Sitting on the Bathroom Floor
Art by Kirsten Hemrich
Warning - disturbing themes are presented here on the occasion of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
Sitting on the bathroom floor, you are going to want to try and not feel anything. Try not to feel the way the small tiles dig into your bare skin, pinching at your flesh. Try not to feel the way the scalding water burns your scalp, rushing down your back. Try not to feel the way your head is closing in on itself, your inevitable hangover making its presence known. Try not to feel the cold air rolling in from outside, because even though it’s January, some genius left the window open. To be concise, you will try not to feel anything.
Ignore the burning in your throat as you gulp down a mixture of raspberry Smirnoff and cheap fruit juice. Be careful to stop your face from scrunching up in disgust. It’s very important to show that you can handle your alcohol. Acknowledge that filling the cup halfway with alcohol probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but argue that alcohol is precious at these parties. Everyone knows it’s first come, first serve. Casually scan the crowd, pretending to be completely uninterested, but the entire time looking intently for one face. His face. Allow your friends to pull you into the mass throng of people bumping into each other on the makeshift dance floor. The alcohol will have started to seep into your bloodstream by now, helping you forget the fact that you have absolutely zero rhythm. The music is loud enough that you can feel it vibrating throughout your bones. Bounce along to the beat, your drink sloshing around in your cup. Sing, or rather scream, along to the lyrics that you know by heart. Giggle at your friend’s very sad attempt at twerking, knowing that you could do no better. It isn’t until a little bit later that your friend nudges you and directs your attention to the arrival of some newcomers.
Make eye contact with him and offer a smile as he walks through the door, surrounded by the usual suspects. Be careful to stop your cheeks from heating up. It’s very important that you don’t give away how happy you are to see him. Your drink is long gone by now, so you can push yourself through the crowd and walk over to the bar, hoping that he will get the hint to follow. He notices. Make yourself a new drink, over small talk, as your friends smirk at the two of you from a distance. They’ve placed bets on how long it would take for him to finally make a move. Start to make him a drink, but stop when he tells you that he’s not drinking tonight.
To be concise, you will not remember everything.
Sitting on the bathroom floor, you are going to want to try and remember everything. Remember the way he told your friends that he would get you home safely, given he was that night’s designated driver. Remember the kiss at the front door. Remember the wandering hands. The clothes hitting the floor. The cloudiness. The whispers. The haziness. The flickers. The darkness. Remember waking up at 4:37am alone in your bed, your comforter the only thing protecting your modesty. To be concise, you will not remember everything.
At some point during the party you end up sitting on the couch, wedged between the arm and his body. Your legs are draped over his, a mess of limbs. It is very important that you touch his hair, drunkenly asserting that you need to know if he had the hair of a cat or a dog. Your fingers are now intertwined in his hair, softly combing your hands through the strands. His hands are at work as well. They are aimlessly drawing random patterns up and down your thigh, effectively sending shivers up and down your spine. His touch is calming, and combined with the alcohol, you feel your eyelids start to droop. He tells your friends that he’ll take care of you since the friends he was supposed to be helping had since disappeared. Pulling you up off the couch, he misjudges your ability to balance and you end up crashing into him. Giggling, you bury your head into the space between his neck and his shoulder, successfully hiding your blushing face. He takes your hand, and you let him lead the way home.
Sitting on the bathroom floor, you are going to cry. You are going to cry tears of frustration. Tears of sadness. Tears of anger. Tears of hatred. Both for him and yourself. Tears of confusion. Tears of shame. This will go on for hours, until the rest of the world wakes up. You will sit there on the bathroom floor trying not to feel, trying to remember, trying to stop crying. Unfortunately it will be in vain. You’ll continue to feel, fail to remember, and seem to endlessly cry. Maybe you’re crying because you don’t know what to feel? How can you know what to feel when you don’t know what happened? You liked him so much. Shouldn’t you be happy? He finally made his move. To be concise, this is what you wanted. Right?
Throughout the year, the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women's Center and many other organizations provide services and information for survivors of sexual assault and those who support them. The center also joins other offices and student groups in offering special advocacy and education programming for all during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April.