we wandered the short beach,

eyes downcast,

voices silent.

our eyes searched for the sea glass

that hid in the rocks.

our feet pushed the water worn rocks aside

as we hunted.

i stooped to grasp a piece

of jagged glass

and held it out to him.

he came near, his hand stretched to mine 

and i placed it in his palm.

bright sunlight caught the rough edges.

he held it aloft to let the light

pass through it

as he turned it,

looking, examining.

his hand dropped and

he tossed it back into the waves

with a flick of his hand.

his words to me were   

simple

as he spoke softly.

“it isn’t ready yet'”,

my son explained.

the waves hadn’t worn it down enough.

it was still just glass

that had been broken,

it hadn’t been exposed,

enough,

it hadn’t been weathered,

enough,

it hadn’t been worn,

enough,

to be beautiful.

yet.

I have rarely been called beautiful.

Beautiful is not for girls like me, so I have been told.

I have felt beautiful a few times – but it is not something that I am, so I have been told.

Pretty. Yes, pretty.  

I have been called that often enough that I even believed it sometimes.

Cute, adorable sometimes.

Sweet has been uttered more than a few times in reference to me.

All words that others have used to describe me, to describe who I am.

What I am really, not who; because who I am is what I am of course – and that is wrapped up easily in descriptors of my physical attributes.

These are the words that sprinkle my life like garnish.

Garnish that the entree that is me needs to be adorned with if I am to really be complete.

“Make sure you wear something nice for your first day of school. No one is going to want to talk to you if you don’t look approachable.”

“Smile. You’re prettier when you smile. You’re not going to make any friends if you don’t smile.”

“How are you ever going to find someone if you go out looking like that?”

“You could be so much prettier if you just put in some effort.”

 

Helpful words of advice to the younger me so that I could learn how to perfectly present the commodity of me for approval.

For purchase.

For acceptance.

For friendship.

For love.

I was the best student of these lessons – I always aim to be perfect so why should I not be perfect at this learning after all.

I have known since as far back as I can remember that I am worth something to someone if I am pretty, cute, quiet, polite,well-behaved…good… but mostly if how I look and behave is “right”.

That “right” though is the slippery, elusive, mist-shrouded image always just out of my grasp.  

It is a picture made by someone else that I could never seem to bring into focus.

A picture that I knew held the secret to me feeling “right”.

For so many years, every incarnation of me was shaped to try to fill the nooks and crannies of the boxes that I kept trying to fit into.

Girls that looked like me did certain things – and didn’t do certain other things.

Girls like me behaved a certain way.

They lived inside very specific boxes.

Boxes that fit girls like me.

Except that they didn’t fit me.

They hurt.

Trey pinched and chafed and suffocated.

I tried to pretend that I poured into them effortlessly and perfectly but I could never live that lie for long before the boxes just hurt too much.

Over and over again.

So many times that after a while I didn’t even know what shape I was and what the box would look like that DID fit me perfectly.

 

I felt wrong.

Wrong in a way that can’t ever be made right.

 

It didn’t occur to me that I didn’t need a box to live inside of.

I had learned the lessons so well that I knew – not just knew but believed so deeply that it was truth – that I was not complete if I wasn’t framed in someone else’s parameters.

It never occurred to me that the package that I came in was complete and perfect and whole.

That there is no such thing as “girls like me”.  

That the real truth is that I am the box.

And it is not wrong.

It is right, perfectly right.

And it’s rightness has nothing to do with how it looks.

And that is fucking beautiful.

I stir, trying not to wake her, as I stretch on the couch.
She is next to me, half on me, her body and mine easy in rest; her head on my chest as we both pretend we haven’t been napping.
We are tangled in our version of half-reclined and somewhat upright, still trying to appear not too lazy in the summer afternoon hours.
Eyes closed, I hear the movie that we have dozed through as it plays on, ignored.
White noise.

My arm is tossed casually back over my head; the heat makes me feel languid and I am indulging in it in this moment.
My eyes open slowly as I feel her start to stir.
Her body twists slightly, she turns towards me fully and I feel her sink softly forward onto me.
Her hand rests, seemingly absent-mindedly, on my wrist.
The heaviness of it holds my arm lightly in place over my head.
She moves lazily, slowly, as do I.
Shuffling a bit as we nestle into each other.
I inhale deeply, settle more deeply into the couch cushions, notice the shadows on the wall from the late afternoon sun – and exhale slowly.
Her head leans forward, towards me.
Her lips touch the smooth skin where my arm meets my body.
I close my eyes and let my head drop back on the pillow; the warmth of her breath on my skin tickles me.

The warmth turns to heat as her mouth closes on me.
Her teeth sink deeply into my tender flesh, her body pressing against mine, she bites.
Her bite is steady, unwavering in its intention to both satiate and evoke our desires.
My breath hissing between my own teeth as I inhale sharply.
The searing pain seeps into me, fills me, envelopes me.
A smile plays across my lips.
I feel my body sink even as it rises to meet hers, she moves with me, her teeth never loosening their hold on my flesh.
We dance on the sharp-edged crests of waves made of our flesh.
I surrender to the riptide that wants to drag me down, my body silently begs her to come with me.

She releases from me suddenly, brutally, her mouth wet as she draws away slightly.
There is a spark in her eye that flashes in the sunbeam that plays on her face.
“Foreplay!” she exclaims, laughing as she jumps up and takes my hand to help me off the couch as she leads me to the bedroom.