salts,’ I think to myself.

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Fast forward several hours to me dancing under a warm red light in a very small french club – followed by yelling at my boyfriend in the street. I woke up the next day in aforementioned Max Mara dress.

John brings me up to speed reminding me that I ended my night by peeing in the street outside our apartment. _

Now we are in Amsterdam. John and I have rented an apartment for four days to “relax”. We did the stereotypical weed thing and, very leisurely, walked around the city. The old and uneven buildings lined up against the canal are beautiful.

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The Red Light District intrigues me the most, mainly because of its lighting. Approaching the District, the neons vibrate, and all I see is red. Inside the bars the colored lights glow with vibrant purples and blues.

We pay two euros to see a peep show which is, actually, not good, but I really love the way the room is laid out. We enter, what appears to be, a closet. Inside this closet there is a window that peers into a room surrounded by other windows with other voyeurs beyond them. The “peep show girl” is in the middle. She is unattractive, so I make out with my boyfriend until we are kicked out.

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Our friends suggest we see a sex show while we visit. As we wait in line I look around and realize that none of these people are good-looking. I don’t know if I want to experience a sex show with all these unattractive people around.

John agrees with me and we leave the line.
Drunk on vodka sodas I’m running through the dark and dim canals getting lost on the way back to our apartment.

Tomorrow he and I will wake up and catch corresponding flights back to the states – mine to the east coast, his to the west. I have to finish up a job I’m shooting in NYC while he prepares for his next show in LA where we will rendezvous in several days.

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