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When I first moved to town for grad school, I didn't know anyone, and didn't have a place to live. Having been to college, I wasn't going to live in the dorms again. But being a very small college town, apartments off campus were in high demand. Prices were higher than most large cities. After a week of frustrating searching, I found one potential place. It was an old victorian house that had been divided into a downstairs and upstairs apartment. There were two dudes that lived on the first floor. Susan lived upstairs, which was two tiny attic rooms with sloping ceilings, a tiny bathroom, and a walk-in closet that had been retro fitted to make a kitchen. The rent was ridiculously high for such a small space, but it was my only lead after a week of dead-ends.

Susan had been sharing the apartment with another girl, who apparently decided to up and leave. Susan was stuck with her name on the lease, and rent coming due. As a student, she couldn't afford the bills on her own.

So, you'd think it'd work out perfectly. But Susan had grown up in a fundamental religious family, and she really didn't want to live with a guy roommate. I, in turn, didn't really want to live with a fundamentalist. But, what are you going to do? We both needed what the other one had to offer. So, with some mixed feelings of compromise on both sides, I moved in.

Susan was a nice girl. Very warm and friendly. She wasn't preachy at all about her religion, though she invited me to her church, and a couple times I went out of curiosity and politeness. But I was never a church type, and the people seemed way too friendly and kind of creeped me out. But Susan and I got along fine. She'd often cook veggie lasagna and share it with me. She'd have wine with diner and tell me she didn't drink, or at least, grew up in a family that didn't drink and her church didn't condone it.

College was all about breaking away from her family, but she wasn't the girl who went to the other extreme. It seemed like she actually wanted to get through college unchanged, and hanging onto her religious ways, because they mattered to her, because they'd defined her, and given her a sense of self and purpose in the world. She didn't want to loose that. But then, she liked wine with lasagna. Was it really so sinful? Could she have wine and keep her core values? She talked about this to me a lot.

We really didn't have a living room to hang out in together, so to share a meal meant sitting in one of our rooms. Anyone who has ever spent time with someone in very close quarters knows that proximity can create attraction. When I first moved in, there was absolutely no spark between Susan and I. She seemed nice, but sort of plain. She saw me as a necessary compromise in her rule not to live with any guy before marriage. But when you hang out with someone, and eat with them, and just see them every day, they can start getting more and more attractive.

How do these things happen? In September we're total strangers, by November, we're on her bed making out. She liked kissing, she liked my hands moving into her shirt, siding over her jeans, tugging at her belt, pushing down into her panties. She liked petting a lot. She'd get really wet and worked up, and then break it off suddenly. She absolutely wasn't going to have sex before marriage she'd say. And then we'd be kissing again, and then her shirt was on the floor.

Then she'd break it off, and say, "No, really, I can't go any further, I already have gone way too far." And she'd feel really, deeply, sincerely bad. And then she'd kiss me more, and get worked up, and let me take off her pants.

She was, I discovered, unshaven. This was not that long ago, and pretty much every girlfriend I'd had kept her bush trimmed short, almost to a stubble, and shaved on the lips. Susan didn't. Growing up in the small fundamentalist community, I guess she was more isolated from the more modern trends. Regardless, I found it different, and therefore, rather arousing. It seemed like natural, untouched territory. Wilderness, ready to explore.

As the week passed, we went further and further. After a while, it was not uncommon for Susan to end up totally naked by the time she stopped us.

One day, during our usual stop/start/stop/start make out sessions, I snapped a photo of her. She's standing, and smiling half amused, and half annoyed. She pretended to want to stop, but lay back on the bed and opened her legs, offering a view to my camera. I could tell she was very nervous and uncomfortable. Internally,her sexuality was fighting to be let free. I encouraged her by telling her how good she looked in the lens. She rolled over on her knees and gave me a view of her body from behind. She wanted to be proud of her body, she wanted to be seen as sexy. She wanted to feel sexy, and not ashamed.

My forth and final photo of her, she's standing again, and this time the smile is more easy and relaxed. She had pushed herself to the edge of her comfort zone, and broken through.
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