This piece came to me on the rooftop deck of the house I rent every year in Puerto Vallarta (that’s where I write with my retreat participants). The prompt was a definition of the word Desire. I recommend the Oxford American Dictionary’s definition of Desire:
a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen : [with infinitive ] a desire to work in the dirt with your bare hands.
• strong sexual feeling or appetite : they were clinging together in fierce mutual desire.
verb [ trans. ]
strongly wish for or want (something) : he never achieved the status he so desired | [as adj. ] ( desired) it failed to create the desired effect.
• want (someone) sexually : there had been a time, years ago, when he had desired her.
• archaic express a wish to (someone); request or entreat.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French desir (noun), desirer (verb), from Latin desiderare (see desiderate ).
Here’s what I wrote in response:
Do me a favor, okay? Don’t tell me you’re on your fucking honeymoon and ten minutes later invite me to join you in the hot tub with your new hubby. It’s confusing. So you’ve been together thirteen years and you say it was “just a Civil Union,” and you bought the rings in 1999, nine months into the relationship. And you are the less shy one, which means—as your hubby later says—that you do the choosing and he joins in, and it’s not that I don’t find you attractive, but the truth is, I’d rather sleep with four other people at this party, and here’s the deal: don’t call it a fucking honeymoon, Honey.
Because I’m dragging enough hypocrisy and confusion around, trying to define what it means to be a boyfriend, or a lover, or a partner. And I have a withering fantasy that involves an Arts & Crafts bungalow and a husband who’s good with his hands, who loves dogs, who doesn’t want to shop on our post-Civil Union vacation for another man. I’m sitting here on a square, white ottoman, next to a fantasy whose skin is warm and slightly furry (and very soft); I’m sitting on Sunbrella fabric holding in my little belly, trying not to look too intimate, with pale legs and a mostly authentic smile. I’m sitting here working on my higher self, the one who suspends judgment and remains easy and open, the one who knows it really is all right no matter what, as long as it feels safe enough, as long as I’m not feeling shitty or used or treated like an orafice.
Because I’m not your blow-up doll, or your exotic one-night stand; I’m flesh and bone and a heart filled with desire pumping blood—I bleed—but I’m working hard at not getting sucked into that old familiar longing for MORE, more than I have right now, or getting lost in a new fantasy, or worst of all, letting go of all authenticity (except of course, for this sometimes smile, which is part polite and part public protocol). I’m sitting here sober, with my J-Lo butt, wondering how much objectification is okay, wondering if I really know anything about relationships between men at all—the power struggles, the posturing, the need to feel desired and the need to feel independent, inexplicably balanced in the most complicated ways.
You’ve had too much to drink, and you’re clinging to what remains of your beautiful body; I can see myself in you. We even look alike. You might be a mirror, and I’m not sure I like what I see. But mostly, you’re pushing my “What if what I want doesn’t exist anymore?” button, and I would like it if you would just wander off now.
It’s a compliment, this attention, I know that. But that word, Honeymoon: how I wished you hadn’t used it. How I wish I you would just close that pretty, ugly mouth.