let’s talk about love, yeah?
let’s talk about love and society, and how the two get along about as well as fire and water.
love is fire, brimstone, spurting hot sparks towards those who dare to get near.
society, on the contrary, is water. cold, suffocating, with the capacity to wash out and overwhelm those who wander too far off the deep end.
when i was in second grade i had my first crush on a girl. i couldn’t really grasp the concept that it was a crush, though. instead, i had always told myself i had a crush on a boy named kevin, because he was funny and we both liked ninja turtles.
but then i met a girl named julia. she was funny and nice and pretty and she completely blew kevin out of the water. we were best friends all year, and i remember laying in bed the night before she came over to my house and thinking that i really liked julia. and as i turned over to look at a picture of us that i’d taped on my wall, i thought that maybe, just maybe, i would risk my life to save her own.
pretty drastic for a second grader, i know. but love has always been about self sacrifice for me. i just didn’t realize it at the time.
maybe that’s why i get taken advantage of easily… because i’m someone who’s willing to be the mat you wipe your feet on at the door. i’m willing to lose time and time again as long as you win. maybe that’s more important then i think it is.
anyway, julia was wonderful. i was very very sad when she moved away, and i wrote her tons of letters that i never got replies to. it was hard to keep in touch and that age. plus i was only seven years old. there wasn’t much substance there for me. i moved on.
third grade rolled around and the pressure to fit in hit us all. i met a girl named emily, who wore lots of black and painted her nails and loved high school musical. and i was so fascinated by her. i did whatever it took to be her friend. it’s funny… how i developed this pattern of forming best friendships with the girls i was attracted to.
as long as i could be close, i figured.
as long as i could be close, i would be happy.
but sometimes, closeness isn’t the best idea. because being a few metaphorical inches away from something you can’t have is very frustrating.
this is where society began to drip. it started as a steady leak, one i didn't even notice. before long, though, i was drowning.
i’ve never had a crush on a guy. and it's weird for me to say that, because i’ve convinced myself that i have. but it’s not a crush in the contextual way that most people believe. it was me looking at other girls and their crushes and thinking “wow, she likes him because he has a bowl cut. maybe i should like him because he has a bowl cut and he’s funny.” it was never an unconscious attraction on my part. it was forced. it was make believe, so i would have something to gush about with my friends. i guess i’ve always been a good liar.
after i finished third grade, we moved about an hour away. the following few years were pretty eventful for me. i was thrown into my adolescent years a bit earlier than i would have preferred, and i struggled to keep up with all the girls who were getting their first bras and doing their makeup - while all i wanted to do was jump on the trampoline and make blanket forts with my friends. however, i didn’t want to be left behind either. those years were a balancing act for me… dipping my toes in the water of growing up while desperately clinging onto what remained of my fleeting childhood. (i don’t think my inner child ever really left, though. i hope she never does. i hold her dear to me.)
i had a ‘boyfriend’ in fifth grade. although i wouldn’t even call him that. his name was jacob, and i always thought he was weird, but we were good friends because he lived in my neighborhood. i was the one to ask him out, actually. it was a joke, but when he took it seriously, i had to stop and think for a moment. it was my chance, i suppose. so now we were “dating.” i even ran all the way home and giddily told my mom before i even got in the front door.
i vividly remember laying in bed that night and feeling something i hadn’t really felt before, though. i couldn’t quite put a finger on it. all i knew is that i didn’t like it.
regret. it was regret. i can still feel it so clearly. it kept me up that night.
we lasted for about 3 days. he came over to my house and we ate sour patch kids and jumped on my neighbor’s trampoline.
he broke up with me in the lunch line. i think he expected me to be upset, but i just shrugged and grabbed my lunch tray and proceeded to join my friends at the table and completely forget about him. ah, the trials and tribulations of a fifth grade relationship. (jake turned into an absolute douche in the following years. he sat next to me in seventh grade math and made fun of me endlessly. i’ve always had stellar taste in guys.)
anyway, fast forward to middle school. hormones galore.
me? i was still content with building cardboard arcade games in the basement and jumping on the trampoline. (hell, i still am.)
middle school was hell. it was and i think it always will be. you just can't throw those many kids in one place and expect everything to sail smoothly. i didn’t really have any friends expect for the girls in my neighborhood.
my friend that i sat next to on the bus had a new crush every month, and she’d assume the routine of teasing me with this secret information before making me swear on my family’s name that i wouldn’t tell a soul. then she’d bashfully whisper a boy’s name into my ear and i’d laugh and go along with it, because i figured it was normal.
something that stands out to me now when i look back on my middle school years, was the rise of justin bieber and the scrutiny of the word ‘gay.’ it was thrown around so freely that i unknowingly picked it up as an insult. soon it was part of my vocabulary. i never even thought about what it meant. i was a follower at the time.
until it slipped out at a family dinner, where my uncle (who is very, very gay. although i wasn’t aware at the time) immediately stopped me and talked to me about it. he never did tell me that he was gay (i asked my mother when i was older), but he made it very clear that it wasn’t a word to be used like that. and so i made sure that the word ‘gay’ never left my mouth as an insult.
it’s funny, though. because i don’t remember ever learning what the word 'gay’ actually meant. and i never remembering considering that i was anything but straight. although, in my defense, i never remember thinking that i was 100% straight, either. to me, romance had cooties. i used to squeal and hide my face whenever a couple kissed on the television. i wasn’t mature enough to think about those type of things, yet.
middle school started as hell and ended as a hospital visit. which although, to my mother’s surprise, had nothing to do with my sexuality.
high school rolled around at a new school. a private, christian school that was my parent’s last hope and wish for me. maybe less kids would make me feel more comfortable. maybe i could make friends.
and i did. i met my best friend sarah there and we’re still friends to this day, even after ridding ourselves of such a toxic environment. it’s funny, because i was never attracted to her. she’s practically my sister, that’s just weird.
anyway, in freshman math class, on the first day, the teacher asked us to partner up with someone we didn’t know very well. i wasn’t sure what to do, because i knew no one. but, before i could act, someone had scurried over to my desk and slapped her hand down on the surface, laughing: “i call her!”
her name was tori.
now, i’m not sure if i believe in love at first sight, but when i saw her i just knew something was different. i like to think of it as attraction at first sight.
she was beautiful, and funny, and outgoing. and she knew who she was. she was confident. she walked around the school like she owned the place. and to me, she was unattainable. we remained acquaintances for the remainder of freshman year, but i never thought we would become as close as we did.
in sophomore year, tori’s boyfriend moved to a different school and somehow i was the person she latched onto. although she was still dating her colombian boyfriend, i somehow became her closest friend at the school.
i could get into so much detail, but i’ll keep it short - i really liked her.
looking back, it’s funny to me that i used to wonder why i was never satisfied with our friendship. we were the best of friends that anyone could be. teachers were shocked to see us apart. yet, for me, something was missing. i wanted more, but i wasn’t sure what “more” was.
i realize now that the thought of holding her hand or being close to her as more than just a friend was such an abominable idea for me that i pushed it as far away as i could. if i thought about it, i’d have to face that fact that it wasn’t as far off of an idea as i thought it was.
remember how i said my love was about self sacrifice?
yeah. i would have given everything for that girl.
my grades suffered because i used to stay up until 1am helping her with her homework, or merely keeping her company on facetime while she reorganized her closet (for the millionth time). i comforted her night after night, through family problems and boyfriend issues, all the way to when she was diagnosed with lymes disease and nearly had give up her dream of playing basketball. god, i even gave her boyfriend my ipod so he could have a way to communicate with her. i stole money from my parents to buy her a cross necklace after she lost hers and nearly cried (because it was special to her.)
i would have taken a bullet for her. not even caring if she was the one holding the trigger.
i can’t put it into words. i’ve never been that close to someone… that enamored… that endeared. she was everything to me at the time. all my other friendships began to suffer because i had tunnel vision. all i saw was her.
a certain day in our friendship sticks out to me. it was the weekend, but the school’s art class had a field trip to an art museum. it was mandatory for art students (like tori), and optional for everyone else (like me). of course, i opted to go because i wanted to spend time with her. (what else is new?)
one of the buses was overcrowded, and so i texted tori and asked if she wanted to squeeze into the back of the van that me and my friend’s family was taking. when she responded with “only if i can sit next to you,” i remember feeling like i was on top of the world, even from something that small.
she was glued to my side the entire time we walked around the museum. i didn’t mind, either.
at one point, we sat down and she was practically on my lap. she looked at me, laughed, and said; “it’s like we’re a couple.“
and in that moment, i felt both completely crushed and completely filled. i decided then and there that i could deal with this. i’d be fine with pretending. i would have rather been just out of reach than completely distant.
i got my first real boyfriend in my junior year. his name was matt and he wanted to be a pastor when he grew up. he asked me out via video text on imessage and i remember cringing so hard when it happened. but we had been talking, and i didn’t want to lead him on, and tori had been very excited that i was actually talking to a guy. so i became involved with him.
the most we did was hug. actually, i remember the first time we hugged. it was at a school retreat, and we walked back to the cabins together. after we hugged, i ran back to my cabin and squealed to the girls, jumping up and down. i remembering hearing them whisper afterwards about how i was overreacting, which was funny, because i must have been forcing such a dramatic reaction to keep everyone fooled that i didn’t even realize it was over the top.
about two days after we started dating officially, matt told me he loved me. i was baffled. love? what? wasn’t that supposed to be mutual? i was disgusted at the thought. i drew the line once he became mad at me for not being able to say it back. our relationship ended as quickly as it started, and i was back to being glued by tori’s side.
however, things happen, and my closeness eventually suffocated tori into the ending of our friendship. i left private school and homeschooled my way through high school. i still miss her, though. i think about her a lot. all i hope is that she’s doing okay.
even now, she could pull the trigger and i would still thank her a million times over.
the initial thought that i was gay probably appeared in my high school years. i think i knew all along. but i was young, i told myself. i didn’t have to deal with this right now. i pushed it as far away as i could and continued trying to find myself. funny how i openly denied a large part of myself. it was staring my straight in the face.
that’s where society comes into play. everything around us is tunnel visioned for heterosexuality. when i first learned what the word “gay” actually meant, i assumed that maybe… i don’t know… 1 in every 1000 people was gay. little did i know.
every show i watched was straight. even the antagonizing little sisters were gushing over some male celebrity. it was normal. i never even questioned it. i never even knew that straight wasn’t the only option. it’s almost as if i was brainwashed. sexuality was so set in stone that i just assumed it was how i was, too.
even now, images of two girls kissing makes me somewhat uncomfortable. not because it’s “unnatural,” but because my whole life has been training me to think a certain way. when i see something that goes outside those lines, it’s as if my brain short circuits for a moment, before i realize there’s no reason for me to feel uncomfortable.
being a lesbian (although i don’t identify as strictly homosexual) is beginning to acquire a new portrayal in the media. before, you never saw lesbians outside of porn. but now, they’re on tv. although many are strictly butch. many are stictly femme. many have strict “male and female” roles in same sex relationships. two drunken girls hook up at parties and forget anything ever happened. it’s not real.
one of my favorite scenes in any movie ever is in the movie 'gia,’ where angelina jolie’s character makes her girlfriend dinner and they sit down together and start kissing, all giggly and cracking jokes. it’s stripped down. it’s not hollywood-style lesbians. it’s real. they’re kissing and they’re laughing and pulling away because they’re laughing so hard that they can’t keep kissing. it’s what i want. not some oversexualized bullshit to cater to a straight man’s fantasy.
now, i’m 16. i’m in college. i’ve published a book about a relationship between two girls. i came out to my mother last week. she asked, and i told her. it was simple. i delivered myself with confidence and because i did so, she accepted it. i think if i had told her earlier, when i was insecure and nervous, it would have been a lot more difficult for the both of us.
i’m still working on accepting myself, though. i’m going through myself and cutting out the parts of me that i’ve created to please others, and clinging onto the parts of me that are gut-wrenchingly real. when i told my best friend was gay, i knew she had already suspected it. i didn’t expect her reaction, though… and it was no reaction. within five minutes of the dreaded “i’m gay” confession, we were already laughing and joking and moving onto another topic.
sometimes i think she’s more at peace with my sexuality than i am.
but it’s okay. i’m working on it. i’d be alright with staying single forever. at this point in my life, i’m focusing on my relationship with myself. i'm learning to love the parts of myself that i've kept hidden for so long, and this is just one of them. so even if i never do get my first kiss, i won’t even need it.
besides, at the end of the day, you’re the only person you lie down with at night. and you’re the only person you wake up with in the morning. so you better know and love yourself just as much as you would a partner. i’m on my way there.
— something that’s been on my mind all day