This week has been difficult for me. Upon revisiting an old piece I submitted late last semester, I reviewed my mentor’s notes and they were brutal. Included were comments like: “Most people don’t care about your sex life outside of maybe your blog readers …” combined with overall mark-ups about formatting, incomplete thoughts and ineffective structure. I am getting over this godforsaken flu, though it has been well over 2 weeks, the fatigue is all-consuming. There are other things … I am broke and working all the time.
In the midst of getting the notes and feeling my mental state unravel, my boyfriend broke up with me because he decided he couldn’t make me happy. Jumping on Facebook, someone posted a picture of a dead puppy left in a cardboard box, covered in morning snow, laying next to an overturned water dish and it all came crumbling down. I realize the blog is two months behind so you don’t know the state of things, but let me illustrate the mood here in this messy bedroom on a Tuesday afternoon: I couldn’t read or write, I didn’t eat, I couldn’t get out of bed; I couldn’t shower.
Frank, my roommate, would circle outside my bedroom door and occasionally come in to sit next to me, as I lay curled up under a blanket on the bed with a bag of chips and a bottle of cheap wine. His hand would fall down to my leg and shake. “How are you doing?” he asked.
“I would kill myself but that would require getting out of bed and actually putting an effort into something,” I stated in my typical, matter-of-fact way. He chuckled.
My boyfriend and I made amends. My new mentor sent brilliant notes for this semester. And just as I opened a clean white page in Google Docs to write this, my old mentor sent a very encouraging note my way: “... it often looks like I'm hardest on the students who I think have the most potential ...“
I am waiting to feel better.
This depression is lethal. My fingers are numb. I have slept for four days. My hair is in a greasy ponytail and my lips are chapped. So here I am, about to write more in first-person, more autobiographical material, more about my sex/love life, more about my story in the hopes that it does mean something. Otherwise, in my mind, I would mean absolutely nothing.
It was November and Michael was spending the night every night now. We had been dating for a couple weeks, and things, as they tend to with me, escalated quickly. He was attentive, genuine, funny, affectionate and by my side every night. And with Michael’s more constant presence, my two roommates, Greg and Frank, both seemed to disappear more and more into their rooms.
In my bedroom, we had an air mattress and three dogs, music playing and weed smoking. We were happy, making out, making love every half hour or so. With my new job, my new place and my new boyfriend, things felt like they were falling into place. I needed that more than anything. Stability, if not the illusion of stability.
'Lady Marmalade' from Moulin Rouge came on my Spotify playlist.
"Hold on! Is this what I think it is? .... now, I think it is has appeal, it is contextual, but I think it stands on the platform of the movie. I don't think it stands on its own,” Michael said, sitting up from my naked torso in bed.
"The song? Are you f***ing kidding me? It’s excellent," I said.
Standing next to each other in public, it was awkward. Waiters would flirt with me when we were out together at dinner. We simply did not look like a couple. He was small, with the face of a 12-year-old. And, as a tall woman approaching her mid-thirties (who am I kidding, I am in my mid-thirties), my face is thinner and has given me the definition I needed to finally blossom into a good-looking woman.
Side by side, we may pass as brother and sister, aunt and nephew, but never as boyfriend and girlfriend. When we kiss, the waiter’s face drops, the couple at the booth next to us whisper and we shrug. I know it bothers him, but I always tell him it doesn’t matter what they see … only what we see. It is so hard to make it work with someone, why kill a connection over something as silly as age and height?
Michael was looking in my closet door mirror one day. “I mean, look at this … I have a perfect build, good-looking face, and I am stuck in a little boy’s body. Is this some kind of joke? What is God trying to prove. Look at this … it is ridiculous,” he said.
Then there is the issue of age:
“How can you not love Pink Floyd?” I asked in the car.
“If I tell you something will you promise not to get mad? My mom loves Pink Floyd,” he responded.
"Here, let me put on some of y our young people music," I said, switching the station over to hip hop.
"Oh, [StarFire], you fuddy duddy."
The age and height seem like natural obstacles, but I ask you to imagine the genders reversed: the female narrator of this story as a 5’4 ft. tall 23-year-old, and the male love interest as a 5’9 ½ tall 34-year-old … would it be that odd now?
My mother once asked me why I don’t date men closer to my age. I have no fucking idea where they are. Sascha and I shared a pitcher of beer the other night and she said, “The guys our age are all married and miserable. That’s why.”
So in my unpacked bedroom, on a mattress thrown among white walls, we laughed, made love and fell in love. One particular night, I started my period and told him it was alright to ejaculate inside of me. In the dark, we made love six or seven times, and I felt the stickiness of blood on his fingers as he held my waist while I sat on top. I am the first to advocate for condoms, though I never use them. I have used them and they are a wonderful prevention tool most of the time, but I have had every brand of condom break on me. Now, I ask questions, hope for honest answers, and feel the push of their skin inside me. The ridge of circumcision slip through. I hear the moan of his voice change. For better or worse, I believe this forms stronger bonds of intimacy with my sexual partners. You rely more on trust. You both agree to danger. And you allow your body to be completely exposed to another human being. There is a primitive bond. Now, when he cums inside of you, everything is taken to the next level; the trust, the danger and the pleasure. I feel everything inside of me grow suddenly more sensitive and if he tells me he is about to cum, I can orgasm almost immediately.
“Have you had unprotected sex with someone else, I mean … since we have been seeing each other?” he asked.
I took a breath in. “Yeah, I have.”
“Was it with someone you knew and trusted?” he asked.
“No, I’m sorry, it wasn’t. I didn’t know him well at all,” I said.
I heard him exhale and I put my hand over my head as we both lay still, totally naked, covered in blood and semen. “I am sorry,” I said again.
“I just don’t know why you didn’t tell me before we had unprotected sex again,” he said.
“I know. That was irresponsible. I am really sorry, there is no excuse,” I said again, still covering my face though I couldn’t see him very well in the dark anyway.
“Well, I am glad you are telling me now, but what the fuck?”
“I know, I know. It was just awkward and I didn’t know how to bring it up or when. There is no excuse,” I repeated.
“Well, don’t feel bad. I just wish you would have told me,” he said.
“I know. I should have. Are you mad? I mean, do you still want to go out?” I asked, like a teenager.
“Yeah, of course,” he said. Then he put his arm around me and tugged me close. “Hey, don’t feel bad about this, ok?” It was odd. No one ever really comforted me before about my sexual exploits.
“I do take your health very seriously, I just was doing whatever I wanted. We weren’t really serious then, and suddenly we were ...” I said.
“Hey, it’s ok,” he said again, tucking his cold nose into my neck.
We made love, and he fell asleep. I was unable to sleep, so I would leave the room while he napped and walk out to the living room to finish books for school. I came back in with a cup of tea and casually picked up his phone. I do not make a habit of this, and had he picked up my phone, God knows what he would have found. But at this late hour, this man who just comforted me about unprotected sex with another man was fast asleep and his phone was on my desk. I picked it up and found text messages to a girl (we will call) Donna.
“Are you still coming out to Milwaukee?” Donna wrote.
“Yeah, in a few days and just so you know, I am a sure thing in the sack,” Michael wrote.
“ … you should know I have a UTI. I just don’t want you to be disappointed,” she typed back.
“That’s ok, at least I can take you out to dinner,” he wrote back.
“SURE THING IN THE SACK!?” I bellowed over my cup of tea. Michael stirred over my stained sheets and pillows.
“What?” he said sleepily.
“I see. You were going to go fuck this girl in Milwaukee. Nice, Michael!” I said.
“I couldn’t. She had a UTI,” he said.
“But you are a sure thing in the sack!” I said, and threw the iphone at him. He turned a little so it pelted him in the back, right shoulder blade.
“Come on …” he said, calming, cool.
“FUCK YOU!” I shouted, then slammed the door.
I know it was irrational. I know it was childish. I didn’t care. It was the first ping of jealousy I felt since the summer and it burned. Perhaps even more so with Michael dripping out of me.
Around 3am, I was making soup, reading Nabokov and heard Frank walk in with a friend. “Someone is up …” I heard him say. I slowly climbed out of my wicker, circular chair padded in pillows we picked up from a yard sale. The $50 oval mattress that came with it was discarded after my cats pissed on it one too many times.
“Hey, you are up?” he said.
“Yeah,” I said quietly, looking to see who his escort was.
“This is Jim, I have been wanting you two to meet for some time. This is great,” Frank said. A tall, pale, middle-aged guy strolled in. He spoke in a funny kind of way, fast with a curly whine to the words he chose to emphasize. Sometimes it seemed like he was chewing on his sentences. Introductions were made and Jim settled in with my dogs on the couch. He was a doglover and I was immediately attracted to him. He was also a stand-up comic, in from New York; successful enough to support himself on bi-coastal gigs.
I led the conversation in our kitchen starting with how I agreed that Michael could ejaculate inside of me while on my menstrual flow. I read Jim’s face to see how he would take immediate, intimate conversation and he held it with grace, and a flickering smile. I revisited the story about my sexual partners and how I was honest though hadn’t volunteered the information.
“It was really uncomfortable,” I said.
“Any conversation about sex with other people is uncomfortable. I don’t care who you are,” he said.
“Meanwhile, I am getting these texts from Double T … this rapper I met at a friend’s house a few weeks ago. (please see Hope, Worries and the Cumming of New Times) Michael and I are having our first fight out of this taxi cab coming home from a party in North Hollywood. We made him leave his car but of course, he was the only one who could afford the taxi. As we are getting out, and Michael is struggling for a credit card that goes through, Double T calls me. Now, Double T heard my gripping lecture on how to properly give a blow job so of course, he is interested, but our introduction ended with him asking if I shaved my pussy and I said no. ‘I keep a little to remind myself I am a woman.’ He just walks away. Not even a goodbye.
So he calls me on this random night and I am dealing with grouchy, drunk Michael in this taxi cab, and say, ‘I can’t talk right now. I am with my boyfriend. And you weren’t interested anyway because I didn’t shave my pussy.’ Then I hung up on him.
He continues to text me. (I take out my cell phone) 2:38am: ‘I never said i wasn’t enterested baby i love the way u look and i would love to see u asap … i have all kinds of party favors.
3:21am: ‘You should come suck this big black dick of mine.’
4:56am: ‘What youdoing
Isn’t it amazing how dignified a conversation can get over four hours of total silence?” I said.
Jim and Frank laughed.
I returned to the bedroom to make love to Michael. There was no tension, no arguments, barely any words. The room smelled of sweat, blood and semen. I cracked open the window and left him there to fall back asleep.
“Are you upset about the Donna thing?” he asked.
“No, I just need to blow up about things for a second and then I am over it,” I said. Walking out of my bedroom, my hair was wild and alive. Jim handed me a cigarette without a word, and we stepped outside.
“You understand while you are fucking this kid, you are handling fine china,” said Jim, holding his hands out like Michael's glass snowglobe was put back together in our imagination. I nodded, heavily. Everyone wanted to remind me how fragile he was, and how reckless I am. Even this person I just met.
Jim, Frank and I chatted until dawn, about fucking, about comedy, about drugs and dogs. I liked him. It was complicated, you say you want a relationship, you want a guy to always be there, you want someone to love you and be your partner. And then you meet someone fantastic. Someone who effortlessly makes you laugh; whose storytelling holds your attention to the last syllable when you are shaking in the night air holding a dead cigarette. When his eyes fall on you, the vibration to perform shakes from your shoulders down. I liked him. Immediately, I liked him.
That was the first time I had to choose. There are people out there you will be attracted to you want to make love to, maybe for a night, maybe for a weekend, maybe for a year. There are people out there you could fall in love with. Hell, there is a man or two out there I might still be in love with. In the end, you need to choose the man who will give you the best life. The man you can love, and make love to and share in some kind of life you want. A life that relies on hope and daydreams, laughter and discovery, trust and fidelity- not just with the body but with the mind and soul. You can’t share that kind of faith with more than one person, you have to choose. You must invest. Otherwise, it becomes just an affair. Another fragile, temporary, tragic affair. I choose Michael. At least for right now, my life is Michael.
I went back into the room and fell asleep with my boyfriend.