Strange words she muses – loss – lost – lose. Something not being where it should be – no longer in the right place; and then there’s ‘should’ and ‘right’. Yet, the loss of mother, fortune, keys, virginity are not at all the same condition, even if they were all to happen to the same person at the same moment.
Lost virginity. Now there’s a thing. Biologically it involves breaking the hymen. Horse riding is alleged to be able to do this, however, so there is clearly more to virginity than the state of a vaginal membrane.
Her virginity was a portal to the right society, the right man, the right life; a matter of principle. So her mother (who was not then dead) had said. She knew, from this same conversation, that there was likely to be blood. So there was, but she, like most young women of nineteen, was used to loss of blood. That was not the issue.
The young man was handsome by any criteria. He had the most graceful back she had ever seen, a smooth brown chest with a gentle dusting of hair down the middle to his navel and below it too, long strong legs, a head of curly black hair and fine shiny black hairs on the top of his wrists and the first phalange of each finger and each toe on his slender feet. His eyes were brown, his black lashes long, his broad smile filled with white teeth and he was a passable dancer. He owned a magnificent motorbike – which she considered the next best thing to a horse – enjoyed reading and gardening and was soft-spoken and well mannered. So it seemed the right time to consider embracing the principle and opening the portal.
The moon was soft through the muslin curtain of her room. She could see, but not too much. She could feel however, far too much. He had grown another limb and it lacked his otherwise gentle good manners. He was slippery with sweat and strange sounds. Surely this enormous body part was not going to be able to find its way into a part of her that struggled to accommodate a regular sized tampon. (She learned later – with children – that she owned an incredibly flexible body part, but that night her own slender brown legs balked at the expectations and it really all became quite difficult).
Still, it happened. She lost her virginity. Felt it thrust up under her heart. (For a while she wondered what happened to her hymen. Did it shred and fall in pieces on the bed mixed in the blood – no semen, he contained that – or did the hanging shreds attach themselves to her vaginal wall like little tags of cling seal, fretting forever at the loss of unity?)
That night when it was all over, and he lay soft next to her with grateful eyes and his gentle smile, she fell headlong into the jaws of relief – and thus, she was initiated and entered the expected society of her mother’s dreams, thinking them her own too, with principles more or less intact.
Many years later, happy years sustained by loving her children and by her studies and the practice of law and entertaining and homebuilding and wife-ing, it dawned on her that she might actually be lost. Thinking it might help, and having made no fortune to lose and having by then lost her mother and many sets of keys, she decided to search for her virginity. She began to explore all the nooks and crannies of her busy life.
One day, quite unexpectedly, she looked more deeply and more softly into the eyes of a woman she had thought of as her best friend until that moment. When the woman’s hand reached out, slowly stroked her check, her neck, her collarbone, the breast above her heart, she felt her virginity stir and she knew with certainty – her principles in uneven motion – that she had not lost it at all.