I awoke in that liminal space between dream and reality. I didn’t know who or what or where I was. I then felt the warmth of my cheek pressed against the pillow and the softness of the comforter resting gently upon the skin of my body. I kneaded the material of the comforter between my thumb and index finger to immerse myself more deeply in the softness, while simultaneously moving my cheek gently across the pillow. The coarseness of my beard against the creamy microfiber created a faint whooshing sound. I came alive, the drowsiness departed and I began to feel a tingling sensation from somewhere deep inside, radiating outward and onto my skin. I felt an exciting prickle through every inch of my body. I turned on my back, reached down and pleasured myself. For the first time in years no other human being entered my mind while doing so: there were no images, videos, memories, or fantasized others. I got off on what was right there: the textures and temperatures of the fabrics against my skin, the ambient sounds, and even the sound of my own quickening breath.

After climax I remained still. My felt sense was that for a brief moment in time I had reconnected with the mystery of sex; not in spite of lacking a partner, but because I was able be with myself and with whatever was around me. There was an erotic innocence–the excitement I felt as a child when I discovered the tingly sensitive parts of myself without having words for the experience. I also felt the maturity of a creative and erotic intelligence that can only come from sensitivity and experience; from knowing what it is to feel connected as well as deeply alone; from learning how to connect with whatever is there because there is rarely anyone there.

At first I wanted so badly to understand this experience. Then I realized that to ruminate further was to risk losing the beautiful mystery. I decided to drop and step away from questions like, “Why today?” “Why amid this backdrop of suffering and amid my own struggle to feel alive did I get to have this?”

Hours later as I write this I feel melancholy and a bit lonely. In short, I am back to the familiar day-to-day of my life. I am consoled by the idea that I am perhaps meant to lead a quiet and unconventional life. Though I may never have a spouse, child or house, though I may always sleep alone, work myself dry and feel continual pangs of loneliness, my way of life creates space for unique and transcendent experiences. Or maybe none of this is true. Perhaps there is nothing special about me or my life. Either way, I am grateful for the exceptional moments that visit me from time to time.

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