Monthly Archives: February 2010

Whiner: A Story in Three Parts

You know what?  Sometimes?

I just feel so alone.  And trapped in my life.  And lonely.

I’ve got this very straight life, with very wonderful, but very straight friends. They’re supportive, no doubt, but they don’t quite understand what it’s like to be gay.  Or what it’s like coming out in your 30’s when you already have an established life.

And so I feel like I’m left with no one to talk to, no one to commiserate with or talk me down when things get crazy.  Which is why, I suppose, this blog came into being.

But even here, the words are out there but just sort of echo back at me.  I have no idea if this does anyone any good, especially me.  But, I keep pressing forward as the words tumble out, looking for a place to go.  Not sure, at this point, what else to do with them except to keep posting them here.

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You know, it isn’t that I don’t feel like that — but even thinking it, much less writing it down in black and white, makes me feel like a big, fat whiner.  A complainer.  Someone who uses that awful “woe is me!” tone of voice too much.

I mean, generally speaking, my life is good.  I’ve got a family that while I might not be out to, they’re great people.  I’ve got an awesome bunch of friends.  A job that not only pays the mortgage but allows me to spend money on frivolous things occasionally. I’ve managed to find hobbies and recreational activities that keep me in shape and feed my spirit.  What’s to complain about?

And that’s how I end up mute.  Not talking to anyone because I always feel a little judged on whether or not I have the right to be unhappy or depressed. Or thinking that if I whine too much that I won’t have any friends left who will listen to me.  I mean, *I* don’t like listening to myself when I’m like this, why would I think someone else would enjoy the privilege?

My way of thinking is this:  a little complaining is okay.  But if you complain but never take action to correct what you’re complaining about?  Then, just shut it. Complaining without accompanying action ends up being just empty, whiny words.  And no one wants to hear the same problems over and over.

So, the answer’s right there, then, right?  Just do something about it.  Action. But – I feel stuck.  Like a deer in headlights, almost.  And then, unable to take my own advice — take some action to remedy the issue — I find myself feeling like I’m a downward spiral.  I feel bad, but don’t want to bother anybody with it.  And then I feel worse because I can’t seem to escape my own thoughts.

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I’ll be okay.  I know I will.  These moods pass, the funk clears.  Some days are better than others.  I think the way out is probably talking to my family. Deep down I know that weighs on me more than I allow myself to think that it does and the stress of essentially living two lives is taking its toll.

In the meantime, better days are ahead, I’m sure of it.  Running and biking and sweating all help to beat back the bad feelings.  The return of warmth and sunlight will help immeasurably (Spring’s just around the corner, right?).  And I’ll just keep truckin’ on, trying to figure my way out of this without complaining too much.

And maybe I’ll even work on talking to someone other than this screen in front of me.

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Kicking and screaming

Some of the best things in my life have happened because I was utterly opposed to them and some well-meaning friend or family member dragged me, almost literally kicking and screaming, into doing what I most wanted not to do.

The first time this happened?  I was about 12 or so.  It was an annual summer tradition:  me and my sister, and my 2 other cousins from Ohio would stay for a week at our aunt’s house.  There would be all sorts of fun activities, from tearing around the neighborhood, terrorizing some of the boys on the street, to the week-ending trip to the Great America amusement park.

Back then, I was TERRIFIED of roller coasters.  And everyone else in my family absolutely LOVED them.  The genesis of my fear was the kiddie roller coaster at Kiddyland – a rickety atrocity that I look back on now and wonder how that ride didn’t actually throw a kid from the car.  Of course I hated it.  It was bumpy and fast and sounded like it was going to fall apart at any moment.  My opinion even now?  Very practical fear.

That translated, then, into a fear of any kind of roller coaster.  The bigger it was, the more afraid I was of it.  So, we’re at Great America.  I’ve spent a good chunk of the day wandering around by myself waiting for everyone to ride the roller coasters (back in the day you were allowed out of an adult’s eyesight without too much to worry…), and then almost at the end of the day, the group wanted one more ride on The Demon.

THE DEMON.  Even the name sounded frightening!  A big drop and two upside-down loops.  How people didn’t routinely perish while riding this was beyond me.  My cousins and sister decided that I needed to go on it.  Literally – they dragged me into line and forcibly kept me there until we were well into the queues.  I believe I whimpered the entire time we waited in line.  When we got up to the ride, I attempted to walk into and out of the coaster car and down the exit.  I was tackled and pulled back on and buckled up (on another note, why did the workers there allow this??… but, I digress…).  As the ride took off, I felt sure that I was going to hurtle to my death (if not from being thrown, then from my heart completely stopping).

And… (wait for it… wait for it…) …. I LOVED it.  It was scary and exhilarating and thrilling and death-defying and somehow FREEING.  I couldn’t wait to get off so we could jump into line again.  And so now?  Yea, love roller coasters.

Exhibit #2:  I was in the middle of rehabbing a badly broken arm.  For over 8 months, I spent 3 hours a day, 3 days a week in a clinic, becoming friends with these therapists who had the joy of mending me.  One Occupational Therapist, J, I became particularly close with.  She knew I was an active person (I had broken my arm playing softball) and had learned enough about me to know that I was also easily peer-pressurable (that’s a word… really…).  One day, she comes up to me, waving a piece of paper, saying “We should do this!!  It’ll be FUN!!”.  It was an advertisement for running a half marathon in Nashville to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I read it.  Calmly looked at her and said, “What part of running 13.1 miles sounds like ‘fun’ to you?” to which she replied, “It’s in NASHVILLE!”.  I stared at her, blinking.  “We could just go to Nashville, you know.  No need to run 13.1 miles…”  In the end, she dragged me into this little adventure.

And we trained and trained and trained (I had never run anything more than a 5k before that… and that had almost killed me!).  I had previously been a weekend athlete – softball, racquetball, stuff like that.  Running?  That’s what coaches made you do when you were being punished.  Nothing good at all about running.

What I did enjoy about it was the opportunity to become closer with J.  It’s funny how spending hours of time, nothing but miles and the pounding of feet to keep you occupied can help you learn what a person is really about.  But still – the whole 13 miles thing?  I whined about it constantly.  Not only that, but we were training in the middle of winter.  In the Midwest.  In the snow.  And COLD.  I was miserable.

But as I morphed into a highly-tuned running machine (ha!), I found myself very grudgingly changing my opinion about it.  And by the time we ran the race (which is a story in and of itself…), we were both swearing that despite all of our complaining through the long, cold training months, that we were going to keep running and keep signing up for half marathons.

Really – it had changed my life.  For the first time since high school, I was in shape.  I had found an activity that didn’t require a team or a bunch of equipment and was still a way for me to be competitive and active.  In a way, I found a piece of me that I hadn’t even known existed before this time.  It was an awakening to the person I could be.

Now, I need one more experience like the previous two — there’s something I don’t really want to do.  I need to be more social.  I need to find myself a more gay-friendly support system.  I need to meet more lesbians.  But, I’m really not good at this sort of thing.  So, I’m kind of waiting for someone to come along and not just ask if I want to go out to a gay bar (because one of my friends does ask), but literally come to my house, dress me appropriately, coach me on how to act, and then drag my ass out there, forcing me to do the thing that I fear most right now.  Or any other sort of activity that would introduce me to a new set of people, really.  I wouldn’t be picky (especially if I wasn’t actually given a choice…).

But, I do need to be forced to do this.  Just ask me?  I’ll have some sort of excuse handy.  I’m not good at making myself to do things that push me out of my comfort zone.  I’ve said it before around here:  I can see where my destination is, but I lack the confidence to follow the path to get there on my own right now.

I think what I need is an old-fashioned bully.

Any takers?

Women of mystery

And by “women of mystery”, of course, I mean *all* women.  I just don’t get women.  Not one little bit, it seems.  All one big bundle of mystery to this newly-declared gay girl.

Guys are so much more straightforward.  You never wonder what they’re thinking or what direction the relationship is headed.  Never will the words, “Let’s just be friends and then see what happens” come from their mouths. And that makes it easy.  I might have my own communication issues, but I never wondered what was going on with any guy that I ever dated.

Women, on the other hand… seemingly unfathomable.  At least to me.  Really, what is this whole “be friends and see what happens” line? I’ve heard it at least 3 times now.  I figure, either you’re in a relationship with the intention of dating or you’re not.  That friends-but-maybe-more-but-maybe-not purgatory just seems like one long-ass interview for whether or not you’d be okay to date. What’s the point of that?  Why not just date?  Wouldn’t that be more efficient? (I’m all about efficiency… )

Here’s the other end of the spectrum:  guys aren’t looking to jump into relationships, for the most part.  Well, they are – but their definition of that is jumping into bed.  Perhaps they’re ready right away for the fun stuff, but ask them for a dresser drawer?  Ever see anyone run quite so fast in the other direction?

One of my first introductions to the lesbian lifestyle was the joke about what a lesbian brings on a first date?  A U-haul.  Um, yea.  That’s one of those jokes that’s funny only because it’s SO DAMN TRUE. Once you move from the interview stage, it’s like the dating stage doesn’t even exist, it’s all: you’re wonderful, let’s adopt a cat together.  Or maybe a dog.  Everyone’s different, you know.

All I know?  Aside from nothing?  That this makes my head spin.  What happened to the meet someone, date for awhile, see how things go and then decide whether something more committed or long term might be in the cards? Seems so… normal… to me to do it like this.

I always like the dating part.  The getting to know you part.  The talking and the movies and the fun activities that you’d never do until you’re looking for a way to pass a weekend.  And maybe sex is involved.  Perhaps it isn’t.  But the point is this:  yes, I’m interested.  Yes, I want to explore this further.  No, I don’t want to move in with you.

There are other women out there like this.  Right?

Don’t box me in!

I don’t know what it is, but I have a serious aversion to the terms “gay” and “lesbian” and all the rest of them.  Not that it stops me from using them, of course, but it’s mostly out of necessity:  there’s only so many ways to succinctly say “hey, I’d rather sleep with girls than with boys.”

This thought has been bumping around in my head for awhile, and I haven’t been exactly sure what to do with it.  It’s not as though I’m not gay or not a lesbian, but I think it’s more that I just don’t like being labeled as such.

It seems so constrictive – like a pair of jeans that you had to struggle into, and while they might function just fine, every breath reminds you that it’s not quite so comfortable (especially as soon as you have to sit down…heh) to actually live like that.

I guess this goes back to one of my previous posts, about how when you step outside of the bounds of what society considers “normal” sexual orientation, that all of a sudden you’re put into this box. Seems a little ridiculous to box in something that doesn’t really have boundaries.

I still really struggle with how when you’re attracted to people of the same sex, that you now have to declare yourself to your world, that now there’s something that other people need to know about you.  I mean, I didn’t have to come out “straight” back in the day when I started dating boys.  (“Mom, Dad… I know this is a shock, but… I’m going out on a date with… with… a GUY.”) Why do I now need to come out to friends and family?  Maybe I should also declare for all the world that I don’t like cats?  Or can’t stand peanut butter? (that last one especially sets me apart from most people…)

In an ideal world, there would be no boxes or categories or labels.  You would just be attracted to the person, regardless of gender or orientation.  No straight or gay or bi or anything else along the spectrum of sexual orientation. There would be no need to have awkward coming out conversations with the friends and family in your life, no need to even really make a decision as to what category you might fit into.

Because, sometimes committing to a certain category feels just as difficult as anything else.  I know I like women; that’s not in question. But I still have a hard time identifying with calling myself a lesbian.  Makes a lot of sense, I know.

Perhaps I chafe at the idea that it’s made to seem as binary as that — either you are or you aren’t.  Like I woke up one day, flipped a switch, and voila! I’m gay! Or maybe I just don’t like being told who I am on the basis of whether or not I follow societal norms.

But perhaps I’m just looking for a way out of having to go through the sometimes awkward, oftentimes emotionally-charged coming out conversations by blaming it all on “society”.  Damn you, Society!

But, at the most basic level, it comes down to me.  And my friends.  And my family.  And who they think I am, and who I might actually be.  It’s easy to rant against the world and all these big concepts that don’t rail back at you, but in the end, I’m still kind of stuck where I am now … with a lot of the people that I love not knowing something important about me.

Perhaps, it’s actually *me* that’s put me in this box?

Just a slice

You know, it’s funny.  I read back on my posts so far and you’d think that I do nothing but contemplate my gayness all day, every day.  It’s like 24/7 Lezzie Lifetime channel around these parts.

And sure, this is the one place that I really come to vent on this whole coming out process that I’m mucking my way through.  It’s *supposed* to be the topic of conversation.

But in real life, this is just a small slice of who I am.  If asked to define myself, I think:  good friend, runner, responsible employee, talented smartass, occasional triathlete, wanna-be chef … just another person, with my own unique set of baggage to trail along behind me, making my way through the world as best I can.

Because I feel that my sexual orientation is just a part of who I am (not insignificant, by the way, but certainly not the whole enchilada), I often wonder how people can stereotype so quickly based on just this one thing.

True story:  I had decided awhile ago that if anyone were to ask me straight out, or otherwise put me in a situation where I’d have to lie about myself, that no matter what, I’d tell them the truth.  And, that situation came up.

A friend of mine – not a close friend, but a friend nonetheless – was really pushing to set me up with a guy friend of hers. To get her to stop that foolishness, I admitted to her that I was gay. Now, this girl had a double whammy going:  ultra-conservative and very religious.  I’m not entirely sure exactly of her politics and faith – and that doesn’t matter, really – but she firmly believed that homosexuality was a sin, plain and simple.  Not only that, but a sin that was a conscious choice and for that reason, if you wanted to, you could change your orientation.

Bullpucky.  That’s what I call that belief.  Well, at least that was my view of the whole situation.

Her and I, well, we drifted apart after that.  She attempted a few times to get me to acknowledge that all I needed to do was see the light, and I could be saved (she was terribly worried about my soul… I told her that even as a straight girl, I was pretty sure that the handbasket to hell would have me riding shotgun).

She couldn’t see that I was exactly the same person that I had been before I had told her about me.  That my values hadn’t changed and my morals weren’t any more or less pure.  The only thing that had changed was not even that I liked girls, but that she now KNEW I liked girls.  I asked her if it was possible that she could overlook that and we could just be friends.  She was all “hate the sin, love the sinner” and such, but until I finally let the relationship fade, she never stopped trying to “fix” me.

And I’ve got to admit – that really hurt.  And honestly?  It made me even more reluctant to come out to people in my life if I even kind of suspected that they might not be receptive.  I mean, if this person couldn’t see past the fact that I thought chicks were more fun than dudes, was this what I get to expect from a lot of people out there?

I don’t get it.  Liking girls is such a small facet of who I am as a person.  Yes, it affects me in some very public ways – ways that make it a bigger deal than it is to me personally – but fundamentally, I’m still the same person I’ve always been. Why does it matter who I want to date?  Why is it that now, after nearly 40 years of fitting in, that this one thing can cause people to summarily dismiss me, as if this one little footnote about me completely defines my existence.

Because, really – I’m so much more than that.

Yea, I’m obsessing. But just a little.

I’m still stuck on this surprise party thing.  I mean, yes – I don’t like surprise parties.  Everyone knows that (except for my friends throwing this for me, apparently).  But why I am so over-the-top stressed about it?

Sometimes I can’t believe that all roads lead back to me not being completely honest with the people in my life.  I always seem to end up here, looking at the same issue, knowing what the answer is, and yet still afraid to take the next step.

Perhaps for my birthday I need to ask for, like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz, a little courage.

Sure, not everyone needs to know I’m gay.  In the same way that friends lose touch and stop sharing details, it’s not important to me – or to them – to know even the big things in my life anymore.  But there are plenty of people out there (hello, family!) who I’m short-changing by not being myself.

I said it before, I’m very much a black and white, on or off, love sushi or eat-raw-fish-you’ve-got-to-be-joking kind of person.  I generally don’t do the middle ground very well, and only being out to some people makes my life difficult.  I have to remember who knows what, and what details I’ve made public and even so much as to keep in mind strings of relationships:  sally knows jane who knows betty who lives where my sister does and they occasionally run into each other. And mind you, I’m not a details kind of person.

So to be tossed into this situation where I’ve constantly got to keep track of the who’s who in my life – while, likely, imbibing in a few adult beverages – might prove to be a rather stressful challenge.  Perhaps I can hand out name tags with descriptions like, “Hi, I’m J and I know Laura’s secret” as I see them at the party?  With my luck I’d be accused to running a pyramid money-making scheme.

Anyway, this stress has got to stop somewhere.  Perhaps a drunken announcement at the surprise party would REALLY make it a surprise party.  Heh. My friends might get what they’re asking for! And more!  Kind of like two surprises for the price of one admission.

The discord between my two lives – straight girl and gay girl – is just becoming more pronounced as time moves on and as I make further forays into the chick world. Sometimes its hard keeping track of whether I’m coming or going, even. I spend endless energy making sure that I don’t slip and tell someone about somewhere I went (on a date) or mention someone new that I’d have to explain how I met them.  It’s exhausting, really.

If anyone were actually reading this, I’m guessing I’d be getting comments that were virtual smacks to the head:  just do it!

I know.  Really- I know.

Surprise!

Let me put this out there:  I don’t like surprises.  Some you can’t avoid.  Like, say, “A tornado swept away your house.  Surprise!”  or “Those aren’t your real parents, they actually bought you at K-Mart  You were a blue-light special. Surprise!”  But, surprise parties? Totally avoidable.  And – I hate ’em.  And it’s not one of those declared hates that I secretly like… I really, really don’t like them.  Instead of making me jump with joy, they kind of make me want to sprint in the other direction.

And – unsurprisingly – the whole aversion to surprise parties doesn’t even have a thing to do with the being gay part.  Even as a straight girl, I didn’t like surprise parties.  Or, perhaps I should be more precise:  surprise parties thrown in my honor.

This is very well-known among my friends.  At least, I thought it was.

And then I got a phone call very early this morning:  my sister, risking the ire of everyone involved, told me that my friends were planning to surprise me for my 40th birthday.  Without me knowing, the family’s been all drama’d up this past week or so.  My sister and Mom went back and forth on whether to tell me, my brother was going to boycott the event knowing that it wasn’t something I wanted, and I even had other friends chiming in saying that it wasn’t a good idea.

And the best part? They had decided to have it… AT MY HOUSE.  Yes.  And now that I know (and, I haven’t quite decided my feelings on whether I’m glad about that or not), I’m going to have to clean my house, and shovel my driveway and make sure all the porn is put away before leaving on that day (joking!).

I was telling a friend about this today, trying not to sound like the spoiled, ungrateful bitch that I felt like and attempting to explain why this bothered me so much — both surprise parties in general and this one in particular.

First – surprise parties in general: it’s been ugly to admit it, but I’m a control freak.  At least some of the time.  And big social situations definitely have that distinction.  So, you want to drop me in the middle of 30 or so people and take away every comfort that I might have by taking away control?  Let’s talk about panic attacks.  Heh.  I don’t mind being the center of attention when it’s my doing and on my terms, but when I’m not in charge, I become skittish and it makes my “flight” instinct kick in.

This one in particular?  There’s going to be a very wide mix of people invited. From all of my different social circles.  And I’ve gone through a lot of trouble in the past to kind of keep all these people separate.  They all know different versions of me – and now that disparity is even more stark, as I’m out to only some of them.  I’ll spend the evening playing the line between the person I am now and the person I used to be, hoping that the two don’t collide.

I’ve talked about the fact that my parents don’t yet know that I’m gay?  Well, yea, they’ll be there.  Along with a bunch of friends who DO know.  And some that actually ARE gay.  Interesting mix.

One workaround? Get stinkin’ drunk.  It’s my house, it’s my party – just start drinking early and the rest will be fun.  But – I worry that the drinking will cause me to do something I would regret later – like coming out to my family in the middle of all that hubbub.  Happy birthday to me, and by the way, family, it was nice knowing you!

I’ve been stressing about this all day, and even I think I’m being a little over the top about this.  I mean, I understand that my party-planning friends’ intentions are good – they’re doing this to show me how much they care – but I just don’t get how they thought this was something I’d like.  I feel like for them being such close friends, that they don’t even know me.  Or understand the concept that something that they might enjoy isn’t something I would enjoy.

In the end, I told my sister to go ahead with the plan (she was ready to tell everyone to call it off – I love my sister!) because I knew that it meant a lot to the organizers that they do this for me (regardless of my feelings about it).  And I’ll have fun (even if it kills me).  I’ll act surprised, and try to just mellow out and enjoy the company of all my friends.

surprise.  yay.

I love the Olympics.

At least – now I do.

This arrived on my doorstep (I’m not allowed to post the pic – just go take a quick peek – it’ll open in a new window) about a week ago, and it almost took my breath away.  Wow.  Just… wow.

Now, just so you don’t think I’m being swayed by magazine covers, I have to say, athletes of all sorts have always turned my head.  I’m an equal-opportunity admirer.  Sure the girls are sizzlin’ hot, but any hard body makes me a little weak.  Being an athlete wanna-be (recreational runner and triathlete), I know how much work it takes to carve a body like that, and I’ll just toss in my vote of appreciation for the results of their sweat and tears.

And, nice, uh, glutes, Lindsay.  And you can bet I’ll be following the coverage!

Why the wait, Part II, or … A GUY?!?

Continuing on from my last post

Yes, there was a guy.  A guy that I could have said “I love you” to, given the chance.  He came along at just the right time – I was mourning the loss of my very best friend (let’s be honest – the girl I kind of thought of as my soulmate) and he stepped in, all funny, sporty and sarcastic, and possibly the best male listener-type that I’ve ever met.

He filled in the void that she had left, making me think that perhaps – after all this waiting – that I *had* found that elusive “right guy” which I had been searching for.  To give you an idea of how much “in like” I was, I did his laundry and cleaned his house.  Now, I’m not the domestic type.  AT ALL.  For my own house, I hire a cleaning service, but here I was cleaning up for him?  Without being asked?  Was the world coming to an end?

At the time, I couldn’t even adequately express how relieved I was at this turn of events:  I wasn’t gay!  I liked a guy!  I wanted to spend time with him!  I was normal, no more worries.  No more wondering why my friends always wanted to spend time with their significant others rather than me.  I finally had my own socially accepted significant other to monopolize my time.

And it was good.  For awhile, at least.  In the end, this relationship didn’t work out — one of the very few times that I was the dumpee rather than the dumper.

The relationship fundamentally changed me, though.  I went from thinking:  “I just need to find the right guy to prove that I’m not gay” to “I had the right guy, now I just have to find another right guy” and feeling like I finally had proof that I wasn’t a lesbian (despite still being attracted to some of my female friends).  It felt like a much better place to be in.  At least an easier place to be in, as long as I kept a blinders-on focus on what I thought I had learned.

Looking back (my, how hindsight is 20/20!), I can see that this relationship worked because of the unique timing combined with just the right personality. This guy was my rebound guy, so to speak.  And he brought me on all sorts of new adventures, and cliche-ishly broadened my horizons.  And at a time when I needed someone to love me and take care of me, more than anything in the world.

And because of all that, I was spent the better part of that decade ignoring my attraction to women.  I’d fall for some girl, and would just assure myself that all I wanted was to be good friends.  I mean, heck – I had been with a guy and liked it and I wasn’t even the one who ended the relationship.  It was easy to think that I didn’t have to make the tough choice.

I failed to understand the fluid nature of sexuality; how orientation is a less an black/white, but more of a spectrum with infinite shades of gray.  That yes – I could have a hetero relationship, get something out of it and yet – still be attracted to women and moreover, have my affinity fall more on the gay side of the spectrum than not.

I’m a little dense sometimes – it took me years to fully comprehend this concept.  Once I did, I finally started to own my identity – though quietly and privately.  On New Year’s Eve a few years ago, I broke up with my then-current boyfriend (yea, yea, NYE… bad form and all, but I did it in the afternoon so he’d have a chance to make alternative plans!  I’m a giver like that…) because I didn’t want to start the new year in a relationship that was a lie.  After that, it took over a year to gather up my courage and finally say it out loud to someone:  I’m gay.

Better late than never, right?  I may have been tardy to the party, but I made it.  Now it’s time to get the lampshade on my head and start gettin’ crazy… or something like that.

Why the wait?

Probably the question I’m asked most frequently:  what took you so long??

Good question.  The answer?  I’m not entirely sure.

Well, that’s not absolutely true.  I mean, if you toss fear, doubt, flagging self-esteem, anxiety, uncertainty and a deep-seated desire to be just like all my friends into a bucket and swirl it around, and that probably is a good mix of what was going on in my head.

Way back in high school, I started thinking about girls in a way that I didn’t think was quite right, but this was the 1980’s.  AIDS was just coming to the surface and homosexuality was an expletive, not an accepted way of life.  I certainly wasn’t sure of what I was feeling, and so it was easy to dismiss… while I had friends, I dated very little and just figured that the feelings I would have for the guys that I would eventually date would be inherently different – and better – than what I felt for my female friends.

My first boyfriend when I was in high school – a college boy! – was… well… less than remarkable.  He wasn’t my first kiss, but my first almost-adult kiss.  And I have to admit:  I was completely underwhelmed.  Actually – not true.  My reaction was a little more ‘blech’ than that.  Less than magical.  I started thinking of ways to avoid having to kiss him, in fact.  Looking back, I now realize that this was mostly because he was an absolutely AWFUL kisser (and really – probably the fact that a college guy wanted to date a high school girl spoke to this).  But really, my thoughts after that whole dating debacle was that I would be much happier just hangin’ with my girl friends.

So, I was completely content just being close to some of my girl friends.  And because that satisfied my need to have a close relationship, I just didn’t have much of an interest in guys during high school.  Then – college.  I spent more time ogling guys, mostly because that’s what I was supposed to do.  In the meantime, I became really close with one of my floormates in the dorm.  We were inseparable. There were a lot of hugs and “I love you’s” — all in friendship, though.  When she started dating, I was incredibly jealous.  Jealous of the time she spent with him, with the secrets she shared with him.  I was heart-broken, though I never would have told her that.  So instead, I did the next best thing — I started dating her boyfriend’s best friend.

And really, the pattern was set there.  I’d become friends – close friends – with a chick.  She’d be dating someone.  So, I’d date someone to not feel out of place. But, I’d be unhappy and unsatisfied and always thinking that there was either something wrong with me or something wrong with the guys I was choosing.  And my friend would be all giddy and happy, the way you were supposed to be in those first stages of dating someone new.

My twenties passed mostly like this.  Some semi-serious boyfriends (meaning, they were serious and I was looking for a way out), and fighting my natural inclination with everything I had.  Of course, I didn’t see it like that at the time — I just figured that I hadn’t met the right guy yet.  Kept hoping beyond hope that I hadn’t met the right guy yet because the alternative was too scary to consider.  Because if this was all there was, I was doomed to be single forever; I knew that some of the guys I had dated were real class acts — funny, smart, athletic, respectful — and if I couldn’t muster up true feelings for them, then what kind of options did I have?

Frankly, at that age, I wasn’t strong or courageous enough to face that I might be gay.  Just because I always enjoyed the company of my friends better than any guy I had dated — in my mind — didn’t necessarily mean anything other than (again!) I hadn’t found the right guy.  I would occasionally daydream about being able to somehow finagle a situation where I could live with my best friend… but knew that while I had roommates from time to time, that it was a temporary situation for them, that they didn’t feel the same depth of emotion that I did.

It’s kind of funny – at one point, I started to think that, maybe, possibly, perhaps I might like girls.  I was giving a home to a friend of mine after her separation, and I loved everything about her and I loved having her live with me.  And then – she broke my heart: she started dating the guy I was dating behind my back (while I was dating him – ironic, no?).  I didn’t care one bit about the guy, but her betrayal was unforgivable to me.  And lord help me, I tried to forgive, but I was devastated, which made me mean and catty. Probably the worst part was that she couldn’t understand how or why I was so upset.  “You don’t even really like him, right?” she would ask, as if that made it better.  She didn’t get that what she had done had irrevocably declared that she didn’t love me the way that I loved her – and that’s what hurt so badly.  And I couldn’t ever explain it because to declare the truth would be to admit that what I felt for her wasn’t what one friend feels for another.  And I couldn’t do that.

Then, about this same time, I met a guy.  A guy I actually LIKED.  He reminded me a lot of the friend that I had just lost, with his humor and sense of adventure. He was almost a male version of her.  And all my thoughts of “girls are SO much cooler than boys” went out the window and set me back probably 10 years in this journey.

(…to be continued…)