I can still see the room in my mind’s eye. The bed sheets were thrown like yesterday’s garbage and the bed was adjacent to an open window. Parisian moonlight spilled into the room, bathing everything in blue. We had just spent two hours making out in his backyard AKA a patch of grass tucked in the corner of a quiet cobblestoned courtyard and now we found ourselves on the threshold of the “next level”.
He removed his glasses, only for me to knock them off his nightstand in the darkness of his room. We were a clumsy mess and, still at this point, he didn’t even know the half of it. I waited until the moment where my underwear joined the bedsheets on the floor and he was posed above me to croak “I’ve never done this before.”
He immediately rolled off of me and a brief sense of relief warmed my gut. I was prepared to be embarrassed, but then he said in a manner that was more surprised than condescending “you’ve never done it?”.
I was 19 and I was spending my summer days in Paris on a study abroad program. I had met Raphael on a Friday evening in an absinthe bar located in the Moulin Rouge district. I think we had recognized each other from the moment we had locked eyes. Sure, we had never met before, but immediately we had understood the physical aesthetic of one another. He had worn his thick-rimmed glasses, a snug white T-shirt and a vintage jean jacket that resembled my own hanging in my closet back home.
We went out again that Saturday evening. Flirtation, conversation and the indulgence of each other’s company intensified as we barhopped and smoked several cigarettes in the streets. He had promised me a personal midnight tour of his favorite city, and after a few stops, the tour ended at his parent’s place which was conveniently “non occupato”. You can assume how the rest unfolded.
But it was not until that moment where I laid most open, most physically vulnerable that I was suddenly unsure about the whole situation. But then, he kissed me gently and promised to take things slow. He wanted me to tell him if at any point I was uncomfortable and we had decided that this was something that we were going to do together.
There was no space for him. I felt my body reflexively jolt away from his once we managed to come together. My head crashed into the headboard as he propelled me upward. I yelped in pain from the novel friction and told him quickly that it hurt. He stopped, but whispered that he could make it better. And he did. Of course, the transition wasn’t immediate-- my body had to acclimate to the “foreign object”, but what was initially an awkward jumble of human limbs and missed aims transformed into a passionate, genuine craving for another human being.
I remember I held onto him rather tightly. I wanted to find some way to melt him further into me, like butter in summer heat. He buried his head deep into the nook of my neck and our hands travelled each other’s body like spring breakers in Thailand, until he simply couldn’t take it anymore.
When it was over and we had both regained our breath he told me that it was the best sex he had ever had. I obviously couldn’t judge. We saw each other the next day only to say good bye. He was going to Brittany and I only had a week left of my summer abroad bliss. We never spoke again.
But I had sex again. Now two years older and not the slightest bit wiser, I can honestly say that my night with Raphael was some of the best sex I have ever had. It was certainly some of the most honest and natural of my sexual escapades. Now I find my sexual encounters to be simply that-- encounters.
Since losing my virginity, I haven’t really updated my screening process of potential lovers. Instead, I developed a knack for plucking strangers from a crowd and welcoming them into my bedroom.
It was as if losing my virginity was like losing a sense of my style. I could no longer finger the perfect outfit from the thrift store rack. Instead, I would pick a dress of potential. I would take it to a corner in the back. I would undress, and slip on the foreign fabric. It feels different on the skin. I look up in the mirror and give it the benefit of the doubt before I arrive at the conclusion that don’t feel myself.
Turns out I feel the best, the most confident, the most myself when I wear my snug white T and my vintage jean jacket.
But then I return to my good old vintage jacket and white t shirt.
He was "great white buffalo" material, a term coined by my brother and his friends which equates to “the one that got away.” I had lucked out with Raphael and in a way expected all sex to be as intimate and trust worthy, and then felt a bit lost when it wasn’t the case.
So, I kept having sex, kept making mistakes only to realize that I got it right the first time.