Virginity Diaries: Rose

I can’t give all the credit to Chris for aiding me in my path to sexual discovery and openness, though he deserves a large portion of it. No, I have to thank the sex fanatic, and now dearest friend, that I lived with my sophomore year. Rose.

 

Rose lost her virginity to her high school boyfriend when she was a freshman. And boy, she spilled details. ALL the details. All the time. He lived upstate, and she would visit him every weekend. The best part was her consistent concern about how old he was.

 

“I’m going to jail,” she’d say. “Oh my god, I swear I’m going to jail.”

She was a freshman in college.

He was 15.

 

But she would come rushing back to the city, spilling everything about their juicy hookups, and disclosing all of the gossip she had tucked away in her mind.

 

What I found when I came to school was that there were two types of non-virgins: ones that were in serious, long lasting relationships who seemed to never talk about their sex life; and then there was Rose, whose discovery about sex opened up the world to her, and she suddenly stopped talking about everything else.

 

I really have to thank Rose someday, because if it weren’t for her, I would have never known some of the things about sex that became really useful upon mine very own losing of the virginity. What baffled me about Rose, though, was her distinctly sharp change in beliefs. She was raised as a reformed Jew, and didn’t think sex before marriage was wrong by any means, but she herself had decided to save herself for marriage. I distinctly remember walking home with her one night, and she was talking about the blow job she had just given to this composition major. She was appalled that he had pushed her head down to go deeper (a term I had never heard before this conversation. I mean I was really naïve), and she was convinced she would never agree to see him again.

I heard my mother’s voice in the back of my head saying, “You know what kids are doing nowadays, Michele? They’re having oral sex. ORAL. Do you know what that means??”

My face flushed because of my mother’s embarrassment at the ludicrousness of giving oral sex, and because my own confusion on the subject seemed to scream inexperience.

That conversation happened in November.

In January, Rose was no longer virginal.

 

Rose’s story is much more intricately tied, and will of course be interspersed through the diary for supportive  and illustrative purposes, but when she lost her virginity, she felt “empowered”, not puppy-dog sick like other people I had heard from. Her boyfriend made her feel amazing and incredible all the time, she liked having sex with him. It was a win-win situation.

 

The mini-epiphanies on my journey came in small doses. The first one happened with Rose. It started with the conversations we would have about having sex. And the first one dealt with the question of “losing” something. Why would we say that we’ve “lost” our virginity, if it wasn’t something that was missed when it was gone? Everyone was having sex, and it seemed like nobody cared about the mystical V-word disappearing forever.

 

“Lost” made the event sound one of two things. Either tragic and fatal, like you had “lost” your grandfather; or trivial and confused, like in the way you “lost” your hamster in 6th grade. I wanted to think that the event of becoming a non-virgin it would fall somewhere in the middle of those two things. Important, but not destructive. So I started questioning. I asked Rose what she thought about “losing” it to someone – and she kinda shrugged and then just started talking about how long it had been since she had had sex.

 

So I took the phrase elsewhere. Back to my best friend from Idaho, Julie.

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The Virginity Diaries

The “V” word. Virginity. It frightened me for years.

On the path to losing it (because that’s what I was told I had to do- lose it – as if it were an object I could accidentally misplace or something), I encountered a myriad of opinions and feelings on the topic. I debated it with people from different religions, philosophies and upbringings for years. You could say I actually believed almost every single side of the virginity debate, and quite passionately too, from start to finish on the journey to becoming a non-virgin. I traveled from the abstinence side to losing my virginity in a non-committal, completely casual hookup. But the process took years – and there were many influential variables along the way that influenced my decision to go from virgin to non-virgin. See, the thing is, I don’t find that there is really an adequate term to describe someone who isn’t a virgin anymore. Like non-virgin functions to describe people who have had sex, but it’s not as succinct as virgin is to people who haven’t. So, I guess like the rest of the world, I’ll be stuck labeling people who haven’t had sex as “virgins” and those that have just as “people”, since it’s kind of a trivial thing that shouldn’t define the value, worth or identity of another human being. With that in mind, I’ll proceed with my very own virginity diary.

I was raised a good little Christian girl in the heart of rural America. I went to church in buckled Mary Jane’s and dresses every single Sunday. We went out to brunch after church, and I set up play dates with my Sunday school friends, and I lived merrily in a warm, supportive church community for 18 blissfully unaware, naïve years. I believed passionately and whole-heartedly in the inerrancy of Christianity, and not in some blinded idealistic American philosophy that God was going to bless me with a perfect, large house with a white picket fence and kids and a cherry on top if I just served him. My faith was real, studied, theologically sound and proven, even. Maybe a little misled, but I will never deny it was real. I believed that my belief in Jesus as God guided my opinions, my decisions, and my entire life until I moved out of the house (and even beyond). And Christianity played a foundational role in my understanding of virginity; what it was, what it meant to me, and how it fit into a neat little box on the shelf labeled “not until marriage”.

I left home to move to New York, with idealistic dreams of big city life. Broadway shows, late nights, rooftop bars, and coffee dates a la Sex and the City. And New York became just that to me – the land of possibility and potential – and with its glamour, came a wall of opposing opinions. One of the first people I met upon arriving in New York was Chris. Chris was openly homosexual, an avid agnostic, and a self-identified realist. We became fast friends. At the time, I was trying to prove to him that I wasn’t a stereotypical Christian. I may not have approved of homosexuality, but damn it, I was going to love him like a Christian was supposed to. And my friendship with Chris planted a giant wedge between my religion and my philosophies, one that would only continue to split the two in different directions. Our numerous conversations opened the “not until marriage” box and scattered it across the room. These conversations involved everything from biology to spirituality to gruesome details about upbringings and everything in between. And neat little conservative me began to change. Suddenly, my compartmentalized past was jumbled. An earth quake went off in my mind and I couldn’t sort what was absolute from what wasn’t. And it was the beautiful beginning into deepening my understanding of tolerance and acceptance.

As I grappled with new friendships and new social settings, I met a number of influential people who helped to drastically change my opinion and philosophy on virginity. They became necessary for the shaping of my decisions and my future; which (spoiler alert) results in me losing my virginity. The stories are innumerable.

So as the muse, I invite you to come along. Read my story; send me yours. Let’s start a conversation. As the blog develops, I think I’ll find a more streamlined vision of what I want it to be. I’m hoping it sparks conversation.

Now let’s talk about sex.