Saturday, January 8, 2011

Parts and Pieces


Your skin radiates warmth, and my first thought is that I’m glad I let you sleep over, simply for this sensation. The morning light is flooding in, and I’m fighting the obligation to get out of bed and stumble into the shower. You’re still breathing, heavy, uneven. I want to curl up to you, bury in your skin, but strangely, cuddling is one of the few things I’m unsure about with you. It's not an emotional activity for me, but for some people, cuddling is intensely personal in a way sex simply isn't. I find myself mulling over how we've discussed and navigated so much, and yet, never this. I roll up against you, instead, pull the comforter back over my head, and shut out the light. I’m lulled back to sleep before I can even count to ten.


The heat of the water almost burns as I step in. Having a heated pool at a gay bar, in the middle of the city, in the middle of the night? Only in New Orleans. I slip underwater, pulling myself forward, deeper, and though the Chlorine burns my eyes, I want to be swallowed into the water, I want to float weightless, I want to escape. As I child, I used to pretend I was a mermaid, a whale, a fish, or some combination… swimming deep into the depths, holding the air in my lungs until the pressure rose, expanding, forcing me upward. I feel free in water, unencumbered by the parts of my body that are awkward, heavy, uneven. I feel graceful.

When I come up for air, fifteen feet away, I can hear the echo of voices and laughter from the other end of the pool. The sounds bring life to the cold January night air. There’s no one here but us, and it’s the perfect place to be at two in the morning – a bit of familiar and a bit of unexpected, but mostly just a whole lot of ridiculous antics, bad inside jokes, and easy conversation. Behind me, our beer cans line the edge of the pool, and nipples rise and fall above the water line. It’s my first time being topless in public since Pensacola Pride in May 2007, and the water is beautiful against my skin.


I can feel the weight of your head falling on my shoulder, cushioned by my hoodie. I want to pull you in. I want to bury in you. You make me want to be vulnerable, in a way no one has in a very long time. But I can’t. I won’t. I… I have a million reasons, and while sometimes they sound like excuses, at other times they’re perfectly valid.

“That one, there,” I’m pointing up into the night sky, “is that the big dipper?”

“Yep. And look across, there,” You point to the left of the constellation, “It’s the north star. It’s like it fell out 
of the dipper. You can always find them together.”

I have a vague recollection of my father telling me this same fact, as I stood on our driveway in Mississippi on a summer night, a thousand years ago. The Pontchartrain stretches out into the darkness, watercolor waves for as far as I can see. Fog is still rising from the surface of the water, eclipsing the horizon so that the starry sky and the lake almost blend together. I sink into the bench, looking up across the bowl of sky. I feel infinitely small, and yet full to the brim.

“I can barely see the horizon. It’s such a thin line.” I can barely see your face in the dark, but I know you’re squinting, trying to decide which line.

“If I were painting it, I probably wouldn’t paint a horizon line.” I can picture the paintbrush in my hand, bleeding black onto the canvas.

I hear the surprise in your voice when you respond. “If I were painting it, I would make the horizon line thick.” 

For a moment I’m tempted to analyze what this says about us. Not that I haven’t already thought about our differences, in so many other situations. But I put that thought away. Instead I lean back toward you, take a really deep breath, and let the night sky overwhelm me.


I roll over again, restless, unsure of what I want. I see your eyes start to peek open. Outside my bedroom door, I hear my roommate talking to her friend who is crashing in the guest room for the night. I hold my breath as their footsteps echo in the hall. You stumble out, pulling my bathrobe around you, heading for the bathroom. “Good morning,” I hear from the hallway. Mass giggling ensues. I can’t help but smile.


It’s three in the afternoon on a Tuesday, and I’m not really sure what I’m doing with my life right now, but damn, it feels right. There’s a half-empty Abita in front of me, and outside the late sun is bouncing off the exposed brick of a French Quarter home.


I'm trying to think of a 1940's actress, but no one is coming to mind. Too late for Mae West (my favorite), too early for Audrey Hepburn or Marilyn Monroe. Hell, I can't even think of a 1940's movie. I stumble, my heel catching into the uneven brick, and you reach out to catch me. You put your arm out for me to hold as I walk, and I brush away the thousand memories that simple gesture brings to my mind. You weren't around for those moments, and I don't wish to burden you, or the night, with them. Seconds later my passing thoughts are silenced as you pull an arm around my waist and kiss me. I lean back, lean it, letting go. Momentarily. You smile (or is it a smirk?) and I push against you, resisting, flexing. You catch my wrists and pin me to my car, but I'm still reaching forward to kiss you, letting my lips beg without words. Your lips travel down my neck, around the heavy black cross, a relic that somehow always ends up around my neck when I'm in compromising positions. I gasp, and when the air leaves my lips, there's a smoky outline of my breath under the streetlight. You've let go by now, never dominant for long, and I push my hips forward, swinging to catch you by surprise. I want to pin you, but you've got a couple pounds and more muscle than me. We struggle as you fight back, pushing me deeper against the car, and you're laughing at me. I'm defiant, as always. Stubborn. I lift my leg and curl it around your thigh, bringing the heel between the back of your legs. 

Your hand slides up the inside of my thigh, bare under my black dress, but seconds later, you're pulling away. You're serious. Well, as serious as drunkenly possible. "You're better than this."

"Better than what?" I mentally note to ask you later, when you're more sober. 

"This." You gesture down the street, pulling me into you as a car's headlights fall on us, climb closer, speed by.

Having sex in a public place? Hardly, I've been there. Having a quick fuck when I'd rather take you to bed for a few hours? Yes, probably, but sometimes I'm willing to settle. Sleeping with someone who is drunk? Well, no, as long as you're capable of giving and withdrawing consent, and I know you well enough to know that neither of us takes that lightly. Nor would you say something only to please me. 

I table it. I want to argue; it's bubbling up in me. I feel like you've made a judgment call on what I should and shouldn't do with my body, and though I doubt that's what you mean, I'm drunk enough to take it that way and put up a defensive wall. Not worth it. 

You're still staring at me. Something else is coming. "I don't know how I feel about fucking my friends. I don't want anyone to get hurt."

And God knows, I respect you so much for that, probably more than you'll ever know. "I understand." I reach up to kiss you on the cheek, because I'm going to walk away now. But you turn, and my lips find yours instead. 

"Not that you've given me any reason not think that you can't handle it." You're right, I haven't.

"That's true. But still. If you hesitate, I respect that. I'll back off." 

No matter what I say, you can't see my heart. 


“I like the idea of control. But the truth, as a friend so vividly pointed out to me today, is that's an illusion. Not having control makes me vulnerable. And while I do really enjoy that place, it can be hard to let go. It can be hard not to plan.”


I know what I want, but I hesitate. All of the circumstances are shaky: we’re sober, it’s morning, we both have places to be and things to do. The harsh sunlight is bouncing around my room; a part of me becomes shy, embarrassed of the imperfections of my body which are so easy to find in the light. But you’re in my bed, in my house, in my morning, naked. I pull closer, kissing the nape of your neck very softly. I begin to trace my fingers down your back, slowly, carefully, dancing across your curves. Oh. so. very. slowly. My touch is exploratory at first, gentle. You’re not responding, but not pulling away, either. I slide my hand down, across your hip bone, circling, my palm across the inside of your thigh. I’m waiting for you to let me in, asking the question with my hands. You shift inches, rolling from your side, putting the weight of your thigh onto me. I can feel the arch in your back, involuntary, almost imperceptible to the eye. My fingers wander up, around, across, and I find your nipple, circle the areola, and twist the ring softly between my thumb and forefinger. A gasp escapes from your lips. That’s the answer I’m looking for.  I bite hard into your neck, and your hips roll toward me, opening, and you pull me in for a kiss.


“I don't want promises. I don't want guarantees, and if you hurt me -- or I put myself in a place to be hurt, which is always a possibility, too -- then it happens, and I'll deal then. I want your honesty, and I want you to know why I hesitate in talking, sometimes, and why there will be things you can't push or pull out of me at this point. Past that, I don't expect you to do anything but be you.”



1 comment:

  1. Wow, I missed this one when you posted it. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful piece of creative nonfiction. Consider me impressed.