I met her in middle school. We had a lot in common. We both liked Pokemon. We both loved art; I draw and she paints. We were both awkward - I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and she had generalized anxiety disorder which had a tendency to manifest as social anxiety.
We also both thought we were cishet guys, but in our classmates’ eyes we failed at that. We were too effeminate, not masculine enough, not experienced enough with girls. We both liked girls, but it’s not like girls were lining up to date two awkward girly boys who weren’t very good at talking. We weren’t bitter about it. We didn’t rant about how girls were terrible because they didn’t date us. We just hung out, played Pokemon, made silly inside jokes, and rolled with the punches when someone spread a rumor we were gay and dating each other.
She came out as trans in 10th grade. She was scared, but told me living a lie would kill her if she kept doing it. I remember thinking how incredibly brave it was, especially with her anxiety. This put a target on her back. People would have left me alone to focus on her, if I allowed it. I gathered all my courage to tell her bullies to fuck off when she was too scared to. If anyone tried to lay a hand on her, I’d be there to defend her. The more she became herself, the more she became Natalie, the more I realized how beautiful she was. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be her or date her.
It took me a long time to put the pieces together. My friend didn’t want to date me since I still thought I was a cis guy and she liked girls, but we remained friends and I respected her boundaries. I’m not sure I would have made my discovery without her. It’s not like I had any trans icons to look up to at the time. My senior year I stopped giving a fuck since soon enough I’d be gone anyway, and I came out as trans too.
We didn’t date right away. We just stuck together as best friends and partners in crime. She gained more confidence as time went by. We didn’t have many other friends, but it was fine. I’d have sleepovers at her house (her parents were super accepting, luckily) and we’d talk about how someday we’d go to college in an accepting area and maybe things would be better. Not perfect, but better. It gave me hope.
We had a few drinks while celebrating our high school graduation. I’m not sure who kissed who, but both of us wanted it equally as badly. We were both 18 and never kissed before, so it was awkward and sloppy, but I couldn’t picture anyone else I wanted to kiss more.
In my drunken haze, I thought of what I wanted to say.
“Remember in middle school when people made that rumor? That we were gay, and dating each other?”
“Oh yeah. Fuck those people. I’m so glad we’re leaving.”
“Yeah, true, fuck em,” I slurred. “But y’know, it wasn’t a bad idea.”
“What are you saying?” Damn, and I thought I was the oblivious one in romantic situations.
“I’m saying I want to us to date, silly.”
“Oh, yeah, way ahead of you.”
We kissed again, and it was our first kiss as girlfriends. Nothing could have felt more right. We’re graduating college next semester, and still together. Someday I hope we can get married.
One day I’ll find her - the girl who knows the ends to all my sentences. Who knows how I drink my coffee and why I don’t mind waiting 15 minutes for the bus or the train or why I love long commutes. I’ll find the girl who knows why I don’t listen to certain songs anymore and why I listen to others on repeat. She will know why I’m always quick to do what I want and think about the consequences later. She’ll understand why I need reassurance or why some nights I fall asleep quickly but others I’m lying awake for hours. She will know all these things and yet she will love me and I, undoubtedly, will love her too.
you were pulled down from the heavens
and the world looks at you, wondering why
because what could grab a girl like that?
a girl all haloed and beautiful with a light
that seems to belong only to her,
no one sees the darkness that claws out
from inside your chest, only a sin to you
only a sin to those who don’t understand
because love never condemns.
not like this- love does not condemn.