Another unedited excerpt of Wrecking Ball
We’d exchanged daily phone calls ever since discharge. My release had proceeded without a hitch. Hers had hit a significant snag. She didn’t have insurance, but could hardly be blamed for wanting to receive what she assumed was the best care in the city. When her credit card balance began to reach the tens of thousands of dollars, then exceeded its limit, she was pushed out of the facility.
I was lucky because I had insurance. And even then, my claim had been initially rejected, but was only fully covered when charged a second time. I’m not sure what I would have done if I’d had a $60,000 bill staring me in the face. Since then, I’ve learned that this private, for-profit hospital was more concerned with getting paid than with aiding patients. It reminds me of the current state of health insurance. For all of their shortcomings, public plans like Medicare and Medicaid are less rankled with greed, less inclined to rake in money at all cost.
I’d returned home in shame, once more. My year in Atlanta was a disaster, punctuated by an absolutely awful breakup and two hospitalizations within three months of each other. But at least I had her. She was sympathetic to my feelings. If her family had not been in the business of renting houses to fellow townspeople, she’d have had to live with her parents, too. A mother and grandmother owned the house where she stayed.
My parents, out of caution, refused to let me take a trip to see her. In defiance, I stole away from the house, much as I had multiple times before. Five hours later, I arrived, having only gotten moderately lost once. I parked the car in her yard, then saw her shyly make her way out to me. We passed a malfunctioning clothes dryer on my way into the house. When we finally had time alone, we embraced, kissed, then made our way upstairs. Desire fulfilled at last is one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve had the good fortune to experience.
I’ve been careful throughout this book to be tasteful, especially in my depiction of sexuality and sexual expression. If what I’ve written was translated to a feature film, I can imagine writing the scene as follows. The audience would be satisfactorily made aware of what was happening, but only aware enough to establish the context. Two people would begin the process of lovemaking, then the scene would fade to black. However, it seems inauthentic to not provide some depiction of the images that have persisted over the years.
There’s an intimacy present in being astride a partner, smiling down at him or her. Kisses are equal parts tender and ferocious. The act itself seems like a dream. Dead to your surroundings, your universe shrinks. The overstimulated brain lights up. There’s a kind of animalistic single-mindedness present. What one is doing for the moment is the most important act of one’s entire life, or at least it seems that way. And when this most primal, most carnal, most sensual deed is ongoing, nothing else matters.
It lasts for minutes, usually, though all concept of time and space is lost in the ether. When concluded, the senses take a while to re-calibrate. Holding onto one another, mutually processing, both become aware of their own nakedness with time, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I’ve seen the glassy eyed look of a lover pushing herself or himself up on shaky arms, taking stock of the situation. I’ve taken in with my senses a nudity of another sort, the naturalness of that exact moment. Eventually, our brains return to normal waking thoughts.
We spent the whole day together in bed, making love off and on. I suppose the expected depiction would be for me to brag about this experience, as men before me have done. I never much was the kind inclined to kiss and tell, and a cocky, braggadocious swagger is not the pose I wish to adopt in this situation. My thoughts and recollections are usually too tied up in the memory of what happened, and I can’t remove my lover from the equation. I wouldn’t do it if I could.
The cheerfully disoriented nature of sex is what I remember most. On some instinctual plane, I always feel satisfied with myself afterwards. Regardless of the gender of the person who has shared my bed, I believe that I’ve fulfilled some kind of primordial need or obligation. The emotional component is significant, but I do recall a few powerful visuals here and there.
These still images, like memory itself, are randomly scattered and wholly non-linear. I’ve just experienced a personal photo shoot of a sort. In it, the best pictures are pulled out of sequence and put on display. The gallery is my mind. A handful last forever.
While the feeling itself subsides quickly, the photography session of my mind’s eye will never be wiped clean. The feat has always felt like a distillation, a grand encapsulation of the human experience. Why anyone would want to deny this pleasure and corresponding sense of wonder has always escaped me. Abstinence is cruelly restrictive. Sex is beautiful and moving. Instead of taking a holistic view, we are fixated upon the eroticism, the tawdry, and the salacious.
While all are undeniably present, if separated from the whole of their parts, it is only one component and should not be held in isolation. Sex is a gift from God and should be treated as such.