Seeking Flings—Then Giving Them Up

In my mid-30s, my initial confidence level with attractive men didn’t match my perception of enduring relationship success; I felt doomed to fail on a protracted timeline. In this instance, and others, I chose to pursue someone based on the short-term nature of the possibilities. I knew I had Jack that first night. Boys like me; that doesn’t mean they stick around, so I was now choosing men who wouldn’t.

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God, Masturbation, and Other Mistaken Beliefs in Rural Oregon

In bed at night at 12, I still prayed as I had as a child, but instead of my lists of blessings and natural disasters, I began asking for the strength to control myself, and, when that failed, I would bargain for forgiveness. I offered up whatever I could think of in order to relieve my sense of guilt. People were sure to tell me masturbation was wrong, but no one ever told me you weren’t suppose to bargain with the Lord. My version of him was more like the witches of fairy tales, or the dealer of a high-stakes poker game. I reasoned that misbehaving would weaken my hand, making God less likely to protect me against death. 

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My Weekend as an Addict

I always feared I would die with a face of porcelain with no evidence of a life lived. No wrinkles by my mouth from too many smiles, no lines framing my eyes from too many days spent squinting in the warm sun. A few months back, I met a man and I saw in his face the lines of a journey. I saw a life. The first night we met, we walked around lower Manhattan for far too long so said the blisters on my feet. 

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Yes, It Happened to Me...I Was Sexually Assaulted on the Subway

Some might think New York City is an odd oasis from California, but undisturbed subway rides allowed my mind to wander the way it never could in Los Angeles traffic. I was in my 20s, relatively young to my transplant to New York City, when I rode the subway half a dozen times a day for multiple part-time jobs. I worked with patients in community mental health clinics throughout the city, and with this hectic schedule, the subway afforded me an ironic luxury of being lost in my thoughts. 

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I Did Bath Salts for 6 Months

I never quite knew if my internet friends were chemists themselves or if they were friends with chemists, but they knew a whole lot about drugs. For about six months, they mailed bath salts to my parents’ house. I lived there again after getting kicked out of bible college again, then moving to Minneapolis and giving all of my money away to homeless people and amnesty international and Philip Morris USA.

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If These Thighs Could Talk

Remember when we crossed the bridges of London? of Paris? of Florence? The beaches of Goa? of Barcelona? of Cartagena? The streets of Bangkok? of Tokyo? of New York City? Nobody held your hand.

Photograph by the magnificent Mayan Toledano via  The Arduous

Photograph by the magnificent Mayan Toledano via The Arduous

BY ERICA GARZA

If these thighs could talk, they’d say:

Remember when we carried you to the finish line of that race in the 5th grade? You were terrified to fail in front of all those people. But you didn’t. You won. It was the first time you became conscious of this fact: fear doesn’t always equal truth. Sure, your lungs deserve some credit. But let’s face it. We were the main attraction that day. Steady, consistent, infallible. We made it, you and us.

Remember when you decided to walk up to him, that first him, and tell him what you thought? Yes, even when your knees got weak, your head got dizzy, your throat got tight (they’re such suckers for romance!) we held you up, strong and present. We didn’t let you melt into a pool of emotional goo.

Remember when you made that decision to open up, to allow that other him to enter, to fill up, to join you on that most delicious evening? We were there too. Inviting, welcoming, excited.

Remember when you made that other decision to refuse, to deny, to trust your gut, to say, “No, I don’t want to,” and so we didn’t; we took with us our decision and went the other way.

Remember when we made our way across the dance floor, even with your shaky hands and feeble explanation of not having any rhythm. Your hips told a different story, and so did we.

Remember when we climbed the steps to the top of Il Duomo? to Sacre Coeur? to the oldest nunnery north of the Alps?

Remember when we crossed the bridges of London? of Paris? of Florence? The beaches of Goa? of Barcelona? of Cartagena? The streets of Bangkok? of Tokyo? of New York City?

Nobody held your hand.

But, we, we held your body, your heart, your will.

You made the decisions, even when they didn’t make sense to anyone but you, and we collaborated, we conspired, we came through.

Sorry to saturate you in nostalgia, but now that we have your attention, may we ask then:

Why all the hate? You cover us up from the sunshine like you’re embarrassed to be seen with us. No miniskirts, no tiny shorts, no cute bikini bottom. You grab hold of us as if to strangle us, violently hold us up, then let us fall, again and again, cursing and ridiculing because of this thing outside our control – gravity? Ever heard of it?

And we’re tired, you’re tired, of all the stress you put on us. Let’s be honest, the lunges, the Brazilian workouts, the Pilates, the speed walking, the bicycle, it’s all good in moderation, but you only do this shit when you’re angry at us and you’re never patient. In fact, you’re demanding and cruel and we’ve just about had enough of you.

So ease up. We’re not trying to sound harsh, but all this shit you preach about, you damn well better practice because we’ve got a lot more to see and do in this life and it’s not going to be as fun if we aren’t getting along.

Love us.

Love,
Us


Erica Garza's essays have appeared in Salon, Narratively, Alternet, BUST, Refinery29, Bustle, Vival, Mamamia, Role Reboot, Hello Giggles and The Los Angeles Review. She has contributed food reviews for the publications Maui Now and Brooklyn Exposed  and worked as a copywriter for a digital marketing agency in Manhattan. In 2010, she earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Columbia University and is now at work on her first book. Born in Los Angeles to Mexican parents, Erica has spent most of her adult life traveling and living abroad in such places as Florence, London, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Bogota, Bali, Bangkok, Koh Samui, Chennai, Melbourne and the island of Maui.