When I was younger I used to dream about the kind of man I wanted to conquer me, the kind of man that was meant to devour me. When I was younger I used to dream about only having one who knew the taste of me; the feel of me, the scent of me.
When I was younger my mother used to tell me dirty jokes with mirth in her eyes and a smirk on her lips. Her pupils shone and a laugh slid from her throat. When I was younger my mother told me be careful who you kiss because from there it’s only slippery. I was eleven, frightened, confused, stunned.
When I was fifteen I was in lust with a Chinese-Vietnamese boy who smiled my name and begged for the first kiss from my lips. I was fifteen, frightened, with my clothes pressed against a boy and his navy blue sheets and the word No repeating through the air. I was fifteen when I saw his frustration, his hardness, his sadness. I was fifteen when I saw the disregard. The selfishness.
I was fifteen, in the kitchen of his home with his mother who told me she was disgusted by my fatness. That she was surprised how I could be Vietnamese if my mother allowed me to end up this way. I was fifteen, frightened, staring into the eyes of a boy who looked away.
When I was seventeen I met a Mexican man who smirked my name and promised me fairytales in first kisses. I was seventeen on my first date at my childhood wharf, impressionable and cradled under a twinkling Christmas-lighted sky surrounded by laughter, lightness. I was seventeen with a man women swooned for, who cupped my face with his hands and breathed promise into my heart. I was seventeen when I said Yes to someone else’s lips. I was seventeen when I felt special, seen, adored. Charmed.
I was seventeen, in the pink painted bedroom of my own home with New Years Champagne on my lips when I found his girlfriend of five years plastered against the same lips that stole mine. I was seventeen, frightened, understanding my mother’s slipperiness.
When I was eighteen I met a mixed boy running away from home who craved the rest of my firsts. I was eighteen, in my first hotel room without my mother, trembling, shaking, crying. I was eighteen when I held the remaining porcelain childishness of myself and violently smashed it against soiled white hotel sheets. I was eighteen, forlorn, pressed against cool white tile with hot tears puddling into my own chest and nobody else to blame.
I was eighteen, staring at his proud smile, with reddened eyes and ruptured skin he later told me he never noticed.
A Korean man drove me home after while I told him the story. I was only eighteen when he asked if he too could have a taste.
I was eighteen when I sat in his car, poor, broken, alone and one hundred miles from home. I was eighteen when I said No, and I was eighteen when he opened the doors of his car and dropped me at a bus station, leaving with the words Call me when you change your mind, I can change your life.
I was eighteen when a Twitch viewer sent me money to cover my overdraft, my bus ticket and a hot meal. I was eighteen when I sat alone, sobbing, on the first AM bus out of San Francisco with an old Asian bus driver that looked like my father who told me I looked like his daughter. I was eighteen when he told me that life has a way of always turning out alright.
I was eighteen, hardened, learning. Hopeful.
When I was twenty I swiped on an Italian Artist in New York who looked nothing like the men in my life and everything like the men in the magazines. I was twenty when I sat on his couch and was melted by his smile. I was twenty when he asked to kiss me and I was twenty when he was gentle, kind, slow. I was twenty when I learned how tongues could pass through smiles and hands could happily, consensually fumble for jeans. I was twenty when I learned how eagerness could be matched and sensuality could be sprouted from adoration. I was twenty when I learned of desire, of heat, of the kind of chemistry that can trickle from two minds and kindle into fire between four legs.
I felt the muscles under his skin and discovered derivatives of passion, of need, that could be possible without fear, revulsion, obedience. I felt the ripples in his stomach echo into deeper ripples of me; pressed the embers of his body against my lips and drank from the freedom of fire from my own creation.
I was twenty when I discovered the traction in my fingers started to fight the slipperiness of my mother’s warnings.
I was twenty, on my back with a smile, in a city for lovers, with a man I’d never see again and a memory set to repeat.
I was twenty when I discovered that the best kind of slipperiness was found nested, resting inside of me.