“What did I think about before you touched my thigh? Let me say this: I’m going to touch you until my fingers fall off. If my fingers don’t fall off, I will hold your hand even if it’s sweaty. And let me say this: You are lovelier than clouds that look like lovely things. I have only loved a few times and the last time was when you rubbed my neck under the monkey bars. We weren’t much younger than we are now. I still have the same haircut. You still have only one dimple. It’s on your left cheek and it looks like you fell on a pebble. I love that it looks like you fell on a pebble. Let me say this: You taste like candy canes. There was a candy cane tree in my old neighborhood. My neighbor hung candy canes on the branches of the willow and I snatched them in the middle of the night. It was December when I rode my bike the quickest, like I was going somewhere to meet you. I like you more than the candy cane tree. Let me say this: I am uncomfortable in my own skin, so I hold your face. I hold your face and your hips but mostly your face. You have a lovely face. Let me say this: I love you like monsters like scaring little kids. I make a list of words I can use to diagram your body: petite, mellifluous, comely, milk, necessary. Please, forgive the humming; you see I rarely taste candy canes in March. When I don’t taste you I taste sweat. Not good sweat, mind you, sweaty sweat from the men’s locker room. Sometimes I taste pizza, but that’s only because I loved pizza first. Let me say this: My love for pizza was fleeting. I was young and naive and thought that extra toppings meant something. These are fine days because they end with you. Let me just say this: I’m going to kiss you until my lips fall off. If my lips don’t fall off, I will kiss up your spine until I run out of spine. Then I’ll start over.”—"Notes on a Candy Cane Tree," Gregory Sherl (via commovente)
keep a box of mementos, souvenirs of your current world. in a couple of years you’ll look through it with the detached sentimentality of a stranger who has vaguely known your stories. you’ll read over the letters and skim through journals. you’ll mark the nights that have changed you. you’ll mark the nights that you just barely survived. collect the movie stubs, the small gifts, birthday cards. remember who is in your life. remember who has left. put on the one elephant earring that maria had given you at the barn when you were fourteen and needed a miracle. hold it in your palm. remember that drive home in the sunlight when rodney only smiled in the driver’s seat while you looked out the window and cried and laughed and cried and laughed. read through all of it and you will see how you’ve grown, how even your handwriting has changed, how you have become sloppier with language, how your priorities have toppled over each other and rebuilt into different homes. remember fondly the past selves that you have grown out of, shed, and found a new shell to call your own. remember the old haircuts, your favorite blouses. acknowledge it all. all the hurt and all the sadness, all of the love that you have received and all the love that you have given out. then, let go of all the things that keep you from moving forward. try to understand, from a far away perspective, why you hurt when you hurt. try to understand why that night in his bed you could not say let me be free. understand why your loneliness defined you for so long, and then let it go. there will be more nights. most memories blur with time. faces smudge, facts get misshapen, and sooner or later you realize that those nights that you depended on for solace are no longer what you need to survive. think of you at sixteen sitting in that dark room, cleaning the pink throw up off the wooden floors. think of her and understand that that moment was necessary, but no longer defines you. that night will be replaced with sneaking onto the roof of your elementary school with the boy that you will one day love, kicking basketballs off of the roof with one, no two shooting stars tailgating overhead. understand who you were and kiss that self on the cheek, say thank you, say goodbye. let go of all that is keeping you from moving forward, from climbing your way into the new stage of your life. it’s going to be so hard, shinji. it’s going to be so hard to peel all these selves back. it will be so hard to let go of the things that you no longer need. but you must, love. you must. you have so much to look forward to. let go of all the memories holding you by the tail end of your shirt. let go. it will be okay.
I am surprised by how much sex I have had in my life that I didn’t want to have. Not exactly what’s considered “real” rape, or “date” rape, although it is a kind of rape of the spirit - a dishonest portrayal or distortion of my own desire in order to appease another person.
I said yes because I felt it was too much trouble to say no. I said yes because I didn’t want to have to defend my “no,” qualify it, justify it - deserve it. I said yes because I thought I was so ugly and fat that I should just take sex every time it was offered, because who knew when it would be offered again. I said yes to partners I never wanted in the first place, because to say no at any point after saying yes for so long would make our entire relationship a lie, so I had to keep saying yes in order to keep the “no” I felt a secret. That is such a messed-up way to live, such an awful way to love.
So these days, I say yes only when I mean yes. It does require some vigilance on my part to make sure I don’t just go on sexual automatic pilot and let people do whatever. It forces me to be really honest with myself and others. It makes me remember that loving myself is also about protecting myself and defending my own borders. I say yes to me.