As you do at any new job, during some downtime at the shop, the other sales girls and I sometimes chitchat about our past lives before the shop, and our current lives beyond the shop - something I smugly call "in real life."
One day, one of my coworkers gingerly proceeded with a line of questioning: "Sandi," she said, "You've never been married? No kids?"
"Oh no, not me," I said. "Never."
She looked at me with a sad face. "No boyfriend?"
I laughed. Aunt Betty and Uncle Glenn used to ask me the same question every September when they called me for my birthday. "No, no boyfriend."
The creases in her face then deepened, troublesomely. "But...you are not virgin...are you?" she whispered.
Although I did lose my virginity later than most it seems, at age 19, I scoffed. It's been nearly 20 years since I've been a virgin. And once I wasn't one anymore, it seems like I've always been far from being one.
After all, once you've had sex, especially at a rural, liberal arts college, and then in the city that never sleeps (but sure does sleep around), it's easy enough to have it again. There are plenty of people who are willing enough, drunk enough, bored enough, and unfaithful enough to do it to you, at least once.
In the advent of my existential crisis - which coincided with the end of a two year relationship with someone who refused to be my boyfriend - I put the emergency brake on meaningless physical contact, and embarked on a dry spell that lasted nearly two years.
Going without for a couple of years taught me how to turn it down (even when proffered so freely!), and how to live without it. But I never felt like a born-again virgin, or even when I started up again, like a virgin, touched for the very first time.
For the 19 year span of my virginity, I thought myself too innocent, too fat, too smart to arouse anyone. In the years that followed my deflowering, I was astounded whenever I did. And then I realized that any intelligence, creativity, talent or pizzazz I possessed was being ignored, or at best overlooked, and I longed to never be sexually objectified again. And now, at the ripe old age of 37, I'm not very flattered anymore when someone is (only) sexually attracted to me.
I was recently offered "deep friendship and passionate sex" in return for my expressed desire to love and be loved. I immediately declined; I could not justify embarking on something with someone who, for sure, from the start, knew he could never love me - and articulated as such. And although I've known for a while that being loved - in the way I desperately want to be loved - is probably not going to happen, it's never been more than a suspicion waiting to be disproven. This was the first time I'd actually faced the truth, formed into words, directed at me, specifically, heartbreakingly, devastatingly.
Sure, he is just one person. He doesn't speak on behalf of the entire human race. And how does he know he could never love me? He just doesn't love me now, as he shouldn't: not knowing each other well enough, it's really too soon to tell for either one of us.
But I'd like to know that love is possible, even if it never actually happens. For me, the anticipation of a love possible is the most exciting thing about sex and falling in love, even if you never actually fall completely in love.
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