Lior texted me before our photo shoot, confessing that he was having cold feet. Apparently a naked photo shoot was out of his comfort zone. He was very nervous. I told him to call me. He did. We chatted. Sometimes hearing the voice of somebody makes a huge difference. Finally he was calm and determined to do it.

It’s bewildering to see boys like him being vulnerable. If you don’t know him and meet him for the first time, you would think he is a very self confident person and he has smiles like sunshine. He must be popular among guys. But it’s a lesson that I have learned, everyone has his struggles.

We met at his house. He started to tell me his love stories with his ex and other boys. If it’s not that he was sweating all the time you couldn’t sense his insecurity. We took some photos, slowly. There’s no rush. I tried to keep it as informal as possible. He told me he felt comfortable with it. I was happy to hear it.

Did I tell you that Lior has smile that could brighten up the entire room? Even though he was nervous, he put on a big smile. It’s quite heart melting. We went on the terrace. He told me that during the lockdown, he was sending nudes to the imaginary lover living in the opposite building. The terrace became a play ground for them during the lockdown. I think it’s a fun and innocent story. It certainly lifted up the spirit a little.

Then we both lay in his bed, taking a pause. I looked at him, he’s beautiful. He started to tell me about his love stories, how he came to Berlin for his ex and how they are living together now. He also told me about his another relationship with a model that I had photographed earlier. Then he said, “it’s a big deal to me, doing the photoshoot. You being here, taking photos of me.” I believed him. We all have our inner demons. Sometimes they could make the hell out of our lives, but we do need to find the courage to take steps to fight against them. I think he’s doing so now.

At a certain moment I noticed the poster of call me by your name on the wall, it’s the scene when Elio sat in the car with his mother who came to pick him up at the station after Oliver left. We lay together in his bed, staring at the poster. I was trying to digest all the emotions inside me and Lior told me how it reminded him of his own parents, supportive and ever understanding like Elio’s.

It was getting very emotional, there in a hot afternoon in Berlin. Lior was naked while I was all dressed. A few moments passed then he asked “can I hug you?” “Of course you can.” We hugged. Then he was in my arms, or it’s me in his. I can’t remember the details now. It’s a tender moment, two people, getting so close during their first meeting. This moment could as well be compared to some cinematic scenes in a romantic movie. You know, two protagonists laying in bed, realizing their courses of life have just crossed, and hell, evening smoking some cigarette, flames dancing in soft dark light. It would be beautiful, isn’t it?

In reality, it’s beautiful but we are people with different stories and we will carry on with our lives separately once this photo shoot is over. Perhaps we will keep in touch, but it’s not a movie about us. So we simply enjoyed this afternoon. I left Lior eventually after rushing downstairs to have a falafel together. Before I left, he said, “come to Berlin again and I will show you my world.” Yes, please do. I will come back again.

Lior sent me a few messages after my visit. He apologized for not sending me his story. He was very honest about the struggles he had to write something. I understand him. He told me during the shoot about it, the anxiety. “Try your best, it’s ok.” I told him, not wanting to add more pressure on him. He is a fragile boy. I get that. Sometimes we have other priorities to deal with. Life is hard enough. I don’t blame him. He is a very honest person. I only wish him all the best and I am grateful that now I have a story to tell, about our meeting and that afternoon. Thanks. Maybe one day, he will finally share his story in his own way. For now, we will wait.

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