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Ode to the Condom

28 Aug

The first time I ever saw a condom was when my mother showed it to me. My dad was in the Army, and whenever they traveled to other countries they were given prophylactics. Since my dad didn’t need them, he came back with them. My father had gotten a vasectomy right after my sister was born (I remember being 3 years old and seeing my dad with an ice pack on his tenders), so they basically just wasted away. I don’t remember the conversation we were having, but my mom asked me if I’d ever seen one. I told her I hadn’t, so she took me to her room and took out one of my dad’s perfume bottles. It had a large round cap, so my mother put the condom on the bottle. She showed me how to put it on leaving the reservoir on the tip, and how to roll it down the shaft. I was probably around 11 when this happened. I didn’t feel embarrassed or weirded out because my mother had treated it as the most normal thing in the world. As you can probably tell, my mother’s attitude towards sex may not have been the same one most girls I knew had growing up. She studied psychology and instilled in us a view of sexuality as something that was as much a part of human nature as eating or sleeping was. She always re-enforced the importance of safe sex. By the time I eventually had sex, I’d spent years reading up on it. I had safe sex, always. Condoms were always there for me, and it was the most normal thing in the world.

At 19 years old I’d been single in over a year and I wasn’t having sex. I wasn’t thinking about condoms at all until one day my sister told me she’d had unprotected sex. I wanted to smack her. She said the boy picked her up, took her to his grandma’s house, and then proceeded to tell her he didn’t have any protection, but they had sex anyway. I was livid. Had we been raised by the same woman? I told her she could never do that again and that since she was sexually active, she should always have protection. She looked embarrassed so I asked her if she wanted me to buy them for her. She said yes, relieved. So I went to the pharmacy and bought condoms for the first time in my life. The fact that I ran into my highly religious high school English teacher in the check-out line isn’t relevant to this story, but I just really enjoy that detail. Since that day I kept a pack in one of my bed stands, but never really needed it. It wasn’t until years later that I started having sex more often that I realized I never wanted to be without one. I went to the store and bought about two packs, and put condoms in each of my purses, that way, no matter which one I was wearing, I was packing. I realized that if you’re a responsible adult who is in charge of your sexuality, there is always a possibility you’ll have sex. You never know where the night will lead you, no matter how inconspicuously the day starts, you could still find yourself knee deep in penis in a matter of hours. Okay, that’s obviously a hyperbole, but the thing is, you just don’t know!

At one point in 2007 the awesome movie Knocked Up came out. I was already a big fan of Judd Apatow, and this movie was getting great reviews, so I bought it without having seen it. I loved it. It revolves around a two people who have a one night stand and when he doesn’t put on his condom before having sex with her it results in a pregnancy, as it usually happens. When she meets him months later to tell her she’s pregnant, he gets angry at her, saying he was drunk and she should have known he wasn’t wearing a condom because of how it felt. Wait, what? Sex without a condom feels different? I’d never had it, so I didn’t know my vagina was so sensitive that upon penetration it would detect whether the penis was covered in extremely thin latex or just going au naturale (I originally wrote “whether or not the sausage was in its casing” but decided against it because of me being an “adult”). So far sex had felt wonderful and I couldn’t imagine it being any different going bareback.

 

 

Someone very close to me is in an unplanned pregnancy. They never bothered using protection because she was irregular. They were very surprised when after going for a routine gynecologic check-up led to the reveal of her being pregnant. Why the surprise? Don’t people process this is what happens when you don’t protect yourself against pregnancies and STDs? She’s lucky all she got was a kid, specially since she’s a repeat offender in the unprotected sex division. She can’t work because her pregnancy is high risk. After being in a house less than a month they’ll have to move out because they can’t afford rent on his minimum wage. And that baby is going to be so extremely expensive, as all babies are. But a pack of condoms that costs a couple of dollars? Nah, not worth it.

Right now I haven’t used a condom during sex in over a year. I’ve been in a relationship for over 9 months. Due to the fact that we were long distance from the beginning we knew beforehand we weren’t going to be having a one night stand, or having sex after the third date. When we finally got together we spent over a week doing everything together; eating, sleeping, driving around North Carolina. We skipped Couples 101 and went to the advanced course, and along with it, birth control. I started using NuvaRing before I left the island to see him. I knew he wasn’t a fan of condoms but was willing to use them for me. Ironically, what triggered me deciding to get on hormonal birth control was the fact that I have thirty-something day cycles and would have been menstruating my whole week there. I wasn’t about to let Mother Nature ruin my week with what was potentially my future boyfriend, so I took charge and put a ring on it. When we finally got together it was wonderful. It was the best sexual experience of my life, but it was all about the intimacy and how we felt, and nothing to do with the fact that he wasn’t wearing a condom. To tell you the truth, I didn’t really feel a difference. He was what made it amazing.

So, condom, I’m sorry we broke up. It’s not you, it’s me. You kept my vagina healthy and my uterus empty for many wonderful years and I am eternally grateful to you for it. You were cheap (not in a bad way!) and effective, and you will continue making boys and girls happy all around the world. And, in case I never said it before, I loved you since the day I first laid eyes on you.

About a year ago my sister was working at a pharmacy and she saw that Durex was coming out with cute little boxes to keep your condoms in your purse without risking them getting damaged. She saw them and remarked that they were cool and that she wanted them, which made the women she worked with tease her about it. She confidently responded that women should take charge of their sexual health and shouldn’t depend on them to be the ones to carry the protection. She told me everyone agreed and looked at her with respect. And I couldn’t have been prouder.

P.S. While looking for a link to the Durex Love Box I found Cosmo had done an article of cute ways to store your condoms. So, if you’re interested in something good looking to keep them from flopping around your seemingly bottomless purse (my sister says mine belonged to Mary Poppins), click here!

Have fun and stay safe!

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What I did on my 24th year on this planet.

13 Jun

The day I turned 24 a wonderful guy I know came from the states for the week. We got into the ocean at sunset and played around like little kids, then to the pool, then to his hotel room to shower and watch one of my favorite movies. Later that week as an official birthday dinner he took me to Old San Juan to eat perfect pasta and drink sangria. He put his arm around me as we walked out and kissed me, and with a big smile wished me a happy birthday. Two weeks later I got on a plane and spent 2 weeks in Spain and 2 days in Paris with my family. About 5 days after we arrived I got a letter from the university telling me I couldn’t study for a whole year. This was early July.

 

By mid August I had run out of places to apply for jobs. Every day I filled out a different application, answered the same questions each time, and sent out resumes wherever I could think of. For over two months nobody called. Then one company did. After weeks of interviews I made it in. By the end of September, I was already working in a big, globally renowned company. By January I was offered permanency. By March I had it. By April 1st, I had a health plan.

 

I kissed a couple of guys, got rejected, and got a surprisingly healthy amount of admirers (not all of them welcome, barely any single). I made the decision to stop putting off my move to NYC and set the plan in action, and it’s going right on track. Was told by a man he wanted to end up with me, get married and have babies, then told by the same man he had no time for me. Had bad dates with douchebags and good dates with assholes. I had crushes. I got tempted. I prevailed over temptation. I succumbed to temptation. I made amazing new friends. I grew a pair. I stopped letting people walk all over me and started fighting for what I deserved. I have one more hour left of being 24. I think I did okay.

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Funeral Home

27 Jul

It’s actually a curious funny, not a ha-ha funny. We’re driving to Ponce in a sedan. 5 of us, Mom, Dad, sister, aunt and me; very smushed. By Salinas I get a text message from Facebook saying that this guy I had a class with in college sent me a friend request. I got a big smile on my face. I’d had him on FB before, but he deleted his account, I guess. Immediately after I get a text message from him saying “hey, how come I don’t have you on Facebook?”. So, here’s the backstory on this guy: we had a class together a couple of years ago and, he didn’t know it, but I had a big crush on him. Years later, he adds me on FB, we start talking and he kinda flirts with me. So, among this flirting on FB chat, he mentions that I’m sweet to care about his dislocated thumb, even though we hadn’t met. Turns out, he had completely forgotten about me, but that was a good thing. See, in college, I didn’t really put an effort into looking good. I figured I was there to learn, so I just showered and threw on the first clean thing I found. Let’s just say Bermuda length sweatpants and frizz weren’t a good look. So, one day, driving to work, I see him walking by. And then it happens again. Turns out, he worked about 2 blocks from where I worked. So, on my birthday, I go to his work with some friends to have drinks and he sees me again, after all those years, looking my best :). He told me I looked very cute, but we didn’t really talk again that night. That was actually the last time we saw each other. We kept talking and texting, but nothing ever happened. And now that I have no car or license, it seems even more unlikely. Still, it’s good to hear from him.

Along the way we keep texting. Once we get to the funeral home I see I have another text message. When I open it, it’s not from him, but from Facebook. It’s telling me I have a message from the guy who ripped my heart open. Again, some backstory is needed. If you ask me who the person is that’s hurt me the most, it’s, without a doubt, him. I’m going to make months and months of story as short as possible. We had several friends in common, so he sent me a friend request. Younger guy, very cute, but younger isn’t my type. So we start talking and this guy is direct. He likes me, he is very interested in me. We keep talking and I feel my initial hesitation starting to go away. This kid is charming, sweet, and sexy. I give him a nickname, Hot Young Thing, and refer to him as such to my friends. Thing is, this guy lives in Florida. His family lives in the island, so he came over a lot. One time, he came over. It was March. He asked me to go over to his house on my way to work. I drive over, he’s home alone. He walks out of the house shirtless and goes over to my car to tell me where to park. I open the door and he stoops down and kisses me on the lips. He knew what he wanted and how to get it. From day one, I was smitten. I had never felt like this. I finally had deep, intense, real feelings for someone, and he did too. He was only here a week that first time, and things were perfect. Our first date, the first one I’d had in years, was the happiest I had ever felt. When he left, I didn’t feel sad or lonely. I was so grateful and happy to have him in my life, that I felt full. I didn’t need his physical presence. He was mine and I was his.

Cut to 2 months later of doing the long distance thing and I’m at a friend’s birthday. Long Distance Guy has been MIA. About two weeks earlier I had sent him a gift for his birthday. I paid more for express shipping than for the gift itself. I never even knew if he got it because he never called. I see pictures that had been tagged of him from his birthday weekend. In a couple of the, he’s in a hot tub with a girl. Days later, while I’m having lunch at the hospital where my dad had just had major back surgery, I log on to Facebook from my phone and see that he has a status update and on the comments there’s one from the girl from the hot tub. The guy that comments after him says “listen to your girlfriend”. I wanted to vomit. I called him out on it and he said that I was a horrible person because if I knew what he had been going through, I wouldn’t say things to upset him. I drove to work from the hospital, sobbing. When I arrive at work, there’s a wedding reception there. A couple celebrates true love while I feel my heart literally hurting in my chest. Every time he came over to the island he would make some sappy story to me, and I always fell. My heart was always broken afterwards. He deleted me from Facebook yet still made another attempt at getting me to fall for him. It worked again. Why was I so stupid? I let the fact that this was the first time I had felt love drag me repeatedly into the mud. Last time we saw each other was over the 2009 holidays. Without knowing from him, I felt I had healed a bit. But one time I was talking about this to Gainseville Guy (a story for another day) and he asked me what he looked like. I said I could find his profile and send it to him so he’d look at it. I thought I was cool, but the moment I opened his profile I felt my heart ache again. There he was, looking like he did, and in a relationship with the girl he dumped me for. Gainseville Guy checks him out, and checks the girl out and says that he’s gonna have to be an asshole, but if he dumped me for her, it wasn’t because she was closer to him, but because he thought he had found something just as good or better, without the added distance. I try to not think about it and how stupid I was. Every time I see a poster for a new Shia LeBeouf movie, I squirm. Long Distance Guy looked so much like him, my dad used to refer to him as ‘The Transformer’. I can’t hear the song “Fever” without feeling like I’ve been stabbed.
In the movie “NINE” there’s this scene. Luisa always remembers fondly how she and her husband, movie director Guido, met. She was auditioning for a role and he goes over to her and puts her hair down. He then thanks her and when she asks why, he says for what he is looking at. She treasures that memory, the moment they fell in love. Their marriage now in shambles after his lies and infidelities, he asks her to come watch the actresses’ screen tests for his latest movie. And then a woman, strikingly beautiful, comes on screen and he does to her the same thing he had done to Luisa years ago, with the exact same line. The last bit of her heart that remained intact is now destroyed. It wakes her up. After everyone but them has left, she tearfully thanks him. When he asks why, she says “for reminding me I’m not special”. I wanted to cry in this scene. When LDG and I first started talking, he started writing to me the lyrics to “Fever”, telling me that that was how I made him feel. Months later, he has those lyrics on his status, and below it, a comment from her, remarking on how she knows the song, and a wink to their inside knowledge. At that very moment I had called my friend and said those words. “I never was special to him”. Luisa Contini knew how I felt. But Luisa Contini is fictional. I am not.

So, here I am, too scared to open a stupid message so I haven’t even logged on to Facebook. I will, I have to. I feel like vomiting again.

Wasn’t, but was

20 Jul

It wasn’t a relationship, but it was a breakup. I don’t know if I should talk to him, see how he is. It might hurt him. He might hate me fore it. I haven’t been to his Facebook page. I forgot I was subscribed via text message to his status updates, so even though I don’t look around, it reaches me. And he sounds so sad and heartbroken. It feels horrible to have been involved in what hurts him like this. Hate it, hate it. Luckily, I’ve been busy and have had the love of my best friends, who have let me know how much they love me and that they’re there if I want to talk. I always say,

I get by with a little help from my friends

No Longer So

18 Jul

So, it’s over. The guy I’d been dating since early April and I are no longer doing so. It had been a long time coming, but I feel like a fairy tale villain. See, I really was falling for the guy when we started out. I was content without a relationship status, just being with him was enough. Then he thought I needed a relationship and asked for a break. It lasted only 2 days, but in those days apparently, something broke. When we “got back together”, I felt something was missing. I ignored it, figured I was just numb from going from happy to heartbroken to dating again over the course of a weekend. But after the shock went away, the feeling stuck.

We would go days without talking on the phone, and I didn’t really notice. We barely saw each other, and it didn’t feel weird. I didn’t miss him like I should have, which made me feel horrible. On Thursday his parents left town, and he’s wanted me to spend the night since then. He was counting on it today. He had it all planned out. Fall asleep together today, then go to Old San Juan together tomorrow and watch the sunset with a bottle of wine. He called me today and told me he was picking me up to go to a friend’s birthday. When I get in the car he says he’s so happy, nothing can bring him down today. He said that several times in the night. I brought him down. After telling him I didn’t want to spend the night he kept asking me to reconsider. I told him I didn’t feel comfortable doing it. In the car, he asked me if I missed being intimate with him. I answered it was complicated. He asked me why and I unloaded the weight that had been on my chest since the first time we got together. He, without any bad intentions, said some things that hurt me and my confidence on that first night. He said he knew, but he wanted me to say it. He spoke again and his tone was different. He sounded… defeated. He said that when he fell in love with someone, he let go of everything, and with me, he had been holding on all along. Then I said the words I’d been thinking for a long time: “This isn’t working out, is it?”. He answered “no”.  

It wasn’t the melodramatic breakups from the movies. There were no tears, no screams, no bringing up past pains. There wasn’t rain or a sad song on the radio. The night was pretty and the local rock station was playing loudly on the radio as we talked all the way home. I felt horrible, knowing he’s home all alone until Wednesday, without a girl to kiss him when they watch a movie. I thought how bad the time was. But there’s no right time, really. On a happy day I made him sad. On a sad day I would’ve made him sadder. His only request was that I not hook up with C. We hugged goodbye. There were no bad guys here, just two people who were good to each other, but just weren’t good together.We don’t have anything in common”, he said during the drive. He was right. He also said “you need that spark, don’t you?”. He was right again.

All in 8 easy steps!

21 May

Last Sunday (although he had tried to pull it off the day before) my non-boyfriend (a term I came up with while we walked my dog) pretty much wrote a chapter in The Book of Awesome titled “How to get a girl to take you back”. Seriously.

  • Picking me up at my house: check.
  • Taking me to his place: check.
  • Making me an amazing dinner from scratch: check.
Oven baked fish and vegetables with pasta in white sauce

Oven baked fish and vegetables with pasta in white sauce

  • Having dessert ready: check.

Cake and cupcakes, made by his sister

  • Taking a dip in the hot tub: check.

I didn't have a swimsuit, so he lent me his surfing top and board shorts. Feminine, I was not.

  • Laying his feelings on the line: check.
  • Telling me he wants to be with me: check.
  • Telling me he’s happiest when he’s with me and nobody treats him as well as I do: super check.

Being honest and communicating is key. I’m in no rush for something super serious, I’m only 22, for God’s sake! Getting your heart broken is a risk we have to take, and I’m glad he’s taking it. You can’t win big if you don’t bet big.

The exciting conclusion!

14 May

In case anybody cared enough to read the previous post and wondered what it is that the guy wanted to talk about, I thought I kinda owed it to you to tell you what happened, specially since I discussed in detail how much it sucks to be left wondering. So, after deep breaths he tearfully admitted that, although he cared about me, he wasn’t ready for a relationship at the moment and that even dating would be unfair to me. He said he wanted us to be friends and he didn’t want to lose me. He warned me that, even as friends, a kiss might escape his lips. “You don’t kiss friends.” I told him, “Not like that“. And although I wanna kiss him and hug him and smell him and hold his hand, I won’t. “He can’t just have you on lay-away“, said my mom this morning. “Yo do that with clothes, but not with people“. Hopefully he’ll miss me. Most likely he’ll just move on and once he’s ready to start dating someone he will, but with someone else. And I can’t really change anything. Because even though it may feel like it, it isn’t my fault.

I’m really gonna miss him.