(While I'm making a quick trip south to visit my dad this week, I'm reposting a few older entries. They might be favorites to longer-term readers; to newer readers they might be completely new. For Monday through Wednesday, I'm posting the first few of "A Sexual Education" in the order in which they happened, which is completely out of order from the way I actually wrote them.)The attic of my parents’ home was an unfinished space that lay up a flight of stairs from my bedroom. In the winters, chilly air from outside blew in under the eaves and rendered it the chilliest place in the house. Summers, the sun baked the roof slates and turned the attic into a hotbox. My parents used the room for storing luggage, boxes of Christmas decorations, and old books. Even though the door to it sat in my bedroom, I rarely opened it growing up, except to toss my dirty clothes in the hamper just inside the bottom of the stairwell.
Until one early summer day when I was ten, that is. I remember the day well, because it started with me being restless. I didn’t want to go outside. I didn’t want to ride my bike around the neighborhood. I just wanted to be alone. Like, really alone, away from everybody I knew. I didn’t want anyone to find me. I shut myself in my bedroom with the door closed and either played with toys or more likely read a book or something.
But that wasn’t enough. My bedroom door was always sticky, due to not being fitted properly. It didn’t so much shut, as wedge itself firmly stuck and leave a large crack at points through which one could have slipped a small hand. That day, I needed privacy.
After tossing and turning on my mattress for a while, or trying to get some solitude on the floor on the far side of my little single bed, I eventually turned the knob to the attic door. I pushed past the hamper and up the stairs, which were usually cluttered with objects that my parents meant to take up among the other storage boxes, but had a tendency to sit there for months and years before they remembered. I pulled shut the door behind me.
Upstairs in the attic, the temperature had to be in the nineties. The air was still, hot, and stuffy. A thick layer of dust lay over everything. I sat on the top step and tried to read my book, but I was still restless. My eyes danced over the pages, but absorbed nothing.
I don’t know what it was that called me upstairs that morning, but I knew that the attic was where I had to be. I was totally alone, and unobserved. No one knew where I was. I set down the book, and decided to explore. With my pants and shirt off.
What motivated me to remove my clothes, I didn’t know either. I remember justifying to myself that it was hot up there, and that I’d be more comfortable naked. Perfectly logical, right? Even I knew that the attic was a splintery place where I could cut or jab myself with one wrong move, but for some reason, I really wanted to be naked, and alone.
I was looking for something. I didn’t really understand for what. I picked through old books and wandered around, treading carefully so no one would hear my footsteps below. It was only after several minutes that I happened upon the guitar box. It was a simple scalene triangle of a box, made out of sturdy corrugated cardboard, which once held an acoustic guitar my parents had purchased with S&H Green Stamps. Something about the box appealed to me. I pulled it out and set it on its side, so that the longest side protruded up and away from me, like a ramp, and straddled it.
At first I played as if I was riding the box like a horse. I sat down and held it tight between my legs, and rubbed my groin against the cardboard. The box’s edges dug into my thighs, but I kept going; it felt as if I’d found what I’d been searching for. My dick was hard, though I didn’t connect the erection with any of the feelings that I was experiencing at the moment. A hard-on was something that simply happened from time to time, and usually in the mornings. All I knew is that I wanted to push at the box with my midsection. I wanted to rub against it. Because the rubbing was making me feel good.
Like I said, it was hot in the attic. Perspiration started to dot my brow. My nose was itchy and running from the dust in the attic, but I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be there with that box, humping and rutting against it. My knees were on the attic floorboards at this point, and my little body’s torso was lying on the upper half of the box, crushing it slightly, but I didn’t notice anything except for the increased beat of my heart and the glorious feelings in my middle. It felt like I tickled all over. It felt like I was waiting for Christmas, with a delicious anticipation I’d never felt before. I was both half-asleep and barely conscious of my surroundings as I humped and squeezed with mounting vigor. And yet I was supremely alive for what felt like the first time, feeling things I didn’t know my body could feel.
My chest start to heave. I remember biting my lip and hissing. Then something happened. Heat seemed to course across my entire body, radiating out in waves. I shivered and shook. It felt like I was blooming like a flower, opening up petal after petal until I was laid wide and bare for the world to see. The flush seemed to last forever. It made me tingle all over, and quiver. For a long, long moment, I felt as if I dissolved away and became nothing, and the universe flowed in to take my place. I’d never felt so beautiful before, or so expansive.
Or so scared. The wonderful feeling subsided. The universe ebbed away, leaving me in its place. I wondered if I’d died. Or come close to it. Once I’d recovered, I found myself standing up with shaking legs that were sore from so tightly clutching the box between them, wondering if maybe I’d experienced a heart attack. Or heat stroke. It had to do with the heat, of that I was convinced.
I felt like I’d peed or something, but nothing had come out of my softening penis—not at that age. Suddenly I was aware of how naked I was. I rushed for my clothes, and put them back on, then grabbed my book and went back down the stairs. Once I was back in my room with the attic door shut behind me, I basked in the cool air and tried to breathe again.
Something momentous had happened, up above. I knew that for sure. I was aware the basic facts of life, but I knew nothing of what I’d just done, for the very first time in my life. I didn’t connect the feelings I’d had up above with my limp penis. I didn’t know if I replicate it again. Or if I even should.
I spent an awful lot of time that summer finding out, though.