邊界姦情, Asunto De La Frontera, Border Affair

By Yiling and María José Maldonado

two queers laying on a blanket on the grass in a park near the water, overlooking a pink sunset with a tea set

illustration by NatyKos

Maria and 伊凌 are chatting and walking by the lake on the Southeast side of Prospect Park. It’s a summer weekend and families are grilling, music is playing, kids are throwing water balloons at each other, older folks are smoking up. While catching up about projects since their fall Queer Writers Resist workshop at the Leslie-Lohman Museum, the two friends start setting up a Taiwanese tea picnic.

Maria: Hey 伊凌, so this is where you bring all your boos? It’s real kewt, bitch. This is like our women of color Walden, but so much louder.

I could smoke right now. Is it cool if I vape here? It’s my brunch ritual. Bake and brunch [takes in a long pull and exhales the faint smelling sativa].

伊凌: Smells like sweet stuff. How about let’s get tea drunk?

Maria: Let’s. You ever run into an ex here?

伊凌: Knock on wood, never. I try to rotate my spots. Why? You got an ex to watch out for?

Maria: If you go to any gay parties or events, it’s inevitable to run into an ex in New York. Small gay world. I ran into my ex Hannah a few months ago at a lesbian dating app event. We dated casually three years ago and it was good catching up with her. In conversation she told me, “I told all my friends you changed my world.”

I sipped on my beer looking mad confused. “I changed your world?,” I replied, shaking my head laughing at that statement, “No, stahp it.” I thought maybe she was exaggerating, but then she reconfirmed and said, “Yeah, you changed my world, oh my god,” and smiled into my eyes.

She had never slept with a woman of color before me. When I met Hannah, she had only ever been with yt women.

伊凌: NO. How does that happen in NYC? Was she from Idaho?

Maria: Don’t worry chica. Story’s just getting started.

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Maria: I met Hannah at Cubby’s aka Manhattan’s queer lady watering hole. I was drinking a beer at the bar when I felt someone softly, but positively nudge their shoe into my bare hamstrings. I turned around and saw a young beautiful black woman grinning, her legs crossed as she sat in a chair against the wall.

“Hi, sorry about hitting you with my foot,” she fake apologized. She was wearing 4-inch high, strappy black sandals and I admired her long bare legs in her short romper dress.

Later when we got back to her place, I told her I knew she had nudged my leg on purpose. “When I saw you standing there looking so cute in your denim shorts, I couldn’t resist,” she told me between kisses on her fluffy queen bed. “Your cute, little denim shorts,” she said and put her finger through my belt loop. I barely remember us undressing one another, it was so fast and eager. Like opening a present and finding illegal fireworks inside.

伊凌: Oh shit, sounds like it was Hannah’s independence day!

Maria: From the Beckyish empire, gurl.

伊凌: So when did you swear off yt women?

Maria: It’s not that I’ve sworn off yt women, but I’m really just tired of seeing them every fucking where and society’s inundation of yt women’s faces as the standard of beauty and femininity has had the opposite of its intended effect on me. I don’t desire yt women because I choose to give my brown pussy chi to women of color instead. I see yt women everywhere I turn and I choose to also not see them in my bedroom. Yes, I am attracted to yt women I find attractive and have slept with a couple of yt women, who were yt but not Beckys as far as I could tell, but that’s rare for me — happens once a decade.

Making love and choosing to be with other queer women of color is an act of love and defiance. Like my brain can’t even visualize a yt woman domming me in bed because I really, honestly would feel unequal and probably fetishized for my brown pussy. My brown pussy doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There’s a lot of Amerikkan politics constantly forcing itself on my brown, immigrant daughter pussy.

伊凌: I feel you on that pain. So what about your pleasure in 邊界交接? Trespassing the frontiers of Beckydom.

Maria: Loving with another queer women of color is sanctuary, like a field next to water, shielded from oppressive structures where we can be fully naked in our brown and black bodies and words. I like finding cocoa butter on my lover’s dresser, discussing the history of the colonization of our people and neighborhoods and kissing on the margins.

Also, once one of my black lesbian lawyer friends compared yt pussy to raw chicken. I know it was a joke, kinda, but the image is now seared in my mind forever, as is yt feminism. You feel me? Have you been with yt women?

伊凌: No, I haven’t. Well, actually no, once. But it was an accident.

Maria: An accident? Whatchu mean an accident?!

伊凌: I thought she was half Asian, and later come to find out she was full yt.

Maria: Yo that’s hilarious [laughs and claps]. Ok, so let me get back to my story…

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Maria: Hannah and I had sex for hours that night after leaving Cubby’s. The next morning she told me, “I’ve never had sex like that before.”

At first I asked her if she meant she had never been tribbed from behind before, and she said that wasn’t it. “I can’t explain it, it was just different,” she told me.

I asked her if she had slept with a lot of women before (I didn’t wanna gas my head up with illusions of zaddy grandeur) and she told me “a few.”

“Really?” I asked. Most of the women I had slept with were phenomenal in bed. So, I was wondering what kind of bitches she had encountered on her sexual journey of, unfortunately, mediocre sex.

“None of my ex girlfriends fucked me like you,” Hannah told me.

“Let me see your last ex girlfriend,” I asked, trying to picture this woman with weak, untapped pussy energy.

Hannah passed me her phone.

“She’s (intentional half second pause) cute…”

伊凌: You petty liar.

Maria: “And [she’s] very blonde,” I also pointed out to Hannah.

“I’ve only dated white girls,” Hannah informed me, and I gotta say I was pretty shocked. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a POC and grow up in the suburbs.

伊凌: Hahaha, Lorde. [sips tea] cheers to you and Hannah for getting free and freaky of the yt girl emotional infrastructure.

Maria: [sips tea] Haha, yes, cheers. Damn this tea is good, what is it?

伊凌: Taiwan’s 紅烏龍茶, you like it? A friend sent it.

Maria: Oh, a friend? Tea game strong.

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伊凌: [grin] So did y’all meet up again?

Maria: The next time we had sex, I brought my strap to her bougie apartment. The bitch lived in like some hotel type shit where it came furnished and maids come by to clean your shit and everything. She seemed used to nice things. And I guess yt girls were also a nice thing.

I had to bring her to the dark side.

伊凌: Bring her back, boo!

Maria: [blows smoke and laughs] Hannah had never used a strap before and after five minutes she said, “Let me use the strap on you.”

“Yes, mami,” and then she dommed me (insert emoji with heart eyes).

I realized then while bent over that I was not only the first woman she had ever put her dick in, but that I was the first brown, non-yt woman that Hannah, a black woman, had ever had sex with. And that turned me the fuck on. And I let Hannah know.

I upped my dirty talk from “You like this pussy, mami?” to “Te gusta esta chocha, mami?”

伊凌: [gasp] 婊子!

Maria: Yea, that’s pretty explicit. Almost every millennial of color in New York City knows what chocha is even if you don’t know Spanish. Uno, dos, tres, hola, cómo estás, dónde está el baño, caliente, fiesta, despacito and chocha. These are all NYC-POC universal at this point.

伊凌: And what next in your bilingual bed session?

Maria: Oh, Hannah had taken Spanish in high school.

“Si, mami, me gusta,” she hissed.

“Does Becky fuck you like this?” I asked her, reciprocating the rhythm of her hips.

“What?”

“Does…Becky…fuck you like this?”

“Becky,” Hannah laughed a little, “No. Becky doesn’t fuck me like this…Maria,” she slowed and pulled my hair back and then stopped moving!

伊凌: 幹啥?!

Maria: She pulled my hair back more to ask something that made me cosmically explode.

“Does real dick fuck you like this?” she rasped right into my fucking ear.

伊凌: Santa María!

Maria: My brain had short circuited and sizzled out. I swear that’ll be one of the moments that flashes before my eyes when I die.

“No!” I yelled out in the quickness!

I swear that comfy queen bed suddenly felt like the top of a mountain. We had vigorously reached Brown & Black Pussyland, sweaty and happy. It’s a magical fucking place.

伊凌: Chyrstos! Merle Woo! Gloria Anzaldúa! June Jordan!!! Hoooo! Did Hannah extend her stay in that wondrous place?

Maria: Yeah, she sure did. She went sightseeing, got the t-shirt, built a house there and everything. Last time I saw her she was in love with someone in her black femme lesbian secret society/private club she joined soon after we dated.

You know, Hannah having only been with the proverbial Becky was a kink for me at first, but then it quickly became a homecoming — or homecuming, rather. Hannah was not the first woman of color I had ever slept with, and I had been with two wonderful yt women in the past. So sleeping with a woman of color or a yt woman wasn’t new to me. And yet, Hannah was right, something about our sex was different.

伊凌: Yes it was. Yes it is.

Maria: And I never stopped to think about what it would be like to have never made love to another woman of color. This tryst made me realize I had taken for granted how lucky I am to have a deep well of love and experiences with other queer women of color.

伊凌: [clinks cups and pours tea] Snaps and shots for your seduction and education while bringing another boo back to the folds of dark pussy! You know I love homecoming ho’ing.

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Maria: [chuckling] I feel a story coming through. Is this a border-crossing ho’ing or a boss bitch ho’ing?

伊凌: Ha, a little bit of both and a little bit of more. We definitely crossed some gender, religion, legal borders and queered a lot of shit along the spirally way. [clinks tea cups]

Maria: [laughs] Yas, queer it bitch. Cheers to crossing all the fucking borders. And pour one out for all our ancestors, sisters and descendants who never let borders stop their joy. [pours out a third cup]

伊凌: [sips tea] Yea, well you know I have that kink, probably from all the hierarchy surviving while growing up in Taiwanese Confucian patriarchy. Flirt to subvert.

Maria: Verdad. Now tell it already, the sun is setting and we’ve drank half of the pot of tea already.

伊凌: Fine fine. It wasn’t too long ago…

Maria: Wait, is this pre-daikon or during your daikon era?

伊凌: It was Texas, you ho. And pre-daikon.

Maria: Gurl, you’ve been on this daikon diet on and off. I had to check. What is it with you and your bland, bitter, pale and flavorless, aesthetic east asian basic biddies? It’s like some sort of sexual community service tip you’re on. You know these Daikonic Han Chinese girls are the fragile Becky’s of Asia.

伊凌: [laughs, sips tea]. Thanks Maria. Calling me on my Confucian dick husband/passive wife emotional inheritance. Pu’erh later for that processing.

divider: pink squiggle

伊凌: Back to the story. During the crazy 2016 election season, I’d switched orgs and was tapping my Ferragamo loafers while waiting for someone to please open the door to this historical civil rights building and save me from the sweltering humidity…

Maria: [snorts and tips cup] Oh shit! So you were the daikon.

伊凌: Hey, Wellesley hadn’t worn off me yet ok?! Rude. Your Aquarius is showing.

Maria: [slaps 伊凌’s shoulder] Wellesley fucked your head up for a bit huh? PWIs yo. They’ll do that to ya. And why you talking shit about Aquarians?! You’re one of us. Aquarius es lo mejor. But back to your story…

伊凌: All true haha. Eri flung open the doors while in the middle of a conference call, iPhone headphones in a white tangle around her neck. I was immediately annoyed and incredibly attracted to my boss. You know I can’t resist the power and poise of a badass bosslady working on civil rights in the South. Potent pheromones for my capsized, post-college soul.

But hey, Eri apparently had a similar reaction, finding me beautiful and arrogant — though the loafers were a toss-up for her.

Maria: You still are beautiful and arrogant, you dramatic wench. I love it though — and your fly ass loafers. So your straight Latinx bosslady hated them. But she liked how you were tapping your cute loafers together doe! Ok, then what happened?

伊凌: We fell into a good work rhythm. The courts were going back and forth on the Voting Rights Act, we were preparing for all contingencies. It was non-stop, training volunteers, talking to vendors — at one point I asked if protecting civil rights meant anything to this dude and if it did, I better get a good deal on these tortas—

Maria: Yo, tortas for votes? Why are Tauruses always extra about their food?

伊凌: Hey, we made sure our amazing volunteers were fed well…

It was hard and it was joy working together. In the shit storm of elections, we found ways to move in our own rhythms. There was one day we went to a cafe for a work date, but we ended up chatting about our crushes, both of us sweet on movement folx. She talked about this guy she’d met at a conference; I talked about this girl I’d heard pop off brilliantly at a report back.

My crush, at that point, largely lived in my imagination, so we delighted in Eri’s adventures. I giggled at the ridiculous texts Eri showed me, her laptop between us as we read through, both leaning across the wobbly small table, cheek to cheek — her translating the Spanish.

“Eri, why don’t you ever talk about this? This is hilarious. It’s good knowing you actually have fun.”

She sighed, “I can’t, some people have to think I’m married.”

Maria: Married?! Damn, and what’d you say?

伊凌: I paused, staring at the scuffed piano behind her. “You’re married?” Listening to Eri’s stories about playful dalliances and liaisons (before a recent self-imposed celibacy) made a sudden mention of marriage seem like an unexpected streak of boring.

“Yea…” she gazed at me and then glanced around the sparsely populated cafe. “And I can’t mention it because he’s a prominent guy around here. He offered to marry me when my papers fell through, a problem with mis-filing that I couldn’t reverse because of what my papá did without my knowledge. Some people I work with professionally know my husband, my ex, and to them we’re happily married. With others, I can be more free to say it’s a marriage for my legal safety. Then with friends, it can be more — we did love and live together but it got complicated and I wanted to explore, but this can’t be told to others. And then, well, the people I’m getting to know without needing to know all of that…”

Eri trailed off, shutting her laptop, sitting deathly still with a far-off look to her right. My eyes traced her profile, her hazel brows furrowing and her front teeth peeking out as she chewed her bottom lip. Suddenly she turned, her golden brown eyes, full of uncertain somethings, boring into mine.

“I haven’t been able to tell most people all that. You just, you somehow make me feel safe enough to say this. It’s ok, right?”

Slowly exhaling a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding, I watched her. “Eri…” Reaching across the table, I rested my hand on top of hers that she gripped in an attempt to stop shaking. “Hey it sounds so hard…I…I had a vision as you were telling your story, could I share?”

She nodded tightly.

“I saw you, moving through a large living room, divided in four, with no walls in between. The furniture made for a weak, suggestive border, but you were there, shuttling people around, hosting them, keeping conversations going, but always tending to the invisible divisions that only you saw, trying to keep everyone in the right rooms and happily entertained. The rooms where you’re with your friends, you want to laugh more loudly with them, but you can’t, in case your other rooms overheard. But then in another room, you want to dance with lovers and family, but you can’t. It’s not fair, it’s fucked up. Love is already hard enough for us twenty-somethings with papers, but for you to have to hold more false walls and hosting duties because of stupid papers. When do you get to sit? When do you get to rest?”

I gazed at her with tears in my eyes, naively bursting with wishes for a world without walls. She grinned and dipped her head, “Well, right now, I guess. I think…you’re really the first person to really understand.”

“Eri, it’s an honor. Thank you for letting me see your living rooms.” With a grin, I quirked an eyebrow at her. “So which living room should I sit in now?”

She smiled back mischievously, “None. Let’s go for a drive. There’s a place we can get some arepas that are almost as good as my mamas and we can eat them somewhere I love.”

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Maria: Yum…but damn her life sounds exhausting and lonely. She had to be like four different people at once.

伊凌: [sighing] She had so many walls in her life. After that, we kept sharing ways to keep our souls alive. Sometimes it was snacking on leftover catfish po’boys and Topo Chico, leaning against our cars in the balmy bright orange sunset, while she told stories of how she shoved men off when she hit up the salsa clubs with friends. Another time, after another long day, she dumped handfuls of clipboards onto the table and declared, “Ok y’all, we’re going dancing. Tonight. Who’s coming with me?”

Maria: Dancing — aka one of the purest forms of seduction. She probably planned a night of dancing just to see you outside of work. Obviously you went. Tell me everything.

伊凌: The night started in her bedroom. Nervously, I sat on the edge of her bed — the one she always bragged about having the “…most amazing mattress. 伊凌, get in here! You have to try my amazing bed.” Glitter and rouge dusted off brushes as she deftly swept her cheeks with color. She primped and grinned when she caught me gazing at her openly.

“I’m so happy you’re coming. Hey…” She grabbed my hands and pulled me to her. How surprising, how searingly beautiful her cobalt eyeshadow was with her sunshine dress. “Is this your first time going dancing?”

It was my turn to blush. I felt so serious in my black dress hanging off my shoulders and my Ferragamos. That was my sexy; my forte was post-work drinks in dark bars and semi-serious banter. My eyes dropped to her knees, where the sheer fabric of her dress brushed lightly against my thighs.

“Hey…” she cupped my chin with her right hand and lifted my gaze into her twinkling eyes. “I’ll take care of you. I have a feeling you’ll be great at this.” Then she smirked, “Plus, I’m a great dancer and tonight, I’ll also be your teacher.”

She kept her promise with unbridled joy. We would dance, humming as she swayed me through the steps. And while I’d sit off to the side with friends, I’d lose my breath watching her take over the floor. The DJ kept things moving with La India, Olga Tañón, etc. With her quick steps, and ceaseless laughter, she exuded brightness, an ever present grin as she whirled about, a beautiful fury, resplendent in her yellow dress. Many men joined her, none could catch her. To watch her, so free…in moments and moments, those walls crumbled to mere ashes at her feet. Goddesses, how amazing, how beautiful to witness free women setting wildfires to the tangled weeds of work and married life.

Maria: She sounds divine. And I’m sure you saw her moves and her “amazing mattress” again.

伊凌: [laughing] Yes, patience you perv.

Maria: Girl, we are on our last pour of tea. Keep it hot please.

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伊凌: Alright, alright. Soon after that, I took her up on those invitations and employee benefits.

Maria: BAHAHAHA, employee benefits!!

伊凌: Yes [laughing] to echo your story, it is the unassailable truth that intimacies in our own languages is hotter and with multilingual tongues, even sexier.

Maria: Word, who doesn’t like a bitch who can roll her R’s? Ok, how did it happen?

伊凌: Well, as election day drew nearer, our work days got even longer. We both reasoned that me staying over at her place, which was much closer to our office, was only logical. Save on gas and drive time, ya know?

So there were more mornings, more quiet times in the early sunshine to the soundtrack of the faint highway a few blocks away. We’d spend the sunrise gazing into each others’ eyes. 心話心聲就這麽傳的嘛~心連心…hearts so conveyed in our ways between women of color. Then when we’d catch each other during the churn of the day, that oasis of serenity would open up again, just with a gaze, a laugh, or touch. In more and more ways, we held each other.

Then E-day, in the early morning hours when even the freeways were resting, during sleep, I had curled up behind her, one arm draped over Eri’s, another under her neck, and we were pressed together. I breathed in that tender musky place where her hair curled over the soft bend of her neck and woke to her rocking against me.

“伊凌…” she gasped as I mumbled into her neck with the hazy pleasure of our hips rolling together. “¿Dios, 伊凌, what are you doing to my body?”

Then she pulled away, my arm flopping to the warm sheets where she’d just been asleep. She turned to me, her teeth darting out to chew her lips as she hovered inches away. Agonizingly, I opened my eyes to peer at her, her curly hair tousled in the first gleams of dawn. Her eyes appraised me intensely, darting over bare legs, panties and the shirt she’d lent me bunched around my chest.

All I knew was a wild and total ache to hold her again. I needed to return to mere moments ago. “Eri,” I husked in my crackly morning murmur.

“You…no, I can’t do this to you. You…you’re going to be important here, you are so important to our community. I shouldn’t…but…I…do you want this?”

I stared at her, my 心 still rolling through sweet slumber in her scent and her first ramblings. She expelled a frustrated breath and leaned over, hands braced on either side of my shoulders.

Instinctively, I reached for her.

With a growl, she pressed a wet kiss to my neck, tremoring hotly as a moan burst from my lips. She pulled our shirts off. Then, we were dancing again. Eri was surprisingly adept during her first time with a woman. But this time, given she’d never come with any of the men before, we tasted, touched, learned new freedoms together. What was walled between us fell away for us to move in another rhythm. And in this dance, as she shook on top of me, crying out in the morning sunlight, this motion, this flow — it was all ours.

Throughout the day, we kept at it, sneaking off to kiss in the storage rooms —where I couldn’t help but wonder what kinds of histories we might be joining with this kind of play —and in front of those people she was still a married woman. She’d brazenly graze my arms and shoulder and anywhere she could with lingering touches and too close whispers about things decidedly not work related. A viper of electricity pulsed between us —a live wire freed from the casings of concrete walls. Our movement was dangerous, alive and surging full of power.

And though that election was stolen by nightfall and our communities’ hell ended only for the day, we walked through the dark parks, distributing food and kissing under street lamps before returning to our oasis for another 16 hours. If it wasn’t for my flight, our freaky fun marathon could’ve gone on, but for those moments and moments, she stopped the endless posturing for anyone but ourselves and herself.

Sunrise, sunset, sun shining through and over partitioned living rooms and lives, full of dark shadows cast by stupid walls of patriarchy, religiosity and legality, in the place where the world would not see us, we were free. For two dawns and two dusks and all that stretched between, we vibrated in an oasis of sunshine together.

Maria: Damn. [exhales a long stream of smoke]

伊凌: Yea.

divider: pink squiggle

伊凌: [stands to walk to the lake edge. pours tea leaves into the lake, praying]

感恩您歡迎我們 dear spirits here, luscious trees, slowly rolling lake filled by the waters from Muhheakantuck, turtle friends, sunshine and sunset, dissolve these goddamn heartbreakers, all asinine walls, so wrong and cruel. How many loves, how many 心 xin-hearts, how many contortions break under vicious racist and religious legalisms, gender roles, colonial u.s.amerikkkan migration law? How brilliantly could we live if we just let the suns of our xin’s shine instead?

Please grant us all safe passage in this life and next, Lenape spirits, original guardians of this land, 地藏菩薩 and the guardians of all travelers across Turtle Island now and the expanses of great oceans. Be with us, hold us a little surer, your children who move with the feminine, the womyn, girls and tender ones tonight. Until we make another world, help us unlearn, remember and re-imagine the ways we can move free in ways ancient and anew.

Maria : Gracias. [pours out the third cup at the root of the tree]

Sounds like sun didn’t set for a long time for y’all. Did you ever see Eri again?

伊凌 : [pausing as the winds move through the branches]

That my friend, is a story for another time with another tea. Speaking of sunset, we should wrap up before the ducks go all CSI. I’m pretty sure wilder things happen in the amphibian kingdoms at night. Shall we?

Maria : We shall. And don’t think I’ve forgotten about our pu’erh time.

伊凌: Okkkkkk soon, soon. [clinks cups]


edited by yvonne.



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鄭伊凌 cheng yi ling [she/they/(possibly)yours<3] lives in rural Taiwan by their beautiful blue na-noon, building a tea home with oceans, rivers, grandmas, mamas, aunties, siblings, while waiting for citizenship. She wonders about island queerness and writes loving jeremiads for all friends and lovers who struggle for justice and serenity in their homelands.

María José is a Salvadoran and Ecuadorian-American queer feminist. She is from Queens, NY (like, she actually was born and raised in NYC, not a transplant who claims NYC after moving here post-grad) and writes personal essays and fiction. Last year, she participated in Leslie-Lohman’s Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art’s ‘Queer Resistance Writing Workshop.’ Currently, María José is working on her lovable serial killer novel titled “Rosario, the Millennial Murderer.” She is also trying to perfect her Spanish by listening to the original “Despacito” every.damn.day. She is also trying to perfect her death drop.

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