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My Jersey Shore

20 Jan Posted by in • Guest Writers | Comments Off on My Jersey Shore
My Jersey Shore

My first ‘long term’ college relationship lasted almost three years. Annie was a sailor born and raised on the Jersey shore.  Her last name was Italian, but her world was in a universe very different from the popular cable TV show.  Her Sicilian American father held the highest civilian security clearance in the local military fort.  Her Anglo Irish mother was a former nurse from London.  Their anglicized home sat on a point of land jutting out into the Shrewsbury River, with a large yard.  Across the road there was a floating dock where she and I made love in the moonlight.  Sooki and the Situation were nowhere in sight.

I met Annie at a Furies meeting, a famous feminist collective that a freshman decided to recreate in her college dorm room.  Annie had long blond hair, a large nose, husky voice, wore an expensive Irish hand knit sweater, and was pretending to read the front page section of the New York Times.  We discussed her dislike of mayonnaise and her extensive knowledge of radical and lesbian feminism.  She was sober and a former high school basketball champion.  I was pretending I lived in Bloomsbury.  We were strongly attracted to one another.  She pulled out a pair of dice and rolled to see if she would go to a party with me.  We spent almost every day of the next three years together.

Annie was the first woman sailing instructor at a yacht club on the Navasink River, and she taught me how to sail a comet dinghy and forced me to be her 420 crew.  One day in a storm, Annie and her friend Anita almost got me killed by giving me the boom vang on a borrowed racing sailboat.  I had to loosen a slide, adjust it and duck as the boat pitched in heavy wind and waves.  Booms and masts snapped on other boats that day but we ignored the club horn calling off the race.  We claimed to have won by surviving the course.  I never lost my fear of deep water, never mastered sailing, yet survived hiking out in a trapeze, falling in, flipping over, because I was in love.

Indoors, I was so aggressive that my passion knocked her off balance.  Inside libraries, meetings, classrooms, and where homework was crafted, I ruled desks, beds and social organizations. Annie knew how to challenge me. I loved the roar of her motorcycle.  I held on to my lover, content to let her drive.   We rode out to the ocean, strolled down the beach until we found the dying embers of a bonfire with a log of dried driftwood dwindling in the coals.  I lay in her arms.  Our hands slipped into one another’s shorts.  She loved me, watching the lights of Manhattan far across Raritan Bay and the mouth of New York Harbor reflect off of the sand and cool salt water.

Like many lesbians I am butch and femme, top and bottom, mustache and muff.  I feel the two roles are whole in who I am.  My lover must be confident and strong enough to know both sides of my sexual persona.  From experience I know my behavior responds to the person I love.  Lately my body has to respond to the onset of arthritis, slowing metabolism, the challenges of natural aging.  Other authors have called the knowledge of multiple selves by gendered labels, gender queer, queer, lesbian, butch femme, the list has not stopped evolving with our experience.  Whatever we name ourselves, we are all winners for surviving the course.

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