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I keep the door of my bedroom closed, metaphorically and literally. Sure, I tell numerous off-color jokes alluding to the so-called men that inhabit my chambers. Quite often these jokes are truly nothing more than jokes. I’m a huge fan of innuendo. I find it clever. But I rarely name names and I don’t offer details.

In the past six months I’ve been touched by six men. Three of the six were sexual. Two of those three are “bad” memories. The first three. Sexual. Dark. Quick flashes of blackness. Strange men into strange things that I played along with momentarily just to see how it felt to play along. Psychologically traveling into territory that might turn violent for other people, but I put the brakes on. One boy talked of blood and biting and scratching and painful things that I didn’t understand but I tried to, because in my life I want to understand as much as I can. I didn’t let him bite very hard, and I couldn’t bring myself to share my blood. But even flirting with such darkness left me troubled for a short spell. I was able to arrive out of this place into the sunlight the next day. He left my world before the sun came up, but I doubt the sun ever truly comes up for him.

The following day I got text messages from him about horrible things that happened when he was young. He said it was brought on by our experience together. I felt empathetic yet angry that I was used as a catalyst for someone’s self torture. He said he didn’t know how to say no. I told him he owed it to himself and the people he will be with in the future to learn how to say no. The whole thing left me chilly. Thankfully, Florida heat is healing. And the stories of the other two shall be left untold, but the endings are just as cold.

And now my thoughts turn to warm hands and warm lips. My best memories of the last three boys are the least sexual of all. The softest lips touched mine late one night after a show in the middle of a deserted street. No one in the world saw and the air was nearly freezing. I was shaking as I was kissed and held in the middle of this street. I didn’t want to let go, only because so rarely do I find arms that I am comfortable with enclosing me. The boy is a kind spirit, perhaps one of the most gentle and bright I’ve known in a long time. If I was younger, maybe I would have fallen in love. I don’t really fall in love anymore. I don’t remember how. It’s foolish and dangerous, but that late night I was reminded of warmth and softness. As I was another night, months later. Heterosexual boy at a bar kissing me. It was a joke to him, and it was a joke to me as well. But I could not help but make believe it wasn’t a joke, and even for a millisecond pretend that it was for real, and realize that that is exactly how it would have felt had it been for real. Even at thirty four years old I somewhere in the hollow of my rib cage I crave the warmth and protection of someone masculine strong but gentle — much like the straight boy who kissed me as a joke. And so goes those moments of temporary and fleeting magic.

The story of the sixth will remain untold.

I emerge from the dark sexuality and unexpected tenderness remembering mostly the warm arms. It feels good to come out of the cold, if even for a moment.