You Don’t Have to Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here: Why the Term ‘Making Love’ Still Makes Me Heave (And Why I Wish It Didn’t)


I’m new at this, okay?

It’s New Year’s Eve. Like everyone else tonight, I am planning on drinking for dinner, donning a funny hat, galavanting around my small city with a pot and a pan, and watching the ball dr— er, rise, as it were, as Northampton does everything a little different. To keep in anti-tradition, everyone crowds around Hotel Northampton for First Night and romps around with noisemakers and open containers and hopes not to be puked on as the glittering ball on the roof rises to the top of a small tower and everyone jumps around drunkenly and holds up their cheering children and of course, they kiss. And kiss. And kiss. Tongues lashing crudely, hands groping towards the New Year, while us lonely-hearted forced voyeurs take a step back towards the curb and swig from our flasks, swallowing those hard lumps, in effect, to deny our hazy melancholy.  

In all my life I have only ever had two New Years Eves that ended in a kiss. One was with a legitimate boyfriend at a party on a couch after he returned five minutes after midnight (for which I was quietly pissed) following a graceful champagne toast on my part that ended in my sparkly dress being covered in bubbly. “I think you messed yourself,” he said, as we ascended the stairs towards his bedroom and had sloppy, New Years sex in his cluttered bedroom.

The second time I met up with two virtual strangers at my High School chum’s Manhattan apartment and took the subway with them to meet him at the bar he worked at near Time’s Square. Because the crowds were so drenched with drunken hooligans, it took nearly ten minutes just to walk one block. Midnight happened before we could even reach the bar and in a moment of brazen desperation, one of these virtual strangers pulled me in and landed me a surprise wet smacker. Had I not been inebriated and so taken off guard, he probably would have seen his own balls drop that night, but alas, it was festive. That is until I met up with my intended ‘date’ for the evening who continued to buy me enormous drinks at a sleazy uptown bar, and then finish them himself until he was so wasted I realized he had sat down next to the wrong girl, resting his head against her shoulder. He managed to hail down a cab while I gathered our  things and then, dashing out of the taxi once we’d arrived at his apartment, puked in an alley while I paid our fare. 

And these are the good stories.

Last year I went to a Rubblebucket show with some friends, and after happening upon a former lover with a current conquest, I reacted somewhat violently, pushing them into the crowd yelling “GET AWAY FROM ME” after they approached me politely to say hello. Then I was followed home by the person I had regrettably been sleeping with, and in turn, avoiding, while he tried to hold my hand and say, “It’s okay. We can just hold each other.” 

And now? Another year has already passed and my “well, I just got out of a relationship” excuse is too aged to be relevant; yet my ability to hone any genuine intimacy continues to be thwarted by my fatalistic commitment to solitude.  

And it’s not a George Costanza modus operandi that keeps me from finding fuzzy feelings, but sometimes I feel like the only people who feel they connect with me are the kinds that I hear my mother subconsciously telling me to avoid. “Have you seen his fingernails? Cuticles like that symbolize an addictive behavior.” “He’s not a Capricorn is he?”

All of this over-analysis has given me nothing but a lot of heartburn and uninspired sexual scenarios. I have toyed with celibacy as a means to justify my readiness for a real relationship, but if I go long-term without getting any, I become so self-depreciating and frustrated that I start undressing my pillows in the night. Sometimes a girl just needs to let off steam.

But what is sex if its purpose is to fill the vacancy of human contact and nothing more? I’ll meet someone at a bar or a club, run off a safety check-list on my fingers that allows them entrance to my bedroom, and, following a generally unsatisfying bed-sheet cavort, I’m wont to be the first to say, “Hey that was great, but I got work early in the morning. Here are your pants.” 

The truth is, I have not had meaningful sex in over a year. And while I am thankful to be getting any at all, (save for a few short-term dry spells during which I managed to watch all of Grey’s Anatomy and smoke a ton of weed) I miss eye contact. I miss cuddling. I miss waking up in the embrace of someone’s legs and reaching for them across the mattress as the shadows of the early morning turn to dawn.

The last time I had sex was so clinical and straight-forward it felt like an appointment. We undressed ourselves, kissed for like a minute before getting to the act, and immediately after, we put our clothes back on and ate pretzels while watching funny dog videos on YouTube. Upon describing this to a friend, she goes, “Fuck you, that’s amazing!” and I understand why a scenario like that might be envied. Sure, it’s great to have a friend that you can bang every now and again while continuing to give him sound romantic advice once your pants are back on, but, that shit doesn’t last. Inevitably, one of us will get weird or jealous or clingy or defiant. It will probably be me. I will convince myself that I am in love and then punch him in public and wrestle with my shame. Because these are the relationships I keep falling into: meant to be temporary, packaged with an expiration date.

Part of me flinches upon writing this. I have always been averse to the phrase ‘making love’: imagining a bubble bath and a room full of lit candles makes me actually want to gag, but I realize now, that’s not the implication. The real meaning of love-making should be simple: it should just warrant longevity. In its simplest terms it should mean waking up with the person you fell asleep with. Not sneaking out in the middle of the night with your shoes in your hand. Not letting stupid arguments in the middle of grocery stores become deal-breakers and not testing ourselves in monumentally stupid ways to see how much we can take or wait without being the first to say, “I want you in my life. I want to be a part of yours.” Because I’m not cool with the first night being the last night anymore. Of finding defects in human flaws. Of feeling like my body could be anyone’s body and suffocating that mutual short-term desire into a fatuous void with the lights out. It gets tired. It gets old.

So I’m making a resolution, and you can make fun of me if you want. The next time I get laid, I want it to mean something. I want to be a goddamn love-maker. 



About Lauren Singer

Until my life turns into the Beyonce single that it’s meant to become, I’ll be over here, cuddling my pup and supplementing my delusions with bottom shelf-whiskey, RnB dance parties, and a lot of Netflix movies ‘featuring a strong female lead’.
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One Response to You Don’t Have to Go Home But You Can’t Stay Here: Why the Term ‘Making Love’ Still Makes Me Heave (And Why I Wish It Didn’t)

  1. jessi li says:

    Oh Lauren, that was great.

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