Sex Stories is a series focused on the relationship with our sexual partners, our community, and ultimately, with our physical and spiritual self. We are down to just one more story to feature. Thank you for reading and all of you for sending your stories.
The Sweet Escape
The first time I had sex in the pandemic was the first time I’d had sex in a year. On July 3rd, I met up with friends for a socially distant reunion in central park. We were all expecting to go back to the same acting class after a two-week break when months passed making that return unrecognizable. I’m fairly introverted, which I know makes a lot of sense for an aspiring actor, but I was happy to see these familiar strangers.
There was a guy from my class. He was my age, and always struck me as a bit of a charming asshole with a great personality if you didn’t stick around too long. We’ll call him Ken because he’d soon become the perfect man to me. Anyway, I was happy to see Ken, just as I was happy to see everyone else and after about an hour of catching up with people I didn’t really know to begin with, my friend and I headed back to her upper west side apartment. Ken asked to join.
We got to her apartment and I clocked that Ken was awfully curious about my life. He wanted to know my interests, my opinions, what I wanted to eat or drink. It was unlike the initial idea I had of him. It was intriguing. I’d sat in a class with this man for a year and our interactions never developed beyond a “hello”, or an “excuse me” while I scooted past him toward my seat. I remember he was sitting down on a bench in the backyard with his legs crossed, kneeled over talking about God knows what. He stared at the ground as he broke down some artistic, intellectual, something or another and in that moment, I knew. There’s something about a passionate man that has always made my knees buckle.
We spent the rest of the day drinking, talking, sharing musical interests. I’d been listening to a lot of music from the 60’s like Dinah Washington and Dusty Springfield. He played guitar and specifically referenced Pink Floyd who I too loved. It was 10pm and I had a 6am flight to Florida the next morning. While he insisted on calling me a car to Brooklyn, I instead suggested I hop in his Uber then call a car from his place which was on the way.
The car ride was silent. I looked out the window and at Central Park as we drove down Central Park W. It was so beautiful, I loved being next to him. Though we didn’t speak much on the ride, I could feel him next to me. When we pulled up to his place in West Village, I pulled out my phone to call a car, then looked at him and asked, “are you tired?” He grabbed my arm, and we ran past the doorman with a rushed hello and up to his apartment to watch a movie. I laid where I fit which was in his chest and he gently massaged my body. I have to add though, that it is one thing to have not been touched by a man in a while, but when you haven’t been touched by anyone at all for fear of a diseased death… let’s just say that gentle massage had the intensity of a jacuzzi jet on its highest setting and I could feel it throughout my whole body. I wanted nothing more than to straddle that man, but I had just gotten my period, so we kissed and that was it. I was off to Florida the next day.
The feeling of Ken followed me to Florida, but it was the 4th of July and I was headed straight to my best friend’s dad’s house for swimming and barbecue. The time I spent in Florida was so warm. My childhood friends and my family were these new, exciting people. It’s like we were all getting to know each other again and the biggest sense of relief. Thank God, I wasn’t doomed to that tiny New York bedroom in an apartment full of strangers I had no level of intimacy with. July was that time when people were a little less afraid of dying the second they stepped out, but only comfortable navigating close circles. My circle was so good. We’d known each other for over a decade but ended up on different coasts and even countries at some points in life. But still, as good as my circle felt, I couldn’t wait to get back to Ken. There was something there I needed to know a little better. While away, he sent me some recordings of him singing and playing the guitar. We chatted here and there, but I didn’t have much to say. In hindsight I never had much to say to him even as things developed, but I could always feel him.
When I got back to New York, he was the first to know. The next day, Ken and I had lunch. Then we had dinner. Then we had drinks. Then we had sex. Physically, we fit. I fit on his chest and under his arm and he fit on top of me and inside me. Sex with Ken came very easily. It was warm; it was attached; it was without judgement; and it was good. I closed my eyes, not because I was afraid of intimacy, but because what I felt was greater than anything I could see, and I wanted to keep the focus there.
After the first time, and yes there were multiple times, I couldn’t believe that someone I sat near for an entire year and never said more than a hello to, had just broken the floor of my understanding of sex in one night. There had to be an explanation. Was the drought I had been in heightened this experience in ways it had no business doing? Did being ordered to stay inside for months unveil our primal instinct to deceive structure and rules? Maybe the time we’d each spent alone in months of quarantine, with no responsibility had allowed vulnerability to sit much closer to the surface. I was desperate for any explanation, because what happened in that bed, that night was not wild or loud or big. It was close, it was free, it was unexpected, and it was something I needed more of.
Ken and I started meeting once a week. We would have dinner, watch a movie at home, and then get to the sex. We always had these very structured dates around the same times of day in the same parts of the week. It was almost as if this structure stood in place to mask the liberation we both knew we’d get to. Some thought it as boring, I found it even sexier. A restrained buildup, every time. More activities were added to Ken and I’s itinerary. I helped him go apartment hunting. He helped me move. I met and spent time with his friends. And every time we got to the sex, it got better. It got warmer and it started quicker. It multiplied. I had such desire for Ken’s body that my body initiated our sex more that I’d ever seen it do before.
The uniqueness of this experience brought about questions. Considering the pandemic was the giant elephant in everyone’s room, I looked to it again for answers. It had been a few months and I felt so close to Ken. Our activities expanded, we were getting to understand each other for real, and our sex just kept getting closer. Somehow though, we were still in that framework of once a week around the same time of day. The six days in between periods at my chest. At first, they were exciting. They were sexy. They gave me time to daydream and time not to over-indulge. They kept me on the edge of my seat.
Now, they hurt.
I remember after he finished helping me move, I walked him to the nearest bike rack. I lost my mask somewhere in the move, but he had his on. Before he hopped on a bike to peddle back to Manhattan, he pulled his mask down and stole a long kiss. His salty sweat tastes too sweet to me. I blurted out a “thank you”. I was embarrassed by this, but I had missed him greatly and knew it would likely be another six days before I saw him. I couldn’t do it anymore.
The next time I saw Ken, he saw me. I never said much around him, but by this point, Ken knew who I was despite me never telling him. He saw my thoughts and feelings even though I fought to maintain a still composure. He asked several times throughout that visit if I was okay and I said yes, but he knew better. He sat down with me at the end of the night and told me he was depressed. He wasn’t working. He didn’t understand his purpose anymore and the weight of the world was more than he could bear at times. Sex in a pandemic started as this thrillingly, intense connection that took up every bit of space in my mind and body. It didn’t take long for it to become this small slice of pleasure in a mountain of darkness. I very fortunately had just started working so that part of things was okay for me at least, but my heart hurt for this man. A few weeks later, Ken let me know that he couldn’t see me anymore. He needed to be alone to weather the storm in his head and find purpose again. I hated that, but I understood.
I’d say Ken and I slept together that first night because our options were so limited considering the pandemic. You couldn’t go out and meet new prospects and so many people had left New York. I’d say we kept sleeping together because it was safe. We’d entered one another’s social bubble and those needed to stay small, so it’s better you maintain the same relations with the same people. I’d say it felt so good because it was the only pocket of life that had any good feeling when the world felt bad. I’d say anything to negate the pain.
The romantic in me though believes the pandemic showed me someone I wasn’t looking at before. The ill fate of the world couldn’t match what was happening with Ken and I and it felt so right that there was no way it only happened out of convenience. It wasabsolutely supposed to. Somehow though, it took away the sweetest thing it gave me in just a few months.
P.S you can read more Sex Stories series right here. This series only has one more post remaining. Thank you so much for reading!