I had strong, tan thighs.
I could kick a soccer ball pretty far with my left foot. I could sense an energy growing within me that I didn’t know much about. Sex was never a discussion aside from what goes where and therein lies the problem.
A few boys had kissed me, one next to my trampoline, and I was so disgusted by it that I ran upstairs and brushed my teeth immediately after. I was twelve and I was attracted to boys, but there was never much of a dialogue about it aside from, “Do you like him/her?” and, “Do you know what a blow job is?”
When I was fifteen, my thighs were strong but I was timid. I vacationed to Costa Rica with my family for the first time. To this day, that experience has been a defining piece of my adolescence.
It all began when I sat down in the little hotel bar where I’d been staying in Costa Rica. A college-aged guy was sitting there and struck up a conversation with me. He asked me how old I was. When I told him, his eyes grew wide and he responded, “You should meet my little brother.” This gangly beautiful thing walked up a few minutes later and introduced himself. Two minutes later, I was half a beer in and buzzing when I called him by the wrong name. I laughed and told him he had an interesting name. Wow. I really knew how to get ’em. The words exchanged were perfunctory but the memory of his presence sticks—golden eyes, beautiful Italian skin and pink lips. He could have been a girl. He had that lean surfer body and a kindness about him that was endearing. Innocence—well, not so much.
Costa Rica was to be my land of firsts. First time getting inebriated, first real kiss, first love. When he kissed me for the first time, I was struck by the fact that I liked it—a lot. He slid his hand over my abdomen and I felt that power begin to rise. “Uh-oh,” I remember thinking and pushed his hand away. We stopped and I went back to my little casita.
The next morning, I stood with the door open and, seeing the boy about to walk by with his surfboard, I started to panic. My brother literally shoved me outside. I stumbled. The boy saw. We laughed. He carried his surfboard down but never surfed. We sat by some thick logs under a very hot sun and talked while he kissed me in between words. If I close my eyes I can still sense the content feeling in my heart, to exist beside someone without pretense.
My absolute favorite day with him was our walk to the super mercado. We stepped inside from the mid afternoon sun and I opened the freezer door as he pushed me against it and kissed me hard and the power grew. On one hand I loved that feeling. On the other, it terrified me. We sat outside on a bench and drank Coke and shared peanut M&M’s. Sitting beside him, I knew I was in love.
We both went home, him to New York, me to Virginia, and began to talk on the phone all the time. I remember sitting on the phone for an hour doing that funny sighing thing because neither of us wanted to hang up. I thought his tough-as-nails Italian mom was going to kill me for calling so much. This went on until I somehow managed to convince my very trusting mom to let me go visit him for Spring Break.
His mom jumped on the line during one of our many phone calls and exclaimed that we were both emotionally unprepared for sex and that it would not happen under her roof. “Of course,” I agreed, knowing full well that her son was not a virgin, without a clue of what “emotionally unprepared” meant anyway. Well, I know now. The boy told me later that his Dad had bought him condoms. That was my first clue to the difference in the sexes.
It was utterly confusing to feel infatuated with a boy, to feel the intensity in my body and to not lose myself to it. He inched his way into my world and I felt split in two. My mind was racing analyzing this 11 a.m. cot romp that would be my first go at sex. I remember the sun streaming in. I remember feeling completely paralyzed by fear. I laid there not knowing how to move. It was like the hand across my abdomen— Uh oh. We were so young.
I felt guilty for not respecting his mom’s wishes, proud for doing it, sad for doing it and a little less in love for some weird reason, like I’d given away that place in me that used to climb trees and wear overalls. I had new desires with further reaching consequences. I went home feeling raw. I was more attached to him, more fearful. I’d given him my first and that was the last of the girl I once knew.
As I’ve grown up and dated other men I still wonder if I’m emotionally ready. “Does this guy want to know me?” I wonder. Is he curious about my quirks? Does he notice that I bite my nails when I’m nervous? Does he know how much I love him? And is sex the only way for me to show that love? What if someone had addressed these questions when I was fifteen? Would I have waited?
My first time has me asking more questions now that I am twenty eight. When is it okay to be intimate with someone? Why is there no talk of the important role that emotions play when sex is involved? Masculine and feminine energies think differently. Women literally experience physical withdrawal post-sexual encounter; guys, well, don’t.
Because I did love that boy, I’ve never regretted my first time. Being that young and not understanding the emotional impact of sex, I ask myself now: What if someone had talked to me about the many aspects of sexuality? What if someone told me that it’s not this one-dimensional thing? That it can be sacred and full of pleasure when timing is right? That it can be a channel for creativity? That it starts with self-love? For some strange reason, I didn’t get that I didn’t have to have sex with my boyfriend even though I was in love.
Keeping the lines of communication open between parents and their kids regarding sex is key. And how the knowledge is imparted and even the tone of voice can drastically change the course of such an important conversation. A parent who can speak openly with their kids can create a safe place for them to share freely.
Author: Kristin Klein
Editor: Caroline Beaton