Sex And Sickness Part 1
*While this blog post contains some content that may be too explicit for some people, it is my belief that if one is intelligent enough to read and understand the words in this post then one is mature enough to handle the subject matter as well. Having said that, reader discretion is advised (especially my family members who don’t want to know about my sex life).
At 28 I can count all the women I’ve had sex with on two hands. I’ve never been one for one night stands (except that one time in college), yet I’ve never been one for long-term relationships either. But for some reason I didn’t miss sex until I got sick, probably because it was more attainable back then. It was an option.
As much as I’d love to knock boots with a lovely young lady, at the moment there are many barriers in my way. For starters, I don’t wear boots, or any footwear for that matter. And even if there was a willing participant, much of the romance and lust of climbing into bed with someone would be lost with one person already in bed, living there indefinitely.
I will say, however, my sickbed has not been entirely empty. On a few occasions over the past year and a half I have had snuggle buddies. There have been three, in fact.
These relationships, although very emotional at times, have amounted to the sexual encounters of a middle schooler. My first cuddle companion (can you tell I enjoy alliteration?) was a friend from college. We met at the tail end of school after I had already been sick with mono for a year and somehow managed to finish my final semester with ailing health. We hung out a few more times before I got really sick. Then last year she came and stayed with me for a few weeks while I was unable to speak, chew food, or sit up in bed. Here’s an excerpt from my unpublished memoir detailing one of the nights we spent together. I used a pseudonym to protect her privacy.
After getting lost, we arrive at the new house perched atop a mountain ridge overlooking the Central Valley. I have no idea what the new house or its view look like, but apparently they’re pretty great. Carried onto the deck, I hear someone say, “Wow, look at that view.”
Inside, shoveled into my new bed, my view is of the ceiling. This changes when everyone leaves and Sasha crawls into bed with me.
“Now that wasn’t too bad.”
I look at her cockeyed.
“Okay, okay, we did get lost, but you’re fine.”
I look at her even more cockeyed.
“Ah, okay, you’re not fine, but you’re alive.”
I smile politely.
“So how come you haven’t kissed me yet?” she asks, shocking me as only she can.
The word “boyfriend” comes to mind, but I take the question as rhetorical and a direct challenge, maybe even an invitation. The idea of kissing Sasha controls my brain, spreading through my body like a virus that can’t be stopped until the idea is carried out.
Time nearly stops and my body enters slow-motion as I move to Sasha’s side of the pillow. My hand makes the difficult journey to Sasha’s cheek, making my brain buzz and heart thump loudly throughout my body. So much is going on, my lungs start to burn. My breathing becomes labored, reminding me of all the times late at night when I would pop in my earbuds and sprint up the outside steps at Stevenson Hall on the SSU campus. My vital signs are erratic. I consider retreating, but instead, gently press my hand against Sasha’s cheek, tucking my fingers behind her ear. My lips conform perfectly to hers. No awkward fumbling around, just a well-placed kiss, and oh what a kiss. There’s no champagne or fireworks, but there is a long overdue connection between us. I can’t speak for Sasha, but for me kissing her is freeing. No longer am I a prisoner in my own body, stuck in a bed within a dark room of an unfamiliar house. I’m free, a genie freed from his lamp, a bird with a healed wing. For a short time, I’m free of the muscle pain and crippling weakness, free of the horrible nausea and brain fog. Never did I think kissing would have such a salutary effect at this stage of my life. But it does and I know not to question it, because I also know where there is deprivation there may be great reward.
Sasha and I breathe each other in as our lips part and we return to our respective ends of the pillow, our eyes nervously fixed on one another like teenagers. My pulse gradually slows. I take a deep breath, calming my body. Having collected myself, I motion for Sasha to come back to me because, well, I want to be free just a little longer.
Sasha left shortly after that night. It was crushing to have someone see me so vulnerable, then become so close to me only to leave abruptly. In retrospect, however, it made sense as many things do in hindsight. She did, after all, have a boyfriend. I haven’t seen her since. But eventually a new snuggle buddy entered my life – an ex-girlfriend. Let’s call her Mia. She was my first legitimate girlfriend in high school, and unbeknownst to me until recently (or I forgot), I was her first kiss.
One day in spring 2015, during a stretch of the sickest I’ve ever been, Mia sent me a text message. I was too sick to read it at the time, but someone spotted it on my phone and read it to me. It said how she had always cared for me even in the intervening years after we broke up and before I got sick. For months I crafted a response to her in my head. Then around Christmas of that year I was finally able to use my phone again. So I sent her this message:
Two years ago I found your school photo I kept in my car sophomore year. You looked gorgeous. Those piercing eyes of yours, tan skin, and that sweet smile. Oh, and the hilarious innuendo on the back all made me be a creep and keep it. I started using the photo as a bookmark. But then my irrational fear of having to explain myself while reading in public kept haunting me. I would take it to the harbor and I thought surely someone would ask about it. Then I’d have to explain how it was a photo of a girl I dated a decade ago. So when I got really sick you were fresh in my mind. And then you sent the sweetest message a few months ago and honestly Mia, I needed it. I was so sick and so lonely and you were so thoughtful and so lovely. I needed to know there was a beautiful soul out in the world who cared about me. What I’m trying to say is you are awesome and I’m borderline creepy.
Soon our text messages turned from cordial to flirting to downright erotic. Okay, I’ll say it, we were “sexting.” Now if you’re wondering how (or if) a sick guy gets off on erotic text messages, well, I’ll leave it to your imagination, except to say it’s fun (and often necessary) for a little while, then it feels like the world’s worst hangover for much, much longer.
After several weeks of texting (and “sexting”) each other, Mia finally came to visit and within an hour she climbed into bed with me.
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