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Being a sex blogger, contrary to popular belief, isn’t all sensual sweet nothings and longing looks all the time. My approach to sex has never been what I would call “sexy.” I am, instead, a dorky goofball in the sack. And fortunately, that’s worked out pretty well for me.

I don’t know how “normal people” initiate sex. Maybe there’s no such thing as “normal people” when it comes to sexuality. There’s only what’s common, and what’s less common – and I’d wager that awkwardness in bed is far more common than most folks would admit.

Below are five actual things I’ve said in an attempt to get the sexy ball rolling. These are all lines that worked, i.e. happy and enthusiastic sex resulted soon thereafter. I share these not so much as prescriptive suggestions, but as a reminder that you can be silly and strange in bed and still be sexually successful. If you’re a weirdo and someone is excited to bang you, that excitement is partially because you’re a weirdo, I promise. Own that, use it, and don’t be ashamed of it!

“I kinda wanna cuddle you. Would that be weird?”

A lot of my sexual initiations begin with “I kinda wanna,” actually. It’s less anxiety-provoking for me than a cocksure proclamation of intent, but it still communicates desire. “Would that be weird?” is really just another way of asking “Would that be okay?” or “How would you feel about that?” – a.k.a. requesting consent.

I said this while lying in bed talking with someone who I found intensely attractive but whose feelings about me I wasn’t sure of. I wanted to do much more than cuddle him (and eventually we did), but I figured this request would be a gentle way to test the waters. He laughed and said, “No, that wouldn’t be weird!” and I breathed a sigh of relief as he pulled me in toward him, because I had a much better sense of where I stood.

“Hey, you should spank me, if you want to.”

“You should…” is definitely bolder than “Do you want to…?” or “I kind of want you to…” but I felt okay being bold in this case, because the person in question had already told me he enjoys spanking people. And we had been flirting a bit, so I ventured to guess he’d be open to spanking me.

Knowing this was a ballsy way to phrase my request, I opted to soften it by adding, “If you want to.” This builds consent into the statement. I probably wouldn’t use this approach with someone shy and accommodating, because I’d want to make sure they actually wanted to do it, rather than just agreeing out of a sense of obligation. But the person in this case was someone I believed would state his objections if he had any. Lucky for me, he was on-board.

“I wanna kiss you, but I’m nervous.”

I said this to someone who made me feel even shyer and awkward-er than I am normally. So much so, in fact, that my eyes were squeezed shut when I said this to him. Admitting my desire felt monumental, embarrassing, huge, even though I knew he wanted to kiss me too.

I often find that owning up to my anxiety – speaking it out loud – helps diffuse some of its power. Built into my confession is an unspoken request for validation. An understanding partner would respond with something like, “Aw, don’t be nervous. C’mere.” I think the person in question did indeed say something like that to me. But I can’t really remember; the excellent kisses have blurred my recollections.

“Would you like some boobs in your face?”

I said this to a friend while cuddling with her and another person in bed, and it ended up leading to my first threesome. She had mentioned that cuddling made her slightly uncomfortable because it’s so intimate, and that adding a sexual element can help mitigate that for her. So I offered up a solution that might make her feel better. All three of us knew we were headed toward threesome-town; this was my gentle way of setting that process into motion.

A lot of folks bristle at the thought of direct consent-asks – “Would you like…?” “May I…?” “Do you want me to…?” It’s true that these can sometimes be a bit clunky or unnatural, but I’ve never found that asking for consent “kills the moment,” no matter how artlessly it’s done. I’d always rather be too sure of my partner’s “yes” than not sure enough. Don’t let anyone shame you out of directness; it’s a good, useful, conscientious approach.

“I really liked going down on you and would love to do it again sometime.”

I sent this via Twitter DM, buried in a paragraph of spluttering explanations and excuses, because I was embarrassed by the intensity of my hunger for dat dick. This initiation probably would’ve been more effective if I’d just said it straight-up, instead of insulating it with clauses like “Sorry if this is crass and un-chill, but…” and “Feel free to ignore this if you think I’m being weird.” I already knew this guy liked having my mouth on his junk, so I didn’t need to be so cagey about what I wanted.

Enthusiasm is such a key part of an effective sexual initiation. In fact, I’d say that the basic recipe is “express enthusiasm + ask for consent.” Initiating sex isn’t just about asking, “Do you want to do this?” – it’s also about establishing, “…because I really, really do.”

 

What are your favorite ways to verbally initiate sex? What are the best initiations other people have said to you?

 

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When I say that kink helps me in ways both sexual and nonsexual, I mean it. Being a good girl gives me a sense of value and accomplishment that I’d otherwise often lack. Pain and punishments help with my productivity and even my mental health. The potential of impressing a domly beau – whether that person is real or just hypothetical – gives me superpowers to do things I’d otherwise be too weak or scared to do.

Like, for example, getting huge-ass tattoos on a highly sensitive part of my body.

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The conversation that started it all.

The idea for these tattoos came to me in a flash last month. I was chatting with Georgia, one of my most-tattooed friends, about possible works of art I’d like to get put on my body. I wanted something kink-related, because my kink identities have become more and more intertwined with my overall identity in the past year. I didn’t have a clear image in my mind of what I specifically wanted – just phrases that resonated with me.

But when Georgia suggested I get “GOOD” on the back of one thigh and “GIRL” on the other, I saw it so clearly. I wanted girly bows underneath the text, marking me forever as a pretty plaything, a fancy femme, and a good girl. I wanted these images and words to be visible while I got spanked, posed for saucy pictures, or walked around half-clothed at a sex club. There was no question in my mind of whether or not this was a good idea; I wanted these tattoos immediately.

I felt the same way when I contemplated getting my first tattoo, a solid red heart on my lower belly. There were no “Do I really want this?” worries. I knew I wanted that heart on my skin forever. Just like I knew I wanted pink bows and “good girl.”

Once I’d made up my mind, I asked Georgia for tattoo parlor recommendations. (My first one was done impulsively at Two Trolls in Dundas, Ontario because some friends happened to be going there, but it was super simple. For something more complex, I wanted to do more research and pick the right place and the right artist.) She suggested Adrenaline. My brother and a guy I’m dating had both gotten inked there and had positive experiences, so it seemed like a good bet.

As I scrolled through the Adrenaline Instagram account, I kept clicking on my favorite tattoos to see who had done them – and in most cases, the ones I liked best were done by Laura Blaney. I loved her use of color and shading, and the way her work could appear simultaneously realistic and cartoonishly stylized. I knew I wanted my bows to appear three-dimensional while still being bright and cute, and it seemed like Laura could definitely handle that. So I emailed her some reference images, booked a consultation, talked over my idea with her, paid a deposit, and booked my actual tattooing appointment.

There was a three-week wait time between my consult and Tattoo Day. That time felt interminable; once I had decided I wanted it, I wanted it now! But I knew it’d be worth the wait, and as that time ticked past, it was comforting that my desire for these tattoos didn’t abate. You should be sure before you put something on your body permanently, and I was sure.

Laura is such a skilled and experienced artist that she totally understood what I wanted. I didn’t have to do much: I just explained my idea to her, showed her some bows I liked the shape of, and sent her an image of the words “good girl” in the font I wanted (it’s called Black Rose). When I arrived for my appointment, she showed me some sketches she’d done of bows, asked me where I wanted the text placed, and chose some shades of pink that matched what I wanted. I thought I’d be nervous handing over creative control of art that would remain on my body forever, but I trusted Laura. She was confident, her art looked great, and I had the strong sense that she knew what I wanted.

At one point, I showed her a reference image of a bow I liked the look of. “The one I do will look better than that, but I see what you’re saying,” she said, with complete certainty. (Laura is a total badass. She did my tattoos while six months pregnant. God, I love strong smart talented women.)

imageLaura applied stencils to the backs of my legs, reapplying a few times until they were perfectly straight and even. Georgia snapped some pictures for me so I could check to see if I liked the placement. I wanted the bows pretty much right under my butt, so they’d peek out of my shorter skirts and dresses but still be easy to cover up for conservative occasions when necessary.

When both she and I were happy with the placement, Laura had me lie down on my stomach on the tattoo table. She fired up the needle and got started on outlining.

The pain was bad, especially toward the beginning before the endorphins kicked in, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. I chatted a bit with Georgia, who’d sweetly accompanied me; I listened to music on my iPad, read some articles, and tweeted a little. But what really helped was to invoke the same strategies I use when I’m enduring a spanking: I focused on my breathing, purposely intended to enjoy the pain rather than recoiling from it, and reminded myself time and time again that no moment is unendurable. Any time the pain was particularly bad, I knew it would be over soon, so I could get through it.

imageThe first bow, and its accompanying word (“girl”), took about an hour and 40 minutes to complete. Toward the end of it, I started to tire of getting poked with a stabby needle and wanted it to be over, but it really wasn’t that bad. The pain was less bothersome than it had been when I got my heart, I think because back then I was more scared of pain and hadn’t yet experienced it as a consensual and even pleasurable sensation. Plus that tattoo was a lot smaller, so I didn’t have time to get into an endorphin groove the way I did with these larger pieces.

We took a break, during which I got up, walked around, stretched my legs, ate a granola bar, drank some coconut water, and posed for some pictures of the half-finished product. I asked Georgia what she’d do if I chickened out and wanted to leave at that point, and she said she’d gently but firmly dom me into finishing the other leg. See: kink is important and helps get shit done!

But I didn’t chicken out. I laid back down on the table, flipped around the other way, and Laura started on the second bow. It hurt more than the first one, for whatever reason, but it also didn’t take as long. I warbled along to some old Regina Spektor songs while continually reminding myself that the pain would be over soon, and it would be worth it.

After the second bow was done, Laura wanted to go back into the first one to fix up a couple spots that weren’t as vivid as they should’ve been. That was the worst pain of the whole evening, because she was revisiting areas that were already sore and tender from their earlier pummeling. But I groaned into a pillow and gnashed my teeth and it was over soon enough.

When the tattoos were done, we snapped some pictures and then headed downstairs to the main desk so I could pay for my beautiful works of art. I hobbled and limped a bit, because my muscles were sore from holding the same position for three hours and the backs of my thighs felt like they’d received a selective, intense sunburn.

All told, this tattoo session cost about five times more than my little heart tattoo did – but it was a bigger and more complicated piece, with more customization involved, and the artist was more experienced and skilled. I firmly believe that if something’s gonna be on your body forever, you should be willing to pay as much as you feasibly can for it, because you really do get what you pay for. I was so pleased with every aspect of my tattooing experience, from the planning to the inking to the finished product.

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The day after getting tattooed. Still a little red and swollen.

Do you have any kink- or sex-themed tattoos? Can I see?!

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I am always looking for “life hacks” that will make my day-to-day feel more joyful, more decadent, and more rewarding. I think this stems partly from my struggle with depression: if there’s any way I can convince myself to get out of bed on a bad day, I’ll try it, even if it’s something small and silly like putting on red lipstick, cranking some uplifting tunes, or – yes – inserting a butt plug.

If you like anal play, wearing a plug can bring a little extra magic into just about any endeavor. Slather your plug with anal lube, slide it in, and try any of these activities – if nothing else, they’ll be more interesting!

Penetrative sex. You may have tried this already. It can be a grand old time. If you have a prostate, the plug will rub against it with every thrust – and if you have a vagina, wearing a plug will make you extra tight, which your partner might enjoy. I’ll never forget the time I got fucked while a large-ish plug was in my butt, and my partner exclaimed, “Jesus Christ, you’re so tight! Who turned the sleep number up to 100 in your vagina?!”

Receiving oral sex. Gettin’ head can feel fantastic, but sometimes it just isn’t quite enough to get me off. A partner’s fingers inside me can add a little extra stimulation if need be, but that requires a lot of co-ordination on the part of the giver. Using a butt plug while receiving oral can circumvent this problem. The plug will shift and undulate slightly with the turned-on pulses of your pelvic muscles, creating a mild sensation of getting fucked that might help push you over the edge.

Giving oral sex. Going down on your sweetie can be a massive turn-on; even moreso if you have something to squeeze around while you do it. The giver’s enjoyment and enthusiasm are a make-or-break factor in good oral sex, so you’re doing a favor for both yourself and your partner if you find a way to crank up your pleasure even higher.

Getting spanked. Sex educator Tina Horn has said that one of her favorite things about spanking is just getting to handle a butt, because butts are great. In my experience, this isn’t uncommon: oftentimes, when someone is into doing stuff to butts more generally, they’re into spanking, and vice versa. So if your partner likes smackin’ your ass, they might enjoy the added excitement and extra squirming that results when you wear a plug while they do it.

Running errands. Look, no one said grocery shopping or going to the bank was going to be a rip-roaring good time. But you can make these things slightly more thrilling by doing ’em while plugged. It’s a fun secret you can carry around with you. (Bring extra lube so you can pop into a public bathroom for a quick reapplication if needed!)

Housework. I loathe cleaning my room, putting away my laundry, and organizing my desk. If I have to do these things (which I do, because I’m an adult and I don’t have on-staff maids), I might as well have a happy butt while I’m adulting. Bonus points if you put on some Taylor Swift or Carly Rae and dance around while you clean your space.

Working. I wouldn’t recommend wearing a plug at an actual workplace, although I know people who have. But if you work from home (or from cafés comme moi), wearing a plug can stiffen your spine and wake up your brain. This is especially true if you’ve got a dom-y partner who’s told you, for example, that the plug should serve as a reminder that they are expecting you to get your work done or you’ll get a punishment…!

Facing a fear. Speaking of dom-y partners: often it is easier to do something that scares you if someone you adore has commanded you to do so. A plug can be a tangible reminder of this, as you take on whatever’s terrifying you, from public speaking to air travel to returning the clothes your ex left behind at your house. Even without a partner bossing you into bravery, a plug can still give you something to focus on while you tackle your fears, like how meditators are instructed to focus on their breathing. It sounds silly, but the sensation of something in your butt can ground you and keep you present when your anxiety-brain is pulling you out of your body.

Posing for pictures. Tyra Banks famously advocates “smizing”: the modeling trick of smiling with your eyes, not your mouth. It creates an approachable warmth that looks lovely in photos. I think wearing a butt plug could do the same thing! You’ll have a glimmer in your eyes that says, “I have a secret.” The goofiness of this situation might even help relax you, so your natural charm and beauty come through in whatever boudoir shots or glamorous headshots you’re posing for.

Getting ready for a date. If your beau is into butt stuff, you can prepare your ass by wearing a plug before and/or during your date – how thoughtful of you! But even if not, sporting a plug during your pre-date prep could help get you in a sexy, flirty headspace. As your butt muscles relax around the plug, so too will you relax, loosen up, and lighten up!

What are your favorite activities to pair with a butt plug?

This post was sponsored by lubezone.org, and as always, all writing and opinions are my own!

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It’s funny how sometimes, the beliefs you hold most firmly are the ones you most need to dismantle.

I have a core belief about relationships that’s probably stunted my romantic possibilities on many an occasion. That belief is: if someone is meant to be my next beau, I’ll know it. I’ll have a good feeling about them from the first. The sight of their face, the jokes they make, the words they use, the energy of their presence – these things will all feel immediately captivating and right to me. I’ll have a hunch, and if I trust that hunch, it’ll lead to good things.

A few weeks ago, on a romantically distraught evening, I wrote this prayer of sorts in my journal:

I am ready to let go of my unrequited crushes and welcome a new person into my life.

I am ready, but I need that person to incite feelings in me that are unmistakeable. I need to be SURE – in my gut if not in my overzealous anxiety-brain – that this is a person I could and should be with.

Their presence should light me up, set my sparkly heart ablaze. I should crave them, but not in that NRE-soaked way that’s clearly a flash fire headed toward burnout. I should want them because of my neurons, not just my neurotransmitters.

They should embody the word “crush” for me, take up space easily and obviously alongside that word in my life. Zing, bang, boom!

This preference for immediate attractions even shows up in how I navigate online dating. Lately, when I swipe through potential matches on Tinder, I do it mostly based on gut feelings about people’s pictures. Some part of me believes that when I see someone who would really make me happy and enrich my life, I’ll know. Like one of those movie moments where two protagonists meet serendipitously, look into each other’s eyes, and are rendered speechless by their sudden mutual attraction.

Writing that journal entry put words to this idea I’d long held, and those words punctured holes in my logic. I’d never thought about it before, but those “zing, bang, boom!” moments have actually been almost nonexistent for me – even with regards to people I adored, who became crucial to my life story.

My first girlfriend was one of the most intense crushes I’ve ever had, but the first time I saw her, I didn’t have romantic feelings for her at all. She was giving a presentation in ninth-grade English class. Though she was funny, smart, and adorable, I didn’t notice those qualities until I looked back at that memory months later through my newly idealistic lens.

Similarly, when I went on my first date with the man who would become my first serious boyfriend and my first love, sparks didn’t fly right out of the gate. I was intensely anxious about the date and didn’t even want to go. We chatted easily for three hours and I liked him, but I wasn’t sure about him, not by a longshot. We didn’t even kiss until the end of our second date, because it took me that long to figure out how I felt about him. And he ended up being one of the people I’ve loved most in my life.

My unrequited attractions haven’t been instantaneous, either. My biggest high school crush didn’t ensnare my heart until, weeks into improv team practice, he sat down at a piano and started playing Vince Guaraldi tunes. My favorite podcast host, whose voice makes me swoon every week, didn’t capture my attention til I noticed his stellar pun skillz a few episodes in. The cute local theatre actor whose career I follow avidly didn’t turn my crank until after I’d seen him in a few different roles.

It’s obvious, when I look at the actual evidence, that my attractions are rarely immediate. In fact, off the top of my head, I can’t think of a time that an initial “good feeling” about someone led to anything substantial. A bad feeling about someone is usually worth heeding, but I can’t identify a future life-changing individual when I see one.

It’s easy to get swept up in myths popularized by romance novels and cheesy chick-flicks. We want to believe love is simple and binaristic: someone’s either right for you, or they’re not. But as with many facets of human existence, the truth is somewhere in the grey area. The love of your life could be hiding behind a face you wouldn’t give a second glance.

I grew up precocious and too smart for my own good, and sometimes that does me a disservice. I can be so sure I know what I want, what I need, and what works for me – but those notions get turned on their heads time and time again. It’s like the universe keeps trying to teach me the importance of staying open and going with the flow. It keeps teaching me, because I keep forgetting.

You think you know what you want, but maybe you don’t. Maybe your next big adventure is hidden behind the door you never would have chosen. Maybe your perspective is skewed, your lens is dirty. Maybe falling in love is best when it’s like a literal fall: terrifying, unexpected, but rewarding as hell if you survive it.

These days, I’m trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the world and everyone in it. I’m trying to give people a fair chance, even if at first they don’t seem to be what I’m looking for. I’m trying to accept that I don’t know everything, and that sometimes I should let fate take the wheel instead of desperately clinging to it myself.

That means saying yes to invitations from people I might’ve said no to before, and sometimes swiping right when I’m tempted to swipe left. It means setting aside my prejudices about how people look, and choosing to find out more about their brain and heart before I decide how I feel about them. It means being open, which is the scariest and loveliest way to be.

But I’m still a baby, at just 24. There is still so much about love that confuses and defies me. What are your experiences with attraction at first sight? Does it mean magic is about to happen, or is it a red herring? Were the greatest loves of your life a slow burn, or an instant inferno? Did you ever see a face on a dating app, think “I could love this person,” and find out later just how right you were?

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Girl with the purple hair, I’m sad we didn’t date for longer. I know we’re 15, and 15-year-olds are fickle. I know you said the break-up wasn’t about me, that you’re just “not in a good place to have a girlfriend right now,” that you feel “trapped” by labels and that our views on drugs are incompatible. I know all of this. But still I want you.

I daydream about you in class, so flagrantly that stern teachers chastise me and kind teachers ask me if I’m feeling alright. I know which hallways you walk down in between classes, and sometimes I walk where you’ll be, and sometimes I avoid you because you make me feel things that scare me.

I write in my journal, “I could marry that girl.” I put down my pen, stare at the page, and sigh. Because it’s melodramatic and it’s also true.

A contingent of twelfth-graders have organized a clothing swap. It’s one of the minor events written in my calendar; everything that isn’t you feels minor to me lately. Nonetheless, I show up at our school’s sunny, sprawling art room at the appointed time, bag of unwanted clothes in tow to trade away.

I spot you instantly. My eyes are attuned to you, like how cheetahs must have gazelle-dar. (Cheetahs need gazelle meat to live. I don’t know what I need from you, exactly.) You’ve brought some old clothes too, and you’re laying them out on the table to be picked through by intrepid art-school fashionistas.

I say hi to you, because I have to. There isn’t another option. But then I slip away into the throng of girls. I have blushed and giggled in front of you too many times. It feels redundant to do it again, especially now that you don’t want me.

2537272455_c90e77cb96_oExamining the sartorial offerings on the table, I find, long minutes later, a jacket I’ve seen you wear. It’s brown, with pinstripes, and big masculine shoulderpads. It looks like something Oliver Twist might wear if he was a character in The Breakfast Club. I would never, ever, ever wear this jacket. It offends my femme sensibilities on every level there is.

But it’s yours. So I take it. I make sure you’re not looking my way, and I tuck your jacket under my arm, and then I get the hell out of there. My cheeks burn with shame. Look at you, always making me blush in a million different ways.

Almost a decade later, a friend helps me excavate my closet, harshly insisting I expunge anything I haven’t worn in six months or more. I appreciate her authoritarian approach – but when we get to that brown pinstriped monstrosity, I feel icy fear rush into my veins. I beg. I plead. I clutch the jacket to my chest. I even cry a little. I just can’t give this damn thing away.

My friend lets me keep your jacket, and my sick secret is still safe. From you, at least.


4102861067_39e2f2429b_oFemmey friend-with-benefits, you are too too sweet. There are limited ways for 16-year-olds to give each other expensive presents, but you have found one. In my lap there is a plastic grocery bag containing two cashmere sweaters your grandmother gave you, which you insist you won’t wear and don’t want.

“Are you sure?” I ask, lipsticked pout gaping with surprise. “Aren’t these, like, really expensive?”

You rake a hand through your hot pink pixie cut. You’re like if Mia Farrow and James Dean had a baby who grew up to be Ramona Flowers. “I want you to have them,” you say. “They’ll look better on you anyway.”

This is a bald-faced lie. You are slim and slight, and I am ample and curvy. If these sweaters have a certain baggy, laissez-faire, Kate Moss-esque charm on you, they’ll cling to me like woollen skin. And indeed, when I try them on in front of you, the one that’s supposed to be a sweaterdress scarcely conceals my hips and ass. But you tell me, “You look hot,” and then we fuck on my twin bed while your sweater’s still hugging me tight.


Grandma, I’m sorry we’re pillaging your house. You always kept it so neat and sparse when you were alive, and now it looks a fright. But we’re doing this with the best of intentions. We need to clean your house up, clear it out, get it ready to be sold. We won’t be here much longer, I promise.

Toward the end of a long, hard-working day, mum says to us: “If there’s anything you guys want to take, you can do that now.” Max and I both bolt. He heads for the basement; maybe there’s a board game or stuffed animal he wants. As for me, I beeline to your bedroom.

I know exactly what I want to take, and I find it sooner than I expect to: the knitted shawl in autumnal tones. It used to cloak your shoulders through falls and winters, but now it’s draped over the headboard of your bed. It was painstakingly crafted by your brother-in-law, my great-uncle, who passed away mere months after you did. I saw this shawl on you so often, warming your cold bones. It looks like a Mondrian painting in sepia tones. When I bury my face in it, it smells like you: fruity soap, hearty dinners, the vaguest hint of a feminine perfume.

When I leave the house carrying your shawl, I wonder if mum will stop me, tell me she wants it instead, or tell me there’s someone else who deserves it more. But she doesn’t. It’s mine now, and I never ever wear it because I want it to always smell like you.


First love, I don’t know how I managed to plan so poorly for this break-up, considering I’ve wanted to bite the bullet for months. I should have given you back all your things before I tearfully told you on a bustling street corner that we shouldn’t be together anymore. Now I’m sitting numbly in my room with a cardboard box full of three and a half years’ worth of love’s detritus.

A graphic novel you lent me ’cause you said I would like it (you were right). A few sex toys you tested so I could review them on my blog. A stuffed doll of my favorite Pokémon, Ampharos, that you scouted out for me on eBay. A pair of your boxers, printed with black-and-white comic strip panels, found under my bed from a passionate moment somewhere along the way.

For weeks and then months, I think about delivering this box to you – leaving it on your doorstep and fleeing. But I don’t want to risk seeing you, even if the risk is small. This wound still feels fresh, this deep sense of failure, like I fucked up something that ought to have lasted.

As 2014 slips away and 2015 fades into view, I decide it’s time to unpack the box. It’s been sitting in my room taking up physical and psychic space, and I want it gone, along with the illusion that I will ever be completely rid of you. I put the graphic novel on my bookshelf, hide the toys in my toy drawers, set the Ampharos next to my Mudkip – and put the boxers on.

Years later, they’ve interwoven with my life the way any beloved item of lounge clothing does – just something to throw on when I’m lazy or sad or sleepy. I rarely remember their romantic origins; it’s only when another boy tells me, “Cool boxers!” in hazy post-coital lamplight that I feel embarrassed to be wearing them. I’m not a comic nerd; the men I date are. “They were my ex’s, and I kept them,” I explain sheepishly. He ruffles my hair and says, “Well, they’re still cool.” Yeah, I guess they are.


imageTragically unfeminist ex-boyfriend, you were right: I look better in your green-and-blue plaid shirt than you did. I spot it in your closet and want it it not because it’s yours but because it’s bright, beautiful, cozy and cute. That should be a warning sign that you’re not as perfect for me as I think, but I don’t see it that way yet.

We’ve been lying around naked in the morning light, in your filthy bachelor apartment perched high above the city. Well, I’m naked; you’re almost always clothed around me, guarded, distant, clinical. Your constant sexual rejections and occasional body-shaming barbs have pricked my heart and I feel depleted, but I haven’t noticed that yet. All I know is it feels weird being naked around you. So I put your shirt on.

When you tell me to keep it, I skip home in it, vibrating from the familiar glee of wearing a reminder that somebody likes me.

Weeks later, when your charm has unraveled, I sit in the window of a café with a friend. “I have to break up with him,” I realize aloud, capping off a torrent of complaints. “I have to. Like, today.” I grab my phone and text to ask if you can meet me after your show later. My eyes fall on the shirt I’m wearing, and it’s yours. “Guess I should go home and change out of this before I go break up with him, huh?” I ask my pal, a bitter laugh breaking my voice.

Days after the deed is done, you text me. A post-break-up text: that rarest of things. “Hey you! Hope you have fun on your trip,” you tell me (I am reading your words in a car on a highway, two days deep into a nine-day road trip with friends). “Oh, and keep the shirt!”

It had not even occurred to me to give the shirt back. I’ve earned it, after that shitshow of a relationship. “Haha, thanks,” I text back, and roll my eyes.