g r a v e l
A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
Photo by Brad Garber
We’re playing this game where he has to pull out just as he climaxes, disallowing his sperm to play house with my egg. I know it’s coming, the mighty interruption; I see it in his open mouth, drooping eyelids, the bead of sweat about to make its descent from his forehead to meet my own.
Twelve years prior, when I was 18 and just getting to know this act, I would’ve appreciated his good timing. After all, there was college to finish, a career to establish and my figure to protect. At 18 and 22 and even 26 and 28, I was much more vigilant than I am today about my sacred freedom sans baby.
But there’s something about this age 30. Its roundness and heaviness mocking me with my flat belly and petite breasts. Urging me to stare a little longer at the confident looking woman pushing the pram through the shopping mall.
“Now that’s a woman,” 30 taunts.
Criticizing me for my extended vacations and generous savings account.
“What a selfish life you lead!” 30 ridicules.
Warning me about my future romantic prospects.
“You’re looking at a lifetime of alone if you don’t learn how to keep a man.”
I want to punch 30 in the face.
Yet, as much as my biological ticking bomb of a clock taunts me, I make it a priority when I meet a man to talk about everything but.
“Baby-hungry women are such turn-offs,” my 26-year-old self says.
“Men are more attracted to spontaneity and adventure and I’m free to do what I please!” my 23-year-old mentality chimes in.
“There’s still so much time. The right guy will come along at the right time and it’ll all just happen.” That’s 18.
God, what I would give to be 18.
We’re playing this game where he just finished climaxing and as he hands me the tissue to clean up his mess, I sigh and pretend I am satisfied. He lies down beside me, his warm body spent. But instead of cuddling up next to him, I reach for my bra.
Erica Garza’s essays have been published by HelloGiggles, Hot Metal Bridge, Airplane Reading and ¡LatinoLA! She earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Columbia University and is writing a memoir about obsession called Hairywoman. Born in Los Angeles, she has spent most of her adult life traveling.