Who Am I, as a Sexual Being?
The sixteenth year of my life brought many milestones with it: I dropped out of high school and got my GED; I dyed my hair pink, and then chopped it all off; I had my first sexual encounter with another girl; I lost my virginity; and I met a boy I fell madly in love with. I've never been a very confident person, but at this point of my life I was flying high with my new-found freedom and rebellion.
I was at a slumber party for my best friend's birthday. It was a hot and sticky summer on the Jersey Shore, and we camped out in her backyard. After many rounds of "Never Have I Ever" and squealing over the newest Twilight novel, most of the girls went to sleep. My friend's older sister, Christine and I were the only ones still up. We talked about many things, including the kiss we shared during a game Truth or Dare earlier that summer.
"Did you like it?" She asked me. I hesitated, not wanting to offend Christine, but the kiss hadn't been anything special. Kisses during truth or dare? They're typically awkward and rushed; not the kind of kiss that you see in movies with fireworks erupting in the background. I giggled and shrugged, trying to keep quiet. She smiled shyly at me, and told me that she's always wanted to kiss me. I wasn't sure how to feel about this. I knew Christine was bisexual, but I never imagined she would have any kind of feelings for me. We moved outside so we wouldn't disturb the other girls, and sat on a blanket in the woods. The next thing I know, Christine and I are kissing again.
Never before this point had I imagined I would kiss a girl. Actually, I hadn't really thought I'd be kissing anyone that summer. I had recently broken up with a boyfriend, and he was such a moron, I swore off dating. But kissing another girl? Despite the many hours of Degrassi and South of Nowhere I watched with my friends, and the admiration I had for the gay and lesbian characters on the shows, I hadn't considered the possibility that I might be attracted to women. I hadn't felt any sparks with my previous boyfriends, but I hadn't felt any real sparks with Christine, either.
Christine and I fooled around that night, exploring each other's bodies. We blushed and giggled the next morning when we bumped into each other on the way to the house. I think our friends suspected something happened between us, but as far as I know, she never told them about it. I didn't tell them either.
I gave my virginity to a boy I hardly knew. He was eighteen, and we had nothing in common except for a mutual friend. We met at a party and hit it off. I didn't particularly like him, but he was sweet and I was flattered by the attention. After a weak of near-constant texting and emailing, he took me out to dinner and we ended up in bed together. The experience was awkward, and the boy turned out to be a total jerk; but for me, this was a monumental event. I had always thought of the transition from girlhood to womanhood as a very abstract and foreign idea, looking back now, this was a definite marker in my life. Up until this point, I was curious about sex, but my curiosity was mostly restricted to swapping erotic novels with my friends and watching The L Word.
Sleeping with this boy caused great controversy amongst my circle of friends. I wasn't the first of them to be deflowered; however, I was the only one who didn't do it with a long-term boyfriend. I didn't understand why this was such a Big Deal – at sixteen, I was not looking for "true love." I wasn't expecting any relationship to last, least of all a sexual one.
Growing up, I was never told that a woman's virginity is her pride and joy, and something she should save for her husband. My mother took a much more pragmatic approach (thank goodness!), teaching me that it didn't really matter who I was intimate with, or at what age, as long as I was prepared for the complications and emotions that sex may bring to a relationship – and oh boy, does sex complicate relationships. She taught me that I should always take care of my own sexual health, and make sure to discuss sex with my partner. And last, but not least, she told me that on no uncertain terms was I to make her a grandmother before her 40th birthday! Looking back, I wonder if she now regrets saying that, since I am adamant that I will never have children and she will never be a grandmother.
It wasn't too long after my first sexual encounter that I found myself in another. I was dragged to a football game at my old high school by a close friend, despite the fact that neither of us likes the sport. We met up with more friends, and with those friends was a boy who I will refer to as John. John and I had a class together several years before, but we hadn't spoken since. Seeing as we were a group of bored teenagers with dirty minds and nothing better to do, we were soon in the middle of playing Truth or Dare. John and I were dared to make out, which was a not-so-subtle hint by my best friend that my being single was undesirable. The kiss was awkward in that first kiss together way, but I did feel those fireworks that I had never felt with anyone before. It was a nice enough kiss that John and I snuck away from our friends to find someplace quiet to "talk."
John and I dated casually over the next few months. We went to the movies, the diner, the park… And we spent quality time in my bedroom, exploring our sexuality together. Up until this point, I was starting to believe that I was asexual or something. I hadn't felt any real attraction to either boys or girls. But with John, I discovered that there was nothing wrong with me, I just needed some time to find a connection with the right person.
During the first year of our relationship, I found my confidence slowly grew. I always had this warped view of my body, thinking I was too skinny and my breasts disproportionate to the rest of my body (do you know how difficult it is to find a 32DD bra?). But I started breaking out of my shell. I wore clothes that weren't oversized and baggy. I became less shy amongst friends, though I was still awkward with people I didn't know well. My mother attributed these changes to growing up – and maybe growing up was a factor – but I can't help but wonder if my relationship with John wasn't a major influence. Being so intimate with someone, and knowing that he loved me and was attracted to me despite my self-perceived flaws helped me in a way I never would have imagined possible.