Metaphorical non-fiction. A testimony of love, sex, and normality.
I used to be afraid of sex.
The idea made me nauseous, like being force fed lima beans, or the smell of vomit. Even the word turned my stomach. I’d want it to end, but that last sound, that “eks,” goes on forever: sexxx. Sex. Intercourse. Inter-course. Inter meaning “between,” course being a path of navigation. Convergence. A brief connection, then, emptiness.
This is how I used to regard sex. I saw it as a fleeting moment in time, ten minutes, thirty, an hour, tops, and then, nothing. Not a smile, not a word between them; nothing leading up to it, nothing leading away from it, no preparation, no discourse, not even a nod. It was just an action, like animals in the woods: humping, sweating, slapping, sucking. Doggie-style. Like Rabbits.
I didn’t touch a penis until I was twenty years old. I was afraid of them, too. They seemed so big, so ugly. So threatening. Why should a man possess something that fits perfectly inside one of my holes, the hole I’ve explored the least out of any of them, with maybe one exception. My hole, protected by my hymen. That penis, it wanted to destroy my hymen. It wanted to destroy my hole. It wanted to destroy me.
But one night, I touched one. Through cotton. I didn’t really want to, but I felt I had to, since he had touched me for such a long time. Longer than necessary, really. I hadn’t asked him to, but he just did it, peeling off my jeans, slipping through my underwear, seeing that I hadn’t shaved. There was something dirty about that, something apathetic, something revolting and savage that made me avert my eyes and think, deliberately think, that he must be praying for it all to be over soon. But he stayed there, despite the dirt and the disconnect, for a long, long time. Longer than I wanted him to.
I didn’t exactly “fake it.” But he was taking so long, I had to do something. Just a quiet little “oh,” here and there, a little moan, breathe a little harder, a little faster, move my hips, my hands, bite my lip, close my eyes. Just enough to make him think he had done something big, something important, something I had asked him to do.
And then it was my turn, and I knew I should take as long as had had taken, and I didn’t exactly count but I knew he had taken a long time. So I felt around for it over his shorts, and there it was, hard, standing up straight, smaller than I thought it would be. Like a rubber hose. And I began to stroke it, the way I’d seen porn stars do it.
Yes, I’ve watched porn. I’ve watched a lot of porn. I thought it would be bigger.
I thought I’d start slowly, to make it last longer, because I didn’t know what to do to fill in all that time. But after just a minute, not even a minute, with a soft “oh God,” he came, through cotton, and it had only been a few moments and it was over. And I was angry because I thought it might get on my sheets, and I had just washed them.
I never talked to him again.
I never thought that because I didn’t like it, because I didn’t want to touch it, that there was something wrong with me. Instead, I thought it made me a lesbian. That thought, “you’re gay,” nagging and nagging at me, at night when the lights were out and the wind was calm, in the shower when I saw myself naked, in class when I noticed a pretty girl walk by. “You’re gay, you’re gay, it’s because you must be gay,” at first, sporadically, then frequently, then constantly, “gay gay gay gay” all day long, for days, weeks, months. And I have to be honest.
I didn’t want to be a lesbian.
I just wanted to be the same person I was before I touched that penis.
I cried sometimes, when those thoughts were screaming at me, “you’ll never be the same, you’ll never be that girl, you’re gay gay gay gay GAY now,” they said. I said. And I’d lie awake in the dark, too afraid to breathe, too afraid to look across the room, just staring at the wall, crying so softly, tears dared not roll down my cheeks. I wept inside of me, for my past, for my identity, for my hymen that I thought would never be broken.
I cried, for the parts of me I had been afraid would be stolen.
For months, I cried.
Until one day, I read a book, a memoir about a girl who really knew how to cry. She knew how to cry, and she knew how to write, and she wrote about crying, and it made me want to cry, but more than that it made me want to write. It was a raw act, a raw book, and it was exhausting to read, but I knew it must have been more exhausting to write. I wanted that passion, that fearlessness, that ability to begin and to let it all out, to expose the truths I had been denying, uncontrolled, uninhibited, relentless, until my body made me stop. So I read and I read, as fast as I could so I wouldn’t miss a word, a comma, a breath that I knew she put there just for me, I read I read I read until there were no more words or commas left to read, and then I put her down, gently, gratefully, and I picked up my pen, and I opened my Moleskine, and on the page after my To Do list, I wrote.
And this is what I got:
I look at myself and I don’t know what has happened to me. Everywhere I turn I am surrounded by myself-by a woman who doesn’t resemble the girl I see looking back at me in the bathroom mirror or the store window while I walk down the street. I see this woman and I know her face and she isn’t me, she’s a stranger, she’s a phase, and I keep telling myself “she’s just a phase, she’ll go away soon,” but she’s still here. She’s been here for weeks, for months, what if it’s years, what if it becomes years? What if I go years and years and never-NEVER learn who I am, what I am?
I am supposed to be a writer. I am supposed to know all this, or at least how to figure it out, it’s supposed to happen, and so I write, I am writing to me, to God, to anyone who’ll listen to what I won’t, what I can’t say out loud, I’m afraid, I’ve never felt love, I want to fall in love, I want to want love, with him, with men. I don’t know. I want sex, I want to feel a man inside of me, more than his fingers, his emotions, his words, the tenderest, most secret part of him. I want it in me, to touch me, to learn me and know me, to understand the words I can’t say, I love you, I need you, I don’t know who I am.
When I picture myself in love, I picture myself fighting. I imagine the ugliest things I could do or say to a person and what he could do or say to me, and I am in love with this idea of love, with this vision of perfection, security, trust. I want WANT WANT TO TRUST SOMEONE.
I have never trusted fully before.
I have never said “I love you” before.
I have never been told I was beautiful before.
I have never been kissed by someone who meant it, who really wanted to kiss me again, before.
Desire, lust, fear, they’re all the same.
And I read it and thought, “I’m not gay.”
And that was that.
Liberating, I guess. Relieving, sure. What I wanted to hear. What I thought I wouldn’t see. I thought I might still have to tell myself, “no, you’re not gay, stop that,” but it was simple. Innocent. Like a period at the end of a sentence.
A bit anti-climactic.
So now I know. I do desire men. I do desire sex. I do imagine, at night when I’m alone, and sometimes during the day in a crowded room, a naked man, older than me, a secret from my life, on top of me and beneath me and inside of me all at once, narrative theory and Foucault filtering through into-our-course, and I wonder, that professor, that bus driver, can he tell? The way I bit my lip just now, can he tell what I am thinking?
And it’s nice to know what I like.
But I still cry sometimes.
Alone, at night, in the dark, in silence, I still cry.