I’m dressed in black – boots, tights, dress, coat. The only flash of colour is my purple cardigan. And underneath: peacock blue underwear. Matching.
‘You look nice,’ my boss says. I’m wearing lipstick, too.
‘Thanks,’ I say, and I don’t even think she means I look like shit on the days when I rough dry my hair and don’t leave time for make up.
What I don’t say is: ‘I’m going to get laid tonight.’
Sex is still rare enough in my life that I savour the days when it’s pretty much a sure thing. My body knows, too: all day there’s a steady throbbing between my legs and I’m wet already.
The promise of sex steadies me. My mind, normally muddied with a thousand shadowy fears, is clearer, more focused. I’m dangerously close to calm.
Out of my own head, the world is brighter, warmer. I start to shed my anxieties long before I shed my clothes. It starts with the anticipation and the anticipation makes me notice stuff. The colours of the tulips outside the newsagent, every mouthful of my morning croissant, the bass line on … yeah, ok, the bass line on the Take That track I’m listening to. Other people run to find this kind of peace. I fuck.
I’ve yet to find a sport that provides me with the kind of stress relief I’m looking for. Walking, swimming – both leave me too alone with my thoughts. Neither hurts enough to ground me, to force me to focus on the physical, rather than the intellectual. And god knows I need that. I’m *always* too caught up in my own head. I can go to a Zumba class and for an hour or so afterwards I can float on the endorphins. As the tiredness kicks in, so does the come down.
The come down after sex happens too, in the end, but not so suddenly. The boy and I have learned, finally, to harness that: if he fucks me first, there’s a good chance a fight won’t ensue, no matter what we need to discuss. Issues don’t seem so big, so insurmountable, once the smell of his aftershave is in my hair and my mascara is smudged.
It’s a good time to eat, and talk about the fun stuff. Writing, books, travel. The storm that was brewing between us has burned itself out and I’m actually grounded in the moment. I no longer crave the cool acidity of Sauvignon Blanc – what I want is something smooth and red, and bread to dip in the leftover gravy when we’ve finished our meal. I want to sit in a pub with burgundy walls and dripping candles and remember why we’re stlll here, still trying.
And I can, because of endorphins and oxytocin and all that other shit. Because sex, unlike anything else, has the power to unite my mind and body and to make me feel alive.
The following morning I get up, shower, and dry my hair in front of the mirror. My tits, my neck and my arms are scattered with bruises the colours of January sunsets. My mind is peaceful. Maybe some day I’ll find a better solution, but for now, exercise helps me escape from myself. And sex? Sex lets me find myself again.