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Why Does Desire Make Me Act Out?

I went outside, not because I wanted to but because it was 81 degrees and I felt like I had to. I lay on Telegraph Hill sticky with sunscreen, wincing at the sun breaking through the lenses of my cheap sunglasses, and thought about how much better it would be if I’d brought something to rest my head on. I’d managed to do something with myself, but I kept thinking Saturdays should be made of more than this. That I should be cooling off in a lake. On a balcony in Santorini looking out at all the blue roofs.

Behind me a group of students dipped celery sticks into hummus and talked about how funny it was at the party last night when they all started dancing on the speakers. A guy on a picnic chair lit a joint and nodded along to J Hus blasting out of his speakers. It felt like everyone was having more fun than me. Life felt like it was passing me by again. I still haven’t booked a vacation. I want to go to more BBQs. And when was the last time I ate out somewhere fancy? I was lying there on the grass in that park, but I also wasn’t, I was somewhere else entirely, doing a mental tour of all the places I could go and could be.

A few days later, I had sex with that guy again. I didn’t expect it, but then there I was texting him in a pub toilet, grinning when he replied, climbing in a taxi back to his, kissing him in the doorway like I was starving. We went into his living room where the purple, green, and red of a disco light danced over us as we took off our clothes. I was so grounded in that moment, lost in the press of him inside me, my neck straining against the side of the sofa, its slight damp smell, the tightness of my lips, bruised almost. I once listened to a slightly wanky podcast about “flow states”—apparently they occur when a person performing an activity is fully immersed in the moment, so much that they forget they’re doing it, and time starts to warp and bend until it makes no sense anymore. I must have been in one then, because I felt each touch as if it were in Technicolor, never thinking about what else was going on outside of us, where else I could be. Time disappeared, too, so that it would have been impossible to say how long it went on for. I guess that’s why I’ve always found it confusing when people ask how long the guy lasted, because when it’s good it’s impossible to say. Forty-five minutes or five? 

We lay there until the way we were drawing shapes on each other with our fingers made us want to start again. Then we did things to each other that I’m too embarrassed to write down. I didn’t think it then, but it strikes me now how desire can be so strong that it makes us do things that in any other position we’d find impossible. Not just being naked in front of near strangers, but to do such intimate things while naked. To offer yourself up in that way. How is it that I still get awkward when walking up to big groups of people, that I find goodbyes at parties so stressful that I just pretend I’m off to the restroom and then run away, and yet I can have sex with little to no embarrassment? Not thinking, for once, about how I look or what it means. 

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