I wrote this reminiscence a long time ago, as a chapter in an autobiographical journal. I titled the entire journal, "Running Away from Christmas."
After the waitresses arrived at the hotel, the breakfasts, which were quite early, were a special pleasure. Jan was among them. She was a beautiful, blonde, and vivacious eighteen year old girl from Maine. A girl friend of hers had gotten this job at the Waumbeck, and Jan came along. In her waitresses' uniform, her lovely and buxom figure was enticing and appealing. Soon I looked forward to breakfasts for no other reason than to see her. We met more slowly than I usually remember. Memory collapses the distances and times of waiting, and catapults my remembrances toward the end of our relationship, when we were lovers. But at first, in mid-July, the occasions that I saw her seemed far apart.
Jan's girl friend first informed her that I was "interested" in her. The Inn's staff held a record hop in the Jefferson town hall one evening. Jan was wearing skin-tight blue jeans and a shirt, showing off her figure; she danced enthusiastically without self-consciousness to the rock-and-roll. But I was self-conscious. I sat quietly, entranced, on a metal folding chair to the side of the dance floor, following every pleasant and inventive undulation of her body.
Her girl friend took all of this in. She turned to me and stated the obvious to me, "You like Jan, don't you?" Of course! She told Jan this, who teased me to dance, but I was so afraid of making a fool of myself that I didn't dare. I may have been twenty years old, but these were not twenty years of maturity. Jan was, in fact, although two years younger than me, more mature than I was.
We talked; she laughed - or giggled. She was not educated. She had dropped out of high school to work in a textile mill in her home town, and now had followed her girl friend into the hotel circuit.
I did not ask her out on a conventional date. In Jefferson, there was no place to go for such a date. Rather, one evening at dinner in the hotel employees' dining room, where we all sat around long tables at benches, I asked her if she would like to accompany me into Lancaster, ten miles away. I was going to do my laundry! She thought this was really quite peculiar. It was of course a rather normal sort of college date, but she would not know this. So later that evening, we drove in my rattle-trap Cheve coupe into town. Once my laundry was in the long drier cycle, I invited her to come to the Lancaster diner for coffee and something to eat. We ate English muffins. I watched her drink coffee; she stuck her little finger out, off the cup, in some serious imitation of British tea-party elegance. I was one-quarter amused by this, and three-quarters concerned by the educational and class difference between us.
I was acutely aware of my own prissy reaction to her. I intellectualized every experience with her. I debated her character and style in my mind as if I were trying to decide whether we would be fit material to inherit the crown of England. I knew that this class consciousness was excessive and misplaced. I was vaguely aware that it was an internalized social control - nineteen fifties' style - keeping me out of experiences beyond my depth. I was on the verge of embarrassing myself by my own tight self-control.
She thought I was a strange person. She said later she thought I talked like a book. How correct she was! Of course I talked like a book, that was the only experience I had.
When did we first kiss? I don't recall. We kissed soon, because our relationship advanced quickly. And she kissed with passion - deep tongue kisses that ate at my mouth, kisses of passion that lunged at the precipice of abandon. Kisses for the first time in my life that drew up all the biology our bodies could summon. I was spell-bound. I was entranced. I was - I knew I was - close to the moment when I would have real experience with a woman, when the accumulated evolutionary thrust and drive of sexual being broke through a mere decade of mother's warnings. I could feel thrill building in me every day as I watched, held, and kissed this woman. I was on the verge of not being a prig.
One evening, Jan decided she wanted to get drunk. I could not understand why. She had a friend purchase a half-pint of gin and quart of orange juice for her, and we went out, late, to my car, which was in the employees' parking lot. We sat in the front of the darkened automobile; she drank a lot, I drank a little. Soon, she was high and giggling. I kept myself sober. Not so much because I didn't drink anything but beer, but because I was afraid of letting go of myself.
For her, the gin had the effect she wanted. She became less inhibited. We entered passionate kissing. She said, "Feel my tits." Oh, god; will I ever grow up? What did I say? How did I respond to this plea of a woman to have her body caressed? I was of course taken aback. I said - I recall this as clearly as any memory I have - "When I feel them, they're 'breasts'."
Jan must have cared for me a great deal. Or have been too drunk to be offended by the young artist as a prig. What she did not say was, "Well, then, fuck off." Which is what any self-respecting, self-conscious woman would say a decade later to this inappropriate, literary reaction to her request for heavy petting.
No, what she did do was to pull her shirt out of her blue jeans and unbutton the top of the jeans. I may not have known what to say, but I knew what to do. I stroked her breasts through her bra. I unhooked her bra, then caressed her breasts, skin to skin. And they were breasts, too, not tits. Her breasts were ample, firm, and her nipples were erect. I rubbed her stomach; I accepted her invitation to feel her pussy and stroked her warm and moist vagina.
I told her that I wanted to go to bed with her. I had the key to my grandparents' summer cottage; would she come there with me? She wasn't that drunk. She said, no. Despite the passion and the entreaties, she continued to say, no. She could see through a fogged car-window clearly. She was sufficiently experienced to draw a line between heavy petting and intercourse; I was so inexperienced that I drew the line where kissing crosses to petting. We had in my mind long ago crossed the line. Why not go all the way?
A few evenings after our drinking in my car, we ended a walk with a necking session lying on a wicker lounge on the porch of the golf house. It was late, perhaps eleven o'clock, and everyone was asleep at the hotel. Snuggling against each other and feeling emotionally close, I asked her if she had ever gone all the way, had sex with a man. She did not reply for a long time. And I did not urge her. We could see from the porch across the clipped and still golf course to the Presidential Mountains to the south. The dew was falling, and we could feel moisture settle around us. Then she replied. Yes, in her last year of high school, two years previous, she had gone all the way with a boy friend. I told her I was a virgin. I asked her why she was unwilling to make love with me, when she had once made love with a boy friend and she said she loved me. I asked her again to have sex with me. I said that I was tired of being a virgin.
We lay there. No doubt she weighed inside of her heart the balance of caution in giving her body and desire to please me. She said, slowly, that she would make love with me. She didn't say that she positively desired to, and I understood that she was going to give me her favors, in more than one sense. We walked to my room at the hotel, where I picked up condoms, then we drove in the grey Cheve to the Christmas Cottage. I know that I wanted to think about her at this moment, but as we rode the brief distance of five miles to the cottage, my heart could say only, it's going to happen, it's going to happen. She sat close to me on the seat, against my side, and was silent.
Christmas Cottage was situated at the end of a half-mile of dirt road, past several farms. The front yard was bordered with a white picket fence to keep the cows off the grass. Priscilla Brook, which ran past the Waumbeck, also ran past the cottage. Hay fields flanked the house, and a dense forest led out the back. The nearest house, a farm house, was a couple hundred yards away. The nights at Christmas Cottage had always seemed immense to me: the large valley of the intervale, and the solemn Presidential Mountains domed by the great inverted bowl of the sky. So it seems to me now.
I parked "Le cauchemar" along side the house and we entered through the front door. The cottage was dark - the electricity was off. While Jan waited in the living room, I cautiously walked through the dark to the porch off the kitchen and screwed in the fuses. The evening was absolutely still, though I knew that deer and bear were most likely foraging at the crab orchards that were abandoned at the perimeter of the fields. I gathered an armload of split firewood for a fire. Jan was huddled, cold, on the sofa that flanked the fireplace. I wanted a fire, not only for the romance and the mood, but also to dry the damp, stale air in the cottage.
The fire crackled and worked miracles: both Jan and I felt apprehension melt as we sat on the floor immediately in front of the fire to catch all the bright warmth. I became calm; she clearly - having made her decision to have sex with me - was enjoying herself. She sat in tailor position, with her legs crossed, and I mimicked her position opposite her. We leaned across the space between us and kissed without embracing. Our kisses deepened; I became erect quickly. We both began to undress her. We unbuttoned her shirt, and she reached behind herself to unfasten her bra. In the firelight, her bared breasts glowed, her white skin took a faint blush with the direct heat and the increasing excitement. I stood in front of her and undressed; she rolled backward onto her back and pulled off her blue jeans. We were now both naked and enjoying the sight of our bodies.
The bedrooms were off either side of the fireplace. I chose the southern bedroom, so that I could look through the bedroom door out through the large picture window. This view connected me with the mountains. We walked to the room; Jan was first to slip between the sheets. They were cold. We laughed and giggled, and hugged each other, rolling around between the sheets to get warm. Her body was long, invited me, and each curve of flesh sought out an echo in my body. Even now, nearly twenty years later, the intensity of the excitement of contact with Jan's skin, the search in her kisses, remains a vital and live memory - more alive than many sessions in bed with other women which I can but poorly remember. Jan was to be my first woman, but the experience was perfect. I had prepared for it all my life.
I kissed her breasts and stomach. I stroked her pussy with my hands, and prepared to kiss and lick her pussy - but she pulled my head up. This was not in the evening's play. Her vagina was moist, and she told me she wanted me in her. I sat up, leaned over to the table, and grabbed a condom, tearing the foil package open, and unrolling the sheath over my cock. The condom fit tightly. I was not so far from my adolescent fears that I did not think with satisfaction, why had I worried about how they fit. I turned back to Jan, who was on her back. She pulled up her knees, and I kneeled between her legs. For the first entering strokes, I remained perched above her, half-kneeling. Then she put her arms around me and pulled me into her undulations.
The loving was pure sweetness - at last I was fucking! As we moved, the coolness of the sheets and the warmth of her skin were in contrast, and excited us more. We did not speak; I wouldn't have known what to say. We embraced, and kissed, and screwed, her legs locked around mine. I felt my being, my body, fuse to hers.
How involved with my own feelings was I? I thought I was sensitive to her, but for a few minutes I was only half aware that she was crying. Finally, I knew. I asked her, why? We stopped intercourse. She did not want to say, but tried to resume screwing, by rotating her hips under me. I resisted: why was she crying? Then she said - "You told me you were a virgin. You're too good." I was astounded. I protested. I had been a virgin; I did not give her some lie, just to get into bed with her. Did she believe me now? I didn't know. But she seemed satisfied. We resumed screwing; she was enjoying it. I could feel myself building to an orgasm. I didn't know what were the signs of a woman approaching climax. But I indicated to her that I was almost too hot, by increasing our rhythm. She responded, she gripped me tighter, her legs tensed, her arms pulled me on her more strongly, and my thrusts made their maximum penetration. Then I came - she arched herself under me, groaning. Did she come at that moment, too? I didn't know, but she seemed greatly pleased. Jan began to kiss my face, as if in satisfaction, all over; kissed my cheeks, my forehead, my ears, my neck. As if every part of me within reach of her kisses had to be blessed.
After I made a brief absence to deposit the condom in the toilet, we slept. I had never slept beside a woman, but sleeping with Jan was as natural as anything I had ever done. I slept lightly, not because I was ever uncomfortable, but because I did not want to miss any of the feeling of her beside me. After a couple of hours, I became excited again, erect, and sought her cunt with my erection. Though half-asleep, she opened herself to me. She was wet - had she been growing excited, as well? Without a condom, we made love again. I was sure my sperm count would be too low after the first ejaculation to get her pregnant. We screwed, our bodies melted, slowly. Without a condom, my sensation was more intense - I could feel her warmth around my cock, especially at the base of it. This time - when I came - and she again - we did not separate, but our bodies entwined, we slept.
Dawn came early. About five o'clock, the eastern sky - which I could see across her body - through the picture window - became a milky white, then rosy glow. She wanted to return to her room at the Inn before the other employees awoke. We dressed quickly in the cool air. The fire in the fireplace was out, though the ashes were warm still. Hurrying, we left the cottage before we put our shoes on. The grass was wet with dew.
Lessons in Love