I know what I was wearing when I had my first orgasm: A V-neck purple shirt, a black skirt, and black and white panties pushed to one side. I thought that the outfit had something to do with the orgasm. I wore it again the next time I had sex to try to re-create the magic. It didn’t work. Unlike the characters in my Grandmother’s romance novels I did not start my sexual life being agile and able to have multiple orgasms my very first go around. There was no tearing at my bodice and sweeping me off my feet. I never said no when I meant yes like the women in books. There was nothing even close to rape. Sex was something that I wanted. My virginity felt like a dress that was too tight and ill fitting. I wanted to shed my virginity and I did in a clumsy coupling of groins and lust. I didn’t orgasm the first time I had sex or the seventh. It wasn’t until the fated day that I wore the purple shirt and black skirt that I had that orgasm. I was sixteen and my life has at times been dictated by the sexual decisions I made.
This summer my reading was dedicated to erotic fiction. I enjoyed the world of wealth and privilege, and even had a few not erotic at all dreams regarding a helicopter named Charlie Tango. But I noticed while I was reading the books that my mind often wandered. The main characters have sex multiple times in one night and I think, “God, the chaffing would be terrible.” They have sex in a bathtub and I would say to myself, “No one has ever had good sex in water; it’s too damn drying.” Somewhere near sex scene number 63, I say, “She has to have a rocking urinary tract infection.” It was at this point I couldn’t help but think I had wasted a good deal of my sexual whimsy on a misspent youth.
Like many people I had a false sense of my own sexuality in my late teens and early twenties. And I have little doubt that that false sense was related to a belief that I could do anything without being hurt. Everything was an adventure, whether it was sex in less than desirable places or moving out on my own with nothing more than a minimum wage job and a raging ego. Now, if I was asked to have sex underneath a train trellis I would throw my head back and cackle, but from age 16 to 25 it seemed like a great idea. The fog of hormones and need led me to places that I now would never consider. That fog made me brave and more than a little stupid. The same fog led me to curled toes and fevered kisses.
In my twenties I, without fear, met people on the internet. “Are you going to kill me with an ax?” was the extent of my vetting process. On a night I drank a great many margaritas, I had reckless (although somewhat safe) sex with a virtual stranger. He turned out to be a nice guy and we ended up in a kind-of-pseudo relationship for a few years. Now that well over ten years have passed I recognize it for what it was: a long standing booty call. What I reminisce about is not the sex but the bravery and sureness of my sexuality. My body issues existed but not in the way that they do now. I don’t remember concentrating on the heaviness of my breasts and the rolls on my back as much as I do now. I was naked in both a literal and figurative way in my twenties. I was a part of my very own short-lived sexual revolution. These relationships gave me a chance to be sexual and at the same time live independently due to the long-distance aspect of the relationships. It was “playing house” and practicing for my next real relationship.
My next sexual relationship took place under the watchful eyes of Meg Ryan. I was now in my late 20s and embarking on my first real relationship since being divorced. Above his bed was a large cut-out of Meg Ryan; she was witness to many rounds of Music ADD which was a game that Carvell and I would easily play til two in the morning. Meg Ryan, the patron saint of new relationships. It was in the bed, under Meg, that I fell in love and what Meg didn’t witness, Frank Sinatra did.
Now in my late thirties, my priorities have changed. Instead of becoming surer of myself, I have regressed. I am full of doubt and worry, and most days I question my place in the world. It’s not that I miss the sex of my youth. I miss a world where I wasn’t afraid all the time. I miss the brave me. I miss the escape that sex offered if only for 10 minutes in the front seat of a car. Life and responsibility are too real now and I sometimes want to escape this reality. Books like 50 Shades offer women like me an escape. They offer a world where you know that in the end the characters come out on top (no pun intended). The books offer a world where there is always a happy ending (pun intended). The decisions of my youth are just that, decisions of my youth, and I made the decisions with a sureness that the adult me now admires.