I am tired tonight, after a full full day, in which there has been, as yet, no orgasm. No traditional orgasm, that is. I mean, no climax of an explicitly, physiologically sexual nature. No — wait, what was the definition I found so early on in this month?– no “physical and emotional sensation experienced at the peak of sexual excitation, usually resulting from stimulation of the sexual organ and usually accompanied in the male by ejaculation.”(Gotta love those male-centric dictionaries.)
Here, though, is the rest of that definition for orgasm:
2. an instance of experiencing this.
3. intense or unrestrained excitement.
4. an instance or occurrence of such excitement.
Now, there has been intense and unrestrained excitement, several instances of such, in fact:
1. excellent physical exercise, complete with a lot of sweat and panting (got to run around the lake for the first time in a few weeks)
2. there were jellyfish in the lake when we went out there this morning. Jellyfish. In a lake. (Yes, I know it’s tidal. Still exciting. Unrestrainedly such.)
3. We got to play out at the shore this evening, while there was an eclipse going on. I kept pausing in the ball-thowing to glance up sharp at the sun, catching peripheral glimpses of the bite that the moon was taking out of our star. Still more excitement.
Do those get to be orgasmic? What gets to be claimed as the peak of sexual excitation? If I am in my body, full of joy, erupting with the surprise of laughter and delight — does that get to have a layering of orgasmic pleasure?
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Many people just kept walking around the lake this morning, while Sophie and I were knelt down next to the edge, bent over, looking in at the bobbles of white fringed fabric moving through the water. They had on their headphones, they were on a mission, they had a schedule to keep, they know better than to get close to the edge, they did not pay attention to people doing something unusual in the vicinity of their exercise — this is Oakland: everyone’s doing something unusual.
It was a pleasure, though, when a father and son stopped near us after glancing over into the horror that can be the Lake Merritt water (filled with murk and garbage, birdstain and tadpoles, small fish, human leftovers) to see what we were looking at. They spoke in Mandarin, I think, or another Chinese dialect, they were still there several minutes later when Sophie and I finally picked up to head home for breakfast. We passed other folks who had slowed to study the water, to wonder over these invaders. We — neighbors who otherwise might not even acknowledge one another — got to make eye contact with each other, say, Did you see the jellyfish? I know, aren’t they gorgeous? We got to grin delightedly, like small ones, with such pleasure at this simple thing: what are jellyfish doing in our lake? I laughed out loud each time my eyes fell on another of those sheer undulant forms, their multiplicitous cilia filigreeing around the outermost lip of themselves —
Doesn’t that get to be an orgasmic kind of pleasure? Can we keep on expanding what orgasm gets to hold?
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I’ll admit that I thought about the body, as the puppy and I jog-walked back up from the lake toward our apartment. I thought about Lake Merritt as both beloved and reviled — how we admire its nighttime light-ringed reflective surface, and then cast aspersions in the morning at the smells that rise up in the new sunlight, at the trash drifting into its crevices through which the ducks and geese push to find interesting new tastes. I’ll admit I was hunting for a parallel, maybe for a metaphor.
What stunning resilience is so close to our every day that we take, consistently, for granted? What do we adore in only the right light? What do we diminish with our language of garbage and disgusting and horror?
And what gives us the singularity of ordinary miracle when we just show up with our eyes and breath and attention, look around at what we might otherwise consider distraction or a waste of time?
It’s true, I can work too hard for a metaphor, a bearing over or into, sometimes. But this one is worth it, I think.
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I’m off to bed now, where I’ll lay my hands on myself and give thanks for this day, for these pleasures, for all the layers of orgasm I already got to welcome.
See you tomorrow. Come again, ok? In all the ways you can.
And I thought, on the way hoe