à la derive
Raindrops cling to the underside of the balcony railing, and I’m struck: everything is fragile. Everything is in wait for that precise, perfect moment. All it takes is…
I miss the sea.
The one area of my life, of many, that I would like to see some movement on is that of intimacy—I would like a partner. I would like more than sex. What I would like is to live in that strange and curious world that exists between two people. The foreign land that even when touching, there exists miles and miles of unreachable distance, rolling hills and deep forgiving valleys of flesh, of love.
That it hasn’t happened for me, I can’t work out why.
Maybe its because I’ve moved around so much. Since my mid-twenties (I’m forty now), I’ve moved about twenty times, motivated by my intrepid heart, and motivated by survival. Maybe it’s because, in the past, I’ve been needy, love-starved. Maybe I chose the wrong men. Unavailable men. Men with partners, men with closed hearts, men that only care about the hardness of their dicks. Maybe it’s because my father hit my mother. Maybe it's because he was emotionally abusive toward me. Maybe it's because someone touched me as a little girl. Maybe it’s because my parents died. Maybe it’s because all of these stories are not easy stories to connect with. And so maybe it's because I’m always grieving. Maybe it's because the very nature of my being is heavy and isn’t love supposed to feel light? And maybe its because I isolate for protection, even though I tell people I like to be alone.
Maybe its none of these things.
And all of them.
When I had the energy before, I kept men interested in my body. I worked hard at it. I was pretty. I showed a lot of skin. And as long as I didn’t talk too much and didn’t share my opinions, I felt less alone. I allowed myself to be only my figure and my holes, where I believed my worth was sourced from. I told myself that.
These days I dress more conservatively. I no longer show my midriff, for starters. And I make conversation. I talk about things, serious things, political things, because everything is political, even, and especially the body. The last two guys I had drinks with were surprised that I had a mind—-they said as much: wow, you are a great conversationalist! Still, neither wanted to take me home.
A male friend visited me recently and for three days, I looked after him, we looked after each other. I gave him what I could of what is left in the love desert of my heart. I made him breakfast and kissed his cheeks and his mouth. He listened to me and I listened to him. But because I’m me, I pushed back when I thought he was unreasonable, caught in his head, cast away on a ship, lost at sea. Once, we kinda-sorta fucked. The touching felt sweet and sad and lonely. He said I was beautiful and pressed his face into my belly. My soft belly that I try very hard to love.
On our last morning together, we did not touch.
It had been a long, long time since I’d been touched.
I will tell you this: the lack of intimacy in my life hurts. And—I think it is killing me.
I do not regret the events that have ripened me into a woman. I have no trouble with the facts of my life. It is my anger, my sadness instead that I cannot seem to metabolize. But maybe when the moment is right, I’ll drop. I’ll bleed into the ground and nourish my surroundings. Someday I’ll have the courage to keep talking and maybe someday someone will have the courage listen. And the words of me and the flesh of me will altogether be enough.
Jocelyn M. Ulevicus has a background in Social Work, Psychology, and Public Health. Her work focuses on exploring the terrain of family violence and re-humanizing oneself after trauma, and has been published in magazines such as Mindful Matter, Entropy, and Life in Ten Minutes. Ms. Ulevicus currently resides in Amsterdam and is finalizing her first book, a memoir, titled The Birth of A Tree.
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