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My boyfriend came with a lot of baggage. Abandoned by his parents at 3, Ciprian grew up in an orphanage in rural Romania until he was adopted by American parents at 12. Malnourished, club footed, and institutionalized, it took years of therapy and medical care to salvage his youth and life. I met Ciprian at an art gallery showing. His therapist suggested he paint as an outlet to his anger and so he created beautiful, turbulent works of art. I purchased two, then asked him out for coffee.

Cip reminded me of a moth, cute yet a bit dull colored, flapping weakly with an injured wing. He needed more love than his parents could give him. He was starving for it. He needed so much love, it overwhelmed me. His eyes were so hungry. When Ciprian and I walked down the street in our big city, he always looks frightened and meek in ill fitting clothes. He was also self conscious over his leg brace. But, I loved him. I loved his interest in plants and his dedication to art, the way he served me tea and homemade cherry dumplings as if I were the Queen.

Some days, when Ciprian gets overwhelmed or depressed, and insists that he was a mistake and he should have died in that orphanage, I take him to the park. I let him gaze upon the river and the trees, feel the wind and the sun on his face, listen go the birds and frogs. It grounds him, to remember that although sometimes the world is ugly, it can be beautiful too and he is as part of it as anything else. There isn’t much that words can do. I just put an arm over him, and kiss his shoulder, and remind him I’m here and I care about him. Sometimes, he’ll put a hand on my thigh, squeeze it, and just cry softly while staring forward. I think when this happens, the poison is being pushed to the surface and washed away by his tears.

He’s getting better for sure. Ciprian has improved a lot since we met. He dresses better, and is painting more and selling steadily. Even though he is on disability for PTSD, he landed a job in an art supply and framing store. I threw him a party for this accomplishment and after everyone left, we made love in our bedroom with the windows open.

I was actually quite surprised he liked sex. At first, he was only interested in exploring my body in almost a clinical way. I would just lie there and his hands would roam over me, pushing on me, stroking me, testing me. I let him. I thought it was erotic. I always had to finish myself off because Ciprian liked to watch; he found it fascinating.
Gradually, we built it up trust until he permitted me access to his body. I think it makes him happy knowing that although he feels like he’s gross and malformed, that I desire him. Also, he seemed surprised that there was nothing wrong with his sex drive after all, it was just dormant, buried beneath all his trauma.

I think sometimes I’m doing a little more than helping him heal. I think I’m helping him find his identity. Not Ciprian the orphan, Ciprian the adoptee, Ciprian the 24 year old, just…Ciprian. My Ciprian.

Text is fictional. Couldn’t find the source for this. Edit on pronuncation: ‘Ciprian’ is pronounced “Chip-riahn and the stress is on the second syllable”.


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