Things I wish I had known about sex (before I started doing it) pt 2

Is sex really as simple as something that you get better at, more used to, with time? With practice? Are our bodies really as simple as objects that can be turned on and off--our minds the same? I've written a lot about love, about relationships, about sex and the way that it feels, the way that it impacts me emotionally, the way it connects the mind and the body, the way it lingers when the person upon which the memories are attached has disappeared. Sometimes I feel that I have both grazed only the surface and skimmed the entire depths at the same time.

As a eighteen year old, I knew only what hurt, what didn't last, though it felt like it should have. I knew only what wasn't meant to happen but what did anyway, knew how to say no in order to preserve myself, but not how to say yes as a motion of empowerment, as a method of taking what I wanted and using it to make myself stronger, more whole.

When I turned twenty, I had been in a relationship long enough to feel comfort…

to mom (blackness and whiteness)

Growing up, I was unaccustomed to discussions about race. For most of my life, the color of my skin was something simple, a fact that became more or less apparent alongside the changing seasons. When it started to become impossible to ignore, as a young child, I pushed to downplay my color difference. I sat in the shade with my white cousins at the beach to prevent the sun from reaching me, complained with a gentle fierceness each time my mother took me to get my hair braided, said quiet “thank-yous” with no further explanation to people who gleefully oohed and ahhed at my beautiful tan.

As a teenager, I embraced wholeheartedly the idea of tan equaling beautiful, at least so far as in the context of tan being simply a new shade of whiteness, rather than brownness. I was a tan white person. At least, that is what everyone in my town assumed me to be, and rather than fight the simplicity of that label, I allowed it to begin defining me.

My mom, a white woman and single mother, was quiet…

Moving Forward From the In-Between

Getting to know my father has felt like untying a series of twisted little knots. It’s required sifting through his words to get down to their real meaning, examining his stories within the context of the environment in which he was raised, and relishing small realizations gained from conversations with family and friends about him. It’s involved juggling both the hypocritical hatred and unconditional adoration one reserves for parents. My father has not made it easy to get to know him, beneath his facade. But sometimes, I suppose, neither have I.

To know my father’s parents is not to know him, just as to know my father is not to know me. But to know of them is to provide context for some of his personality traits, some of his behaviors. My grandmother is a small, white, German woman who fled from a tiny town in Germany during World War II and lost her twin brother before we, the extended family in America, could get to know him. She is a no-nonsense, loving, complicated woman of her …

The day that split us in half

Driving down the highway, I notice that a spiderweb has formed on the right side-view mirror of my car. I wonder about the spider: When I return to park in front of my house, will it be able to find the web it has begun? The web that has survived the rain, the blowing wind on the highway, the rounds of birds on the power lines unconcerned about the world below them. Has the spider itself survived all these things? What a tragedy it would be, for the spider’s home to outlive it.

Turns out, the spider’s probability of reconnecting with its web doesn’t matter. On my way through a residential neighborhood, a car backs out too quickly and knocks the side-view mirror clean off of my car, taking the web with it, crashing and shattering to the ground. I consider calling the police, but I’m not entirely sure what I would say to them. Instead, I call my mom. You call me, while I’m in the middle of talking with my mom. The phone beeps, and I take it from my ear. The screen lights up and accosts …


In a bar on a Saturday night in Oakland, a friend whose opinion I trust very highly tells me that if I don't try acid while in Canada, just because I'm scared, I'm an idiot. I think it's then and there that I decide I will probably try it; I don't have any demons that I can imagine coming to haunt me and make me have a horrible trip, but to be quite honest, if there is something to be discovered about myself, I'd like to know it. Besides, my friend says with confidence, it would take an overwhelming amount of the drug to really change my brain chemistry beyond repair.

In my friend's cabin in Canada, friends arrive in a flourish, I don't know any of them, but they are eager to see me, friendly and all insisting that I rebook my flight so that I can stay on the island with them for a few more days; they have just arrived, and I am already preparing to leave. Someone mentions doing the acid, the main event, that evening, and just like that, it is decided. …


I am seventeen, and things feel both permanent and temporary at the same time. I've never fallen in love, I've never had sex, I've only had my heart broken in distant, gentle ways. I don't know what it feels like, yet, to be able to hold someone's hand whenever I want, to kiss them everywhere, and then suddenly, to stop doing that forever, while always remembering exactly what it felt like. I can only guess at what gentleness feels like, what love feels like, incarnate and shown by someone else's fingers tracing softly across your skin. My world is big and small at the same time. I look at the sky and feel myself pulsating with possibility, I stay up all night writing things that when I read them later seem pregnant with promise, with prospects of a future as a writer, because I deserveit. I'm seventeen, and in a few months I will be eighteen, will be going to college, will be leaving the only town I've ever known, but that I can't wait to escape. 

Cape Town

For some reason, tonight I'm remembering all the feelings I had for boys like Peter and Seth and Ollie.
Maybe it's just the excitement of feeling attractive, feeling the palpable attraction that someone has to you, and feeling that it's mutual, and not having any idea where it might go, and being excited to see what happens next. I think I've always wanted a relationship, and there were moments when things weren't exciting, they were tiresome, and I wanted only to have the surety of someone coming home with me. But there were also moments when I felt so clearly and quintessentially myself, and I haven't felt that way in a while.

Clearly free. I felt so undeniably free at certain points, but especially when I was abroad. I felt like I was in exactly the right place, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. It's a real high, having a feeling like that. To feel not like you can do whatever you want, but to feel like you are doing exactly what you are sup…