I lost my virginity to my first boyfriend when I was fourteen. As first times go, I would say mine went as smoothly as possible given our ages. Cruz was considerate and kind, despite the immaturity. That didn’t factor in until later. He was patient with my red-light-green-light signals every time we were alone together, discovering each other’s bodies in darkness. I didn’t know what to do with the warm flesh, both silky soft and rigid in my hand, but knew I wanted his hands under my bra. We fumbled through the slips and surprises. My body was all yes until the pressure and pain of his attempted entries rebooted control back to my frontal lobe. He stopped immediately every time, without complaint, until I finally pushed through the discomfort and let him in all the way.
We were very active. Both young and eager, making use of the expanse of outdoors and the cover of tabletops and walls. We were both in the marching band. He was in the drum line; I was in the color guard. We usually rode different buses. But on longer trips to far-away competitions, our school rented charter buses and we had more freedom of where we sat. We had friends willing to be our same gender partner only to switch spaces once we were rolling.
We watched movies that seemed made for pushing us together, It and Idle Hands, linking lips and limbs as the gross and gruesome played out on screen. As the sun set, the bus got darker, and colder, and our hands were free to roam under blankets and clothing. My hands said what my lips could not.
I could not name the parts of my body he was touching. Not aloud. He found it funny I could be so physically forward and yet so verbally repressed. We were required to wear one of our many band shirts while traveling. The one he had on that day listed all the schools that competed in our 3A division. It provided an abundance of letters.
“What do you want?” he would ask me. When my head shook in refusal, lips sealed in suppressing smile, his fingers would slide along his shirt. “Does it start with this letter?” His finger landed on the D in Raymondville.
“Where should it go?” His finger travelled his shirt once more until it found the P in Point Isabel. And then he would whisper the forbidden words in my ear, his lips finding the place on my neck that sent delicious shivers through my whole body.
As the only new transfer entering the final year of middle school at a campus where most of my peers had been in the same classes since preschool, being barely bilingual and completely unexposed to Spanish slang further curbed my assimilation. I wasn’t up to speed on all the right bands, was more likely to become part of than let in on jokes. I wasn’t allowed to say the name of my crush. The most coveted boy in 8th grade was pointed out as off-limits from day one. I couldn’t own his attention or that hallway kiss. Especially, when I already had someone. My first love triangle, Cruz and Omar and I, played out in rustled rumor. Before I could decide how I felt, or what was even happening, it was decided for me. Omar was still cool, and I was the outcast. Being invisible only feels powerful when it’s by choice.
Then that same boy who felt strongly enough about me to kiss me when I was already taken, ignored me except for secret conversations when no one else could hear or see. Phone calls at odd hours and random comments in classes when others were absent, about music he liked or the sports teams we were on. Until now, halfway through our junior year of high school.
“Is it true that Cruz made you orgasm?” We had stayed mostly together for the past four years before finally breaking it off for good.
“What? I don’t know.” I couldn’t believe he was broaching this topic in public. “No.”
“He said he did. In the locker room.”
“Why would he say that?”
“A bunch of guys were talking. Giving him a hard time. Calling him a virgin.”
“What exactly did he say?” This conversation on the bleachers in the gym during basketball practice, the new Maná album still playing on the headphones we had been sharing.
“He said he went down on you, and he could tell you liked it.” He laughed a little.
“That’s not true.” He knew what it would sound like. He’s asked me to make sounds for him on the phone. I honestly couldn’t say if he was jerking off or had people listening in on a three-way call. But I had done it.
“Are you sure?” He said you were loud. That he knew where to put his tongue to make you scream.” Even though he’s never tried to coax those sounds out of me in person. Hasn’t touched me, let alone kissed me since we were both thirteen.
When we finally had sex, it’s as if he was telling me he knew what to do. The implicit, “this is what you want,” in movements that were all about him. And so, for a long while, I was quiet. Or loud on cue. Not for what was being done to me, but what it could do for him. For them.
I only learned to love my body after you loved it first. I was afraid to step into the light, to uncouple pleasure and shame. Now it flowed from my fingers as I placed them on the pulse of my desire. The place I found with you. The one that made my legs want to run even though my body lay still.
“I want you to touch yourself,” you told me.
“I can’t do that. I don’t do that.”
“I want it to be you.”
“I want it to be me, too. But I’m not there right now. Pretend your hand is me.”
I slip my fingers inside. Your words relax me, guiding me.
“Just move until you find what feels good.” And I did.
“Now, let me see.” Parts of me I was never proud of lovingly displayed for you.
You asked my body for the answers I didn’t know were hidden inside. Didn’t just try to run the show, tell me what you thought I should know. And now at the scent of me, I see your face.
When we are together, our bodies conversed:
Hello, so nice to see you.
Did you know this was here?
That is beautiful.
You are amazing.
Did you know you could do this?
It is a language you speak only to me. The way the sounds I make are heard only by you. Safe harbor for the acts that make me speak and dream your name.
Melissa Nunez is an avid reader, writer and homeschooling mother of three. She lives in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas—a predominantly Latin@ community. Her writing is inspired by observation of the natural world, the dynamics of relationships, and the question of belonging.