I believe in the serendipitous nature of books. They come to you when you are ripe for their offers, like secrets looking for understanding ears, or eyes searching out the good in a very bad man. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera came to me four months into a yearlong vow of celibacy, and it came to me for a reason. Because yes. You read that right. The Vagina Girl ain’t having sex this year.
I didn’t want to tell you, Internet, because I know that the moment I say ‘Look ma! No hands!’ Mr. Wonderful will present himself to me and I will have to cross my legs and eat another cream cake instead of shamelessly pursuing him as per my modus operandi. And I promise it isn’t a trick I’ve told the universe so that said bloke presents himself and then I can say ‘sod it’ and proceed to climb him like a tree like, huh? What vow?
I decided to opt-out of the game for a bit to do thinking about the decisions I have been making with boys for, oh, I don’t know. THE PAST TEN YEARS. Writing a book about one’s vaj-ay-jay lays out one’s repeated mistakes with upsetting clarity. And so, this book illustrates my decision with an almost painful obviousness.
The story focuses on a young woman in love with a man torn between his love for her and his incorrigible womanising. One of his mistresses in turn has another faithful lover, and the narrative of the two couples highlights how our individual worlds are shaped by chance and fortuitous events, and ultimately how often we just fuck it all up because we don’t know how to love. EVERYONE SUCKS AT EVERYTHING AND SO WHAT IS THE POINT THERE ISN’T ONE THE END.
Related: the final chapter is the one that had me in tears. And I mean fully blown ugly crying, where I was in bed curled into the foetal position and physically couldn’t take down enough air to stop the hiccups. The last time this happened was when I watched We Bought A Zoo, and hi. This is the reason I endeavour to consume art alone: my reactions can be tempestuous at best, and embarrassingly repulsive at worst.
My brain did turning and spinning and thinking the whole time I was reading this book, and what I concluded is this: Sex is easy. Love is hard. Neither one is much fun without the other.
GROWN WOMAN EPIPHANY.
It’s no coincidence then that my favourite film is Closer, where similarly everybody hurts everybody else. That’s what most romantic relationships seem to be to me- varying degrees of betrayal, and so for a long time I chose emotion-free sex over emotionally draining love. When I read the book I felt justified, vilified, that somebody else felt the same as me- same enough to make a whole captivating story from it. Same enough to put into words how screwed up we make it, how we colour every day with lies because the truth is inconvenient, how we say forsaking all others actually mean forsaking all others… for now.
And then I felt sad, because if somebody else has the same thoughts on boys and girls and men and women and all the things they do to each other whilst being those things, then it must be true. We must all be incapable of loving selflessly, and so every relationship we have will be a version of failure and so really, what is the point?
It took me a week with this book to decide that as it turns out, I’ve been looking for somebody to convince me not to believe this madness this all along.
I think the point is, that we can’t not try to love, even though it hurts. If we don’t at least try, then we really are bollocksed.
So, Milan Kundera. Now you have some explaining to do. Your book solidified my decision to change from dick-hopping, good-time girl to somebody who might be willing to experiment with that biggest perversion of them all.
And now I don’t know what is worse- deciding love isn’t for me because it all ends in tears anyway, even if you are married for 100 years and have eleventy thousand babies, Or deciding that love has to be for me because even when the tears come, it’s better than the alternative.
The alternative is basically staring down the never-ending abyss of not knowing.
Okay, here’s what we’ll do, Universe. I’ll refrain from Sexy Time Bone Jumping for another eight months in order to truly understand myself and my relationship to the opposite sex, and you can find me a 38-year old poet who already has children and promises to never ask me to marry him.
Someone who lets his lady do overwritten blog posts in public about her vagina, and sometimes her heart.
Because I nearly forgot that I had one. Nearly.