“It is stone season, and I am wry. This heat’ll shut off if I drop below 65.”
I tried to tuck this line under the sliver of my eyelid for safe-keeping. It was winter on the West Virginia/Ohio border and I was trying to drive fast enough to keep the heat in my car going and slow enough to avoid sliding all across the country highway, the likes of which probably never saw the sweeping glance of a plow.
There was more to it than that. I’m positive. There was more to it, but this is the part I chose to repeat over and over in my mind hoping some small piece of it clung to the small flap of skin above my eye. This line buried itself there.
Stone season. Another one just came and left. I felt a little sadness, like I always do, when it left. But I finally felt I could set that little idea free.
Stone because I do not want to be penetrated, yes, but stone because of the shift. The shift in my demeanor, the way I hold myself, and in the way I experience pleasure. It is not just a physical shift.
Let me be clear, I am not stone. It is not a part of my identity. It is not something I navigate on a daily basis. I just let stone seasons come to and pass through me. And when they do, I sit and I commune with stone voices. I visit them in the pages of novels and say hello, quietly standing in the back, hoping no one really notices, keeping my head down. I assign it all meaning and we, the stone seasons and I, are on quite friendly terms.
Season because it happens for a time. It passes through. It’s a type of visitation. Each time I entertain the conviction that it might stay forever. So I pour the conviction some tea, and it never makes me engage in pedestrian conversation.
Stone seasons are not dark times for me. They are not pathological. They are not the fault of my partner. They are not the fault of my inner turmoil. They are not the fault of any one. They do not come because I am a survivor of sexual assault, they do not come because of any trouble with mental illness I may have, and they do not come because I am trying to manipulate my partner.
They are not negative or bad times.
How my partners and my culture have reacted to stone seasons is a different story though. There is an expectation for certain bodies and certain people to always be ready for penetration, to always actively want it, and not just these things, but to always be vulnerable, open, and giving. Some people have taken my stone seasons deeply personally. There was another type of season that passed through them — first understanding, then frustration, then blame, then anger — but this is not the fault of the stone season itself.
And demands. Demands that they be over, demands for getting over it, demands to know why they couldn’t chase the season out, demands to be let in, demands to see evidence, demands to be accommodated.
Which only solidifies it further, which makes me only want for the stone season to last longer, to stay put, to never leave.
And it isn’t just a question of penetration in a literal sense. I’m thinking specifically of times when people accuse me of “shutting down” or “shutting them out” during a stone season. Or too much of this and I will conjure up a stone season. It turns into a question of my well-being. “I just don’t know why you do that sometimes. You should really….”
But it’s always the same. The demands on femme/feminine people and their emotional, caring labor never seem to end. These demands can look like many things and aren’t always intentional: Go here in conversation. Tell me this story. No, make me a narrative. What do you think about this, or this, or this, or this? What are good books for this, or this, or this? Why won’t you talk about this, or this, or this? You should, you should, you should. Help me, but be effortless about it. Be gracious for helping me. Create things for me. Give me time and space. But you must also pretend you haven’t even noticed just how much emotional labor you have given.
Frankly, I get tired, really tired, of the constant demand for my vulnerability. Stone seasons come to help me find power in invulnerability.
In other words, stone seasons come so that I can rest.
They are a respite. A quiet sturdiness that comes to visit and says, “No.” A closing. A makeshift protective edge. Stone seasons are times when I refuse. When I make a home in myself and want for nothing.
I’m grateful to, at this point in my life, have a partner who doesn’t take them personally.
And I call them this as a way of talking to histories and experiences and old friends. Whether you call them stone seasons or not, please take the time to honor them. Don’t shove a book in the face of stone season, don’t try to cast it out, don’t pathologize or shame them in other people.
I am glad now when the stone seasons come. They are times to talk with the other parts of myself(ves) that don’t maybe get as much time. They remind me that certain acts or always opening up doesn’t define me or draw the contours of my sexuality.