why being honest and trusting rocks
Saturday. 7.20.13 9:13 pm
"So, are you full...?" one of my students starts to ask, not sure how to finish his sentence or if he should, in public.
He means to ask if I'm "full lesbian," and those two words together elicit a high-pitched chuckle from me. "No," I say, and then explain that my sexuality is fluid when he assumes I mean I'm bisexual. Yes, that would be the closest definition, I suppose, but it never felt like it fit (although, for a long time, it was how I identified).
"If I want to date a man, I date a man," I tell him, trying to lay it down simply. "If I want to date a woman, I date a woman." No labels involved. I'm not interested in just the binary--the whole spectrum is a giant smorgasbord of love, as far as I'm concerned, and I could fall for a nongendered individual just as easily, given the opportunity.
At this point, we share a radical high-five.
I've just come out of a morning session at orientation, which just happened to bring out the fact that I've never come out to my parents because they're low-key homophobic. This was in-context with the session, which is built to reach deep into our new students and give them a sense of how accepting and diverse strangers can be.
Both of the other interns working the session take me aside, separately, later in the day, and tell me they're proud of me. Confused, I ask both of them why, and they each give about the same answer, hours apart. "Did you see how many students felt comfortable enough to share, after you shared that?"
I didn't, in fact. My little brain jerked to life with pride that I may have actually helped someone open up, and it was just a great day.
time to push that entry down into the past.
Monday. 7.15.13 11:46 pm
It's around three o' clock in the afternoon on one of the most beautiful days of the summer. We're just folding our chairs after spending half an hour or so in the sand--plenty of time, considering the fact that his gorgeous house sits beachfront. He takes my chair from me and grins when I gently tell him to let me help him by carrying my own chair.
Nothing is more endearing than this smiling rejection. "Okay," I tell him, as he takes my chair. "Thank you."
We walk through the winding path back to his yard, and end up back on the screened-in porch, his cat in my lap and a welcome ocean breeze keeping me cool.
I don't know much about Clif, I think, but then we talk like it's nothing...for hours. His strangeness and mine are like warm (but not sweaty) hands knit together, in that comforting way that could be friendship, but could also turn into more.
The beauty is in the lack of expectations or rules. If we want to sit, and talk, and watch the ocean for several hours, we do. If we don't talk for several weeks, that's also okay. Time isn't always so relevant, with the right people. My best friend always used to say we were like magnets, in that we could endure months of silence, only to snap back together like no time had passed, later. It's true. Some links just work that way--which doesn't mean they should always have to (links can degrade, if you don't change together, or start to feel left behind), but rather that it's a convenient outcome of naturally-imposed distance.
I'm not sure what I'm trying to get at.
Sitting there with him is so peaceful that I catch myself with a relaxed smile on my face, several times, even as a silence washes over both of us. Things are easy, which is, if you haven't noticed, a somewhat new concept to me, as far as men are concerned. I'm used to dealing with the game, or playing a role, or feeling pressured to feel a certain way in a hurry, rather than this--whatever "this" is, whatever it encompasses.
Part of healing, for me, has been being completely honest about situations, and I'm really glad that the task has been so blissfully easy, so far. Today, an old friend asked me how I've been, and I happily told her, "Great."
And meant it.
I drive home in a wonderful mood.
to the person whose number I once again deleted, today:
Saturday. 7.6.13 6:17 pm
I'm not even going to make it private because guess what has two thumbs and doesn't give a crap!
An Open Letter:
You decided to leave our friendship totally untouchable, back in January. The very next weekend, I was on a plane to New York, where I was whisked away to a ball like a freakin' princess and treated as if I were an actual independent woman with valid thoughts, feelings, and ambitions. I went on to have a short romance with my date, but pulled away upon realizing that his priorities and mine weren't aligned. The only time I bit back at him during the end was when he chose to make me feel like a bitch for not carrying our last date out the way he wanted--for somehow disappointing him by not riding with him instead of taking my bike, for waving instead of hugging. That was when I told him the possessiveness was just reinforcing my decision, and he didn't talk to me for two months, which was fine.
You, however, messed up. And you know that, and I know you know that, but the extent of it really just isn't quite enough. Less than a month after you left, I knew liking you romantically was just a role I took on, because no woman in her right mind would like someone who consistently--consistently--made her feel so unworthy and like such a mess. You hurt me, and then you were the one to make it better...and somehow, all along, it was my fault. I made you hurt me, right? I made you leave. You made me feel insecure about the state of our relationship time and time again, constantly throwing out signals that you were jealous of other men, signals that you were interested in other women, signals that didn't make sense, especially knowing you and all that you insisted upon. And then I would express these enormous doubts and somehow my assumptions were silly and based on nothing and just me being insecure.
No, "like" is a strong word for how I felt about you. "Trapped" is a better fit. "Worthless." "Aching."
I went to New York hoping to forget you, and it worked. It wasn't the mini romance that helped, so much as the moment my heels sunk through five inches of snow and I laughed all the way into that New York mountain cabin. It was seeing the Washington Monument from the plane home, and experiencing the thrill of running through an airport to catch a flight. For the first time in several years, I wasn't thinking about you--I was thinking about my frozen feet, my connection flight, the sheer sense of newness...
I raised my ambition in your absence. When I wasn't studying hard and making new friends, I was volunteering for Relay for Life, kayaking on the ocean, helping build gardens for children living in the food desert, moving up in the ranks in my club, taking on a spring semester role in the office complete with giving interviews to new applicants, becoming a true feminist and sincerely aware of what it means to be privileged, tutoring students, finding my true future goals amidst all the false goals born from the fear that I would disappoint my parents, learning to trust again, climbing mountains, literally and figuratively, until I arrived at this point in my thinking where I had to ask, "Why the hell did I stay so long?" and I'm still wondering now.
While you were stagnant, treading water in the mess you made, I was out there living a life so full of color and possibility and thought...
And now you text me and say you're sorry, and all I can say is that it's already done and that you were forgiven long ago. For leaving, I nearly want to thank you, as I have been for months (I pause, for a moment, during wonderful days, and do just that), because I needed that. You were the world's heaviest security blanket; I couldn't move.
I asked if you intended to be friends, and you said you thought that would be very naive of you to intend, after neither of us speaking for six months. I told you it was sure a better plan than leaving, coming back to apologize, then leaving again, but honestly I know you won't stay, and that's fine. Halfway through your long and suffering apology, I realized that I didn't give two shits that you felt bad. That isn't what an apology is about--you don't sit around and express some long and drawn-out suffering that you've been through from hurting this other person. I was so hurt, and in such a bad place, and oh that's too bad, you felt terrible about what you did and thought about it long and hard?
Yeah, it shows in the six months you waited to apologize. It shows in the fact that you didn't once mention that you were sorry for hurting me. You were ashamed of an action, and that isn't the same thing as being sorry.
So here it is: I'm sorry that you're still the person I watched walk away, six months ago. You're still the same person who thought it was necessary to tell me to not kill myself when you left, and you're still the same person who will take any confrontation as a reason to "have a talk about where we stand," which is a fancy way of saying "we're splitting up." You're still the same person, and I'm not...and that leaves us far apart with no reason to draw closer.
You haven't earned my trust, my confidence, or even my warmth. If you ever manage to accomplish any of the three, maybe then we can talk.
Until then, don't text me; I'm busy being amazing.
a walk through the city
Wednesday. 7.3.13 9:27 pm
Meagan was at my door around quarter past two in the afternoon, today. She used the bathroom, then opted to walk instead of driving to the spot I had in mind for our afternoon wine and chat--which suited me, since it meant we could both drink to our desires without worrying about being functional enough to operate a vehicle safely.
The walk took less than an hour, I think, and it was generally pleasant, albeit moist from the post-rain humidity. We admired the architecture I'd grown accustomed to and wandered through campus while I told her stories about our generous alumni (husband and wife) who inspired our class ring, then walked down the shopping district until we hit the end, only walking a couple dozen feet before reaching our particular hole in the wall haven. A quirky location with the most wonderful French cuisine, our restaurant had mostly bar seating and sparse, unusual decor. She ordered the special, which was a delicious-smelling curry, a fresh slice of watermelon, and some bread and cheese, and I ordered a croissant with warm goat cheese and a side salad. We held conversation effortlessly the entire time, aided a bit by the rather strong house wine and the unassuming atmosphere. It's much easier to talk, not to mention, when the servers hardly hear you when you need them to, much less when you don't. It rained a bit, while we ate, but ceased long before we left the tiny room.
After finishing our wine at leisure, we sought out (and eventually failed to locate) her dream shorts at the rather morally-unfortunate Forever 21 in the shopping district, but first stopped into a Unitarian graveyard to enjoy the tranquility (me) and history (her). The entire site was overgrown with plant life, which seemed appropriate; with so much death on the grounds, why cut away at the only life?
After all this was said and done, I showed her my favorite store in town, and she wandered it, touching everything in her path, for several minutes, finally settling on a tapestry, a friendship bracelet, and some incense to bring home for herself. Having been by just days before, I settled on a pack of ten incense sticks, one of which is burning now. Again, it rained a bit, and again it stopped, minutes before we were ready to leave.
The day was still relatively young. I joked about the beach, which is still a sore spot for myself, to be quite honest, considering that it's been raining for the past week straight...which happens to coincide with my break from work. I gave her some options, and we decided to enjoy a hookah at one of my favorite spots in the city.
She ordered her favorite dip, having been there with me before; I ordered baklava. Then, the mystery hookah came, and we smoked our way into a euphoric, giggly buzz, especially enjoying the bubble kit I'd ordered with a couple extra bucks--the outcome essentially looks like this:
Mostly, I ordered it because she said she was bad at it, and I wanted her to get better at it so we could all blow bubbles together, next time she came down for more than a day.
She was successful. In fact, she blew a bubble so big that the waitress passing by muttered, "Nice," transfixed on the giant, smoke-filled orb.
This is not what attracted Will's attention, but he came by to make conversation. I knew him from orientation--he'd just transferred in--but didn't know that he'd been hired at the restaurant just recently. I invited him to sit and all three of us smoked and talked for at least an hour. He took my phone and made sure I not only had him on Facebook and Vine, but that I also favorited every single Vine he'd ever produced. He then proceeded to ask me to come back to smoke hookah with him, sometime, and put his number in my phone, texting himself my full name so he could save my information, too.
That was easily the slickest way I have ever been asked out.
Meagan and I walked back around seven, neither of us understanding where the time went. There was a lot of laughing and general giddiness at the perfect day we'd just shared, absolutely emphasized by the hookah buzz, which was still flowing pretty strongly. I made sure we walked a different way so that she could see different houses, and we talked about Victorian architecture. By eight-thirty, she was headed out on the road towards our hometown, and I was left again with my newfound collection of film and television sources (all, of course, one hundred percent illegal...and one hundred percent useful during long, rainy breaks).
I needed a day like today. As fantastic as this city is, I sometimes let myself forget how good it feels to walk all the way across town for a good meal and some time outside.
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