This story says so much about allowing a person to grow, flourish and develop in their own time – and on their own terms. It also reminds me of an interview I once did for my book. My respondent was a young Indian woman who, for reasons known only to herself, thought that when she finally did have sex, her mum would know because he legs would go bandy. As I write this, I am fully aware of how absurd this sounds but honest to god, that’s what she thought.
Seeing as I thought that women had breasts because they were sucking their stomachs in and pushing their ribcages out when I was little, I don’t really have a (bandy) leg to stand on either..
'I'm Mei. I was born in 1991, in China. I am Chinese American. That means I grew up with strict parents, perfect grades, and not surprisingly, a very conservative view on sex, alcohol, drugs, and the like. When I was in 4th grade, a friend wrote me a note explaining the health processes related to puberty and sex. Apparently, her mother had given her ‘the talk,’ and you know little girls…they're eager to share. When I approached my mother about it, she told me that it was all a lie. It wasn't till middle school that I really found out about the whole she-bang: kissing, French kissing, groping, SEX.
I went through most of my high school years without having even a kissed a boy, which I swear wasn't for lack of wanting. I just wasn't allowed to have boyfriends. You wonder why I didn't go behind my parents' backs, but this wasn't just a rule...this was The Rule. For Chinese parents, a boyfriend means distractions which mean bad grades (like B's). There is no influence more evil than Boyfriends.
But at the end of junior year, an Asian boy from Canada transferred into my school. We met, and in a few months, I was in love. After weeks of coercing, begging, nagging, and of making absurd promises about studying hard, my mother miraculously allowed us to date. Maybe she saw how desperate I was for this boy.
We dated for two and a half years. For the first year, we were in total, loving bliss. Senior year was one of the best years of my life (so far, at least). I got my first kiss, my first make-out session, my first grope…the only thing we never did was make love.
I had always been taught to save my virginity for marriage, but honestly, I didn't care too much about the whole save-yourself bullshit. I was 18, and I had grown pretty tired of my parents constantly roping me down with stupid Chinese rules. If Wai had wanted it, I would have made love to him. And that's the thing; it would really have been making love because at the time, we were completely right for each other.
But he was much more Chinese (and Christian) than I was. He was a virgin and planned to stay that way until marriage. In fact, he wanted to marry a virgin. He said he couldn't possibly marry a girl who had already had sex with someone else. I was pretty disappointed inside when I found this out, but I loved him and respected him, so I let it go.
After senior year, I left for college across the country in California. We somehow stayed together for another year and a half, long distance. Wai was very straight-edged, and out of fear that he would leave me, I stayed away from those freshmen beers, weed, and parties. We chatted every night, and saw each other during breaks. I would wonder sometimes if I were missing out on other people and new experiences, being all tied up with Wai, but I really believed that I couldn't get anything better.
Things changed my sophomore year. I started rock climbing, and I met the most incredible group of people. They are my closest friends now. In that group was a boy, Jamie. We were incredible comfortable with each other from the moment we met, and our group of friends was amazing. I began to question my lifestyle: yes, I had been brought up to stay away from drugs and alcohol and sex, and yes, my boyfriend would flip a shit/break up with me if I did any of it, but I really wanted to experience all of it. More than anything, I wanted to experience it with my rock climbing friends. I knew I could trust them. And...I wanted to keep seeing Jamie.
I started going out regularly with my friends, to drink and smoke and hang out and really, just be a college student. I talked to Wai less and to Jamie more, and predictably, Wai and I started to have problems. After being asked why I wasn't ashamed of the way I was living, I broke up with Wai.
I immediately started to date Jamie. Maybe that was callous, but we gravitated toward each other. He was everything that my old life was not. He smoked and drank, and didn't think any of it was a big deal. He was the most hilarious person I'd ever met, and was completely solid in who he was. He was happy, thought that other people should be happy, and didn't believe in controlling what other people did. He was everything that I wanted to leave behind -- all the suffocating rules and guidelines that would keep me ‘pure.’ All that my parents and Wai stood for.
After we had dated for two weeks, I decided to have sex with Jamie. Thinking back on it now, I think I just wanted something to erase all the stiffness and Chinese-ness that had defined my life for 19 years. It wasn't because I genuinely wanted sex, or because I was in love with Jamie (although, we liked each other quite a lot); I thought losing my virginity would be some kind of fresh start, symbolic of all the ways I had started to change.
Surprisingly, Jamie was also a virgin. We didn't really know what we were doing, I was tense and nervous, and it hurt like hell. We didn't get much of him into me, and I didn't really know if that counted as losing my virginity. After a few failed attempts, we gave up. That night, I lay in his bed, sore and frustrated, wondering what I was doing. If I was this tense, I probably wasn't ready to be having sex. Maybe my parents and Wai were right. Luckily, Jamie was incredibly sweet and understanding about it. He knew I had just gotten out of a serious relationship, and to him, the sex wasn't that big of a deal. It was about what I wanted, about being happy.
We stayed together, and spent many days and nights just enjoying each other’s company. Then one night, when we were fooling around, I realized that I really did want Jamie. All of him. The thought caught me off guard, but I knew then that this was how it should be. I was going to lose my virginity unplanned, without any rules or guidelines to restrict me, and that was completely right. I was much less tense, we went slowly, and this time, we succeeded. I remember looking into Jamie's eyes as he came in me, and thinking I had never been more happy about a decision. I had never felt so good. Before, I had been afraid that my parents and Wai might turn out to be right, that I would regret losing my virginity so...casually, but I knew then they were wrong. It's not about the rules, about using sex to seal some marriage contract. It's about what feels right, and being with Jamie, that felt right.
Jamie and I are still together. We have at lot of sex, and we love it. I am so happy about my decision to sleep with him that it's like I have negative regret - it's made me feel better about other decisions I've made in my life to bring me here. There's something physically and emotionally free about being with him. Losing my virginity (and I guess he lost his to me) has come to represent my liberation from the fear and timid-ness that my parents and Wai had instilled in me. I'm not that much more wild than before (although I do drink and take a few hits now and then), but I am happier. And I have no regrets about my first time. I can't ask for more.'