would you make love to a mannequin? or, an ode to my sexual history

i try to keep the private private. for instance: my instagram is private, my facebook is null. my mom knows nothing about my love life, and my friends think i’ve gone crazy. my snapchat is explicit, but that’s another story. there’s a way in which the private refuses to stay private. you know?

i’ve only ever been intimate with one boy. tristan, his name. we met at music camp, which is about the worst that you can do. but we were young. i was stuck in an extended gone with the wind phase, and when you can’t get your ashley, you go with a rhett. so fuck it.

camp was a magical experience. i remember that it was always cold. we slept outside amongst the redwoods . . . which was cool, until the morning frost hits, and you can’t feel your face anymore. for some reason, no one ever complained of paralysis except for me. but truth be told, the frost wasn’t too bad. since i was always too expressive, it calmed my facial nerves down just enough. now that facial freezes are in vogue, it occurs to me that my early morning freezes were a remarkable precedent.

this was back in the day, before tinder and bumble and class-specific dating. the only matches we were getting were micro-penises, to light the bonfire. things were exciting, then. there was the prospect of the hunt. and we were young enough to confuse mediocrity for melodrama.

i was mesmerized with tristan’s fingers. and his eyebrows, how fine its strokes were! oh, my poor heart. even now i get butterflies at the thought of those eyebrows.

i am convinced tristan is the reason i have only ever dated dark-haired boys. and i remember thinking, if tristan were an event, there would be no before or after. if tristan were the temporal epicenter of my desire, everything would fall prey to his gravity. there is only living in the aftermath of tristan, his shadow stretching longer than the redwoods.

i think about the easy fit of tristan’s eyebrows against my forehead, but i am never able to sustain its sensation for long. tristan has long disappeared. it is a shell of him that haunts me.

i still believe in the prospect of a non-white ashley, but i have joined online dating. for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be gone (with the wind), there is hope for a semi-permanent evacuation. something the shape of a leaning redwood, to warm our cheeks. to put us to sleep.

suiyi tang