Friday, August 08, 2014

Sexual meaning

She was standing in the terminal waiting for me. She smiled so very wide, giddy, a rapturous delusion. Her eyes didn't just see me. She adored me through them, worshiped me in them, saw things about me hovering around my head. She beheld my glory, so it seemed. I had never seen anyone look at me that way before. I had no idea what she expected and felt already that I was never going to measure up. Tense, but overcome.

We flew into each other, and her heat was all around me. I smelled her, her perfume, her clothes, her sweat, her breath, her steam. She and I held each other, roved with hands finally able to touch. She was someone I had never touched before but who held my heart and my dick before I touched down. This public embrace lasted a short time, not more than a few seconds. I don't remember what we said. What does anyone say they first time they finally get to smell and taste and shiver with a long-distance lover? All the lines are taken.

We walked across these little islands in the roadway separating the terminal from the parking lot. I had never been to Los Angeles before. It was already different in feeling, smell, humidity. The colors of all the ads were shifted towards lighter colors, yellows and tans and clays. Desert plants, sandy soil, salt tang in the air, motor oil in the throat. There were little yellow-flaked rails on the islands to keep us on the right path. We ducked into an elevator to get to her car. Or was it stairs? I don't remember what we were inside. I was occupied with the privacy we had.

We flew into one another again. Her lips, my lips, her tongue, my tongue. It was lust and uncertainty. I tingled along my spine down into my dick and out through my hands. Light-headed, heavy breathing. My dick was filling out, urging against the jam of my pants. The drive to kiss her and press my body against her, against the wall, made nothing else worth remembering. But how eagerly our bodies wanted to fuck. My stomach shifted and my heart pounded and my feet held the earth to push into her more. The only calm I felt was the inevitability we were going to have sex. But what kind? How? Uncertainty and confusion. Excitement and compelling.

I didn't know how to act, what to say, how cool to be, how vulnerable either of us actually were. I set aside so many questions and hopes and ideas. An entire life flipped over one more time, and it was this time not simply the fantasy inside my head. It was a fantasy our bodies performed and enhanced. She drove us to her home. On the way, we stopped off at a CVS to buy ibuprofen for me and more condoms. It might not be a CVS, but these franchise corner drug stores are the same packaging with a few letters changed.

We walked down the aisles and didn't say in words what we said with our eyes. Her skin was real. It had the feeling of skin that's been in the sun, warm and well tanned. Behind her ear, in her hair, standing behind her in the store, I smelled her scent. All the people whose intimate smells and tastes have been enjoyable, but each one is unique and varied. The whole body maps in smells, and it's real intimacy to know how the neck differs from the nipple, the lips from the knees, the pits from the button. Her scent was alive and tingled me even more. The scent moved from my nose, through my chest and my core, then through this tingling back to my finger tips on her skin. A circuit of erotic fascination. My body wanted to close the circuit more.

I don't remember how quickly we drove from the drug store to her place. I do remember the artwork in her apartment building's hallways were curious scenes. Wasn't one a lake scene with large fish? Or was another a mock up of a wood cut scene with a horse? Or were they children's drawings someone taped up? How do I remember the emotions but not the precise scenes? How do the emotions relate to the memories actually occurring the way they seem?

The door to her apartment wasn't closed that long before she and I were undressing each other and ravishing. There was no anxiety at all. We had already exchanged sexts and videos. We had already had climaxes over the phone. I knew how her breath sounded, changed, heightened, relaxed, held, released. I felt comfortable enough in this first real embrace to let go of my own sexuality. Then, she was the second person to know me naked, erect, and ready for anything. She knew her body, had many firsts with many people, and taught me so much about her pleasure, my pleasure and how to work from those things to our pleasure. She was a very good teacher to me, because she believed.

I didn't feel any shame afterwards. I did feel confusion and the uncertainty. Being confused and being uncertain is not shame, but I was still very young with sex and erotic affection and fucking. I couldn't really know about how complicated emotions are when sex happens between people who have very intense and layered relationships with one another. The only other person for me was someone who'd only had me, and all our understanding of sex was framed and expurgated by conservative values of the meaning of sex. Laying in Los Angeles in her apartment in our sweat and churning and exhaled breaths, I was different. She accepted me in my inexperience and fumbling and courage and craze and clumsiness. She accepted my lust and solicited it and nurtured it. She didn't just enjoy the sex she was having. She was enjoying my own enjoyment and wanted me to let it overtake me. She moved and stroked and talked and whispered and begged and tuggled and rode and lapped and licked, all to push me over the edge.

We fucked often that weekend. When we were out of the apartment, we couldn't really do much besides eat. When we were in the apartment, why do anything but have sex, talk about how good it was to be having sex in person with one another, and cuddle for long afterwards?

That was a good time in the relationship. It was good because we were given over to our bodies and to the possibilities. She believed in me. I didn't believe in myself, not the way she did and not with that willingness. Over time, this is why it became not good, because I did not know how to accept confusion and uncertainty nor certainty and clarity when it came time.

I think I have a better idea now what to do with the confusion and uncertainty of love, especially erotic and bodily love. I used to think mistakes get worked out. We made a lot of mistakes those first times with each other, but not the mistake of putting the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong order with the wrong intensity at the wrong depth. Not mistakes of technique, but mistakes in syncing up what the sex means. I had gotten so used to one framework for sexual meaning, I had no way of making sexual sense outside it. Porn doesn't teach you anything about that, and neither does a thoughtless and expected monogamy. Making lots of mistakes does teach you something about why syncing matters, because once you make the choice to think sharing climax and receiving pleasure from the sexual act are at all meaningful, it follows that sex without a sync leads to worse confusions, misleading inferences, and heartbreak.

Sex is a form of emotional communication so very intense for people who already communicate heavily through their emotional, embodied channels. You will say so many, many things through sex that are not words, and you will hear them in the other person if you're listening to them. Words, though, are no guarantee for shared meaning. We need to check with one another how the words mean. Not 'what' they mean, but how they mean. Otherwise, talking ends up being people occupying the same space doing wordy things at each other without converging on what they are doing together. Knowing how we mean things leads us to sharing what we know. Sex has no words. When we want to share emotions through sex, the goal of clear communication holds here, too. We share feelings in sex by paying attention to how the sex means for one another. And that means having to sync with one another's framework for sexual meaning.

I think now that not all mistakes get worked out. Some syncs are not strong enough to sustain sexual meaning reciprocity. It won't sustain perfect love, love that is symmetric and reciprocating. Some syncs are enough for people to imagine they're on the path to true love, love that is other-centered and not merely reflexively using the other for self-sustaining. But true love doesn't always see through the eyes of the other, only the self, and its devotion, for all the authenticity true lovers have expressed through it, is not guided by truth but the unerring drive of fantasy. True love captures us as we become captured and obsessed; it prevents us from acknowledging why the doubts remain. Honesty is important for this reason, because it comes to see that some mistakes are the last ones to have with someone.

I didn't know anything about the future. Knowing now about the past, I still make the same mistakes in my past when I remember them. I cannot change the future or the past. I am only right here, reconstructed from memories of my present state. This moment, right here, might be a mistake or ordinary like the rest of the moments I continue forgetting. It's only extraordinary retroactively when I remember it in the context of a story I am telling myself in the future.

She isn't a part of my life anymore. It was not a pleasant breakup. It was a romance. We lived out its passion, sensuality, darkness, anguish, fire, instability, surges, and resentment's long, slow tapering. Our fantasies never converged through reality, and so we blamed one another then. She taught me how to enjoy fucking and making love and biting and wrestling pleasure from within. She showed me how to feel the spirit of another person through sex, how to recognize the depths to the layers within sex. My education continues, and all the better when fantasy and reality are in sync.

1 comment:

  1. I'll add onto this: the idea that "mutual masturbation" is somehow a derivative or deficient form of "real sex" is parallel with the idea that "mental masturbation" is somehow a derivative or deficient form of "real discourse."

    The former are what I called "doing wordy things at each other" while the later are what I call "sexual meaning reciprocity."

    In the former, we're using words/actions meaningful to ourselves but not meaningful to the others we're doing them with and we lack the sense we need to sync these together. In the latter, we're using words/actions whose meanings are intentionally shared and through using them in this way we seek to foster greater sync.

    One point I guess I'm too subtle about in the post is that we have a choice to be masturbatory or erotic.

    And the fact that I use 'erotic' here in a way that's likely very idiosyncratic—given how everyone is more familiar with 'erotic' use to describe sex in its naughtiness—means I have to start seeing how to "bring others up to speed." (I'm remembering my earlier posts and thinking about pacing now... I'm catching up with her when I'm slowing down to reflect on what I say...)

    This is the hard part about writing, and it's where all the money and syncing is made. How do you share meaning with others when the words/actions are so saturated with perceived stability? How do you share novel ideas and perspectives in order to learn how they're not so novel after all?

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