I’d like to be more truthful; I’d like to tell you a secret. I want to fling myself into some shadowy places for a while.
I find our duplicity — our ability to lie, even to ourselves — deeply unnerving.
I realized recently that I hadn’t quite been lying — for lying seems to be accompanied by more premeditation or cognizance than I truly had around it all — but for all intents and purposes, I had been waylaying shall we say, a larger truth.
About my body. About my desire. About my relationship with other naked humans.
Truthfulness is a slippery thing. It is one thing to say, “I’d like this,” in your mind. It is quite another to say, “I’d like this” to someone else, and exponentially more “truthful” to do said thing.
In many ways reconciling desire with action is perhaps the most truthful manifestation we have in this tangled morass of heartstrings and nerves and twisted neural pathways of pain and pleasure and possibility.
This is all to say, I’m struggling—given how I’ve chosen to walk this earth for three decades—with wanting kinkier sex. But I am also doggedly—if red-faced and not-a-little-bashfully—determined to find it.Truthfulness is a slippery thing. Click To Tweet
Now, this word—kinky—is so broad and so like a throbbing rainbow encompassing all colors and possibilities it’s also—almost—meaningless. Unless I trace my tongue around some of its boundaries…
I’m a serial monogamist—I am intense in my loyalty and my love and affection, sometimes spookily so—and somehow I’ve made this intensity synonymous with a very delineated, no-sharing! policy on my body when I’m with someone.
But I’d like to be more truthful; I’d like to tell you a secret. I want to fling myself into some shadowy places for a while. I want to grab your sweaty hand and leap together. Sex parties! A dungeon?! A Slip n’ Slide?! Satin? Saliva-slick steel? A Sunday morning flanked by the strange warmth of body beside body beside body?
In short, my desire is nebulous, but ravenous. It has no particular shape, but wails about in my mind like a banshee. It doesn’t make any sense, but desire is like that. And I’m terrified to look it in the face; I’m terrified I’ll tear asunder a very tender love I’ve fostered with someone, my partner.
But to deny it—isn’t that a kind of madness? Isn’t that a lie?
Will you let me complicate the angles of your body with rope and twine and tiny silver clasps? Will you let me taste and bite the small squares of flesh struck pink with my palms?
Will you let me frighten you?
I’m reading H is for Hawk right by now by Helen MacDonald; it’s a fascinating memoir that couples together the grief over her father’s death, and the archaic art of falconry. While wrestling with her crushing sorrow and depression, she raises a young goshawk; in her increasingly isolated and manic consumption of how to train a predatory bird, she rediscovers the memoir by author T.H. White (who wrote The One and Future King) about his own hawk-raising and miserable wrestlings with his clandestine homosexuality, the trauma around his parents, and his desire to subjugate others sexually.
It’s a fucking heartbreaking and beautifully rendered story. But it’s also become a kind of psychological thorn for me, leaving my mind a feathered and festering nest of thoughts.
“The Hawk was a salutary thing, for he believed that war came from society’s repression of innate human urges. Because the hawk could not dissemble he was a ‘tonic for the less forth-right savagery of the human heart’…White rushed to the scene, took his hunting knife and pinned the rabbit’s skull to the ground. Desires that had never flowered in his courting of the nurse were unleashed in a wave of darkness. ‘Think of Lust,’ he wrote, of killing the rabbit. ‘Real blood-lust is like that.’”
White was inexorably drawn to the hawk because he had to both subdue its vicious nature—he had to tame him, teach him to take food from his own hand—all while encouraging the hawk to slaughter creatures smaller than itself to feed upon. It’s a complex treatise on power, but the crystalline simplicity of the hawk’s inability to hide its nature — its desire — is just chillingly right. Chillingly far from how human animals comport themselves.
Animals are unable to be false. This must, in part, why we’re so drawn to them. How do you emulate that kind of truth?
I want to be wanted with the ferality of a tiny toothed beast — smelled and licked and held down not because I’m charming or good or smart or familiar but because the strange waters of our collective unconscious are thrumming with the siren song of touch. I want to touch you — all of you — because it’s the closest thing I have to faith. It feels like my body knows it was designed for exploration. I want to remember the fear of not knowing what something will feel like. I don’t know what to do, will you show me?
Touch me because you think you might die if you don’t.
Monogamy in many ways — and it’s certainly how I’ve often conceived of it during certain parts of my life — is predicated on the vague notion that physical love is a finite resource. I have this thing and I share it with you and I’m frightened/threatened/sad by the idea of you sharing this thing with someone other than me because you’ll realize that my thing doesn’t feel/smell/turn your gears like this other thing and you’ll leave me and my smelly ratty boring thing and traipse into the sunset with an exponentially nicer thing and I’ll d-i-e of humiliation and sorrow.
But lately, I’ve been trying to conceive of physical love like a pizza where every ingredient (pepperoni! pineapple!) — like every human and physical sensation — brings something different to the table. We do not ask the pineapple to taste like meat so why do we ask our partners to be every taste we crave?Touch me because you think you might die if you don’t. Click To Tweet
One of my dearest lady-friends is a dogged monogamist — but delights in sex like I do — and I was expressing (again) my lifelong conflicts with monogamy. (I do it, but goddamn it confounds me.)
And she was like, “Katie! You drink coffee every morning and it’s delicious . . . you don’t get sick of it because it’s delicious — you know the way you like it and you always change the context of where and how you consume it.” She paused in the preposterously sweet way she does and smiled up at the ceiling. “So it’s the same, but it’s also always different.”
Now. I think her logic is sound, but I think if you wanted a cup of tea instead of coffee — holy shit do you want that cup of tea — and you can’t have that tea or you “shouldn’t” have that tea . . .
That tea becomes a preposterously large slice of your psyche. Suddenly that warm cup of tea filling your palm and sliding down your throat is just about all you can think about.
Also, let’s be honest. Certainly some of my shame that I want—I think?!—to go romp around in a room of kinky strangers laden with latex and rope and the wafting moans of delight and degradation is partially my white WASP-y upbringing, my own personal shit—but it’s also societal.
Let’s be clear. Women are not supposed to love sex. This is where my own perceived deviance lies; I keep all this desire somewhere. Behind my eyes. In my bureau drawer with my dusty backup vibrator and sparkly belts. I keep it in the back of the vegetable drawer with the memory of using an ice-cold cucumber in the blistering hot bedroom of my high school youth.
I keep it everywhere, but out in the open.
In Sexual Visions, Ludmilla Jordanova writes:
“Veiling implies secrecy. Women’s bodies, and, by extension, female attributes, cannot be treated as fully public, something dangerous might happen, secrets be let out, if they were open to view. Yet in presenting something as inaccessible and dangerous, an invitation to know and to possess is extended.”
We are left with the sensation that our cravings should be rendered in shadow, but because we’re creeping along the wall (our desire is just beyond your peripheral vision) you feel compelled to not only “discover” it—come into the light, beast!—but claim it and tame it and fuck you very much.
I want to taste a woman. I want all of her softness against my softness. I want to make her sigh and I want to brush all the hairs on her neck—good god it feels like the down of the peach—with my slack-jawed mouth.
I want him to know his beauty—the snarling beasty, the slavering hunger he can inspire in me. How I like to pretend we’re still strangers—I court those butterflies in my gut as his face comes closer, his mouth round like a split plump apricot.
Maurice Blanchot in The Writing of the Disaster has a tangled if amazing study of secrets:
“To keep the secret is evidently to tell it as a nonsecret…To keep a secret — to refrain from saying some particular thing — presupposes that one could say it…The stratagem of the secret is either to show itself, to make itself so visible that it isn’t seen…”
I lay this nonsecret at your feet. I lay it at your feet in the unforgiving slices of sunlight that summer brings.
Will you kiss my eyes wet with wincing tears as my body bucks with the blows of another? Will you delight in the warmth of another body and when I look at your face will you be so dissolved in pleasure as to be radiating? Will it break my heart?
Are you enough? Am I enough?
Will you tell me your secrets?