Summer Camp is a poetry performance piece by S.J. Waring. Written below is a transcription of this recording.
This piece was written after one too many frustrating questions about my asexuality. Although some asexuals do enjoy sex, for me sex has always been something demanded from me or something I was left out of. I have been made to feel broken more times than I can count. I have had people tell my partners that it must be an inconvenience to date me – and I have had partners agree with them. However, after years of feeling like I was broken or that my identity made me unlovable, I learned to stop putting that kind of blame on myself and instead to take a closer look at the people and the culture that made me feel this way. This poem is a way to make up for every time I thought that my asexuality was the problem and to tell the people that criticized my sexuality that they were the ones in the wrong. I hope other asexual teens can listen to this piece and understand that they are enough, and they should not have to change their boundaries if they don’t want to.
I remember the last summer of sleepaway camp, when
everything changed in a way I could feel like molasses dripping from the air
The girls I roomed with practiced their handjobs on tennis rackets,
met boys on dew-wet soccer fields at six AM.
And every midnight they whispered from their bunk beds about sex,
What they’d done, what they hadn’t done, and when they asked me
I told them the truth, which was that I was waiting to learn what someone else’s lips felt like
and I have never felt so small and so stupid
like I wasn’t following the relationship rulebook and I told myself
That I had to do better.
After that summer, I learned
That apparently it’s everyone else’s business
what you do when you don’t want other people to see.
How much money would it take for you to stop being asexual?
How much safety would you give up if you were asked?
I have heard them talk to my partner
About how much of a fucking inconvenience I must be.
I know that they see me, see us,
and think that whatever love we have
Is half-formed and stumbling
think that love is only for making and not
For just being.
They do not know that I
Kiss like the world is ending, I
Am drawn to her arms like the tides and the moon, I
Will spend hours with my body warm in someone else’s hands
Not doing anything but just lying there.
I have loved people who thought
That I didn’t love them
Because I wouldn’t get naked for them
They couldn’t realize that every time I sent them a poem
Or told them a story
I was undressing myself, peeling back silken words and lacy mystery for them
Until i shivered in every room, skin bare, notebooks scribbled over
Waiting for them to realize that there was value in the things I gave them
But no one gains respect from their friends by saying
guess what I took from Sarah last night?
Her favorite fairytale, her fingers on the guitar strings, her baby pictures, her baseball cap.
Being an asexual poet is
To write about being called broken but here,
I am calling them broken, I am telling them right now
That when you told me you loved me you should have meant that
You loved every black-gray-white-purple piece of me, you should have meant
That you would not, even as a joke, ask me who I would let you fuck if it wasn’t me.
I am saying that I should not have been asked how far I would go
How far I have gone because I
Am ten million miles down the road of falling in love, I
Am at the pitstop between her heartbeat and mine, I
am somewhere on another existential plane, worlds away
From the point system you used in middle school on which
I score approximately five points (don’t quote me on that)
because I have already broken my own personal scoreboard into tiny pieces across the court
I have blown myself out of the water
I have already gone farther than I thought I could make it
I have stopped telling myself that feeling safe isn’t sexy
And I am too old for summer camp but if I went back
I would tell them that I know what lips feel like
I know what sharing a bed feels like
I know what eye contact in the darkness feels like
And I don’t need to know much more than that.
S.J. Waring is just another queer teenage girl living in New York and writing poetry. She started writing because she always has something to say and started performing so she could make people listen. She often spends hours looking for literature she can relate to online before coming to the same inevitable conclusion: it’s not there because she hasn’t written it yet. Find her in Rookie Magazine, Cicada, or watching conspiracy theory videos in bed.