Saturday, April 6, 2013

Sex, or Something Better

Author's note: I could write a whole blog post on the process it took to decide to actually post this on my blog. At first I just sent it out to a handful of people via email, but somehow it didn't feel right to do that, for a few reasons: 1) Like most humans, sexuality is an important part of who I am, and I know the struggle I reference in this post is not something that only I have dealt with. 2) I have found that the fastest and easiest way to realize that I am not alone is to voice the reasons that I feel alone, and therefore open myself up to the possibility of hearing others tell me that they feel the same way. 3) There is nothing authentic in hiding this part of me. If I'm going to write a book that is all about me and my life, I have to practice showing all parts of myself, including the most vulnerable parts. It's a practice, and I'm practicing. 

All that being said, WARNING: Adult Content. If you prefer not to think of me as a sexual being, I suggest you don't read any further.

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“Morgan, can you please take off your sunglasses and look at me?”
I shook my head, snapped my wallet shut and got out of the taxi. I busied myself pulling my groceries out of the back seat, but I made the mistake of looking in as I did – right into the liquid brown eyes of Irving, a young cute Panamanian who had just asked me on the bumpy ride down my driveway how long it had been since I last had sex.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I had said, staring out the window at the mountains surrounding my home in the mountains of Panama. I was uncomfortable, and yet I was the one who had brought up the conversation.
The last time I called Irving to drive me home, he showed up with a woman in his front seat – a possessive, jealous woman who had her arm across the back of his seat, creating a wall. She didn’t say a thing to me or my friend Jemma, and Irving, usually so talkative, said nothing to me either. We rode in silence until I started up a half distracted conversation with Jemma, and tried to pretend that there wasn’t enough tension in the car to cut with a knife, or perhaps, more appropriately, with a Panamanian machete.
I had just finished telling Jemma about the Panamanian taxi driver who had a crush on me and had recently asked me if he could bring over a pizza sometime to eat on my deck. When he showed up to pick up Jemma and I with a woman in his front seat, I wanted to laugh. It made me feel better, actually, because I really thought he was a cute "kid" – he’s 24, I’m 31 – and I enjoyed getting cheap rides and talking to him, but there was nothing more I wanted. I thought that would be the end of it – that this woman, whoever she was, would put the kibosh on him giving me rides for discounted prices. She was definitely possessive, and he was cowed in her presence.
The next day I got a text, that for fault of the Panamanian cell service, arrived 12 hours late.
“Hey, I can still give you a ride, but I wanted to let you know that I have to pick up the mother of my daughter (read: baby mama) and take her home.”
Aha. I wrote back.
“Just got your message. She seems to be a lot more than just the mother of your daughter. Thanks anyway for the ride.”
He never got it, so he says. Even if he had replied, I didn’t figure out for a week that my message inbox was full and that I wasn’t receiving new messages. Then, yesterday, he sent me a message.
“Why haven’t I heard from you? You don’t need rides anymore?”
So I called him to take me home after a grocery run. I brought up the subject of the woman in his car.
“That’s why you haven’t called me? Because of her?”
“I figured it would be a bad idea. She seemed incredibly jealous.”
The conversation progressed. I told him that either she didn’t know they were only friends, or that he was still sleeping with her. He assured me that the latter wasn’t the case. He asked if I would act the same way in her situation, and I said no; that it showed a lack of trust. She obviously didn’t trust him, and that if they really were just friends and co-parents, that she didn’t know that.
What I should have said more clearly is that she seemed the type that would blame the woman and not Irving if something occurred that she was not ok with...even something as simple as regular rides home in his taxi.
Somehow the subject of friends with benefits came up, or, as they call them here, “friends with rights.”
And of course, the conversation turned to sex from there.
“How can you stand it, living up here all by yourself? Don’t you miss it?” he asked.
“Miss what?”
“Sex.”
“Of COURSE I miss it.”
“So what do you do?”
I gave him a look, that in retrospect he probably couldn’t see through my sunglasses.
“What do you think I do?”
At first I didn’t understand what he said, although the word is basically the same in Spanish. Perhaps I didn’t want to. Suddenly we had crossed a line I wasn't sure I wanted to cross.
“You masturbate?”
“Yes. Yes I do. Don’t you?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Well congratulations,” I said.
“It’s normal, everybody does it,” he said.
“I’m glad that’s true in Panama, too.” I said.
By then we were bumping down my driveway, and he asked The Question.
“When is the last time you had sex?”
Oh God, I thought. It’s been so long. I tried not to wail. I tried to pretend it wasn’t an important question; tried to pretend that it didn’t matter, that I didn’t lay in bed at night, wanting not just sex but for someone to hold me; to run their hands down my bare arms and take up some of my space in the bed. I tried not to think about it, and I answered as breezily as I could.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“A long time, huh?”
“Yes. Too long.”
A pause.
“Why are we even talking about this?” I asked.
“I know. Talking about sex turns me on.”
“Exactly. Let’s stop talking about it.”
He pulled to a stop in front of my house. He asked me something else about sex, I don’t remember what, but suddenly I realized I was really close to inviting him in. I realized it at the same time that I realized that I didn’t want to, for no reason I could fathom in the moment. I handed him his money and he gave me change.
“Morgan, what’s the matter? Will you take off your sunglasses and look at me, please?”
I got out of the car. I stood with the back passenger door open, and talked to him through it.
“I can’t be that woman.” I said.
I had to stop and look away. He was looking at me with something more than naked need. He was looking at me like he really saw me for what I was: a mature woman, with needs, damn it. A woman who needed someone to LOVE her, for crying out loud.
I looked back at him.
“You have things that you need to figure out with your ex-girlfriend. You are either more than you say you are, or at the very least you are still sleeping with her.”
“No,” he said. “No, I’m not.”
“There’s something.” I said.
By this time I had grabbed all my bags out of that side of the car. Instead of reaching in further to grab my backpack and risking the chance he would touch me, I went around to the other side and opened the door behind him. He reached back and held it open for me.
“There’s something you need to figure out with her. I don’t want to be that woman – I can’t be that woman.”
He interrupted me.
“What?”
“Can I come inside so we can talk about this?”
“No, because I know the real reason why you want to come inside.”
“You don’t want to have sex?”
Of course I do. Of course. I didn’t say it out loud. I didn’t even really allow myself to think it. Of course I want your skin sliding over mine, the rasp of your tongue on me. Of course I need this, of course I am not built to be an island.
Of course I want this, I thought, but not with you.
“I can’t be that woman,” I said again. “I don’t want to be that woman.”
He stopped twice to yell something at me as he backed out of the driveway. He sent me three texts in succession: all this talk has made me horny; I hope you won’t stop calling me because of this; I’m sorry. I didn’t answer any of them.
Instead, I tried to decide why I had said no. It took awhile, but I realized the truth in what I had said to him, and that I had left out one part of the sentence: I don’t want to be that woman anymore.
As far as I know, I have never dated a married man, although there was one who might have gone back to his ex-wife before he officially broke up with me. I have never been a mistress, and yet I have often picked someone who offered me less than what I was worth. As much as my skin was crying out for a man’s touch, as much as I was thinking of booking a second session with a local massage therapist/acupuncturist purely because it felt so good to have a man’s strong hands on my back; as much as I took the bus sometimes simply because the money taker’s feline grace made me want to take my clothes off and he called me his “queen,” I am no longer ok with accepting less than I deserve. I am no longer ok with taking what’s there instead of waiting for what’s better. I am no longer interested in what will suffice, I am interested in what will make me sing…or scream in ecstasy.
I was sitting outside in the mist after he left, and I finally realized what had stopped me.
“Something better,” I said out loud, to my little quiet yard, my casita, the thunderclouds, the chirping birds.
“My choices are this, or something better.
I got up and went inside, aware that I had just made a choice, and my choice was different than any choice I had made about men so far. I chose to wait for something better.

Love and better than sex kisses,
Morgan