Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running from Madness - Suzy Favor Hamilton (2015)

Chapter 9. EXPLORATION

Just like that, it was over, and Mark and I were alone in our hotel room, as we’d been alone together on so many occasions over the past twenty years. Only now, everything had changed. I knew it instantly. We’d spent the day jumping out of an airplane and having a threesome, things most people would only fantasize about doing, if even that. And I wanted every day to be just like this from now on. I was on fire, filled with energy. I never wanted this day to end. All at once, I was ravenous.

“I’m starving,” I said.

“Me, too,” Mark said. “It’s almost time for our dinner reservation.”

As I got dressed and fixed my makeup, I couldn’t stop looking at myself in the mirror. On the outside, I looked the same as I always had, but I had done things. I knew things. I wasn’t just Suzy Favor Hamilton, the nice girl from Wisconsin who had been an Olympic runner and was now a real estate agent, wife, and mom. I was a woman who brought her fantasies to life, even if they were not the kind of things nice girls did.

As we got into the elevator, my high hadn’t abated. I felt amazing.

I looked up at Mark, trying to sense how he felt and what all of this meant to him.

“Do you feel different?” I asked.

He looked down at me, his face a question.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, more confident, like you just did something most people wouldn’t do.”

“Sure, it was pretty awesome, but I’m not sure I feel different,” he said. “I do know I’m starved as hell.”

I laughed at his joke, but I felt a little disappointed, too. Maybe he didn’t get it. Maybe it didn’t mean the same thing for him as it did for me. That was okay, I reassured myself. I knew we’d do it again. As the elevator doors opened, releasing us into the swarming crowds of people in the hotel lobby, I couldn’t stop looking at everyone I saw, wondering if they’d ever had a threesome or what the craziest thing they’d ever done in bed was, and thinking how weird it was that they couldn’t tell what I had just done or how it had changed me completely, how they had no idea what they were missing out on—the best experience. I had found a new way to make myself feel good, to get the adventure I craved, and I wanted more. Mark hurried me along to the taxi that would take us to dinner at Bouchon at the Venetian, as I tried to make my point to Mark, struggling to keep up in my high heels.

“I mean it, Mark,” I said. “Wasn’t that incredible?”

“Of course,” he said. “It was great, but maybe not quite up to my expectations.”

It was amazing, I thought, trying to understand how he could have felt anything other than totally amazing.

Even as we settled into our candlelit table at Bouchon and I sipped a glass of pinot noir—my favorite—from the elegant oversized wineglass and listened to the murmur of dinner conversation around me, I couldn’t relax and enjoy my dinner. Images and sensations from the day flashed through my mind in rapid-fire flashes. Next to me, Mark studied the menu and laughed off my enthusiasm about the experience. I realized I might have to make it happen on my own next time if Mark wasn’t as into it as I was. And that was just fine with me. I still loved Mark deeply, and I enjoyed the rest of our night together, but something had shifted inside of me. I didn’t want to be defined only by my marriage. I wanted more. And, as far as I was concerned, what I wanted wasn’t in Madison anymore. It was in Las Vegas.

When we got home from our anniversary trip, life seemed flat and stale. There was nothing to look forward to now that our adventure was over, and I couldn’t seem to concentrate on my regular life. Our marriage had been fairly strained going into Vegas, to the point where it sometimes felt as if we were separated. Our anniversary was supposed to rekindle our passion for each other. We’d both held out hope that we’d reconnect during our weekend away, but when we returned to the real world, the bond just wasn’t there. We avoided each other as much as we could around the house, and when we did talk, we were both short with each other and usually ended up arguing about something related to work or Kylie. It got to a place where I didn’t even want to answer the phone when I saw Mark’s name come up on the screen.

I thought we were being torn apart by our real estate business. Mark coped with the strain by immersing himself more and more in work and our daughter. I couldn’t see how hypersensitive I was, or what a nightmare it was for him to deal with my mood swings and extreme irritability. I simply wanted him to leave me alone. We faced more of the same sexless, lifeless marriage we’d had before Vegas, but now, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I’d found happiness in Vegas, which had finally taken me out of my anxiety and sadness, and I wanted more sex and thrills, even if it distanced me further from Mark, who was in a very different place.

I even had trouble focusing on Kylie, who had always brought me so much happiness. It was like my mind couldn’t stay still long enough to follow the simple routines of my day with her, the regular snacks and games and television programs. My imagination went back again and again to the only place where I felt happy and satisfied—Las Vegas. I thought about our threesome constantly, replaying the details in my mind until they became so familiar they lost their luster for me, and then I started thinking about what would happen the next time I went back to Vegas, about what I would do when I saw Pearl, and about things I might do with people other than Pearl. I thought about sex all the time, until it got to the point where my fantasy was more real than my real life was.

About a week after our anniversary, I was waiting up for Mark when he got home, even though it was almost midnight. When he walked into the bedroom, he seemed surprised to see me awake and alert, sitting up against the pillows.

“Mark, I’ve been thinking,” I said. “Do you think we should go back to Vegas?”

“But we were just in Vegas,” he said. “I’m not sure I can get away again.”

“Well, what if I just went, then?” I said.

“Yeah, sure,” Mark said. “It would probably be good for you. Get some alone time.”

“You know, if you ever want to go to Vegas by yourself, I’d be okay with that,” I said.

He nodded, both of us understanding that we were moving toward giving each other space within our marriage, maybe even giving each other permission to stray for the intimacy each of us was lacking and missing, as long as it was just sex and not an affair. We’d gone to Vegas on our anniversary as an attempt to reconnect and return the spark to our marriage. While we’d enjoyed our time together there, we’d come out of the experience in such different places that we’d both shifted our focus to finding ways to stay married while satisfying ourselves on our own terms, even if that meant opening up our marriage in ways not everyone would feel comfortable with.

“I’m okay with you going to Vegas alone, too,” he said. “But you’ve got to be safe and discreet.”

“Of course,” I said, feeling elated by the possibility of my new freedom.

That was all the encouragement I needed. I decided to meet up with an attractive young woman I’d befriended at one of the universities where I’d been hired to speak. We’d stayed in touch and began planning a fun girls’ weekend in Las Vegas. Around this time, Mark and I went further in our mutual decision to explore possibly having an open marriage, admitting that both of us would enjoy having the chance to have sex with other people—not like an affair, because we were both committed to our marriage, but sex if the opportunity presented itself. I wasn’t threatened by the idea of Mark being with another woman because I knew our marriage was something special and rare, even though we had hit a rough patch, and I knew he felt the same way. As with everything else, we were completely open with each other and discussed every aspect of how we were feeling and what this step would mean for our relationship. I was all for Mark’s extramarital activity because it meant that I’d get to continue exploring my own desires, too. I even hoped he would see someone else because I felt guilty about my need to seek pleasure outside our relationship; if he did so, too, it would make me feel better about my own urges. I made it clear to him that I wanted intimacy and excitement I wasn’t getting from our relationship at that point, and we both gave each other the green light to seek intimacy elsewhere. We were equally comfortable with transitioning into an open marriage, and neither of us thought about divorce. We knew our marriage was in trouble, but we were both willing to do whatever it took to keep it together, even if we had to go to some unconventional lengths to do so.

When it came time for my next Vegas trip, I was thrilled that I was getting everything I wanted, especially because my new friend happened to be gay, and I hoped we might even have a little tryst while we were away. But even though we’d flirted by text before our rendezvous, from the moment I arrived, I was disappointed. I was looking for a few days of casual sex, whereas my new friend wanted a platonic relationship. We were there for different reasons. Our trip was fun, but it lacked the glamour and excitement I was craving, and it was instantly clear that we were better off as friends, which we are to this day. When Mark and I had gone to Las Vegas and had our threesome, it had been like we were part of an elite club where fantasies came true, and that’s what I wanted to recapture. It hadn’t happened this time around. I went back to Madison planning to return as soon as I could, laying my plan out for Mark.

“I know I was just in Vegas, but I want to go back,” I said.

“Again?” Mark said. “Why?”

“Well, I was thinking, maybe I could see Pearl again?” I said. “You know I’ve never been with anyone but you, and I’ve always been curious about that side of myself. I really enjoyed that, and it would make me happy.”

“Yeah, that would be okay,” he said, laughing. “I know you have a crush on her.”

“And . . .” I didn’t know if I was asking for too much, but honestly, I didn’t know if I cared. “Maybe I could go see a male escort, too?”

He visibly flinched. Even though we’d talked about opening our marriage up, it felt different now that it was really happening. Mark found himself worrying that if I went to see a male escort, it could open things up too far, into dangerous territory.

“Why?” he asked.

“Come on, there’s no harm in it,” I said. “He’s an escort. It’s not like I’m going to have a relationship with him. It’s just for fun.”

Because we’d both always had fairly liberal views on sexuality, and believed there was a big difference between a committed relationship and “just sex,” Mark finally nodded his head.

“Thank you, Mark,” I said, filled with love and gratitude for him. Yes, I still loved my husband and believed in our marriage, but it wasn’t enough to make me happy on its own anymore. Maybe, just maybe, I could have everything.

Sex and excitement were on my mind more than usual in those days, and specifically, my next sexual adventure in Vegas. Scenes from our appointment with Pearl played through my mind constantly, when I was washing the dishes, when I was driving to the grocery store, and especially when I was running, which I was back to doing as much as I could, because it gave me time alone with my increasingly elaborate fantasies. I did have the clarity to understand how lucky I was that I had a loving husband who was willing to try to make our marriage work. I knew that most other husbands would not be so open-minded. At the same time, it all seemed completely normal. It was what I wanted, so it must be okay.

Mark didn’t seem upset that I’d asked him for his blessing to have sex with another person. He seemed really tired, which was how he seemed a lot of the time. Not that I was in the habit of slowing down long enough to focus too much on what he was feeling. I was on a mission, devoted to my own feelings, experiencing pleasure and getting what I wanted—and I didn’t want to slow down for anything. The thought of my trip to Vegas made me so excited I could hardly sleep most nights.

TWO WEEKS LATER, I WAS in Vegas again. Mark and I had left it that I would definitely see Pearl, as well as a male escort, Sebastian, from the same service. Mark had helped me book my trip, which I think at least made him feel a little better about the whole endeavor from a safety standpoint. Not that I was thinking about Mark as soon as my plane touched down in Las Vegas. Experiencing complete independence for the time I was there felt amazing. It was a welcome break I was beginning to think I might need every so often while Mark and I figured out a way to work things out down the line. I was particularly happy to be away from the real estate business, which I detested and blamed for all of our problems. I’d recently suffered some nasty verbal abuse at the hands of an unhappy client who’d lost money on the sale of his home, his poor investment. I’d hated how small and stupid I felt as I sat in that coffee shop across from this man, allowing myself to just shut up and take it, even though I wanted to do anything but. Such extreme suppression of myself felt almost as bad as it had when I’d made myself compete in the face of my worst anxiety, like I had no voice and what I wanted didn’t matter. I didn’t want to be that person anymore, and in Vegas, I didn’t have to be. I could forget all that for the next seventy-two hours, and I would.

From the minute I arrived, I was on a mission. This was my playground, where I could be free to enjoy this new side of myself, and do whatever I wanted. Finally, I had the chance to make up for all that I had missed out on by being a nice girl my whole life. Who cared that I was in my forties?

I’d gone to Vegas with the intention to see Pearl, but when I got there I decided I wanted to see the male escort, Sebastian, first instead. It was easy enough to change my plan through the service, and I was soon anticipating my upcoming tryst. I spent a long time getting ready in front of the big mirrors in the bathroom, loving the knowledge that in a few hours Sebastian would arrive at my room. I carefully applied my makeup and straightened my hair, and then I counted out three hundred dollars in cash. As I’d learned, male escorts generally charged less than females because there wasn’t as much demand for their services. I slid the money into an envelope and left it on the vanity in the bathroom, as I’d been instructed. Just at the hour we’d specified, Sebastian knocked on the door of my room and I felt a thrill of excitement and nerves. I’d chosen him over the service’s other male escort because he looked the part of the gigolo, and that’s what I wanted: pure fantasy. When I opened the door, there he was: six-foot-two, incredible body, beautiful black skin, his clothes hanging on him just right, in a sexy, casual way, like he’d just stepped out of a magazine.

“Hey, Suzy,” he said. “How are you tonight?”

“Great,” I said. “Come on in.”

Just as Pearl had done, he walked in casually, like we were already lovers and he’d been waiting all day just to see me. My adrenaline was already racing and I started talking a mile a minute. In my excitement, the words just kind of poured out of me.

“Do you want a drink?” I asked. “I’m going to have vodka. Normally I drink wine. Red wine. Pinot noir is my favorite. But on special occasions I like to drink vodka and cranberry. And this seems like a special occasion, doesn’t it?”

“It sure does,” he said, his voice as flirtatious as mine. “I’ll have whatever you’re having.”

Here I was, standing at the bar in a swanky hotel room in Las Vegas, mixing a drink for a gigolo, my gigolo.

“So do you live in Vegas?” I asked.

“Yeah, I moved here to play basketball in college,” he said.

“Really?” I said. “I was a college athlete, too.”

“Oh yeah?” he said. “You definitely have an athlete’s body. What did you play?”

A little spike of reality managed to penetrate my fantasy. One of Mark’s biggest concerns about my desire to step outside of our marriage was that someone might recognize me. I was still enough of a public figure, especially in Madison, that it wouldn’t take much for a rumor to get started. Although I had no reason to, I already trusted this man, but I figured I should be careful.

“I was a gymnast,” I said.

“Hot,” he said, giving me a sexy look.

“What are you studying?” I asked.

“I’m out of school now, and I do some modeling in L.A., so I split my time between there and Vegas.”

Now that was hot. This was so much more exciting than boring old Madison.

When I handed him his drink, he took a sip, and then, setting it down on the coffee table, he leaned over and kissed me. It was exciting, but in a different way than it had been with Pearl. Kissing a man other than my husband was a little strange, but the strangeness was a part of the thrill, too. And maybe the weirdest thing of all was that, just like everything else that went along with my new Vegas life, it felt totally normal, even when he quickly undressed me and led me to the bed. We were laughing and teasing each other like we’d been friends forever, and the sex was hot. Not just because I was a very sexual person, but because this was something special I was getting to do that almost no one else in the world got to do. This was something off-limits that no one would have expected from the nice girl from Wisconsin.

The hour went by even more quickly than it had with Pearl. This time, I wasn’t surprised when he got up and went to take a shower. I knew it was time for him to go. I also knew that I’d be seeing him again, and soon. I liked him, and not just the way he looked. He was really smart, and even though he was masculine and sexy, he was also sweet and gentle with me, and we had fun together. Suddenly, even though I’d been looking forward to seeing Pearl again since pretty much the minute she kissed me, I decided I didn’t want to see her anymore, not when I could sleep with this man instead. I’d have him on the side whenever I came to Vegas, and finally, I’d be happy.

“Can you come back later?” I asked, already formulating the plan in my mind.

“Definitely, I’d like that,” he said, grinning wickedly at me.

“Do you want to know something?” I said. “You’re the only man I’ve ever had sex with beside my husband.”

“Now that’s just a waste,” he said. “I’m glad you decided to branch out.”

We both laughed as I walked him to the door, where he kissed me, long and hot. After he left, I texted Mark to say everything was fine. I had promised to check in and let him know I was safe, but now that I was in Vegas, I didn’t feel like talking to him and getting pulled out of the fantasy of the new life I was creating for myself.

It was easy to call the service and switch my appointment with Pearl the next day to one with Sebastian instead. The next evening when we saw each other, it was even more fun because I knew what to expect. When he didn’t jump up and take a shower after fifty minutes, I was thrilled. He was having such a good time that he stayed for a full three hours, even though he only charged me for one. Our sex became more intense, and I particularly loved that I could direct the action, pushing the boundaries further and further, and by doing so, feed the energy inside of me. In fact, by the time he finally did get dressed and prepared to leave, I had an idea for how we could make things even more exciting. As he had the first time, he paused to kiss me good-bye just inside the door. I was still naked.

“I was thinking,” I said, my voice laced with flirtation.

“And what were you thinking?” he asked, adopting my tone.

“Maybe you could come back tomorrow, and could you bring someone else with you?”

“And who would this someone else be?”

“Another guy?” I asked.

“Naughty, naughty,” he said, laughing. “I think that could be arranged. Don’t go through the screening service this time. Just text me and we’ll work it out.”

The next night, when I heard Sebastian knock on the door, I was filled with a sizzling thrill that was beginning to feel familiar to me. The more I felt it, the more I wanted it, and the more determined I became to feel it all the time. When I opened the door, Sebastian stood there, hot in perfectly baggy jeans and perfectly fitted T-shirt that showed off his chiseled body. And just behind him was his cousin, an equally cute and well-built guy.

“Hi, beautiful,” Sebastian said, pausing to kiss me deeply in the doorway.

“Come on in, guys,” I said.

His cousin followed him into the room. When we made eye contact, I smiled at him, but he looked away quickly, like he was a little nervous. I wasn’t nervous at all. I was fully in my element. I could feel their eyes on my body, admiring me, as I went to the bar to mix drinks for everyone, talking and flirting the whole time. Things started out as they had before, with Sebastian undressing me and leading me to the bed. I was excited by how it felt to be there, naked, with these two handsome men. Sebastian kissed me and I arched my back under his body, feeling my skin awaken with the contact. And then his cousin joined in, but he wasn’t gentle in the way Sebastian had been. He pushed on my hips, forcefully moving my body in the way he liked. He was big and strong, and he was being rough with me. I wasn’t used to having my body used like this, and I didn’t like how it felt. But he didn’t stop. He was excited. They were both into it, and they hadn’t noticed that I wasn’t. I let the situation progress, trying to please them as I had always done for everyone around me. But as I lay pinned on the bed, having trouble breathing, feeling trapped and unhappy, I had a reaction that surprised me: I got mad.

Pushing myself up from underneath the cousin, I forced him off me.

“That’s it,” I said, raising my voice. “Leave.”

“What? You’re kidding,” he said.

I stood up on the bed, completely naked.

“Get the hell out of here,” I said.

He looked up at me and saw I wasn’t kidding. Scurrying to get out of there as quickly as possible, he grabbed his clothes up from the floor and ran out the door, still pulling them on over his bare limbs. I looked at Sebastian. He was laughing, but in a nervous way, like he wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. Watching me the whole time, he gathered his clothes and ran out, too. The room was suddenly empty, but I didn’t feel any calmer. I strode over to the door, still completely naked, and threw it open, not caring who saw me as I watched them both run down the hallway toward the elevator.