Immaculate Conception

My biggest fear, far and away, was that I would get pregnant. This fear began clawing at me around fourth grade, and didn’t let up until I lost my virginity, nearly a decade later.

Why would a prepubsecent, sexually inactive little girl worry about becoming pregnant? This was a fear far more irrational than the others that consumed me at that age, which were generally morbid and disastrous in scope: earthquakes; fires; lecherous, fedora-clad twenty-something twins in plastic-rimmed rectangular glasses who rolled through the JM parking circle in a purple Cadillac convertible. I may have lied awake every night planning how I would save my dog when inevitable flames consumed my house (no doubt some stupid neighbor’s fault), but my fear of immaculate conception shadowed every breath of every day.

My fear of pregnancy encapsulated everything that frustrated me in my world. The idea that I could have done nothing wrong, and yet be punished, stalked me incessantly. This injustice mated with the knowledge that no one would believe me — truly an indignation all children feel, I think, nearly all the time — nobody would believe I had not sinned; today, nobody would have believed Mary or Joseph. The even-more-ironic thing was that I was not religious, and distinctly remember drawing a picture of a landscape on the back of a history worksheet to demonstrate to Catholic Stefan Clemens why God could not possibly exist. (“If he exists, how come we can’t see him? Shouldn’t he be up here?”)*

This fear plagued me for years and years and years, and, remarkably, disappeared as soon as I had sex with a man. I suppose there was something peaceful about realizing that, if the situation were to come to pass, at least I might be a guilty party, or, at least, I would not be stuck in the purgatory of others’ incredulity.

Today, I am amidst the longest — well, only — dry spell I have had since first crossing Styx to this weird peace. I have not been single since I was 18, but in that year off, was never want for touch, thanks to home friends, and BRBs, and Y&G peers, and Nick Chan, and Band Nerds, and Wilderness House, and Poland, and Kevin, and everyone else who always was happy to reciprocate intimate warmth.

The other night, I was walking to AMC River East and saw a boy, leaned back against a wall, and a girl, pressing her forearms into his sides, and her head was upturned, and her neck arched back, and she was so alive, and he looked down at her and was smiling quietly, not in that familiar, douchey way, that “I know you want me and I feel great about myself” way, but smiling in that “I know you want me and I appreciate you and we are present” way. It’s different. And I smiled, too, in that “God they look happy” way, which made me both feel matronly and relieved at this proof that I’m not so cynical, am I.

Sometimes I feel your phantom touch on my waist, your indecisive, fluttering close on my hand, gestures I was too proud, too unsure, too drunk, too hopeful to acknowledge. You can brave it again, you know. And this time, I will recognize you.

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*When I got home and proudly told my dad how I had taught my classmate something new that day, he gently suggested that I probably should not go around ruining my classmates’ senses of reality.

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