I don’t know when I stopped desiring touch.
There were times, before, with boys. We were in close enough proximity, a few hours post- or pre-sex. The non-touching was odd, though indicative of those relationships. They weren’t feely affairs. Still, I recall the occasional draftiness of intense physical attraction without non-sexual touch. It’s evidence I wasn’t always this way.
But years later, with another boy in a not-casual affair, the touching was an invasion. Walking down a hotel hallway or a lit street, he reached. An arm on my shoulder, a hand on mine. Sometimes my shoulders jerked. Other times, my hand shot up as if to swat a fly. “Did someone used to hit you?” he asked, concerned. “Why are you so jumpy?” “No,” I answered, truthfully. “I just have bad nerves.” Also true.
When he slept, he trapped me in gangly limbs. I faked bathroom trips in the middle of the night to escape his clutches and re-settle on the cool side of the bed; free of dead arms, snores, and the heat of his skin. “How the fuck am I supposed to sleep with this 6’3″ man wrapped around me like a goddamned spider monkey?” I complained to friends.
“I didn’t like him enough” is the easy answer. But when I read complaints about single life, I pause when people say they miss non-sexual touch.
Do I cuddle my pillow when falling asleep? And enjoy the security of a heavy afghan on my bed? Yes. But I don’t crave the feel of skin. Or arms locked around me. Or breath on my neck. Even on my longest, most trying days, I want the whole of my bed. To spread and flap like a snow angel if my heart desires. The idea of accommodating another human body with its noises, warmth, weight, and (God forbid) secretions in my sacred sleeping space makes me cringe.
That’s chilling, I say. Even for you.
Maybe it’s like losing a body part, I say. You go long enough without and your body adapts. Like it was never there.
I remind myself that I still run sexually hot. Pads of fingertips, palms of hands, the crook between a man’s neck and shoulders, a flexing back, lips and tongue and teeth. In proper context, it all excites me. So I haven’t completely shriveled up and shut off.