DREAM BIG, BABY: PART 3
Forgive me father for I have sinned.
I’ve been waiting for a guide to take me by the hand
Could these sensations make me feel the pleasures of a normal man?
New sensations bear the innocence, leave them for another day
I’ve got the spirit, lose the feeling, take the shock away
—Joy Division, Disorder, Unknown Pleasures
I had wanted my pre-surgery sex to be with Isabel.
A week after the unceremonious canceling of my surgery, I end up at her Birthday party, if only because I don’t trust myself to be alone. Conveniently, around the holiday season it is considered socially acceptable—desirable even—to be sensationally smashed all of the time. And if you spread your wings enough and fly from party to party, no one catches on to the ALL OF THE TIME part. The only catch: since my diagnosis in July, I haven’t been able to wash out my bloody sorrow with alcohol, would require more of a torrent than a sink rinse for delicate underthings. Drinking, my moods range from melancholy to macabre, and dither precariously in between. Opiates flatten the edge, whereas alcohol rolls with the waves and drags me along in the undertow, gasping for air and grasping with tender teeth. Thanks, U.S. Health Care System, for keeping me at bay by spaying me with Big Pharma-produced, politician-endorsed dope. Tonight I am going to keep it crisp, with beverages measured by mixology professionals—the cater waiters of the drunken universe. Cocktails and coattails, here I come!
Sidling up next to her in the booth, my lychee martini sloshing over the side, I can tell she is out of it, too. High? Tired? Withered? Overworked? Her lips gesture at mine, slightly slurry. And I’m not sure. We’re both shaky when she tells me I’m beautiful. Like muscles overexerted—shivering slightly, tense still. “So are you,” I reciprocate, but that’s not the right answer. She tries the question again, “No, you’re really beautiful, ya know?” Our muscles extend and soften into each other. And then I know. Her, a cherub Rosario Dawson, padded lips pressed against mine. My thumb and forefingers latch onto the nape of her neck, her shiny black hair feathers around them like my skimpy silk skirt fluttering around my thighs. Her smooth caramel skin draws a direct line from the crux of her ear to the sweet spot between her legs. I feel myself from afar, dripping wet minus manual stimulation, my raging lady boner swelling against my engorged lips as we inhale each other’s musk, heaving like heavy smokers hungry for more.
That’s why I like BJs almost more than sex: without skin-on-skin stimulation, you can feel what’s happening to you and the guy, separately and simultaneously, the exact progression of your physiological arousal disentangled from your attraction to one another, your bodies pried ajar. With her hand hovering over the lacey piping of my push-up bra, my sex-flushed areola surges over the deliberately just-a-wee-bit-too-small demi-cup encasing my right tit. The force field of an ultraviolet air hockey table electrifies me and I grope-grab the slope between her butt and upper thigh to stabilize myself, a tit for a tat and eye-to-eye at the midline. At the face-off, out comes the LOL of the evening. She draws back to assess me, intuiting almost astrologically, “I didn’t know you liked women more.” It’s half a question. “More than what, men?” I clarify, smugly flattered by my ability to pass for gay. Something about authenticity. Last time I had sex with a woman she called me “very straight” afterwards,” which confounded me on account of believing pussy licking to be an automatic disqualification from superlative straight status. But what do I know. Besides what I want.
“Uh huh,” Isabel confirms, hopefully. I brush it off, unfazed, assuming she meant more than I thought which I had assumed was not at all. Though, to be fair, the night we met nearly five years ago culminated in our dancing decadently and drunkenly at Splash Bar (RIP)—venerated gay mega club—with her Baby Bear boyfriend-to-be. For sure, at least I knew she was fun. After all, it was at a wrap-up party for C-Spot: NYU’s unofficial sex-positive magazine that her best college buddy was editing and to which I submitted a version of My Pillow Buddy: Sad But True.
Wanting to validate her without stretching the truth further than I could stretch her spandex, “I like you,” I offer affirmatively. And that is the truest thing I can say at this moment while still staying in the moment. For emphasis, I add something about tiny, curvy girls—like her, like me. It’s the most aroused I’ve been since May: lanky, lithe men; small, sensual girls. If only, only if. I pull her in again and feel my pussy slip-sliding through my lacy underpants, rubbing gleefully against the gossamer layer of my cable-knit tights, inches away from the ruched black leggings hugging her curvaceous contours. Pinching the rumples away from the skin gracing her inner thighs, I inquire as to whether they are leggings or real pants, and estimate the number of layers between us—the fibers of thoughts. They’re chafing thread-bare as I ooze through my tights excitedly. She whispers, hot breath fanning my neck, how beautiful I am; no, that I’m really beautiful. And she progresses as I do, “Ummm, girl, I’d love to eat you out. Ima eat you out sooo good.” The “girl” would be demeaning coming from a guy; from her it’s cutesy, like “hey babe, xoxo.”
It’s then I have an Oh Shit moment, jettisoning me back into unkind reality, harshing my sex haze. First and foremost, under-the-table oral is not gonna happen because we are at a bar/restaurant and I’m already impressed by the other patrons’ restraint in refraining from co-opting female pleasure with the male gaze. Ostensibly no one has noticed us, nevertheless insisted upon making a public spectacle sport out of our private moment. Second, I guess this is an inopportune time to announce that I’m the worst faux lesbian ever—a fraud! Who does not love to be licked no matter how luscious her lips and how dashing her resemblance to Rosario Dawson circa the sex-scary 90’s in all their lurid allure. I know, I know, that’s what strap-ons are for! BUT MY BACK: OUUUCH!!! Seems like a no-no with the back-and-forth thrusting and the shaky spine about to be disassembled and all—more London Bridge than Humpty Dumpty. The truth is, I could make out with her and sniff her forever, feeling my flood accumulate as high tide peaks between our synthetics.
She elucidates the evening, she’s had a rough time and is looking for positive attention from women, a little radiant glow ball flickering and fading. And she tells me I seem scared. Which I deny, quite honestly. Until I panic for real. Because she isn’t going back to my place. Is too exhausted and wants to pass out and can’t make the incomprehensible trek tomorrow from Midtown back to Jersey City where she has just moved. Tonight, she is leaving me high and WET.
Scared, I am. Only if that’s what a leap of faith looks like emanating from me: humility. For the first time in six months, I feel that unique combination of intrigue and contentment. Up until this moment of reckoning, I luxuriate in the feeling that it is juuust right. Andrew may have a Jesus complex but Isabel is my savior, full of grace. When men disappoint me, women elevate. If nothing else, I take solace in pussy, softer and sensual: healing. Alcohol can’t cleanse me, but I can douse my sorrows.
If not in her, in semen. I want to drown.
Drunk logic: The only recourse is sexting Andrew. And I wonder for serious if it will work! Because I’ve never attempted this tactic with him before. Even though it’s the close cousin of the arrangement I wanted all along, excessive alcohol aside. What a careless oversight! And it kinda makes sense, this half-conceived plan, given that we are in the has-been neighborhood of which he thinks he is Mayor—as if he fucking discovered it, gentrified it. He, a transplant to the city. After the trashcan-fire bums had already migrated off of the Bowery. Me, a descendant of the people who actually immigrated there in the idiom of Fievel Mousekewitz.
Mostly I think of him in my girl-sex thirst.
As I reminisce wistfully about Emily—the last pretty girl who threw herself at me haplessly—and try to maneuver plugging the void she pried open with her long lustrous stripper nails before Isabel retires for the evening. For weeks after Emily, I fantasized vividly and prolifically about employing Andrew as our third. An unpaid job I believed he would take on gladly. Or rather, I wanted to be their third, mostly gawking at his pleasuring her—mouth and pussy agape. I longed to watch him finger and fuck her as he did me—wriggling, writhing, and begging for mercy, while I petted her hair and inhaled her beauty and confidence. In my vagina’s eye he was the master of ceremonies, integral to bringing girlsex into fruition, and thus inadvertently positioned as impossible to replace—the set-up too grand and too tailored to my taste. On account of his denying me the opportunity to flesh out my girllust—entirely unbeknownst to him—I was devastated when he started ignoring me, essentially insatiable.
Tonight, perhaps he would fill in for Isabel, make a placeholder out of his penis.
I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling
I’ve got the spirit, but lose the feeling
Feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling, feeling
—Joy Division, Disorder, Unknown Pleasures
At home, in an order I can no longer recall and probably wouldn’t have been able to at the time, anyway: I finger my sloppy, starved pussy; wonder whether it is even worth it without her here; begin to miss her; surmise that I should probably wank while she is still fresh in my mind to solidify her in my muscle memory; get distracted; go to the bathroom to wash up; look in the mirror and notice a stark hickey planted prominently on my neck; think oh fuck tomorrow is the one day of the year I’m supposed to get up early to go jewelry shopping with my mom, of course I’m wearing conspicuous evidence of my misdeeds; search my bathroom and bedroom for a jar or even a stick of coverup; remember that time in high school when I cheated on my judgmental slut of a boyfriend and threw my back out trying to hide the collage of hickies from my mom as my hair blew in the wind; wonder whether it is really plausible that I am a convincingly feminine woman who owns no make up, tear my bathroom and bedroom apart, get distracted in my efforts, realize that the last time I misplaced something for an endless amount of time it was in my vagina; note that my make up cannot possibly be in my vagina; put my finger back where it belongs; get lost in thoughts; remember that thing Andrew once said about hickeys; get wistful thinking about him; text him again to verify how much I fucking hate him for refusing to be inside my vagina; get distracted again then dissolve into tears when everything seems futile. Give up on getting off and finding coverup to smear over the mess of my life.
Trap myself in my head and bawl my eyes out. For hours, streaming, drowning in sweltering saline, expelling the furnace of feelings, ousting him as the officiant of my gratification, clutching onto the remnants of the evening—her sweet smell, tiny touch, glazed eyes glinting off my dew-laced lashes as they pre-mourn the loss of these stolen sincere moments.
Twinges and pangs don’t morph into tremors and twangs, they mutate into torrential totality, escalating at the slightest trigger or the mere realization of existential emptiness. Lability, erraticism, and full-on meltdowns are states of being you can never grow accustomed to. Part of their nature is its impossible to epistemically endorse uncertainty with certitude. Oh my, this is getting convoluted, and anxiety and depression keep getting entangled, seemingly acting of their own accord. All I can remind myself during an episode is I have gotten through it, or one of comparable volatility, before. As if that is any comfort. It almost ensures I will be stricken again, it amounts to saying don’t worry craziness is nothing out of the ordinary, it is your lot in life: carry on, there’s nothing to see here. I suppose when you should be concerned is when you are no longer. When you don’t have the perspective or willpower to grasp rational fear tenaciously, when you slacken your grip and let it slip. It’s all too bleak blurry nebulous and fatiguing, a half-witted attempt to hold on. The deep-seated then -reclining and finally -lying exhaustion seeps in whether you allow your troubles to drain from you or analyze them. It is no use, this business of being fidgety and flighty, keeping it together forever. Trying to fight something in flux and ineffable only proliferates the purgatory.
Inconsolable, when I get like this. I go from leaky to porous—defenseless. Raw and exposed to the elements, open jacket taunting the wind. Emotions gust out in leaps and bounds and gasps, like I’m hyperventilating into a paper bag, unable to inflate myself. Tumbling down a well of grief propelled by momentum and my own slipperiness. I sprawl out at the bottom, flattened, unable to peel myself from the floor I installed. Weighed down by my protracted misery, the clock dialed back six weeks, adding forty three nights to the pre-surgery countdown. From the new start date on, I was chasing a feeling, a ticking time bomb.
Almost exactly one year ago and half a decade less tattered, when The Explorer asked me quixotically if I had ever loved someone for a night, I thought he was a little nutso. But, then again, I’m a little disgusto. There is a certain equality or parity in girl-on-girl affection that enables mind and body melding. A common cause, a common core. For tonight and tonight only, she was mine and I was me.
Fitful sleep, tenuous future: I wake up a ragged wreck, once again my dreams unrealistic and unfulfilled. Dashed. The inevitable nosedive, our physical connection catapulting me from diffuse and passive aimlessness to palpable and corporeal reality. Clarity. I had felt what it was like to feel once more and it was unbearable. Its impermanence.
No amount of caked on make up can color in the lines of my hangover and damp down the swelling of my puffy, tear-streaked face. Just as well since I’m still not convinced I own adult face paint. At our holiday shopping destination, we circle my brother’s high school over and over, tossing around inertia in the car. My stomach lurching, I beg my mom to drop me on the corner, I’ll meet her there. She knows I can’t handle start-stop driving, start-stop life. Turns out there weren’t even any necklaces to try on at this year’s holiday fair. No neck modesty necessary.
A few days later I checked my texts, remembering somewhat gleefully that I had drunk texted him on that fateful and foolish night. And I will share with you, dear readers, the most on-point, aggressive thing I said: “I think you’ve taught me what it is like to be a man: to not be able to fuck whomever you want.” Can someone say sexual entitlement!? So there you have it, the difference between being a man and being a woman. So now I know. But there’s more. When I say I checked my texts messages, which is what I intended to do, what I ended up doing could more accurately be described as scrolling through them, stunned. Present participle purposeful; it was an ongoing process. Seldom do I discover such a stashed cache. In fact, since I don’t have a drug problem, the last time anything in my life remotely resembled this was my Ambien addiction-addled blackout blackhole of a senior year in college (once again, thanks a bunch, Big Pharma). Which gives me pause to think about all the meds and physical trauma and memory erasure of the past six months.
There was such a litany of detailed, dramatic messages I had sent him between mid-summer and December, none of which he responded to. The first, and ironically most coherent, being my freak out following my wretched medical diagnosis and even worse prognosis. At which point I was prescribed Neurontin, as a short-term palliative measure, which gave me suicidal ideation, like very distinct plans. Hello, chemo meds lingering in my medicine cabinet. Even though I wasn’t very specific about what was going on with me and even though my message was written in a vaguely coercive manner, I sort of feel like he had a moral obligation to respond if only because it conveyed utter desperation. But that’s besides the point and a drop in the deep end.
I’m not sure whether I should be more concerned by the collective content of the messages (my messages), the sheer volume, or the fact that I honestly do not remember sending most of them a certainly had no recollection of the content. It seems that months of my life are missing. And this directly corresponds to the period of my life when I was trying out all sorts of pharmaceutical drugs (Neurontin, Cymbalta, etc.) out of desperation to defer surgery and get through the fucking day and on with my life. Powerful shit, you guys. This stuff The Man is prescribing to us. I’m not one to send drunken texts (after all, I was sober in terms of alcohol when deploying the majority of these), be unhinged, or unintentionally embarrass myself (this blog, totally intentional). I would be more ashamed of my behavior if I didn’t think his was equally crappy. There were distinct reasons my scream-for-help behavior was directed at him specifically. One of which is that he was enough of a fucking mess that I felt disarmed around him. Similar to how I chose an outpatient part-time mental patient as my first disembowelment sexual connection. Misery loves fucking company.
This recent loss of time or lapse of memory is scary nonetheless. There are gaps and then there are gashes.