For the past few weeks, my now ex-boyfriend and I have been living in separate bedrooms of our shared apartment. It’s a race to be the first to move out. We’d been together for five years, sharing a home for four of those, and so it’s pretty messy. I’ve just moved the couch into my bedroom because I didn’t want him to sit on it anymore. It makes me feel powerful. In a petty sort of way, but it counts.
He’s home too. I can hear him, because my bedroom shares a wall with his. But tonight, I’m too busy to eavesdrop. I’m sorting through the mass of post-it notes that are stuck to my computer screen. I’m a list-making, post-it-packing, type-A type person. Looking at a newly made list, even if it’s just for groceries or Baldwin brothers, makes me feel organized and in control.
I have a lot of lists going now. Each post-it contains a list. Color-coded, of course. Items get added or crossed off, but never erased. That way, I always feel like I’m making progress. Tonight, I’m making a brand new list. This list is titled “Men to Whom I Could Lose my Virginity.”
I’m ever-grammatical, even on a post-it.
That’s right. I’m 24, I’m climbing out of a five year relationship, and I’m still a virgin. And I’m making a list to figure out what to do about it.
My ex and I shared a bed for five years, but when we ended our relationship, we were both still virgins. When you consider his deep religious guilt and my massive control issues, it’s a wonder we ever managed to relax enough together to fool around. But we did. We just never had sex. And for a long time, that was enough.
Until it wasn’t. On the night we broke up, he said to me, “I only ever want to have sex with one person. And I’m not sure it’s you.”
So. I’m 24 and a virgin, and I make a list. A list of every possible man I could realistically sleep with. Because I know that I can’t move on, and I certainly can’t even think about dating, without getting rid of my virginity. I wind up with a handful of men on my list, and I start weighing the pros and cons of each one (I do that, too).
I choose Todd. We’re close friends, but his main appeal is really that my ex never met him. Todd is my friend, and that little bit of ownership makes him really desirable. He’s a regular at the coffeeshop I work at and he’s writing a book. He has a tattoo of a mechanical turtle on his arm, and often asks me questions about spelling and grammar. Needless to say, this is a total turn-on.
A few days later, Todd and I are out for a beer and I spring my Sex Plan on him. I tell him that I’ve decided that I want him to help me lose my virginity. He knows I’m a virgin already, so I don’t have to explain that part. I also make it clear that I’m not angling for a relationship. I just want to move on with my life, post-virginity.
He’s quiet for a minute. And then he says, “Now? Did you mean, like, now?”
“No,” I say. “Not now, just soon. At some point. When it feels right.”
And he says, “Okay!” He’s humoring me, but with enthusiasm. I take this as a good sign.
And in that moment, I’m surprised to realize that I don’t want to plan this out down to a date and time. Even more that I want to have sex, I want him to want to have sex with me. I’ve set my Sex Plan in motion and now I wait.
And then, New Year’s Eve arrives. My ex has managed to move out, and I really am on my own. I have no plans for the holiday, and can’t work up any enthusiasm to try. I haven’t gotten dressed all day, and I’m planning to take several baths, get very drunk, and serenade my cat to ring in the new year.
I’ve just popped open my only bottle of wine. And I get a text message. It’s from Todd.
“Whatcha up to?”
Now, I’m not very experienced here, but I think I know a sext when I see one.
I furiously start to make myself look like a functioning human being. I ditch the bath in favor of a shower, shave my legs , and throw on a shirt from the dresser and not the laundry basket. And I wait. And then, he texts again:
“Why don’t you come over?”
I grab my already-opened bottle of wine, because I know I’ll want it. It’s the last one I have in the house, and i’m too broke to spring for another one, so I gulp a glass and then tape a Ziploc baggie over the top of the bottle before throwing it in my purse. And I take the bus to Todd’s house.
He kisses me on the cheek when he opens the door. It’s nice, and a little silly. We wind up watching reruns in his living room for what feels like hours. We order Chinese, and finish the wine. And I wait. And on the outside, I’m proud of how calm I am.
My inner control monster though, is going nuts. I can’t figure out why the sex hasn’t started. I don’t know if I’m supposed to start the sex, because I’m the lady with the Sex Plan. I’m worried I won’t recognize the start of the sex if he makes the first move. And I’m embarrassed that in my head, I can only think of it as THE sex, because it’s all so new to me.
He’s gotten up at some point during my tiny invisible freakout. And then, he turns off the light.
Everything goes quiet. Before he actually touches me, I realize that I consciously and genuinely want to be touched by him. To let myself go in the dark, and not have to control things for awhile
We make it into the bedroom before long, and then we have the sex. We do it with the lights off but with the blinds open. During, he asks me if I’m ok, and during, I also ask him if I’m ok. And it feels good. It’s not hot or mindblowing. It’s comforting and warm and just on the edge of almost being tender. I feel sad but in a sweet, letting go of the hurt, sort of way. Until we start to have sex, I don’t realize exactly just how lonely I’ve been. Todd makes me feel desired, but doesn’t put demands on me, and I try to reciprocate in kind. And the gentle intimacy of it is overwhelming.
I stay the night in Todd’s bed. We lay together for a long time. We don’t talk much but the silence is easy, and then Todd falls asleep. Midnight has come and gone, so it’s a new year. And for the first time in a long time, I have no “to do” list weighing on me. No voice in my head nagging me on to the next thing. There’s no next step to take. And I’m alone with myself. And that’s bliss.
Molly Beth Seremet is a theatre practitioner, performer and writer. She is also a caffeine-fueled crazy cat lady with too many pairs of shoes. She is the founder of Morse Code Theatre Company and co-producer of Sirensong Burlesque in New York City. More snark available at @moxymolly on Twitter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.