One goes about life. One browses the Internet; one sees things and hears stuff. Sometimes one finds something hilarious or touching and one wants to find a way to work it into a post but can’t quite find a way how and so one set’s oneself the challenge of segueing something random into one of your stories.
I’ve often wondered why the scent of pine trees is so much better at night. I lead a physical life but like most people, I lead an olfactory one too. Smells are like a memory bank and the smell of pine takes me on a direct route back to being 15 years old and losing my own virginity. My story is neither here nor there. It wasn’t the best moment of my life. It wasn’t the worst. It took me from A to B. It carried me from childhood and set me down in adult life. From this distance i.e. ages, there are elements of romance about the whole thing that only time can create. It certainly wasn't an experience that made me fall in love and it gave very little indication that one-day, sex might be exciting.
But still…I see the romance. Not of the physical experience but of the era. It was my first holiday away from my parents. I was high, dizzy, drunk even, on freedom. I knew that this was just the beginning. That I was going to go on more trips, to more places, meet more boys, dance in more open-air discos whilst smoking dubious ‘cigarettes’ and generally being in charge of me. Heady times.
And it all played out against the backdrop that is Spain in the summertime. Sun, sea, beaches, trees and hills. Bathed in sunlight by day, shrouded in warm shadows by night. Labyrinthine white washed streets provided spaces to disappear into, unexplored territory to wander and of course, pine forests to sleep in. I might have felt nervous nestled amongst the pine needles – my ‘first’ and I used to escape to the woods and listen to The Cure on a beaten up old ghetto blaster whilst nestled in a sleeping bag for one - but I knew something interesting was happening. I’m telling you now aren’t I, all these years later?
I was creating the life I wanted to live and to this day, it still involves more or less the same. Travel, boys - or rather men – I don’t spend so much time in the disco these days but I do love to wander with friends, by myself, with someone special and experience new things, smell new smells and create new memories, sensory or otherwise. Which all led me to google the question, because I was curious, why DO pine trees smell so much better at night? Or was it my memory playing tricks on me? Someone else clearly had the same experience because I found the question, already posted, with a reply.
‘Question: why does a pine tree smell nice at night but not as strong during the day?’
‘Answer: because the molecules of happiness are nocturnal….therefore they are more active at night = more of them reaching your nose.’
None of which really segues in quite the way I intended it to towards today’s storyteller. Except to say, she writes about life. Sometimes its good. Sometimes its extraordinarily shit. Sometimes, even when we are having a sub standard time, the experience is still taking us somewhere. Everything has its value, everything has its place. It may not be the end of the world, even if it feels like it at the time. The trick is knowing when to stay and when to move on. And, particularly in this lady’s case, how to recognize the people that really do have our best interests at heart.
I live in Australia and I was born in 1986. I've just been reading your book. I wanted to see if my first time would be like anyone else's ... and really I'm not sure if it is.
I was a twenty three year old virgin. That's the age my Mum was when she had me and obviously she had sex at least nine months before that and I have a brother who is two years older so clearly she'd been having sex for quite a while before then ... but for me, reaching that age really struck home…the idea that I wasn't living life.
I should probably point out that it wasn't just the fact that I was a virgin that made me feel like I wasn't living life or that I was weird. At the time I was severely depressed and in the grip of social phobia and barely leaving the house. I had no job, wasn't doing any schooling, had never had a real boyfriend, and in fact I only had two friends who I met up with every now and then and only because they were considerate enough to meet me one-on-one in ways that didn't force me to socialise too much.
For me the idea of losing my virginity was a way to face my fears. I figured that if I were to let someone do all those sexual things to me; if I were to be completely naked and vulnerable and penetrated, then the next time somebody wanted to hug me or simply lay a hand on my shoulder, I might not flinch. A bit like someone who is afraid of heights going up the tallest building so they won't be afraid to take a couple of steps on a ladder.
I had been persuaded to join Facebook and there was a guy on there who liked me. When he suddenly started to show an interest in me, it was the most amazing thing in the world. I wouldn't even put a picture of myself on Facebook because I thought I was hideous (which isn't the case by the way, I'm slender, look young for my age, and I'm at worse average if not described by some as good looking) and yet here was this guy who was heaps older than me (ten years), experienced, was surrounded by lots of gorgeous women (he is a script writer, actor and director) and he wanted me.
At first I was naive enough to think that he might be interested in me as a person ... as time progressed it became clear it was only my looks he was after. He wanted sex with me, not to date me. Over the course of several months I got nearer to the idea of being with him and then backed off, thinking that maybe I deserved more. I didn't really have any sense of self worth, though, to be honest - it was more of a worry over what others might think. Or what I might suggest to someone else in my shoes.
When my 23rd birthday came, I decided enough was enough. I was tired of hiding away and feeling disgusting and worthless and all the rest. I was sick of not properly engaging in life and denying myself these experiences other people took for granted. I was going to face my fears and grow the hell up already. When I've told a select few people about my experience I think they think that I was being used by him: older guy just wants sex with young virgin. If anything I probably used him. I was attracted to him, I guess, but I didn't really know all that much about him and there was no real connection. I just wanted to bite the bullet already!
I had to travel a couple of hours to see him and we went to a motel because he had some friends around his place and I didn't want to have to deal with them. He paid for the room, we went upstairs, and then he gave me my first kiss. Did I not mention that I had never been kissed? Yeah, I was that pathetic. I didn't like the kiss really - he was much better at sex, I think - but then I barely registered more than a mashing of his face against mine. Then he stripped off and I did too because it was clearly expected of me and then he led me into the shower.
He started to explore my body and I didn't have a clue what to do so he told me to touch him as well. I'm a good girl who follows instructions well ... but by the end even he felt weirded out by my disconnected watching way. He fingered me and then I think he might have gone down on me, I can't really remember, and then he asked for a blow-job. He told me not to worry, he wouldn't come in my mouth. I didn't realise that guys had pre-cum. I tasted the salty stuff and freaked over the idea that he was coming even though he said that he wouldn't and pulled back. He was clearly disappointed but continued on, not wanting to push me. He put on a condom and got on top and then it after some time it was all over. There was no pain.
Afterwards he turned on the TV and lay beside me, but was quite some distance away. There was no cuddling. He watched the football for a while and complained that I kept staring at him like I was expecting something ... I guess I was. I wanted to be told what to do next. Then he got up and said he had to leave and did I want a lift back to the station. I must have looked upset or confused because he reminded me that he had told me from the get-go that he was going to have a busy day and would need to leave. He even offered to let me stay in the motel for the night...I fell back on my flight impulse and accepted the lift to the station.
I had a one afternoon stand in a motel with someone I barely knew for my first kiss and to get rid of my virginity.
I hate to say it but I bugged him for a while afterwards, which of course did not endear me to him at all. He thought that I thought I was in love with him, but in truth I just wanted a do-over. I was frustrated that I had disconnected and besides for me it was a bit like a computer game. The first time I was lost and didn't know what was going on; the second time I was sure I would ace it because I had figured it all out. I never got that second chance, but it did help my confidence. I enrolled in a drama school, returning to the acting I had loved as a child but had become too insecure to do.
My sex life for some time after that wasn't very healthy. Not that I went out and had more one afternoon stands...at least not for a year afterwards. Whilst I was at the course I flirted with a guy or two online and I lusted over my teacher ... and when I finished the course I asked that teacher out and was turned down. I then went into a depression spiral and threw away all dignity. It wasn't like I had any relationships or times when I'd felt truly loved or wanted, so why continue pretending that I might have something like that? I was too screwed up for nice guys and bad boys only want one thing. I met people on Oasis (an online dating site) and would do lots of risky things, like meet them somewhere and let them drive me wherever they wanted so they could do whatever they wanted to me. I didn't care about condoms - though I asked them to cum on me instead of in me because I didn't want to have to deal with getting an abortion - figuring that if I were to get a sexually transmitted disease it wouldn't really matter. Nor did it matter if these guys hurt me. Or killed me. Hell, if they did the latter they would save me the effort - for surely that was where things were headed.
Luckily I happened to meet a decent guy during this time. You see, not only was I meeting up with these guys who only wanted one thing, the little girl inside me refused to give up on the idea of being loved. I despised her for it, and so punished myself all the more, but I also fed her with normal dates with men who wanted more. That was how I met the guy I'm now with. As soon as I got with him I stopped playing around, of course, and I entered the first proper relationship I've ever had.
Surprisingly we've been together now for a year and four months. Not bad for someone who has never had a relationship before and doubts her self-worth, don't you think? The hardest part about it was confessing all of this to my boyfriend when I thought we might be going somewhere. I believe in honesty and as a writer and actor I know that drama comes from hiding things. If my life was a TV show, book or movie I would lie to him and he would find out in some horrible way and then all hell would break loose. I figured if he was going to leave me then it was better that he do so before I was too invested. He found it hard to take, being the sort of guy who has only had relationships and doesn't believe in that sort of fooling around, but he accepted both my story and me. Just as he accepts my mental health though he doesn't always understand it.
I guess the point of adding this part of the story is to show that my virginity loss story didn't screw me up and wasn't an indicator of how all my sexual relationships would be. In essence, it helped me break free of the shell I had hidden within and led to me actually living life. It wasn't a bad experience even as it wasn't a good one - in fact it's probably a bit nearer to the indifferent that you spoke of in your book. It was what it was. A means to an ends so that my life could keep going. And I'm still friends with the guy I spent that first time with, chatting every now and then.
Anyway, that's my probably over-long story. Maybe I'm the only one who thinks it is different - it happened to me!!! Which is silly, probably. But just in case I am right and it's not something you've heard before I thought that I might contribute.’