I conduct myself like a grown ass woman should, in most areas of my life. I haven’t asked my parents for money in over a year, I live in a nice house, I’ve got my own health insurance. Pretty adult-like I’d say. Except in my “love life” apparently I’m still in high school. Literally. I’m sleeping with a guy I had a crush on in high school. Although I consider myself a grown ass woman, apparently I’m still attracted to the same boys I was attracted to as a teenage girl.
The last time I saw High School Guy was seven years ago when I was visiting my best friend Sadie at her college in Rhode Island and we spent one night in Boston where, on a rebound from a recent breakup with my first boyfriend, I ditched her and went home with him. That night, he became the second guy I’d ever slept with, after my four year relationship that took me from high school to college finally ended. Now, seven years later, Sadie and I are home for the holidays and I run into him again, this time at the local bar that serves as an unofficial reunion spot for our high school.
The circumstances are oddly reminiscent of that first night in Boston. Again, I’m with Sadie and we’re both single and aggressively on the prowl. High School Guy shows up and we’re immediately drawn to one another and basically don’t leave each other’s side for the rest of the night. We get drunk and go outside to make out in the cold. He tells me to come back to his place. I feel like I shouldn’t ditch Sadie. I tell her we’ll be back in “five minutes,” which is an unintentional lie. Neither of us has condoms, so he has to pick some up at 7 Eleven. In Boston seven years ago we took a cab to his apartment. In Northern California seven years later, it’s an Uber back to his parents’ house. I seem to remember that seven years ago we were better about using the condoms. This time, he says he wants to come inside me and I let him (I know). Both times, he wants to have sex three times in a row, I come once, and very early the next morning he takes me to meet Sadie and we’re both exhausted and she’s vaguely angry about my ditching her.
High School Guy and I establish that we’ve both lived on the east side of Los Angeles for the past seven years. We make a plan to meet up when we’re back in the city. And we do. I hit him up the weekend after New Year’s and suggest we see a movie. He suggests watching something at his place—I’m fine with this, I’m still exhausted from New Year’s. He texts me that if I haven’t had dinner we could “make something together.” I think this sounds very sweet and date-like. But I've already eaten. I show up and parking is a nightmare in his neighborhood. It’s raining and he doesn’t have a parking pass so I have to circle the block, bypassing the restricted parking signs that are everywhere. When I finally get to his place, he opens the door wearing sweats and his eyes are incredibly bloodshot. He tells me he just smoked and is “very stoned.” I don’t have a big problem with this, I know he’s a stoner and we’ve smoked together before. But I find myself surprised as always by these guys who invite a girl over and then make no effort at all to even like put on some real pants. As a girl preparing for a sex date, of course I showered, shaved, put on sexy underwear, artfully chose an outfit the right amount relaxed and suggestive.
He’s apparently so stoned he’s not able to function at all, so I go get glasses out of the cupboard for the wine I brought.
“So, how were you planning on making dinner,” I joke. He’s sunken into the couch.
I start to peruse the options on Netflix. We settle on Kingpin, which I’ve never seen and he loves. We both love Woody Harrelson, and when I tell him that Woody is like my number one celebrity crush, he seems surprised and encouraged. I get the sense that he likes Woody because he relates to him: stoner, “bad boy” with a good heart, unconventionally attractive but with that charismatic sex appeal. In general, I start to get the sense that High School Guy doesn’t have very high self-esteem. Like he knows he’s stuck in the past but unable to escape it. It seems most of his friends are still guys from high school and I don’t know how that works seeing as most of them don’t live in LA. One of them is his roommate. His room is also a bit of a time capsule, filled with Superman and Spiderman posters, a lava lamp, a Playboy Bunny throw pillow on his bed. Walking in there with the intention of having sex, I suddenly feel like we’re back in high school again, except without all that giddy nervousness.
He is a very intimate, sensitive lover. He doesn’t want to take me from behind or come on my ass. He constantly wants to be face to face, he buries his head in my neck, he thrusts slowly and gently, he wants to come inside me again. As I prod him about the last time he got tested, he reveals that he’s only been with four people in the past seven years. He says he doesn’t like having sex with people he doesn’t know. He doesn’t ask me for my number. Gone is the callous, indignant “bad boy” I thought I knew in high school. As his face hovers inches from mine, I experience the familiar realization that sometimes it’s in the most intimate moments with someone that you suddenly recognize you don’t really know them at all. Again, he wants to have sex three times and I come once. The orgasm is very satisfying, as it tends to be with him, probably because he likes to thrust slowly and sensually rather than the ever-familiar jackrabbit pounding.
The next morning, he shares with me that he didn’t get to walk at our high school graduation because he failed math his senior year. This obviously had a big impact on his psyche, and I feel badly for him. We talk a lot about the guys we knew in high school—most of whom are still his best friends. We talk shit about them and I wonder if he even still likes these guys, or if he’s just settled into the fact that these are his “friends for life.” He tells me about several instances in high school where he and another kid both did something bad (like drag-racing in the middle of the day on one of the residential 30 mile per hour streets of our home town) and only he got in trouble for it. It seems this is a theme for him—getting himself into shit and then feeling like the consequences of his actions are unfair. I listen and nod, understanding but also not really. I wonder, as I often do after sex with the guys I tend to have sex with, what I’m doing here. What brought me back to the bed of this person I slept with seven years ago? Has my taste in men really not evolved at all in the past seven years?
The next week I go get tested, and I spend another week paranoid that I have HIV and/or a baby growing inside me. My period is a day late which sends me into a tailspin of fear and paranoia. I’m on the pill, but I remember after having sex with High School Guy over the holidays, I had been a little late with my first pill of the new cycle, which is a bad one to miss. I finally get my period and breathe a sigh of relief. I think maybe it’s time to be more of a grown up in my sex life. To stop “playing Russian roulette with my vagina,” to paraphrase Jenny Slate’s knocked up character in Obvious Child. I’m tired of going to get tested every time I don’t enforce condom use with a partner. I’m tired of the fear of getting those results. When I was younger, I was so nonchalant about unprotected sex, but now every time I do it my imagination runs wild and that fleeting enjoyment of sex without a condom is simply not worth the stress that follows.
I might see High School Guy again. I don’t know. But I think I’m ready to attract something different. I’m ready to attract a grown ass man. Someone who enforces his own condom usage because he doesn’t want to get a girl pregnant when she has the sole responsibility of choosing to keep it or not, and therefore the power to change the course of his life forever. Someone who is not so flippant with his life decisions. So I don’t have to be the only one making the responsible choice and then feeling bad about myself when I alone fail to do that. I think a grown ass man would be good for me. I think I’m finally ready to graduate.