The hammock itself was slightly musty, and it smelled like the old house just as I remembered it: a combination of mildew, wood smoke, and spring rain. It was old wood, apple cider on the stove top, and the honeysuckle in the backyard. In the winter it was the smell of the Christmas tree, the overflowing piles of clementines, the cinnamon and cloves boiling on the wood stove, and apple pie and cheddar cheese left next to the piano for someone else to finish. As I turned and pressed my face into the fabric, a hundred other things returned in an instant.

There was the Swedish au pair who was going to teach me Swedish, and for at least two whole days I believed her. I don’t know if she taught me a damn word, but I do remember her coming to that very spot and climbing into the hammock next to me. I kissed her and she kissed me back as I unbuttoned her tiny white shorts and untucked her shirt. She muffled some sighs as she shifted next to me, and when I slid my hand inside the denim, when I finally touched that golden delicacy, I nearly stopped in my tracks, because that girl had the softest pussy I had ever felt in my entire life. It was in fact, so shocking, that I’m not sure I managed to do anything for her at all other than marvel and gawk at her, pawing all over her in disbelief.

I don’t know how long we made out, and I don’t remember much else other than the feel of her wet, slippery cunt as I slid two fingers inside her, amazed that anything could feel the way she did. I do know it didn’t happen again, and I’m sure somewhere in there I fucked it up. Maybe it was my surprise or my lack of focus, or maybe I simply didn’t ask her out again. It could be she wanted to see if I was good for anything and it turned out I wasn’t, or possibly she left and went back home the next week and I was just a memory: the boy with the roughest hands she had ever felt between her legs.

But after her, after that blurry afternoon, there was Lisa, curled up next to me in the same spot as we kissed and groped, this time, her hand in my pants as she jerked me off. We had known each other for a few years and we teased each other to no end, but never sealed the deal so to speak. Lisa was in town for two nights, and she stayed with me there, sleeping next to me in my little twin bed with my brother and father close by. But in the middle of our kissing, in the middle of what I thought might turn into something else, she whispered in my ear.

“Would you be upset if I fucked your dad? He’s hot you know. He reminds me of you, but older.”

“What the hell, Lisa?” I said, looking at her as I sat up. My hard-on was gone, and I was unsure of everything.

“I guess that’s a yes. Come on, I wasn’t that serious about it. I mean, I would totally fuck him, but I don’t think he’d do that.”

But of course, I knew better than she did on that front, and sometimes I wonder if later that night, as I lay sleeping, she crawled into his bed and took advantage of his constant willingness.  Because the truth is I’ve never met a woman my father didn’t like, and on occasion, he liked all of them at the same time. And girls my age, girls twice my age–or even ten years younger than me–never seemed to matter. Much like myself, my dad loved women and he was generally unashamed to admit it.

But Lisa and I didn’t become something, and as far as I know, she didn’t become anything with my dad either. She moved to another city, and while a few years later we hooked up once more, this time in my tiny apartment looking out over New York City, it wasn’t the same. It had nothing to do with Dad–as much as I might have tried to think it did–and instead had more to do with everything else: my inability to ask the right questions, my failure to decide on anything, and my complete cockiness in not realizing the first two.

But we had made out in the hammock, along with how many other I can’t say, and it was beautiful and it was pretty, and maybe for those moments I loved her. Even as she teased me, hell maybe because of it, I loved her because it’s how I am. I can’t kiss a person and not feel something in my chest because I’m a broken lump of heart meat that doesn’t know any better. My brain chemicals spill out the second I get that rush of desire, and I mistake those urges, those secretions, for genuine affection.

I don’t know how anyone else learned to navigate them, but I sure as hell didn’t. Instead, I embraced them as true, I dove in head first, and I broke everything without even trying.

If there’s a difference between sex and love, I wasn’t the one to discover it.