At least

I am 20. I miss being a teenager. I used to love the look of shock on the faces of my new friends when they found out my age.

20 still sounds so young, I realize now, as I worry like a mother would about my 20 year old friend. I worry about what will happen if she is sweet to the wrong person.

I met him on the internet and a few months later we were fucking in a cemetery. A few months after that and I invited him to accompany me to see an Elliott Smith documentary. I was so lonely. He took my money and bought a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red. I stood far away from the liquor store so no one would see me while he bought it. Before that I met him at the train station and on the walk back to my apartment I had to stop at the store for tampons. “I’m bleeding”, I said. “I don’t want to have sex, that’s not why I invited you here. I just want to see the movie,” I said. “You can still sleep here, that’s fine, there are no late night trains.” I am being sweet to the wrong person but I don’t know it yet. After that I bought his ice cream because I wanted some and he didn’t have any cash.

The most tragic part of this story is not waking up from a Red Label fugue to him inside of me.

At least he removed my tampon first.

The most tragic part of this story was sharing it with a man I really loved and respected and being told, in more sophisticated language, that while the guy was certainly a scumbag, it wasn’t rape.

At least it wasn’t rape.

So for years I didn’t feel I had the appropriate permissions to grieve what was lost that evening. So I didn’t. I would speak about what happened with the same tone I’d use to describe a particularly shitty commute.

I’ve still never cried about this. I don’t know if I ever will.

But I was ashamed about what happened and thought it was partially my fault. But it wasn’t. I clearly withdrew an expected pattern of consent in the CVS tampon aisle. Not even that was enough.

At least I know all of this now at 26. My young friend just turned 21 and I want her to know what I know but I don’t want someone to take something that doesn’t belong to them for her to know it.

When I have a daughter I will take her to the drugstore to buy tampons when she has her first period and I will think about how I will tell her this story.

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