Monday, May 11, 2015

It's Complicated

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a very good poem at allstarts out well, but degenerates into adolescent hyperbole by the endbut I’m offering it as a historical document, not as a literary effort.


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
   and champagne...
   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...
 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)
   from my dreams,
   I thank you,
   bless you,
   release you,
   but hold the memory,

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 dideven 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.


  1. How refreshing to hear of someone retaining such joyous impressions of her sexual awakenings. Fits my theories about how this world could be a better place.

    1. On Mother's Day, I was thinking how lucky I was to have had the mom I did. She never instilled a sense of sexual shame. (My dad was another story - but since they divorced when I was in my early teens, he had less influence on my sexuality.) She was an intensely sexual person (much more so than I), and by most standards of the time, we were pretty open in my family. Only later did I realize that she really struggled with sexual guilt, that she was always conflicted about sex. Fortunately she didn't pass that on.

  2. By my mid-twenties (well, about 23,) a bit earlier than yours, that biological imperative had snagged me and I was a mother. Your adventures sound like more fun, not that there haven't been rewards with mine. Maybe if I'd sowed more wild oats back in the days when I also wrote poetry, I wouldn't have gone a bit wild years later when the biological imperative had lost it's potential, but the sex urge hadn't.

    1. The layout of the poem is all wrong! Darn blogger!

      In some ways it might be better to go wild when you know a bit more than I did LOL. I'm sure that some guys thought they were really taking advantage of me. As for me, I was blissfully ignorant, falling a bit in love with each of them.

    2. If your guys were anything like me, they considered a roll in the hay a gift, not taking advantage. Of course there are many kinds of guys.

  3. I agree with Daddy X. It's refreshing to read about your sexual awakening as a joyful period of your life.

  4. I really appreciate the unedited window into past Lisabet. I've got journals full of this sort of stuff, too. If I haven't lost it along the way, there's a whole notebook of poems I wrote for one particular lover when I was younger. I think the interconnectedness of this particular poem and the lovers it's about is very cool, too.

    And, as a side note, I like the way you've pushed back on the judgmental tone of "over-sexed."

  5. Coming to the party way-late, due to having to work 2 jobs most days for the past month.

    Lisabet, we were soul sisters, I'm sure. Only I was only 17 when I decided I was tired of being a virgin. I gave away my virtue to a boy running away from home, thinking I'd never have to bother seeing him again once the deed was done. Then I quickly set about trying to get as many experiences as I could. Half of the world has a penis, right? How many could I encounter? It's ridiculously easy for women to get laid, while men have to work for it. All I had to to was let it be known I was up for it, and there we were.

    Now I'm a mother of 4, and none of them turned out like me. But like you, I had a mother who was "earthy", and talked about sex like it was the most fun you could ever have. Little did I know she never really had that much fun, since my dad was so prudish. He was horrified at my behavior, so sending me away to college was her way of separating us.

    I look back on the person I used to be, from the vantage of having been happily-married for the past 30 years, and I laugh. It almost feels like it was another person. But I remember incidents...sweaty times...and I smile. My kids tease me that their mom was a slut, and I argue back that I reject their definition. I was over-sexed, yes. But any pejorative name I reject. I did what I did when I was young and no one got hurt by it. Isn't that what they mean when old folks complain about youth being wasted on the young? Mine wasn't wasted. I had a hell of a good time with it! And so did lots of young men.

    1. Hi, Fiona,

      I gave away my virginity at 15. Can't write about that these days, can we??

      It's funny, because I discovered later that my mom was very conflicted about sex as well. Still, she was a lot more open with us than many parents are. I don't think she was embarrassed about sex (unlike my dad, as I discovered later).

      These days the memories are all the more precious, as you say.


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