Sex with a Stranger

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Eyes open. 

I am naked in a bed next to a man who is naked.

Heavy, pounding pain with the pace and purpose of a fetal heartbeat fills my head. My mouth and throat are bone dry. My body is heavy and begs me to go back to sleep. Sleep where? My mind snaps me back to my last memory: I am kissing a guy in a kitchen, Eva’s kitchen because that’s where we are drinking. 


I only have my current reality to rely on.

I don’t recognize the room I’m in. I have no sense of what area of the city I am in. I have no idea of when or how I got to where I am now. The reality is simple. Familiar.

The guy I was kissing in the kitchen is the guy next to me. Who else could it be? I sit up. I have a feeling this is his house. What neighborhood am I in? What is his name? I wonder what he remembers about me as he climbs on top of me without asking. This is when I first see his face. He looks older, like in his forties. Does he have kids? Please don’t be married. He satisfies himself in two minutes and finishes what I assume to be our second encounter with an emotionless, “Sorry.” This man does not care about me, an expectation too high for what seems to be another one-night stand.

He quickly gets dressed and walks out of the bedroom. I inherently lean over my side of the bed to grab my clothes which are in a hasty pile on the floor. Always hasty. I hurry to get dressed because I could get lost in this house that I have never been inside. I think how embarrassing that would be, as if what I am to him is not embarrassment enough.

I follow the sound of his body down a long hallway that opens up into a living room and kitchen. His house is nice, but empty. No pictures on the walls or any indication that anyone has been in this kitchen before the two of us right now. He asks if I would like coffee, a hopeful gesture that counters the guilt settling into the tight spaces of my inner being. He hands me a mug of black coffee. He doesn’t offer milk or cream or sugar. Just effortless black coffee because he drinks black coffee. On his refrigerator is a picture of him with two young children. He’s a dad. Is he a married dad? Was he divorced and she took the kids and everything in the house? That would explain the emptiness. Only he knows the answers to my surmounting questions, the most basic of which is, “What is your name?” This man has been inside of my body and I know absolutely nothing about him.

“I’ll drive you home,” he says. Thank God I didn’t drive. I follow him to his garage where we get into a corvette. He has a corvette. Who is this man? I don’t recognize the streets or area of town for about 10 minutes. Guilt builds with every mile. I want so bad to be away from this man. Small talk somehow started, but I have no remembrance of anything accept he said something about his father. The nice house, the corvette, the entitlement to a body that is not his, the mention of his “father.” I text my friend who I am staying with for the weekend. “A really old man is driving me to your house.” 

I don’t know what either of us said once we arrived at my friend’s house and I got out of his car. I don’t remember shutting the car door or the walk up my friend’s driveway or knocking on her front door or not knocking and walking in.

“Who is he?” 

My friend, a one-night stander in her own right, laughs as she fills me in. He’s recently divorced, 34 years old but looks a decade older, old money. I don’t remember what she said his name is. My hangover gives me a good excuse to make a quick exit from her house and drive back to my place.

I immediately go to the sink and drink several glasses of water. Then I get into bed and curl my body into the tightest ball possible. I replay what I do remember over and over again, shaming myself with every memory. Eventually I fall asleep. I wake up after a couple of hours. My body is slowly recovering, the pounding and heaviness have eased up just a bit. I drink more water until I can’t fit any more liquid in my stomach. I get back into bed and the shaming picks up where it left off. 

This night was one of the worst one-night stands I’ve had. Yes, I’ve had nights like this before and every time I told myself I won’t do it again. Then I would do it again. But this experience was different. The guilt and shame was tremendous, I realized that I’m no longer young and dumb, the men were getting older and had kids and got divorced. This was my last one-night stand, but mentally and emotionally I was forever damaged. By myself. I damaged myself. All of those nights with all of those men and all of my broken promises to myself to respect my body and know my worth.

Fourteen years have passed since that night but the shame is still raw. I have not yet told my counselor about this encounter or any of the others. I am embarrassed. She is the most objective person in my life and who I’ve told much worse. But I’ve started ranking my “worst.” Where do chronic one-night stands fall on a counselor’s wow-I-cant-believe-she-did-that, there’s-no-hope-for-her radar?

If I read this post out loud, will it lessen the shame? Is forgiveness found in speaking the realities of these nights? Why did I never value my body, at any age, in the first place? Does the answer come if I tell someone the whole of my unwholesomeness? All of this, any of this, do I need answers and big revelations and inner salvation? Or…can I just continue living and going to church and volunteering and loving and laughing and pretending?

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