Fixed Points in Time

“I wanted to ask if you wanted me to stay but I didn’t want people – or you – to think it was because you were drunk.”

Time travelers talk about fixed points; times and events in history that can not be changed. In working through this blog, I have come across a few of those moments. Moments when something happened and I can trace the butterfly effect through the rest of my timeline.

I was in my first apartment. Technically, a townhouse. It was student housing on the university campus but, for the most part, we had all the freedoms we would have had in a regular apartment. Read: we could have parties. With alcohol. And we did. For my 22nd birthday, my roommates and I hosted a blowout. It didn’t start out that way but it definitely ended that way. The first people – Cameron – crossed the threshold between 9 and 10pm and the last one – Cameron – left after 3am.

I had thought I had a pretty good handle on things… until I saw pictures and there were people I didn’t remember being there. But I was proud of the fact that there was no drama, no tears, no fighting. We lost one of my roommates, a couple of times, but every time we found her again and returned her to her bed.

Cameron was one of the first people through the door that night. I had already started drinking at dinner with my roommates and I was ready for more. This little Irish girl is a walking stereotype. Or was. When I was doing it regularly, I could put away my weight in whiskey. Or rum or vodka. And I had all three lined up that night.

I am not sure, exactly, when the liquid courage kicked in but at some point, early in the night, I poured my heart out to Cameron. I confessed the crush I’d had on him since the first time we met, two years before. To which he blithely replied that he knew.

Years later, when we were waist deep in whatever long distance relationship mess we had gotten ourselves into, he told me that he had known all along that I liked him. But even with that revelation, I only recently remembered that he had told me that night.

I told you. I was several sheets to the wind at this point.

We hung out the rest of the night. Anyone who didn’t know (and some who did) wondered if we were coupling because we were together, if not physically touching, for the duration of the party. Until the last person left (before him). As things were winding down, with eight or ten people left of the sixty or more that filtered through, a couple people playing some incarnation of Mario on my roommate’s Nintendo, Cameron sat on the arm of our couch and I laid across his leg, one arm draped over and my head laying on that.

My remaining two roommates bowed out and went upstairs to their rooms. The last remaining guests filtered out the door and Cameron excused himself to the bathroom. Not quite ready to call it a night – at 3am – I set about picking up some of the big pieces. When he came back out, I told him I was going out for one last cigarette; did he want to join me? He said he’d had enough but he’d stand outside with me.

As I finished smoking, he “remembered” that he’d left his jacket inside. Back in the warmth and light of my living room, we stood facing one another, less than a foot separating us. My heart and brain – and if I’m honest, my hormones – argued over whether or not to invite him to stay.

“You’ve been stuck to him all night,” my heart said, “and he’s still here. He wants to stay.”

“You’re still drunk,” my brain argued, “he’ll never know if you wanted him to stay because of that.”

“But look at that body,” my hormones offered. “Do you really want to send THAT home?”

“Don’t you want to fully enjoy your first time together, without anything clouding your perception?” And Brain wins the debate. And he hugged me goodnight and went back to his dorm.

That night was a fixed point in my timeline. Sending Cameron back to his room without sex is a point from where I can trace everything that happened after that. If he had stayed, David’s jealousy over seeing me smoking with Cameron’s singer between their sets might have been directed at Cameron instead. If he had stayed, I might have never met Israel. I might have never slept with Israel.

If I’d never slept with Israel, we likely wouldn’t have had the relationship we had. I might have ended up in California with Cameron. We might still be out there. If Israel hadn’t broken my heart, I might have never discovered the band Kill Hannah or met all of the people I met because of them. I can link a great deal of what has happened in my life over the last decade to that moment when I decided not to invite Cameron to spend the night in my bed.

So much of what has happened in the interim has been good. I’ve met amazing people. But sometimes I wonder how it would have been different.

SEX: Where It All Began

“It hurts.”

“You bleed all over. It’s like a murder scene.”

“You’ll ALWAYS remember your first time, so you have to make sure it’s special.”

Lies girls are told about sex.

The truth is they are not all lies. They are not all truths. Different factors go into whether or not each one (and others) is true for different people (women). Physiological factors like if you’re tense or nervous, you may not be as … ahem, open to the experience and it may hurt more.

But this isn’t a sex-ed lesson. This is about one of the most important stories in my romantic (and sexual) history – my first time.

The reality is I don’t remember it.

I remember events surrounding the experience but the actual act of having sex for the first time has kind of blurred from my memory.

Allen and I had known one another since we were eleven. I will get into more of the details regarding how that friendship became more in a future post; right now we are talking about sex. We had been dating for three or four months when he invited me to be his date for his best friend’s birthday party. We went bowling and told my parents that there would be a movie after. Or maybe the movie, then bowling…Regardless, we added a few hours so that I could stay out longer.

We left the bowling alley and went back to his house.

We went back to his room.

We lie down on his bed and turned on his favorite movie.

And for the rest of my life, my “first time” will always have been soundtracked by Tom Cruise in a race car.

I mentioned before that I don’t remember much. I was, quite obviously, not disappointed in the experience because I came back for more. That was January. And I’m fairly certain that my first orgasm didn’t come until that following summer. But for what it was (a quick and – apparently – dirty trial run) and for all I had to compare it to (which was not nothing), I must have enjoyed it. Or at least didn’t hate it.

I look back on that now and hear voices from emotional females insisting that it should have been special, that I should remember it, even now, twenty years later. That it should have stuck with me, that it should have been the thing by which I define all future sexual encounters.

Frankly, I think all of that is sexist, chauvinistic bullshit.

Men are not expected to remember the minute details of their first sexual experience. They aren’t really even expected to care about it. For men, especially teenaged men, sex is supposed to be something akin to eating food. They can go without it for a few days but eventually, they will become weak and irritable and gorge themselves on the first piece of meat they can get their hands on (and yes, I meant that exactly how it came out).

There is this idea that, for females, sex should ALWAYS mean something. There should ALWAYS be an emotional, psychological, and spiritual connection between a woman and any and every sexual partner she takes. Even though my first time was within the confines of a committed relationship, none of this has ever made sense.

The fact is that I had had, even before losing my virginity (which I view as a concept more than an actual physical process), several physical encounters, both pleasing and less so, and I had, even before that night, figured out that I was meant to be a sexual being. I was never meant to rely so heavily on emotional connections.

I don’t deny that I prefer intimacy and that sex with connection is often more fulfilling than an emotionless, no-strings-attached tryst, but having experienced both, I also refuse to accept that either are without merit.

So, the short and curly gist of my first time story is that the biggest myth I was told was that I would always remember it. I don’t. I don’t remember how it felt. I don’t remember if it hurt or not. I only remember that he told me months later (because it came up in some strange conversation) that I had bled that first time. I don’t even remember, for sure, how long it lasted, only that we watched most of the movie and were able to turn it off before the credits were finished. A part of my memory suggests fifteen, maybe twenty minutes, while pop culture suggests five is a generous guess.

Whatever happened that night, it opened me up to become the sex-positive woman I am today. I can’t tell you if it was a life changing experience, only that it would be the first experience of many.

Chapter One – Firsts

Summer, 1995

No one ever says anything but I always feel like there is a heavy helping of judgement to accompany this story. I was 14, in the summer between 8th and 9th grades, middle and high school, although in my town, that really only meant no longer having to go into the far end of a long hallway to get to class.

He was 17. He had lived with his grandmother, his mother’s mother, for most of his life, but after getting into some minor legal trouble (I don’t even remember what it was now), she had sent him back to his mother.

His mother lived a few doors down from my cousin, with whom I spent most of my free time at that time.

I honestly don’t really remember our first official meeting, only that we hit it off. It was literally a lifetime ago. I’m also not 100% certain the order of events, only that they happened. And that part of it was over the July 4th weekend.

Of course, because he had moved to town because of legal trouble, his 18th birthday was an automatic end to our summer. But even with that, I still call him my first love.

When a 17-year-old boy gets involved with a 14-year-old girl, the assumption is that he only wants to manipulate her into something for which she is not emotionally ready. It was never like that with Alan. We kissed. A lot. And there was, for lack of a more eloquent explanation, a great deal of activity on third base, but it was all on my terms.

Or maybe he manipulated me to believe that.

No, honestly, I don’t believe that but future stories will maybe explain why that thought, a thought I never had at the time, would even creep into my mind.

He was my first love. He was my first kiss.

In what could only be described as a perfectly formulaic teen movie moment, we had our first kiss beneath the Independence Day fireworks.

At least I got to do that once in my life.

I’d like to say he gave me my first taste of alcohol but – unbeknownst to my family – that came a couple years earlier. Middle school was a rough time for me. But that’s another story for another blog. We did share a beer or two that summer.

One night, not long after that July 4th kiss, I spent the night with my cousin, as I did so many nights in the summer months. We set up a tent in her yard…

…so that her mother didn’t know it wasn’t just the two of us.

Alan and Sam, the only other friend he had made in his short time in town up to that point, joined us. I never did find out what happened between Sam and my cousin that night; I never wanted to ask. Alan and I shared a beer and a sleeping bag.

This is one of my less action-packed stories. Baby steps. Hopefully they will get better as I get more practice. But I feel like it’s an important one. Alan was my first love. My first kiss. My first real boyfriend (there was a boy a few years before, when I was 11. We held hands sometimes and stared at each other awkwardly then his family moved out of town). He was my first time spending the night with a boy. My first broken heart. I may not be able to tell you all (any) of the ways his presence in my life helped me become who I am but I would never say he didn’t.