I find myself shocked by what I don’t remember. The night when I “lost” my virginity is scraps of memory. It was a month before I turned seventeen and my boyfriend was in college so everything was how it was supposed to be. I don’t remember what he said to me before we got into the SUV he drove, or why we parked it in the lot next to a doll museum in the middle of a neighborhood. I don’t remember if I was nervous, or anxious or freaking the fuck out.
I remember that parts of it hurt. Or most of it hurt and it seemed to last forever. I remember being annoyed by his lips, by him kissing me. I remember thinking afterwards, that you didn’t feel naked that way, you never thought about it, even if he stared right at you. Nothing about it made you feel self-conscious.
I didn’t ever feel concern over my naked body until I was in college and someone told me outright that something about my body was not as good as the same area on someone else’s’. And she was with the guy I wanted, so it mattered. And after that moment, the words that felt better than anything else in the world were his when he told me in every way, I was better than her.
I remember the first time I ever drank. Every second of that night I can playback in my head. Freshman year in college and he smiled or laughed every time I spoke to him. He hid me away from everyone else who was too drunk to notice anyways. He joked with me, maybe even at me and he made me nervous. So I swallowed the huge plastic cup full of whatever he had handed me and I smiled back.
I remember calling him when I left the bathroom at the top of the stairs because the already narrow stairs felt terrifying from the top. I remember him taking me seriously, telling me not to move and that he was coming to me. And when he got to me it was too late to go to my dorm room, so me and the half-stranger I came with joined him in his bed to sleep. He put his hands in the pockets of the shorts he let me borrow and I was freaking the fuck out.
He sent me text messages and left the library to give me a hug because I asked for it and had dinner with me in the back of the cafeteria like it was a date. Every time I knew he was on his way I got nervous. Once, I spent the night and he held me so tightly I couldn’t breathe, and I was scared.
The day before yesterday, our friend called me to let me know they were outside and he was dropping him off to me. He came in quiet and laid across my big couch. He asked for water, and what I was cooking and slowly began to talk more. I just screamed and cried at him over the phone last week. I just hated him and loved him completely in a single night and now we were eating and talking about music and I was nervous.
Two friends joined us for dinner and we all talked about good times, music, the night’s reunion. We watched the contents of the DVR and nobody missed a beat. I tried on my dress for the night and they left to meet with me later. I washed my face and put on makeup and even though he had left my apartment, a new place he had never been, my heart was racing still.
The next time I saw him he was begging me to take a shot with him. So I did, then I drifted out of the room, afraid that someone might see my heart beating through my dress. I hugged the people who were present that I liked and waved from afar at those whom I didn’t. I went back into the room where he was an hour later and somehow we ended up talking outside alone. And we were promising to be friends in the future and not to ever sleep in the same bed again. He was telling me the timing had always been wrong and I was hearing that I had always been wrong and my heart was being broken.
The next time I saw him was in a stall in the men’s bathroom and he was crying. He was in pieces and I rubbed his back, knowing it only comforted me.
Someone kicked me out of the stall, but he called for me to come back. So I stood, rubbing his back, letting him talk and cry over the worst thing that ever happened to him and feeling guilty. A guy we knew came in and made a joke about my heels in the men’s bathroom and he and I were angry. I went out and asked him to leave. And we all left the bathroom.
His phone was lost but he was too drunk to stay seated on a bar stool so I asked him if he wanted me to take him home and he said yes. It took all my strength to push him from behind so he didn’t wobble and no one there worried. But someone tried to stop me asking if this was who I wanted to be and I said yes. Yes, this was exactly who I wanted to be, I said.
When we got outside the club he threw up. Then he threw up again until his body was weak and drained and someone helped me get him in the passenger seat of my car. I drove with my left hand to keep my right hand in front of him so he wouldn’t smash into the dashboard. I thought about the time I threw up in his bed and the sheets debt I still hadn’t repaid. This person made me want to cry.
He tried to sleep on my couch but I forced him to sleep in the bed, and he went out immediately. I couldn’t sleep, so I sat up next to him fighting tears until I woke up still next to him. Someone had found his phone and was calling me and then they came for him and he muttered a quick goodbye and I felt enough space to park a semi in.
Yesterday, we all went out again, and this time, I only saw him at the end. I handed him a Hennessey that I claimed someone bought for me, but really I paid for to give him. I flirted with a guy for the promise of a drink when he wasn’t around but I never got the drink. We all went back to the house where he was staying and he went into another room talking to girls I didn’t know well, so I went home.
Somehow, I ended up back there, on the couch with him under a single tiny blanket, talking about everything and holding tight to each other so I wouldn’t fall off. In the morning, I whispered I was falling off the couch and he pulled me to him. But when he came back from the bathroom he laid down on the floor. I was freaking out. So I put the lonely blanket on him and he didn’t say anything or look up so I rolled over on the couch and thought about the feel of his arms around me and the short argument we had in the night over whether we were on a couch in a house or an apartment.
When other people in the house came downstairs, I put on my shoes. Even when they invited me to breakfast with them, I declined. I was too embarrassed to sit near him and talk about anything. So I went home and slept and tried to avoiding thinking or feeling, regretting not bothering to say goodbye.
I did get the chance later in the evening but it was weird. I felt like crying in the car when our friend shut the door behind him and just the two of us were left as he went back to his real life in another city where I didn’t exist. My friend, being him, got it, and played music loud while we rode back to my house and he didn’t ask to come in and watch tv or listen to music with me like we did all the time.
I’m shocked by the things that don’t matter. I don’t know whether the first man I had smelled good or if he said nice things to me back then. I don’t remember if he moaned or groaned. I don’t know whether it hurt a little or a lot or if it took as long I remember.
But my second man, my first love, smelled like sweat and everclear. He didn’t whisper or sweet talk me but he took his time pulling off my leggings until I had to help him and he asked if he needed a condom. He didn’t moan but all his words were breathless. And, in the moments afterwards, I was anxious and nervous and I couldn’t sleep at all. And even now, I am freaking the fuck out.