The Venus of Regret

Photo by Sondra Primeaux

He was delicious right after a shower. Sitting cross-legged and naked on my beige carpet, I could have just eaten him whole. Instead, I brushed and braided his hair while he talked on the phone, inhaling all the sandalwood soapy smells that I knew would soon fade when he re-donned those damn hemp shorts. The wretched hemp shorts that smelled like sweaty balls, which by the way, if you’ve never smelled sweaty balls, just have a hippie wear the same hemp shorts every day for a year and only occasionally rinse them in the river so as to never compromise the integrity of the fabric.

I laid his braid gently over his shoulder. It was just long enough to graze his penis and I sat cross-legged, facing him and admired my work. I forgot for a minute, never mind the half liter of Gallo Red and ten cigarettes into my Thursday off of waitressing and laundering and a new “Friends” episode, that he came to my house to use the phone and the shower and to flee his own house and the girl he wouldn’t stop fucking and wouldn’t stop saying that he wasn’t fucking. I admired his sacred heart tatooed right above his own heart as if it were mine and his silver female pendant that hung around his neck by a leather strap that was mine and that I bought for myself at Paper Bear because it reminded me of the Venus of Willendorf. He took it to wear because he said her naked butt looked just like mine.

I was taught a lot about fertility goddesses and modern goddesses in my women’s studies classes, but I was not taught how to not be cheated on by my boyfriend. I was not taught how to cope with my cheating boyfriend without drinking a liter of Gallo Red every Thursday and after “Friends” ended, crying and trying to find the meaning where there was none.

I’ve never prayed to a fertility goddess to give me a baby, but ten years after that day, I did pray to the Venus of Willendorf to deliver me safely through a storm to that ex-boyfriend’s funeral. I prayed that she protect a baby that had been growing inside of me for six months, not knowing that more expensive and more insidious bottles of wine would eventually settle a murky fog over that relationship as well. I prayed to her that I would finally find the shadowy voice to say goodbye to that long haired boy and mean it.

Not all goodbyes have been so final and not all chapters are closed. Aside from flashes of clarity brought on by pregnancy imposed sobriety, situations, boyfriends, interludes, marriages and motherhood continued to baffle me for most of my life. Before getting sober, reflecting on my life was like trying to put together a puzzle in the dark. Two years later, the light has switched on and suddenly I can begin to see how the pieces fit together. Why didn’t I learn the lesson? Why didn’t he love me? Why did I stay? I don’t know if the questions will ever be answered or if the puzzle will ever be complete, but I do know that I’ve needed every misshapen, ill-proportioned piece. And those that have fallen on the floor? May those be scooped up into the mystery and omniscience of the Venus. She seems to have me.