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  EN LA VIDA

Speaking In Tongues
by Lisa Alvarado
2003-03-01

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'Sex is a conversation ... . Sex is a matrix. It's the bundled nerve endings of our emotional lives. It's where all our joys, fears, traumas and hopes find their unconscious voices.' — Writer/Director: John Cameron Mitchell in the casting call for his latest movie project

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At first, I meant this piece to be the great bisexual anthem. Now I'm not so sure. Oh, I'm sure that my desire has always flowed toward men and women. That has been true for as long as I can remember the first rise of attraction in myself. It's still true, even though I'm in what would seem to others like a traditional straight marriage.

What I'm not so sure about any more is the word itself. It connotes a sense of being split, being torn in half, and that is simply not a description that fits. My sexuality, my desire, is whole. Who triggers that sexual rush varies—their appeal, something ephemeral—shaped by mood, happenstance, and my connection to myself as much as anything. I imagine the same is true for any of my friends, queer or straight. And while my choices are bound by my monogamous commitment, it does not change that others move me, elicit feelings in me that are personally, and idiosyncratically, erotic. This is a central feature of who I am, as central as ancestry, as gender, as needing to write in order to live.

But back to that word, 'bisexual,' again. I spend time explaining myself to people, both queer and straight, once the cat's out of the bag. My sexuality is not an exploratory stage on the way to becoming a lesbian, one that got frozen by fear and homophobia. It's not a secondary, less significant attachment to women, with men always occupying the center. And desire keeps flowing in me, regardless of my partner status. I ask my lesbian and gay male friends if they stop being gay or lesbian when they choose a period of celibacy. And I explain to my straight friends that I don't want to sleep with everyone I meet, and that yes, sometimes I don't want to sleep with anyone at all.

You can see it's a complicated discussion.

What I can say with surety is that I am an erotic being, and that many currents of wanting flow through me, shimmering—feeding my relationship with others, the world-at-large, my creative life and finally, with myself.

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While I'm a little late for Valentine's Day, here are two pieces of erotica—different moods, different takes. They are completely autobiographical, totally fictitious, and hopefully, juicy and lush.

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Courting Disaster

I'm washing the dishes and I hear the key turning in the lock, her footsteps coming toward me. I'm at the sink and I'm in no hurry to finish; it's not like I don't know why she's here. Besides, she's early, and she can just be a good girl and wait. But she's not a good girl and neither am I.

We're up to twice a week now and have been for the last month. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but somehow, we've got the keys to each other's apartment. It's not to be confused with access to each other's lives. The rules are: a brief phone call in the morning, yes or no, where and when, and then it's just a matter of time. We do not want to know each other really, it's how we like it. We both work in jobs where we focus all our attention on what someone else wants, what someone else needs, and the last thing that appeals to us is 'a close personal connection.' Despite what we do for a living, we are brittle, insular people. I think that is the real basis of our attraction; there is a certain coldness, a shell, that resurfaces when we're on our own time. That, and we like fucking. Yes we do.

The water is finally coiling its way down the drain and I wring out the dishrag and sponge. She doesn't ask me how I am or say hello. But I feel her close behind me, and then her hands rest on my shoulders, and her mouth latches onto the nape of my neck, her mouth hot on my skin. I lean back a little and her hands slide down my arms and trail their way to my waist. She licks at me, working her way to my earlobe. She takes the flesh between her teeth and bites down. I manage to stay still until then, but that bright, little pain pushes me over the edge. 'You,' I breathe, 'You ... now.'

I turn around and unbutton her shirt, shove her bra up and begin to thumb her nipples around and around like time passing, like time chasing its tail. I feel her nipples harden and now I want to touch her somewhere else, make her hard somewhere else, make time turn in on itself, start and stop and dissolve.

The kitchen stays silent. She is always quiet, no matter what. She only talks to me this way, with flesh, with skin answering skin. My hands find the zipper of her pants, make it move, find their way between her legs where I am allowed to know her small, hard secret—the only secret she will ever tell me. My fingertips wetly trace time's unraveling against her clit. Slowly, around and around, and then just for a minute I stop to look at her face, softer and younger than mine. My eyes travel their way to hers, dark, sullen, deep. I think I can see myself in them, but then she blinks and says, 'Hurry, I'm close now.'

My fingers move again, simple, simple circle—the circle erasing everything, blotting out the minutes, collapsing the hours. She starts to shake against me, close her legs against my hand. She shatters and I feel the waves of it, draw it into myself through the tips of my fingers.

When she's finished, I slowly take my hand away and lick away the taste of her, honey-sweet, salty as tears, bitter as ash. We say nothing as she gathers herself, smoothing her clothes into place again.

'Now you,' she says, and reaches under my shirt. I put my hand over hers, 'No,' I whisper.

'Not here. Come lie down with me,' and I lead the way toward the bedroom. We're silent again, no sound except our footsteps, the sound of our breath. Then I hear her.

'What I wouldn't do for you,' she sighs. 'Don't,' I say, 'don't ruin it for me.'

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Navigation

I want to get back to where we were, he tells himself. Before all this.

Not that this argument was the worst, not by a long shot. But the silence following it was deafening in the extreme. The fight came at the worst time, they were both too tired, too worried about money, about getting older, about realizing that the plans they planned at the very beginning said more about youth and faith than it did about any ability to really pull it off. He wants to make the first move, but something's holding him in place, until she smiles that wry and ancient smile that tells him they've come through to the other side once again. Telling her to stay on the couch, he goes into the bathroom, yelling for her about ten minutes later. She follows, because it's her turn to receive, and his turn to make things right.

He's lit the fat, white candle he's kept under the sink in case of emergencies, and placed it on the sink. Long shadows flicker, and the two of them stand face to face, slowly undressing one another. No words are necessary, as their hands trail against exposed flesh. The bathroom door is closed, the tub is full, and steam fills the room—circles them, shrouding their nakedness. The shower has seen its fair share of activity, in practical, daily ablutions—tonight, he wants them to be islands in a faraway sea.

They climb in, and thankfully, this old relic has plenty of room. It's sat unused by both of them for eons, but there are other plans for it now. Italian bath salts scent the water, and the two of them ease into the liquid heat and face each other. Wrapping his arms and legs around her, he captures her, draws her close.

Before and after each time his lips meet hers, he keeps saying her name—he can't help himself. The sound of her name echoing around them surges through his body and each kiss grows deeper, more urgent. Somewhere in his mind he tells himself that he's lost, that he doesn't care. You're my tether, he thinks. It's not a conscious thought anymore, it's knowledge in the body.

She slides toward him, her tongue caressing his, her hand reaching under the water to stroke him somewhere else. He comes alive in her hand, solid and real. She has never known anything so real.

He stops kissing her only to bring his head to her breast, closing his mouth over a nipple. She cries out, and cradling his hand over hers, together they guide him between her folds. Sliding into her—slowly, so slowly—the water makes them buoyant, motion easy, they become a tide rolling in and out.

She's leaning on him, rocking back and forth, and he takes his hand to swirl his thumb on her clit. Vapor rises from the tub, the water swirls and splashes up and around them, and soon she feels it building—in him, in herself. It's pushing, pushing for release, the way the earth itself is born in the sea. Soon, she bursts apart and he's right behind her, pulsing, shaking, calling her name again.

Time passes, how much, neither of them could say. The water's now comfortably warm, and they're lying still, almost as if they were in bed. He's on the bottom, and she's snug against his chest, her head tucked into the crook of his neck. The candle's burned low, and they float in silence toward tomorrow, without a compass, without hesitation.


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