Sex Stories is an ongoing series focused on the relationship with our sexual partners, our community, and ultimately, with our physical and spiritual self. In this weekly series, we will feature short and long prose, that examines the layers of sex (or none at all) during a pandemic. This series aims to not only demystify the sexual experience for folks right not, but hopefully, narrows in on the reality that sex is an integral aspect of our very unique pandemic journeys. No matter where you are physically, spiritually and mentally, our hope is that by sharing these stories, we will all continue to hold each other.
Fairytale Of New York
“On the brink of the pandemic lockdown, I got my heart broken. We’d only been together seven months, but it was the first real relationship I’d had since my divorce. I was wrecked—I thought he was special. He would read aloud Walter Benjamin’s story about butterfly hunting. He made me a dreamcatcher. He was so tall. But then he left. My gray scarf was still in his room. I wonder if he kept the bottle of lube?
Suddenly I was facing a New York I didn’t recognize.
I no longer had outlets for my extroverted coping mechanisms, couldn’t nurse my woes over a cocktail with friends, sweat out my anger on the pulsing dance floor. I couldn’t smooch a stranger to forget. It was a really dark time. I would walk the empty city streets and feel like a lonely radical, David Byrne in my ears and the wind blowing my palms open.
Finally, spring appeared. The wings on my back creaked open and my lungs relished the grit and glitter of the warm city streets. I started going on dates again. (I used the apps—butI hate the apps. I prefer approaching cute folks in person.)
I went on walks in the park, for drinks at sidewalk bars, on picnics, to outdoor concerts, always accompanied by baby bottles of booze or a canteen of whiskey. Except I didn’t like anyone. Still, I was desperate for another human’s touch, to cuddle against a chest, to kiss some soft lips. So I risked sickness, taking the best precautions I could, to have sex. Any night was a good night to walk across Brooklyn. To get naked with a semi stranger. To have sex and drink wine and watch Fifth Element for the first time. To walk home on empty streets, briefly satiated but not satisfied. There was always a tiny twist of guilt residing in my stomach. And for this Sagittarius, who absolutely celebrates their independence, I desperately wanted a partner—maybe for the first time in my life.
Then it was May 29, and the Black Lives Matter movement exploded into the streets. Marches passed by my apartment three times daily. The sounds of helicopters and sirens were constant. A curfew was instituted. I threw myself into the movement, showing up wherever and whenever I could.
At the end of June, at Occupy City Hall, holding lines with fellow comrades into the wee hours, sharing granola bars, I received a message from G. He was cute and queer and very flirty. I warned him I was pretty distracted and burnt out, but he was persistent. I told him about the march from Union Square to City Hall. He said he would meet me there, it didn’t matter how late. So at 10pm on July 1, he rode his bike across the Brooklyn Bridge and met me at the end of the march. I was sweaty and tired and a little bit manic. He was so sweet and mellow. We bought a bottle of wine and walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge toward my home, swigging wine, smoking cigarettes, and swapping introductory stories—after confirming a negative COVID status. We had our first real date three days later, July 4, which was cancelled in NYC—but that just meant that there were illegal fireworks going off at the end of every block, people drinking and sweaty in the streets. We had our first kiss on a crosswalk in Gowanus, and like the cheesiest fairytale that only New York could orchestrate, fireworks cracked and exploded as our faces came together. Back in the city with a pink and blue sky, I was filled with joy, unconditionally, spontaneously, involuntarily.”
Thank you, Rebecca! More of the Sex Stories series, right this way!