My contribution to the March Carnival of Aces, about physical health and bodies. Go check out all the contributions.
Explicit language about sex, though I try not to be graphic.
For twenty-five years all the landmarks of developing sexuality and romantic relationships pass me by.
I blame my impopularity, my insecurity, my anxiety, my depression.
I have a few crushes. I think those feelings are attraction.
I look at a man I have known for several years.
In disbelief I feel my lower stomach roil with heat and my groin clench. I flush.
I flee to the hallway and slide down a wall.
That was sexual attraction. Out of nowhere. Already waning.
I realise I have never, ever felt it before.
My mind explodes.
I find the word “asexual” online. I read, ferociously.
I am demisexual, I decide.
I feel highly relieved.
The general practicioner looks at me. “Are you sexually active?”
I tick the box for single on the document, on every document.
I am in Amsterdam during Pride week.
I buy a purple dress and paint flags on my hands.
No one recognises asexuality as a thing. I comfort myself with forum hopping.
Weaving through the crowds I realise the most important thing about Pride is intangible: lack of expectations.
People bring their kids to experience a place and time when anyone’s sexuality and gender can be anything and it is okay.
It is festive, but I am alone and unknown. I leave early.
On the way home I buy a black ring and put it on my right middle finger.
There, I am out.
I take a photo.
I fill out another form. Yes, I’m single, dammit.
For the first time, I want there to be a question about sexuality.
“I’ve been flirting with you for ages!”
“I honestly didn’t notice.”
“Oh my God.” Skype makes his laugh a muffled thing. “Do you like me? I mean, you were not responding, so.”
“…yeah. But. I wasn’t gonna say anything. This is online.”
“You were just gonna pine. Pathetically.”
“Well, yeah. I’m… kinda glad to be having this conversation, though.”
I discover that being in love comes with heightened awareness, especially of my body in the world.
Flirting, once I’m aware, is an addictive adrenaline rush.
I feel tender, vulnerable.
I stop blogging. This is for me.
“Your vagina’s kind of narrow.”
I glare at my doctor. What part of ‘never sexually active’ was unclear?
“You never masturbate?”
I shrug. “Yeah.”
She grimaces. “This may hurt.”
She slides in the I.U.D. Aside from a dull ache, it’s fine.
Five years’ worth of birth control, installed.
Our flirting, our conversations continue.
I am shameless. I grew up in a culture open about sexuality. I see no reason to hold back.
I find my imagination has the greatest influence over my body.
Anticipation can buzz for an entire day beneath skin.
I want touch, I crave it.
The flip side, he lives in another country.
I love the attention, the banter.
I want company. I want another body, close.
The calls become explicit too, sometimes.
I delight in the celebration of body, it is so new.
I am, perhaps for the first time, interested in manly bits.
I love the touch, even imagined, even removed. Giving and taking.
I love the gaze. I love the sounds. I love the play of talk and touch and exploration and affection.
However, as it becomes more… focused, it becomes less interesting.
Reality is less without imagination fully engaged.
The more it is about just the genitals, the less my body and mind are into it.
The popping, crackling full-body fizz as we suggested, flirted, started, settles down into a low, steady buzz in my belly, depressingly familiar from masturbating.
Now, as then, orgasm is simply an end. A sudden stop to pleasant sensation, like stepping in a cold shower.
I have learned not to let that buzz culminate and tip over, but now it does.
“Did you finish?” he asks and I answer in the affirmative.
I do not fake that, but I fake how it makes me feel.
I fear he notices.
We end that call and I curl up wanting to cry.
Orgasms do not work as advertised and I want an afterglow badly.
The foreplay is not supposed to be the highlight, dammit.
When I start counting in months, I feel his physical absence acutely.
The difference with friendship turns out to be the level of preoccupation and the territoriality that comes with it.
He is a missing limb, in my thoughts but never under my hands.
We drift apart. His disinterest grows and I become stiffer the longer I want more than I can have.
I start babysitting, for some money.
Children, I discover, like touch, especially when they can dictate it.
Since touch has always equaled affection in my family, it is very, very easy to love the kids.
I also discover babysitting can stop from one day to the next.
The first time it ends I cry for several days on the couch, I simply think I am sad.
The second time was longer, much worse, and I realise how much more territorial I was over kids than even a romantic partner. Even when I knew they were not mine.
I am preternaturally aware of my womb for several months.
After the third time is bad, so bad, I swear off babysitting.
I fill out another form. I tick single, and no, for sexually active.
A year in my new town, I finally feel comfortable to start touching the people I have come to know.
A hug, a supporting hand.
I do not realise just how much it relaxes me until I am asked what’s made me so cheerful.
I meet my new doctor.
“I am not sexually active, no. I am on the asexual spectrum.”
She gives me a weird look at my wide, wide smile.
Two years seems to be the mark for me to be settled enough to start feeling attracted to people.
A grinning woman, oozing charisma and feminity, makes me weirdly cheerful and want to stare like a creepy stalker.
At the coffeestore, to make it more cliche.
No flush, no buzz, though. No desire to touch.
Oh, oh. Aesthetic attraction, I realise. For a real, live person.
I meet a young woman, single.
She is going to be a foster parent.
It is a revelation. Many ways lead to Rome. I need not take the most common one.
My anxiety hits me over the head again, out of nowhere.
My sex drive remains. I still feel the occasional attraction, mostly aesthetic or romantic, once even the flush of sexual.
I blamed all the wrong things when I was young.
I am demisexual, and it is simply my nature, not a symptom.
I have tried to cover all the feelings that relate to my body and are encompassed by my demisexuality.
This is not a complete account, I have chosen to include the first (or only) time I felt or acted on certain attractions.
I decided to leave out times when that attraction was not directed at a real person but a fictional character, especially since sexuality seems to function very differently in imagined and real scenarios.
So after reading up on sexiness… This post and all those it links: https://luvtheheaven.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/an-exploration-of-not-wanting-to-be-sexy-and-of-never-feeling-sexy/
I realised, I’m unaccustomed to thinking of myself as sexy, and as nice as it is to be appreciated that way… it’s made me rather self-consciousness. Especially since I rarely consider anything visual sexy myself, as in causing the buzz in my mind and lower body that’s a precursor to desire or causing attraction.
So, as celebration and affirmation, here’s a list of what I find sexy.
Minds. Interesting bubbles of humanity. I could be delighted by them and revel in them all the livelong day.
Acts-ideas-agents. The trifecta of the body’s input, the mind’s input and the heart’s input. Done right, any input that works on all three levels and is contextualised as “sexy” can get really intense. Charged.
Sensation. Touch. Just. Works.
So, considering all that, am I sexy? All of the sexiness I perceive is based in interaction, preferably the reciprocal kind. It’s rather hard for me to consider it a personal quality.
Although… If a person is the source of much of it… It does tend to get associated with him. So, perhaps, after being sexy with a person for a while they become it, by association.
I’ve stumbled into a cul-de-sac with this series, which is what this post moans about. The next two posts will be a two-parter for this blog post series about the Gay Pride, because it was a rather life-changing event.
I think the joke’s on me… I started “I Want to Have Sex Like…” with the honest intention of discovering what sort of sex I’d want, if I ever came to the point where I chose to have any. Yet in my analysis of Captain America and Sherlock Holmes I find myself focusing on characters’ relationships, emotional engagement, treatment of each other, whether consent happened… Which are related to sex, but don’t exactly help me discover what I’d like between the sheets… Not to mention that what I find attractive in fantasy or reality.
Not sexual fantasy
I have found writing about this subject, ignoring what others say I should feel, very helpful. I’ve spent a lot of time going through forums and articles and videos and blog posts, and find that I’m starting to get a grip on demisexuality, at least as an identity I’m comfortable wearing. So I will continue this series.
But I’m muddying the waters if I pretend it’s all sexual fantasy.
Why’ve I called it that up until this point? Well, because I wanted to know what I have in the place in my mind where most have the thing labeled “sexual fantasy”. What you might use during masturbation. What hits you on a visceral level when consuming media. What people trying to get a date salivate over. Why selling things related to sex, or selling things by pretending they are sexy works at all. This thing I do not understand.
Besides, this exercise was not meant to flesh out what I’m supposed to think, but what I actually feel and imagine to be attractive. So. What does that mean for the future?
We’ll continue the analysis of items of pop culture as planned. From this point forward, I’ll focus on attraction on different levels consciously. I believe this broader focus accurately reflects how I experience that which is attractive, what I would desire and what I’d want in a (sexual) relationship. Sex is just… a potential part of it, and has no priority.
Different levels of attraction will be distinguished. For example, what’s gorgeous is aesthetically attractive. What I want to touch is sensually attractive. A person whose mind I want to assimilate like a Borg… intellectually attractive. Romantically attractive is a bit vague to me… so I’m probably going to mix that up with calling people emotionally attractive.
A second distinction which I’ll hope to get across is between that which I might fantasise about, and that which I would wish to do… or at least try. So, the distinction between what is attractive and what is desirable. The former is a far larger category than the latter.
I have decided that I love you. After mapping out the entire shape of your being in the years that we have known each other, I love you. The greatest flaws you have made and deepest needs I cannot help with and darkest nights that I felt as much as you. I love you.
The initial flame has died, not even sexual, but this curious admiration and the pull to be near you, always, hear what you say, every word. I choose to build on that, every day. I choose to love you again, longer, more, other, every moment.
The shape of us together has become a creature almost independent of us, the intangible member of our trinity. The length of our time together and the richness of our memories and the diversity of ways in which we constructed, deconstructed, destroyed and mended what we share and who we are. I love you.
Oh, the soul of you is beautiful. Joy, discerning the shape of your mind entire. I have tasted every flavour of your spirit. To know them all and be two whole creatures independent in one unit so intimate. I love you.
The synchronicity of us has grown. What you pick up in the store is what I need a day later and a vacation I bookmark is the escape you wish for after a busy day. I love you.
It is an act I perform every day. A choice I make every day. A habit I maintain carefully. Investment and gift and necessity. I love you, because it is logical.
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Liberties were taken with the script format.
When I open my eyes I am on the sofa, still dressed and you in a chair, crick in your neck. I fail to rub the sleep out of my face and the pain out of my lower back while you blink and take in the ceiling.
“Omelet?” I ask.
“Tomatoes and peas, please.” Your shoulders crack and sleepy warmth pins my hip and arm to the counter.
I smile. The more veg your food is, the lighter your heart. I hip-check you out of my way and make us breakfast while you shower.
“My turn for dinner?” you ask, halfway through the omelet.
I nod. “Jenny’s coming as well.” When you grumble I shoot a pea at you nose and you flick drops of lukewarm tea at me.
When you put down your fork I snatch clothes from my room before you can hog it again to play with your hair. “Oy!” you say from yours and I laugh at you.
A courtyard and tiny houses built before Columbus sailed or Constantinople fell.
I close my eyes and open my mind. There you sit, sunning yourself after you’ve done your laundry. When your friend comes back from mending clothes at the girls’ orphanage you might have a beer on the porch.
I’ve peeked into your house before, offended, centuries late, that you had to give up what sexual freedom you had in order to gain the freedom of movement this life offered.
You believed in God, but most, you wished for the city, for freedom. So here you came to live amongst other women, each your own house. Your own bed to rise from at dawn, your own meals to cook.
This second visit, I wonder.
Did you feel not quite right amongst friends? Did you wonder about what they whispered behind hands? Given more choices, which would you have made?
When you saw your friends’ courting and their swollen bellies, did you wish for it?
I reconsider… perhaps the celibacy was in itself part of your freedom, rather than a price payed.
In the late Middle Ages, some women lived in an begijnhof or beguinage.
Murmurs and low light.
I peer between my lashes. The litany of “Lord, I ask you…” does not abate. I lean my forehead on my right hand, unused to continuing prayer beyond five minutes. My left has rested on your shoulder since we started, overlapping two others.
I speak into the silence next, two sentences before I falter, though received with two hissed yesses, and another continues speaking.
I squeeze your shoulder, which sagged when tension left it. The air sits warm and heavy around us all.
When we open our eyes you are near to crying. We all touch, near strangers though we are, hands all over each others’ backs and shoulders. Loath though we are, we leave, glancing back.
That Sunday and the next, I come back, as the others do, drawn into orbit while you update us patiently. When we linger, I speak as if you are my friend and you look at me oddly. We laugh and finally introduce ourselves.
As weeks wear on we will greet each other, but the pull to draw near leaves, a ripple smoothing back into more mundane interaction, a little strand of connection left behind.
Mere words translate into facets of a concept, slotting into the structure you’ve spent the past few hours building in my mind.
I straighten a sore back and tighten feet frozen in curls around chair legs.
I do not verbalise questions before you launch into their answers. We have established who sends and who receives today, I only bounce back short summaries to check I am following.
An amused waitress stops by long enough to pour more coffee in our cups and sweep her eyes over us to save the tableau for an observation later, when we pay, back from our little world of two.
Our eyebrows will have travelled miles over our foreheads before we sit back, breathless, exhilarated. Minds released from their rapport.
Come home, when asked, I will not have words to explain dates without touching, intimacy without physicality.
I will pause, hesitant, until the memory of your idea asserts itself and leave me thinking and reshaping it for hours.