I'll go back to that stone body, the body that taught me to see mine. It was perfection. Like the stone Greek gods. He had just come back from two years abroad in China. I knew him a while back in a study abroad program, and we have flirted with the idea but kept missing each other. I remember he came to Berkeley to visit me once, stayed for a night and left in the morning. We didn’t even bother to do coffee. This second time around, my attraction to him surprised me. He turned the corner and I saw, with a gasp caught hidden in my throat, how much softness he has gained. The lines and bulk of his body that came from years and years of weight lifting and constant muscle toning had been muted. His face was some how softer. His body leaner, smaller, more touchable. I knew the moment I recognized this new softness that we would have sex. We went out for dinner, laughed, and for the first time since I knew him, I laughed and was happy and freely laughing. He had worked hard enough for it; he deserved it. We went back to his house that night, and for the first time, I took off my clothes without reservation. This surprised me too, why I wasn’t worried about my fat belly as he pulled the sweater over my head. Or why I wasn’t wondering if he found my armpits hairy. Or why I wasn’t concerned about my teeth, or my willy hair, or why I stopped trying to remember if I had remembered to shampoo and condition my wiry patch of hair. None of it mattered. Suddenly I was confident and sure of my body. I was sure it was beautiful and desirable, and I acted like I had known this all my life, and I think, this knowledge made it true. As I laid on the bed looking up, I couldn’t see his face, didn’t bother to see his face. I could only see his body, the masculine body that had somehow softened for me, the body that I never thought would be possible before to touch in nakedness. What was it? It felt good. It felt so good. I touched him as if my hands could see. They did. They did the looking, the seeing, the opening. It was as if my hands were touching a body for the first time, and for this first time I could actually feel a body. He couldn’t get me to come. He didn’t know how. I didn’t tell him, because it didn’t matter if I came or not, I didn’t care. To feel my body seducing, it was better than coming. I would continue on to have wonderful, ecstatic, bleeding, kneading sex, but never like that again. Never with a newness and wonder that only non-virgins can know. Because, I think, it wasn’t about him or what his body was or could do. It wasn’t even about me. It was about my body. I had found my beautiful body through his. His body did not cause this discovery of course. Something had already happened before he came, I was already somehow open to accept my body, all of it. But he did help me feel it and experience it. And it was so gloriously physical.
He tried very hard to get me to come, but I didn’t. He couldn’t have known that I don’t come from intercourse. I don’t. I’ve faked orgasms from penile penetration many times. Not once have I come from being penetrated. Once, I lied, and pretended to be pleasantly surprised, and told the one whom I called the prior-him, prior to me finding a sexual body, prior to me coming into my body and myself. What a surprise, I said, I just reached orgasm from penetration, your penetration. He scoffed. He said, so, you buy into that Freudian shenanigan about orgasms too? He didn’t know my enthusiasm was a fake. He didn’t know my orgasm had actually come from the inadvertent stroking of my clit, from my being on top. He knew so much about feminism (he was an intelligent man who distinguished between being intelligent, which he considered himself to be, and bright, which he considered others to be; he was a youngest born Jew, knew several languages, had traveled to different parts of the world by the time he was 20, and by the time he was 25 had over fifty thousand dollars in his savings account and could remember the names of all his lovers, one for each year of his birthday.) So he knew a lot, but didn’t now anything about me. I continued to fake orgasms with him, because I still needed to feel loved and was unwilling for so long to give up on a possibility that I was. Whenever we had sex (I am careful not to call it making love), he would enter, come, and fall asleep. After he had fallen asleep, I would lay there awake, disturbed and bothered, until I had to quietly masturbate to quell the disturbance (because when I was young and full of youth, every sex act required a physical orgasm, without it sex just didn't feel right) and that would suffice. but the need to achieve orgasm during sex went away, disappeared with my disappointment. It went into a balloon and floated away. It was as if his mentioning of Freud, or the Freudian model of female sexuality, or maybe it was his arrogant dismissal of the Freudian model of female sexuality, or perhaps it was my sense of injustice for not being able to set the record straight (about the true cause of my orgasm or about Freud?) because I had already started the lie and didn't want him to catch my lie, had trickled cold water over my libido and it was turning my sexuality rigid. I didn’t need to come after that, and wasn’t bothered when I didn’t. I just stopped caring about it. That’s when I started healing, I think, and withdrew myself from him. As I withdrew my need, I slowly gained strength until one day, I no longer needed him. One day I just took all my things that left that place. I didn’t care who he slept with when he wasn’t with me. It didn’t bother me to see him kissing others on campus or holding someone else’s hands in the café. I ran into him one afternoon, a few days afterwards in the elevator with a new girlfriend. We said hello, I got off, and found myself feeling happy. Happy because he wasn’t a part of me anymore, because I could walk and run with a light heart again. My girls, my crazy cat and mum, tried to get me to detach myself long long before, when they first saw him and instinctively knew that he had no love for me. But I didn’t care. I gave and gave and gave so much that I got used to it, I just adjusted my intelligence to accommodate for the obvious: I told myself, I did not need him to give me love, because it was not about me receiving love but about me loving. That, I told myself, was most important: me loving. I needed to love, and didn’t need to be loved. He, who always needs to be loved, just not by me, could recognize it. Like finding money on the street, he picked it up and stuffed it in his pocket. Money for coffee later.
It doesn’t matter anymore. It’s in the past, and we will leave it there. Let us get back to a much happier story. A much more important story. So we had a long night of sex. I didn’t come, but that was ok. Sex is not always about coming. I finally told him, that’s ok, I don’t have to come, and in response he heaved a sigh of exasperation, mumbled an apology, and somewhere, I think, I also heard a sigh of relief. He helped me get dressed—buttoned my shirt, straightened my sweater, put on my socks, and in the kitchen made us each a cup of tea.
I still carry the memory of his body with me. I carry it hidden deep, like seashells buried in the sand.