Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bibles and Bones

Your mouth tastes like Marlboros and Miller Lite. It shouldn't taste good, but it does. It's what I wanted for a long time - that taste. Your eager tongue is pressing into mine, your strong hips pushed up against my bony ones. I feel the sharp edges of my pelvic bones jutting out and for a split second I worry about them. Twenty-five years old and yet I am all girl. My breasts are so tiny you can barely cup them in your hand. I don't know what the hell I am doing with this dark groping in the night. It is 2 am. I am a girl playing at being a woman. I feel your hand tugging at the waistband of my underwear. I grab it.


You sigh because you don't want to. I feel the hotness of your breath, the drunk air it has created. My head is thick with a strange mix of desire and dread. No, I want to. I know about this and that it is going to happen.

I saw it in dreams and in girlish fantasies. It played out on the community college stage during our run of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", the push and pull of that dance. You were R.P. McMurphy in your mental patient scrubs. I was Nurse Flynn in my bleached white uniform, my hair clipped in a tight bun. I sat at my perch on the stage, a necessary backdrop. I was constantly on-stage, in character, in my little private box. I watched you at your craft. That is who you became: R. P. McMurphy. And I fell in love with him. And when you walked behind set and became Michael again - then I fell in love with you. I tried to stay in character while you mouthed words at me with that obscene mouth of yours, leaning against a wooden beam backstage, while the play went on in front of me.

"I'm going to fuck you."

"You are so hot."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It was a sort of music. And for the first time in my life, something a man said to me made me wet. Whatever it was, it was new to me. I mean that kind of want, that kind of aching, maddening desire. I had never known it before, not with anyone. Not with my boyfriend who I dated for 5 long and chaste years. Our gropings in the front seat of his car after long days at Bible study were far from passionate. That wasn't about lust. That was me bucking up against religion. That was me flirting with fornication. That was me giving him a hand job and hoping he liked it. I wasn't even there. The invisible girl. And then what happens next is you actually try to become invisible. You fall away into your own body. Because you can only blame religion for so long. Eventually, you need a shiny new reason, something entirely new to hang your virginity on.

It was a perfect excuse. Because when you are anorexic all your work, all your energy, goes into keeping things out of your body. That is the focus of your life: Deflection. I mean if I couldn't open up my body to the experience of a cinnamon roll, I certainly couldn't open it for a man either.

Emerging from that abyss was painful but rewarding. I felt raw, newly hatched. Once I started in recovery, everything about the world changed, or at least my perception of it. And you were the first thing I saw. The charismatic, jock turned brilliant actor that people either exquisitely loved or exquisitely hated. You were the guy that was perpetually late and ever essential. Nothing worked without you; Not rehearsal, not beers afterward, not drunken closing night debauchery. You were the guy who knew every single word to Under the Sea and would sing it with abandon. You were the guy who read books like White Oleander and wrote poetry on the sly. You were the guy who insisted, with all seriousness, that Short Circuit 2 was the most critically overlooked movie of the 20th century. You were the guy that all the girls wanted to fuck and hated themselves for it.

I knew you would never belong to me. You loved Dana, the prima ballerina who wouldn't put out. But I closed the lid on the jewelry box and she was gone. It was someone else's turn to disappear. I knew that your hands were daggers. I knew that your arc was sharp and that everything about your game was a lie. I didn't care. I wanted that hurt. I didn't need my first time to be tender. I needed it to be wrong, dirty, harsh. I wanted you to corner me with lips, jagged and sexual. I wanted so desperately to undo the past 25 years of chastity with something wicked. Anything soft would have been too much to bear.

"Stop." My hand on your hand, poised at my hip. You don't want to stop, but you do anyway. There's a gross part of me that wants you to keep going despite my protests. The dirty parts of me hidden for years under bibles and bones are afraid of what's between your legs, of what's between my legs, of what has to happen here, now in my childhood twin bed. I feel like a child in this bed; 88 pounds of nothing, 25 years of nothing.

"Are you okay?" you whisper. Your voice is hoarse from a long night of cigarettes and beer. "You don't have this. I mean, it's ok. If you don't want to..."

"I want to." I pull your face to mine. Marlboros and Miller Lite. The weight of you against the feather of my body.

"You are so fucking tiny." You go into your own little world.

You like my bones. You play the piano of my ribcage, you gnaw at my collarbone, flip me on my stomach and run your rough finger down the divide of my back, hitting each ridge along the way. Maybe you are closing your eyes and pretending I am Dana, but I don't care. I am not invisible; not to myself. Not anymore. You put me on my back again. You are rough and strong. You aren't afraid of what you are, of what has to happen now.

I feel you push against me, hard as a boulder. I open to it. Finally.

"Please. Oh please."

And when it happens, it feels like forever. Like this moment of time is caught on a loop. I wince from the pain of breaking. Then, I change my mind.

"Stop. It hurts. I want to stop." I am embarrassed by my little girl tears.

But it's too late. You are already there. "Gwen, just breathe. I'll stop if you want, but just listen to me. Ok? You're ok. You're a woman. You can do this."

I nod my head in consent. It's time. I'm a woman. I'm a woman. I can do this. And I do.


  1. "You were the guy that was perpetually late and ever essential."

    That's just one tiny bit of the magic that is this post.

    Don't let anyone ever tell you that you can't write. This is marvelous memoir . . .

  2. Powerful, poignant, and a whole lot of other adjectives that do not begin with the letter P.

  3. Gwen you really are an amazing writer. seriously!

  4. "I closed the lid on the jewlery box and she was gone.".

    God, Gwen, this was ridiculously good.

  5. I may have to go give my boyfriend the ride of his life at lunch now. Because sometimes, for me too, it needs to be dirty, harsh, and painful. I don't know why, it just does.

  6. Wow. This was an amazing piece of writing, an amazing piece of you. I am truly blown away. Thank you for sharing it.

  7. Very powerful...and very delicious...

  8. It's not easy to write a sex post. You had me hanging on the whole time.

  9. FUCK. YES.

    Atta girl, Gwen. Coming out swinging.

  10. I think you just knocked three teeth out of my head, Gwendolyn. Christ, you fucking had me at 'maddening desire'. I pride myself on disgusting the masses, exposing the private, and getting others hot and literally bothered, and you miss just pretty much returned the favor. Thank you. This, Gwen, is what can and will set you apart. Absolutely tasty and gorgeous.

  11. Note: There was nothing 'disgusting' about this post.

  12. I need a cigarette.


  13. Thanks everyone for the comments on this post. I've been wanting to write about Michael for a long time and about that night because it really changed me. I love writing about sex, but obviously it's highly personal. I thought it wasn't something I could write about without people saying TMI, Gwen, TMI. I guess I was wrong.

  14. I was referred to your blog by a friend for your amazing writing. You really have a gift!

  15. Gwen, interestingly enough, I love your blog so much that I referred my college boyfriend, who is a writing fanatic, to it. Try that one on for size.

  16. Gwen -- first of all - top notch post here. Now of course you need to follow it up with something better. No pressure. ;)

    Also, you didn't ask, but I took the liberty of mocking up a smaller version of your header, in case your tool set is limited. I'm not graphic designer, but I do have Photoshop. ( Feel free to not use it if you think it sucks big time.

  17. Gwen, I, too, was sent here by a friend. I am a writer, and so are you. I would buy your book today.

    Fantastic skills. Please keep it up.

  18. Thanks Pos! That's really sweet of you to do that for me. I used it and took down my blog title. Because I can't figure out how to make them co-exist for some reason. I'm just challenged in that regard. And, yeah, now I do feel pressure to write a better post next. But they can't all be about my first time. I'll have to reach inside for something else embarrassing and hard to talk about.

    LB - thanks so much. Coming from such a gifted writer as yourself, the compliment means a lot to me. I have to learn to handle criticism and use it to improve and I'm trying. The whole "review" experience was hard, not as hard as I thought it would be, but still. It was good for me. I can't improve if I don't open my ears to what's wrong, or if I discount opinions because they're not a rave review.

    Anna - Yay! I'm so glad you stopped by to read me. Thanks for commenting and thinking I have a gift. I have to admit, I'm skeptical about whether or not that's really true, but it's nice to hear anyway!

    Mintz - Wow. As I said to Anna, thanks for checking out my blog. I'm so grateful for your opinion.

  19. D'oh. Forgot about that. I can give you more white space at the top -- that way your title can coexist with the image. Try this one instead...

  20. Yay Pos! - It looks so much better. Thanks for the "life raft" ;) I read your comment over at Ask and it gave me pause, it really did. You are one of my favorite bloggers, so when I read that my "bleakness" pushed you away it made me sad. Yep, just more bleakness to add to the ever-growing pile :)

  21. Your writing is amazing. I felt as if I were watching you through a window. You stirred up emotions that I thought I had hidden long ago. I'm not sure yet whether to thank you or not. (Smiling as I write that.) Thank you.

  22. ‘I read your comment over at Ask and it gave me pause, it really did. You are one of my favorite bloggers, so when I read that my "bleakness" pushed you away it made me sad.’

    Normally at this point I would take this out of the public forum and discuss with you via email or some other offline method, but this is the only means I have to contact you. So public it is.

    I’ll have to re-read my comment at Ask, because I didn’t *mean* to imply that you push me away. Because you don’t. I just can’t read very many of your more emotional pieces at once.

    Remember when we first met and I called something you wrote “emo”? Although I was being an asshole about it, I wasn’t really trying to insult the writing or the idea per se. I just have a very different relationship with my emotions than you do. I am actually pretty incapable of verbalizing my emotions, especially the painful ones. I *feel* them, I just don't process them verbally. My writing is a much more intellectual exercise. Thought experiments. Ideas thoroughly detached from emotion. You, on the other hand, do a hell of a job of writing about emotions in a way that your reader feels them with you. So, your writing is quite good.

    But here’s another key thing to know about me, or at least that helps explain my response – my mother, my single parent caregiver, suffered from crippling depression from when I was about 10 until she died in 2001. And with that, alcoholism. And she was pretty checked out. I don’t want to compare ‘my mama didn’t love me’ stories with anyone, because I know that she did, but she was pretty severely fucked up, and that resulted in a very complicated relationship with her.

    Not saying that that’s you or anything, but there are times when you write about fear and dying and disease and dark things and despair*… and maybe there’s a part of me that has a hard time with that. Maybe because it reminds me of other times that I prefer to avoid.

    So don’t worry about my reaction to what you write and how you write. Especially not if writing it out gets you purged leaving the best part of you ready and available for your husband and daughter.

    I hope that made sense and didn’t sound too condescending.

    * Hey, look at me… I’m alliterating!

  23. Hmmmm. This one intrigues me. I'm slowly reading my way backwards. You've mentioned recovery and now I'm wondering if we have more in common than I thought. Are we both trudging the road of happy destiny?

  24. Pos - I sent you a private email in response. And now you have my super secret email by which to send me hate mail. I mean, if you ever wanted to :)

    A Free Man - Aren't we all trudging that road in one way or another? Or do you mean that other road - the one where we find the courage to change the things we can, to accept the things we can't, and the wisdom to know the difference? Yeah, I'm on both those roads.

  25. I'm so impressed that you were able to go to this incredibly raw place inside yourself and paint it for all of us to see.