I. I can vividly recall two things about Kindergarten: one being that my teacher, Mrs. Barker, could never have enough bee-themed decorations in her classroom. The second thing was Delilah.
“II. Delilah was my best friend in Kindergarten. She had wavy brown hair, beautiful dark brown eyes and skin, and she always wore the same thing: a blue sweater with yellow flowers. I wish I remembered more about her, and about our friendship, but the image of her smiling at me on the hooded blacktop is all I can remember. What strikes me the most about this is that despite however many faces have come and gone in my life, her face, her hair, her eyes, and her sweater are still so clearly-defined in my memory.
“III. In the first grade, Mrs. Sullivan taught us about butterflies. Her golden blonde hair ended just above her shoulders, and she always smiled as though she was the happiest person in the world. I don’t recall if I ever did, but I hope that at some point, I told her she was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. I hope I made her smile.
“IV. When I was in the second grade, I moved to a different elementary school; not long after beginning there, I met a girl named Katie. I don’t remember many details about our friendship; I don’t know what we talked about, what part of the playground we enjoyed the most, or if she liked Littlest Pet Shop toys just as much as I did. What I do remember is falling on the grass, and a moment later, Katie offering me her hand to help me stand again, giggling loudly as she did so. There must have been something very special about Katie that stuck with me, because when I had to move again, I kept a photo of her that she gave me, one where she was positively beaming at the camera. I don’t remember exactly when I lost the photo, but I still remember just how utterly happy she looked.
"V. For most of the third grade, a girl named Natalie shared a bus seat with me, where we would read the same books together, taking great care not to turn the page until knowing that the other had also finished reading it. When I had to move at the end of the year, she took a bright red colored pencil to the inside cover of her personal copy of ‘Marley and Me’, which was our favorite, and wrote ‘FROM: NATALIE’ in the tidiest letters she possibly could. Before leaving the bus for the last time, she asked me to keep it.
"VI. In the fourth grade, I had finally settled into a school that I would be staying in, and that was when I met Kaitlynn.
"VII. Kaitlynn had bright red hair, impeccable fashion, and some of the highest cheekbones I had ever seen. We sat together on the bus rides to and from school every day, shared silly secrets, and I couldn’t have asked for a better friend at the time. Seeing as she was such a beautiful and kind girl, Kaitlynn attracted many other friends, as well as boys in our grade who would gawk at her from afar. Sometime towards the end of fourth grade, her newer friends convinced her to tell me that we couldn’t be friends anymore. I was heartbroken, and after an agonizing forty-five minute recess of me slugging around the playground by myself, the girls took pity on me, and Kaitlynn said we could be friends again.
"VIII. We remained friends, if not acquaintances, for many years. I think some part of me always cared for her more than a friend would, but after elementary school, we didn’t speak as much. We rarely shared a bus seat anymore, but when we did, she would go on as if our previous conversation had only just finished. I held no resentment for her, and genuinely enjoyed her company, even if it was only when she needed to vent about something or pass the time. I always thought of her as the girl who could never be hurt by anything or anyone, but when she only seemed to share her vulnerable moments with me, I couldn’t help but feel special.
"IX. I never realized that all the years meant so much to her, because on the last day of seventh grade, the day she had to move across the country, away from all her friends she had made over the years, she sat with me on the bus ride home. She quietly asked me if I knew it was her last day, and when I said yes, she burst into tears. I was surprised, seeing as our last conversation had been so long ago, but I immediately embraced her, gently stroking her hair to calm her down. Though it was difficult through her sobs, I was able to catch a few ‘I’m sorry’s, ‘I’ll miss you’s, and occasionally-coherent thoughts, like how she wished she had been a better friend to me, and that she was so thankful for all the time I spent listening to her, even when she treated me poorly or otherwise ignored me. We hugged one last time before she had to get off the bus, and she managed to look as if nothing had happened by the time her stop had come. As she waved goodbye and smiled brightly to some of the other students on the bus, I desperately wished that she would never leave.
"X. Now that I understand what all this means, I can hardly keep myself from telling others just how much I love women. The little girl who pined for girl after girl after girl finally gets the validation she deserved but never received so many years ago.
— “but you’ve never liked girls before,”