In My Here, In My Now, In My Body by Christie Tate

Editor Carrie Ivy, Editor's Choice, March 16th, 2018

"This was goodbye to the tethers of repression and approval and virtue..."

Christie Tate Editors Choice NAILED Magazine

A personal essay by Christie Tate.

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He was an intern at my law firm, and he dressed like he was still an undergrad at University of Wisconsin. He drove a shiny black SUV that his Daddy paid for. He went out every night to cheer the Chicago Bulls or eat at the latest sushi hot spot. He was twenty four, but he seemed like a boy–wild, arrogant, bi-curious, fond of cocaine, and determined to one day marry a nice Jewish girl.

And there was me. Named after Jesus Christ himself, and also, a sober, scrappy, devoted rule-follower, and paver of her own way. A 30-year-old spinster. When he emailed me and we began to flirt like two highly charged batteries with above-average verbal SAT scores, I was amused. I like words, smart guys, and novelties. What were a few emails between a practicing lawyer and a job aspirant?

“Will you let yourself have an orgasm with him?” asked my therapist.

Wait. What? He wasn’t a prospect, he was a plaything. Someone to taunt through cyberspace with references to Mr. Rochester and my liberal politics. I thought I was in recovery from playthings.

“No, you’re in recovery for refusing to play.”

“So he could be, like, practice?” That answer got two thumbs up from the Good Doctor.

“Someone to help you shatter the cage of your family history of addiction and violation, all of which is dressed up as morality.”

My accomplice, the beautiful boy-toy, had washed the car, made a hip hop mixtape, and picked a trendy restaurant that specialized the artisanal pickles.

When I said yes you can kiss me, and yes, I’ll stay the night, the glass walls shattered all around me. I leaped over the shards and ran down the hall, leaving the cage and that rigid old script that had stiffened and disintegrated to bits. It fluttered in illegible, yellowed pieces behind me.

That first night, sprung from my cage and out in the open air, I gulped the fresh oxygen in huge, heaving breaths.

So this is what it’s like to snatch my body and its pleasure back from all the greedy hands that had staked a claim on it. Now it belonged to me.

My lungs were full of the same air that belonged to my city, the sky, and my young lover with the Al Green on his stereo and the adorably cliché leather couch.

My skin sizzled with touch and had no narrative beyond the word “More.”

My roiling insides obeyed my single agenda: pleasure.

I wasn’t leaving without my orgasm. Doctor’s orders. Five minutes in his bedroom was all it took. His tongue on my neck was a song I’d never heard.

My mind was right there in the room, right there in my body. Not on the ceiling, not on the balcony, not in Goddamned Texas, or in a 12-step meeting.

In my here.

In my now.

In my body.

This was what it meant to fuck without having to save anyone, not your own soul or your partner’s. This was sex without looking over your shoulder at your mom or dad’s ghost. This was sex that obeyed the laws of pleasure–and the number rule of pleasure is that family members must wait in the car. Or stay home with their frowny faces, criticisms, tsk-tsks, and Calvinist-Catholic-misogynist blah blah blah. Their bullshit belongs somewhere by the side of the road.  This was the end of fucking according to their rules.

This was a space for Yes and for More. It was bodies without promises and narratives without arcs.

This was the new birthright, which was actually the old one that got lost in the crawl space in the walls of the Dallas home of my childhood or tucked away in that old woven beach bag we took to Padre Island. This was three orgasms in and then bursting into tears, telling my plaything that I love the smell of bleach in his bathroom and the thing he did with this tongue back there and that he can fuck right off for voting for George W. Bush and for his Jewish-girls only policy. But none of it was a deal-breaker or deal-maker. It was just two bodies, clean sheets, and all that fresh air.

The story’s not about him, even though I want to tell you more about how fucking clean his bathroom was. He must have scrubbed on his hands and knees with that bottle of bleach. But I did the heavy lifting.  When he rattled the lock, I kicked the door with both my feet and slammed my body against it. I scrambled to freedom, one orgasm at a time.

This was nobody’s secret and nobody’s business. It was present day. It was Chicago with its sooty Jeweler’s building, horizon full of lake, and the moon winking over the el train.

This was a break in the old narrative kept me small and brittle and a million miles away from my own pleasure. This was goodbye to the tethers of repression and approval and virtue; a sloughing off of “but what will they say?” and “what’s going to happen?” This was the family scapegoat slipping through a hole in the fence and running for the horizon.

I never looked back.

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Header image courtesy of Mojo Wang. To view his artist feature, go here.

Christie Tate Editors Choice NAILED MagazineChristie Tate is a writer and lawyer in Chicago. She is working on a memoir, How to Change Your Love Life in 800 Therapy Sessions, about her many, many adventures in group therapy. Her work has been published in The Washington PostThe Chicago TribuneMcSweeney’s, and Brain, Child.


Carrie Ivy

Carrie Ivy (formerly Carrie Seitzinger) is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Ivy is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.