By Lisabet Sarai
During my third year in graduate school, I blossomed sexually. Or to put it more crassly, I started to sleep around. The shy, studious mouse I’d been up to that point burst from her chrysalis (inflicting severe violence on a metaphor) to become a gorgeous butterfly, flitting from flower to flower.
I realize now that hormones contributed to this explosion of sexuality. I was in my mid-twenties. My body was trying like crazy to procreate. (Fortunately, modern contraceptive technology thwarted this biological imperative.) At the time, though, the experience felt like magic, a kind of liberation from my past self-image as nerdy, socially awkward and unappealing. All at once, it seemed, I was desirable. Potential lovers were everywhere. I could indulge myself. If I wanted someone, I could act on that desire. If someone wanted me, I could say yes, without hesitation or guilt.
Was I over-sexed? I reject the judgmental tone of that question. Looking back at those years, I feel a bit embarrassed, realizing how slutty I must have seemed to anyone observing me, but indulgent. I was learning, growing, changing—and having a marvelous time, for the most part. Isn’t that what youth is for?
I wasn’t just scratching a physical itch. This wasn’t primarily about getting off. My lovers weren’t faceless, interchangeable bodies. I wrote page after page in my journal after each encounter, poem after poem.
Here’s one of them, a particularly detailed explication of one day in my sex-drenched life. It’s not a very good poem at all—starts out well, but degenerates into adolescent hyperbole by the end—but I’m offering it as a historical document, not as a literary effort.
six-sixteen-seventy-nine by Lisabet Sarai 1. greg and when you, firm, assured, proud, began your vows a summer cloud misted my view and I couldn't help recalling you between my legs. but the spicy tears and the hungering lump in my throat passed and I let you go (will you ever know?) I came to your wedding dressed like a bride in starched summer white and with pity and pride took both your hands, wished you the best, felt myself blest by your chaste kiss. 2. matt curiosity and champagne... excuses. I chose to follow my hormones to your motel knowing full well your precocious mind. another adventure in technicolor, in sun-burnished flesh, in salty moans, hunger, humor... stranger, strange but sweet it was if not for this icy torrent of voices (which one my own?) drowning the moment. in your nineteen years have you known regret? and why should I wonder? 3. bob yes, yes! so totally right for the time, my fantasy flourishing, blooming, a porch-full of roses, this june rejoicing I'll press and save till the end of my days. bob, it was better than ever imagined, real and deep, comfort and caring, effortless sharing, god-given fitting-- words cannot tell my grateful wonder, but hearts can (and bodies as well -- or better) man from my dreams, I thank you, bless you, release you, but hold the memory, holy-whole.
And what’s the back story here? Greg was my housemate, the good-looking, self-confident scion of a wealthy Connecticut family, who teased and tempted me until one night, when my boyfriend (who also lived in the house) was away for a week, I knocked on Greg’s bedroom door. As I discussed in an earlier post here, that rash action ultimately broke up my relationship with my boyfriend. However, all the housemates, including my ex, traveled from Pennsylvania to Darien for Greg’s wedding nine or ten months later.
Matt was the nineteen year old brother of Greg’s bride, in town with his family for the celebration. (I was twenty six.) Clever. Flirtatious. As the poem says, precocious. Enough said.
And Bob? (Who could possibly write a poem about someone named “Bob”?) Given the poem’s assertions, I’m embarrassed to admit that I barely remember him. A friend of Greg’s, I believe, who had shown up at our house parties. There had always been strong attraction between us, but he had a girlfriend. (And where was she that sunny June day? That information is lost to posterity.)
As I reconstruct things, Bob gave me a ride in the evening after the reception, back to the Hartford apartment of the female friend with whom I was staying. She was out. Bob and I shared a joint out on the apartment balcony. One thing led to another.
At the time, I clearly believed I’d experienced some sort of epiphany. And perhaps I did—even if the memory has faded.
My older self wonders whether he deliberately gave me a ride home just so he could get laid. I’d rather think his motives were less selfish. Certainly our connection that night felt more than just physical. But then, all my liaisons did.
I wouldn’t say the day chronicled by this poem was typical. However, it wasn’t some sort of fluke, either. There were other days during that period when I had sex with more than one person.
I’m not ashamed. I’m not sorry. And yes, I miss the breathless newness of sex back in those days.
That’s a big part of what I try to capture when I write erotica now.