Last May I moved to a hot valley in the heart of Colombia where the land’s veins are filled with oil and lungs fashioned from gold. My Mr. works as a human rights defender in a tongue twisting Colombian boomtown, Barrancabermeja. When months apart started leaning into years we decided it was finally time make a home together (there’s an entire Elizabeth-Gilbert-Committed-esque story line in here, but that’s for another time).
When naming 2012 The Year I Don’t Have To Be Good, I was making grand predictions of mornings spent in hammocks, loose fitting linen and hot tropical sex. I even had Mary Oliver’s ‘Wild Geese’ poetry punch line tattooed on my arm.
In my notebook I wrote:
The year I become the queen,
the fierce ruler
of my own criteria.
The year of parking tickets,
running red lights and
walking right off the edge.
The year of lingerie,
mini skirts and
lots of leg.
The year of colorful language,
telling the truth and
Fun will no longer die on my doorstep;
she will be given a spare key,
greeted with expensive wine.
The sensual smelling lotion
will be kept on the top shelf,
with the pricey gin.
Ashes to Ashes style:
Shame will shrivel up,
disintegrate and die.
My breasts will peak out and wink
every morning at the breakfast table.
Not just at him,
but at me too.
If you don’t know by now,
I don’t have to be good.
Yes, I would eat breakfast topless, not due to the early morning heat, but because of the orgasm experienced while our eggs reached a soft boil. Soft boiled eggs are so sexy. When dressing I’d skip the step of strapping on my one fancy bra, not for comfort or strident feminist, but to save precious seconds during the Mr.’s lunch break allowing for more, you know, screwing. And not to be forgotten are those sexy little undergarments I purchased as a declaration of leaving behind the frigid midwestern winter.
This last New Year’s eve, as I sauntered from the bedroom to refill my drink in an oversized t-shirt and mundane cotton undies I found my bra dubiously wrapped around the kitchen stool. Was the misplaced bra a signpost of our careless disregard for tidy in the wake of a rousing round of creative sex in each of our apartment’s three rooms? Did we draw The Year I Don’t Have To Be Good to a close while overtaken by tropical, full moon, heat induced sextasy?
Oh, darling. Touché. So painfully touché.
Rather, our monster of a kitten is obsessed with my bras, even the cheap ones that don’t offer enough support. He fetches one daily from the sweaty clothes bin and carries it around our tiny home in his mouth, getting tangled in the straps with each step.
It’s too hot for sex. I don’t care if you are Dita Von Teese herself, desire does not override 121 degrees fahrenheit. Our monthly budget allows for air conditioning one night a week, but the music from downstairs is shaking our windows and we can’t focus on one another’s bodies. Of course, the frequency of sex is never as simple as the mercury level in the thermometer — though I hoped it would be.
I thought life would be better, moving here to be with my Mr., and not just in terms of sex. I expected the colors to be brighter, my legs to be longer and the oven to, well, bake; I even thought the pollution might be pleasant. I intended be more outgoing and adept to spontaneous outings and adventure. I planned to thrive as a fiercely independent woman, poetry, wit and, yes, sex oozing from my pores. I anticipated an underlying sense of heroism and bravery to buzz beneath my breath, not anxiety.
When my Mr. is out working in the countryside for days on end, there are nights that I lay on the bedroom floor; the weight of my skull pressing my cheek and brow bones against the ceramic tile help me to think more clearly, to remember why I uprooted a life I loved for what I have now.
I mentally scrawl a letter to Death rationally requesting she stay miles from my Mr. as he works, respectfully citing my earnest, his heroism and our notably young age as reputable convincing arguments. I’m much less religious than I used to be, though I do find myself wondering which saint of old I should petition to care for us both while he is away.
In reality, like most of us, I’m nobody’s do-good heroine. As awkward and morally revealing as it may be, I didn’t move to Barrancabermeja, Colombia for pacifism, nonviolence or human rights — not even the sexual underwhelm that was 2012. Instead, I was in Omaha going to work, enjoying porch parties with my friends and and discovering Joan Didion when the heart palpitating in my chest asked, “Don’t you think it’s time?” and in painful earnest I answered yes.
I’ve wondered about that earnest yes throughout the last eight months, not whether I made the right choice, but if I would’ve chosen differently had I known just how hard the change would be for me — that there would be no good olives or warm showers, that I’d feel suffocatingly alone, that we’d be having much less sex that I imagine, that I would develop persistent anxiety and paranoia as the Mr.’s work intensified. There are somethings you just can know.
Like I said, I’m nobody’s heroine. Though, I hear love, even when she wobbles, is pacifism’s fierce second cousin.
Brit Hanson is a poet, digital storyteller and social media tutor at BritHanson.com. She lives in Barrancabermeja, Colombia with her Mr.