Where It Grows

Standing naked in the university health center, I wonder what the sheet is for. I’m here for a yeast infection; I know she’s going to need to look at my vulva. When nurse Cathy walks in she shields her eyes. The sheet is to cover you up, she says.

Sitting on the table with my lap covered by shivering paper and my feet placed in metal stirrups and only now is it okay for her to see my nakedness, separated from my torso and my body and my being and the face with the mouth that said no when she asked if I used birth control but none of my partners could get me pregnant.

Earlier she asked if I was a volleyball player. All the spandex can get to you. She is sympathy. I do not play volleyball. You have thighs like a volleyball player, she informs me. This through my jeans, so it’s still an okay thing to say. Later when I stand shameless and naked, she hides from me.

She explains how she’ll have to place a swab into my vagina apologetically. I say it’s fine and mean it. She is comforting something or someone that isn’t me, an imaginary patient who is quivering.

It’s probably just a yeast infection, but it’s good to know for sure. You’re at low-risk for an STI. I start to stand but she says, I’ll go out into the hall so you can change back into your clothes. I wait this time, so my nudity won’t make the nurse uncomfortable.

+++

Underdressed and unprepared in the restaurant, dark, lights half dimmed by caps surrounding them like white fists. Roommates tell alcohol tales: keg stands and boys with meaningless names. The cake waiting at home is ghetto because the icing is clear and colorless, but birthday girl is pumped anyway.

We listened to rap on the way here, but here, everyone is white (except for the servers, a progressive move except whites have always been cool with being served by black people). Roommates compare alcohol tales; food arrives, skins and meats and sauces I can’t pronounce. White girls share, White girls moan in ways they never do with boys with beer-slick fingers and hair parted just enough to the side that they look like they maybe smoke weed, but still close enough to center that they don’t get mistaken for liberals; White girls curl their toes, flesh so flavorful they can’t stand their own skin.

I eat my baby spinach salad, $7, drink from my miniature water glass, tiny because rich people want you to buy, no free. Roommate stands, asks white girl host for bathroom (I’ve had to pee since we got here, too afraid to rise, reveal brown cottage cheese thighs in too short skirt for rich white people restaurant); I wipe piss from the toilet seat because even rich white people miss, sometimes, I pee, pull up TJ Maxx boyshorts marked in the crotch by wet spots from where girlfriend kissed me before heading to her own place, leaving me as the damp, solo queer.

Roommates and I talk about who will have kids first, who will marry first, and I don’t come up even though I’m the only one in a relationship.

Roommates toast to finding funny husbands, because funny men are all you need in a romance.

+++

Loitering on the playground of our old elementary school, Rachel said she couldn’t visualize herself with a husband ever. Couldn’t see a man there, in her house, tossing a ball around in the backyard with her kids, coming home from work, closing the garage door, tripping over her shoes left on the floor.

Middle-school-me knew it was just because her parents were divorced, she hadn’t seen how a happy marriage could look. The only possible explanation for not wanting the white wedding dress and a man’s toothpaste-spit in your sink. Keep an open mind, you might be surprised, I told her, self-sure.

Last week, I freaked. When the person I’d been seeing for months said, You are more to me than just a casual hook-up. Too much commitment in a simple statement of fact. While Rachel paints word pictures of the happy home and marriage she and her girlfriend might have in Oklahoma.  And her girlfriend laughs, and plans to hire me to kill the chickens they’ll be too squeamish to. Can we even get married in Oklahoma? she asks.

Probably not, but no one is sure. Or maybe the ban was overturned, but who knows what that means. Means at the very least that all our neighbours would wish they couldn’t if they could, would grit their teeth as they walk around the block holding hands. My hands visualize wringing the chicken’s neck and tighten.

+++

I’m standing in the grocery store balancing cloves of garlic in either hand. They are for my vagina. My girlfriend stands a few feet away putting apples into plastic bags. She eats them almost every day, apples and peanut butter. She does it to help her shit. Girlfriend comes and stands behind me, apples in a bag. I’m still weighing my garlic. My friends get yeast infections, too, but not like this; if they are like this, I don’t know about it.

I turn to my girlfriend. Which one of these looks like it would fit in my vagina? I didn’t even trust my last girlfriend enough to cum, didn’t want to give her that power to hold over me; power dynamics fuck up relationships real quick. This girlfriend and I discuss shitting, something I’ve never done as someone who hid deeply in the safe space of Girls Don’t Poop. With Girlfriend, I poop, and I have the best sex I’ve ever had in my life.

When I shit, I kick Girlfriend out of the room. She hangs out in the living room down the hall. Once, my roommates found her there. Where’s Rachel?

Shitting, she told them. I could hear their startled laughter all the way down the hall and over the rumble of the bathroom fan. I don’t talk to my roommates about shitting. I don’t trust them. Power dynamics fuck up relationships real quick.

You can’t cut it, right? Girlfriend says of the garlic cloves in my hand. I imagine garlic fumes slicing through the scratches I dig into my vagina when the itching gets so bad I can’t sleep.

I don’t think so. I hold the cloves closer to my face, squint. How big is the inside of my vagina? I contrast with three fingers pulled together. A few inches, maybe? I like to think I’m good friends with my vagina, but I can’t even imagine its width. I think I owe it an apology for our faux friendship, for thinking I knew its being better than I really do, really care to.

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  • Ormond Otvos

    Nice skating around the rim of disgust.

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