Flirting with Disaster

I recently wrote a piece to be read at a local story telling event. The theme was Flirting with Disaster. I’m not sure that I know another way to flirt.

A few months ago, I told someone that something could be really dangerous and she replied, or really beautiful. Yes. Like this.

Flirting with Disaster

One

The first time I kissed a lover, we didn’t kiss.  I was 13.  She was older than me.  And I was the brave one.  She’s always older than me.  And I’m always the brave one.  We were lying on the bottom bunk, under my sister, facing each other, bodies so close it hurt.  It was this time of year.  I couldn’t kiss her.  So instead, I ran my tongue over the surface of her lips.  When I stopped, she ran hers over mine.  And we danced like this for hours, as if kissing was more dangerous than what we were already doing.

Two

Straight women.

Three

The first time you try to let someone touch the body your father raped.

Four

When I realized that my 4 year-old niece was calling my friend “Auntie” because she read our interactions as partnership, as romantic.  Where children cannot see societal boundaries they fully feel emotions.  We were having an ordinary conversation.  I said, “That’s her husband.”  And with that tiny string of words, I broke my niece’s heart for the first time.  Through sobs she kept yelling, “Auntie Nik, fix it!”  “No, please.”  “Fix it.” Until she needed it so desperately that she slapped me across the face.

My young niece doesn’t yet understand the power in friendship.

Five

When I was 12, or 13, I was a witness of the state, living in a foster home, ordered to testify against my parents.  My social worker asked me to list folks who felt safe, who were my support.  I gave her my girlfriend’s name.  She told me that I shouldn’t tell anyone about that, or I would lose the support I did have.  I found a boyfriend.

Six

I’m raising a child who is now 13.

Seven

Being the executive director of a nonprofit organization.

Eight

Have you ever been kind to someone?

Have you ever been kind to someone who is desperate to be loved?

Nine

When he proposed and I let him put the diamond ring on my finger and practiced signing his last name as if it would become mine.  It didn’t.

Ten

When I couldn’t tell if we were communicating to each other in jewelry, like hankies in our pockets, the things we were too afraid, or unwilling, or desperately trying, to say.

Eleven

Have you ever dated someone with children?

There is no sense in trying not to fall in love.

Twelve

Everyone is desperate to be loved.

Thirteen

Straight women who expect their boyfriend to love them the way you love them.

Especially when you’re just friends.

Fourteen

The first time you let someone enter your mind as you bring yourself to orgasm.

The first time you let someone enter your mind when someone else is bringing you to orgasm.

Fifteen

When she proposed and we put square rings on each other’s round fingers and then fed each other pasta with them the week after I had written a poem describing our kisses as manufactured brownies, the kind you don’t actually want, but eat because they are there.  We hyphenated our last names.

Sixteen

I’m supposed to tell you that threesomes are disaster.  I won’t.

Seventeen

She keeps reaching for my hand. Sometimes,

I let her find it.

Eighteen

Multiple times a day, I walk past a note in my own handwriting, giving me permission, or commanding me, to fall in love again today.

Nineteen

I started 9th grade at a new school.  A girl a year older than me stopped me at the water fountain and asked me if I was bi.  I asked her why she was asking me.  She told me because she was my friend and she’d tell people to stop spreading lies.  I told her to let them talk and walked away.  The next day “Dyke” was etched in my locker.

Twenty

Have you ever loved someone more than they loved themselves?

Have you ever let someone love you more than you love yourself?

Twenty-one

Any time you welcome someone to the body your father raped.  But, of course, it’s not that same body.

Twenty-two

When the world dissolves and suddenly you’re fucking her in the airport bathroom, at the train station, on the piano bench, outside the rock concert, outside the folk concert, against the tree, she’s inside you while you drive, in the bar bathroom, after your mother’s funeral, at the abandoned mini golf course you’re both pretending you’re going to buy and run together, which you’re calling Paradise.  When the police show up at your door to check on your wellness because entirely out of character, you didn’t show up to teach your class.  When the world dissolves and neither of you has ever uttered the phrase “making love” but now you can’t call it anything else.

Twenty-three

Knowing we only get one body.  That all the things we live, stay in our body.

Twenty-four

Reading this out loud to you.