Through the closed lids of my eyes, I feel the morning sunlight streaming in.
Hey, it’s the weekend.
I take inventory of my brain for traces of a hangover.
We’re in the clear.
And then I check for any activity that might be stirring in the netherworld between my legs which has, of late, been about as playful as a schoolmarm.
I can hear Chris breathing beside me. Sweet beautiful man, and yet for weeks now no amount of touching or stroking or licking on his part can bring back the phenomenon of rapture, nothing eases our hearty pursuit of it. Chris has tried, I’ve grimaced.
Sex-wise, everything was going great until I hit 50. Because it had been so easy before, I couldn’t understand why climaxing had become like trudging up Mount Washington with a dead body strapped to my back.
A quick Google search advised me to: “Get a pedicure, touch up your roots, spritz on your favorite perfume, get some exercise, schedule your sex, add a toy or two, try porn…”
But lately I’ve wondered if this was about something that KY Jelly can’t fix.
Hidden in my bedside drawer are sweet almond and rose oil and some ylang ylang I got at the organic food store. These oils are aphrodisiacs, but they are also antidepressants, hypotensives, nervines, and sedatives, and while I want that man sleeping beside me to slip inside and have a go, there’s also a reason I want the regular, easy cures to work.
I don’t want to acknowledge the changes going on in my 50-year-old body, the fact that I am no longer wet at the drop of a man’s hand feels like a failure somehow.
And, because I feel like a failure, I’ve been avoiding my body and therefore my self-Reiki practice. Reiki, a wild healing energy we can apply to ourselves, seeks out what’s maligned and out of whack in the body — blocks to creativity, depression, grief. It’s a catalyst to deepening spirituality that can offer glimpses of the divine.
On this Saturday morning with the aromatherapy hidden in my bedside table, I think: And isn’t sex divine?
With self-Reiki, you put your hands on yourself (absolutely anywhere, it really doesn’t matter… your arm, your belly) and bring your life force through your hands and into the body.
So, on this light-filled Saturday morning, because I am dying (literally) to be with the guy I used to crave, because last night during a scotch-induced haze I fell asleep while he was saying, “How about this?” and I was saying, “Nothing,” I put my hands on my abdomen and start.
My hands get warm, and I feel a deep sense of relaxation, not sleep but something wider, more alive.
That energy, whatever it is, doesn’t care whether you can have sex or not, how old you are, if you are getting a pudge around your middle, how many wrinkles have settled around your eyes.
Time slips away, I slip away, all that remains is blissed-out peace. Like drinking a martini — without the edge.
When I finish, I eyeball Chris. His eyes are half-mast, he’s styling an alfalfa hairdo, an imprint from a crease in his pillowcase runs across the right side of his face.
Not exactly a turn-on, but I don’t care. “Let’s give it a go,” I say.
Being a man in love (if he’s not too far under the influence of scotch), Chris is always ready to give it a go.
With a blind hand, I pull the end table drawer open and fumble for oil I concocted from the health food store.
Forget the sticky KY goop, this stuff glides like heaven.
Chris gets his hands on the love rub, goes about the business of inducing the hopeful rapture amid my numb equipment.
I anticipate the onslaught of banter that has ensued for the past few months like doc to patient:
“How about here?”
Those myriad times when I can no longer tell if his are the hands of a green gynecologist or a prospective cow buyer at auction.
But today something whispers: Hang in, be still.
Stop trying so hard; relax. Look, there, out into the horizon.
That little voice sounds suspiciously like my intuition. I don’t hear it very often, mostly because I’m too busy listening to the voices saying I’m not supple enough, pretty enough, I’m past my prime…
The horizon? I ask it.
Behind your eyes.
There’s a horizon in my head?
Just close your eyes.
The atmosphere changes.
And the change is charged.
“Here?” asks Chris.
Humidity — wet blanket type — sweeps in.
The storm hits.
The rapture fills me — a delicious swell that comes from the bottom of the ocean, too big to be experienced but a moment or two.
The wave recedes, leaving me pie-eyed, legs in rigor, fists clenched tight.
I look to Chris, who is hovering over me, his expression one of delight, the crease from the pillowcase stretched thin against the smiling muscles of his cheek. Given that he has a technical mind and has a limited repertoire of reactions, it’s rather comical.
“The self-Reiki,” I say, “the essential oils.” I catch wind of my torso. It’s charred in places and emits wisps of smoke.
We may have a formula to bring about a bit of the ol’ spark.
As the blood begins to seep back into my flesh, I let out a laugh — ribald, raucous. Besides having a great partner who will push and prod without feeling like a jackass, and will let you get as woo-woo as you want in the sack, I no longer feel old. Sex can last until 90. We just need to nurture ourselves in order to feel sparked about anything, including our libido.
And, in order to feel the wonders of the Universe, we need to let go and let god, whatever the hell your definition of god is, to be a part of it.
This essay appears in the anthology, Unmasked: Women Write About Sex and Intimacy After Fifty.