Reading Recommendation: “Rest Stop,” Aimee Bender

Today I read:

Two things come to mind now, as I look back. First, I did not enjoy this sex outside, this sex with the tiny possibility of discovery; it did not, in any way, match my desires or my comfort level, and the second part is maybe that was the point. It was distracting enough, figuring out these details, who was where, what was visible, who might see us, what was covered, that neither of us had to pay much attention to the other person at all. Plus, I was nineteen, and preoccupied with what the girls on TV were doing and if I was doing such things equally well. I had a friend at the time who told me she practiced her moaning sounds in the car when driving, as a way to pass time while travelling the north-south freeways from San Diego to L.A. and back. I found it so depressing, when she told me that, picturing her groaning and rolling her head back while speeding beneath green exit signs as the radio went on about scandals in the political parties, but somehow I did not find it depressing when, under the umbrella needles of the fir, with those footsteps clip-clopping past, I played a reel in my own head about how adventurous a girlfriend I surely was, even though I barely remember anything physical, and I could sense my boyfriend checking off a list in his mind of places he’d done it, making both of us the kind of people who say they’ve been to Germany if they’ve had a layover at the Frankfurt airport.

— Aimee Bender, “Rest Stop

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