Do you remember the first time you felt something?

Something that tickled, tingled somewhere low and deep in your gut? You didn’t know it was sexual because you didn’t necessarily know about sex. But it felt…disruptive, maybe disturbing. For me, it felt secret.

For me, it happened when I was looking at a woman. I don’t recall if it felt strange or odd, there were no judgments around it.

I was a girl, not yet an adolescent. I was in the women’s locker room at the YWCA, where my mother took me for swimming lessons. I remember the smell of chlorine – the cavernous old building, voices echoing and bouncing off the walls. I also remember the smell of wet bathing suits and bathing caps. It was all warm. Moist.

I think my mother must have been drying me off with a towel – I remember looking out from under that towel, feeling like I couldn’t be seen, like I was peeking out of a cave. I watched the woman changing a little way down from us. She was drying off, taking off her suit. Her skin was white. She was slender, not at all muscular…and I remember her profile. I remember her nipple against pale skin – it was hard, upturned, completely fascinating.

It felt secret. And I’ve never forgotten it.

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