Being honest with others means being honest with yourself.
Honestly, men scared me. It’s not surprising that an American woman would be afraid of men, in a society where rape can’t happen to a wife in some states. Add my abnormal childhood experiences and my college rape, the resulting fear is logical. I’m not an idiot, so I was afraid. I must’ve felt drawn to women more because men scared me, I reasoned.
My upstairs neighbor, a fabulous gay man, gave me advice on embracing it. I talked at length to my friend Miss Barbara, who’d left her husband for a woman years before. I watched all of The L Word (even season six).
The more research I did, the more it led me back to the same idea. I wasn’t exactly into women as much as I was into a woman, specifically. I was in love with Megan. I was desperately, grossly, embarrassingly in love with her.
Megan had been dating that mohawked boy from across the hall in her dorm for a couple years. They were serious.
It may have been the lost time, which I’m sure didn’t help, or it may have been the sheer volume of alcohol consumed, but I thought Megan loved me, too. And she did, in a way. Megan was a good friend when I needed her. She was the first woman to pin me against a bathroom stall door and kiss me. One night, when I was pressuring her for more, she told me that friends don’t create pressure to do things.
I can perfectly picture the outline of her hip bone in my mind. She was lying on Katie Shay’s bed, the sun coming in orange with late afternoon light. Her jeans were low, and her hip bone was just exposed. I wondered what her skin tasted like. I pulled myself into her, and she pulled away.
The answer was no. I did not listen well. I did things that I am ashamed of, but nothing harmful. Megan stood up, as she had to do so many times in her life before, and told me to back off. I cried. I begged. I manipulated. I lied. I lost. And I lost to some boy, which somehow made it feel worse.
I think it took me a full month to cry myself out over Megan. It was painful. We couldn’t maintain a friendship because as soon as we got back to an even keel, I’d push for more again. The grief consumed me. I called my aunt Janet, and told her that I loved a woman and she didn’t love me back. I sobbed into the phone, sitting in my car in the tire parking lot next to my house for twenty minutes.
This was a heartbreak that shaped how I would handle relationships from then, on. I didn’t want to have unrequited love ever again. I didn’t want to feel hidden from a primary partner again. In fact, I didn’t want to be hidden at all, for anyone. If someone wasn’t willing to claim me, I didn’t need them.
My standards for relationships were forever altered.
I wasn’t close with another woman until my friend Shawna, years later. Even then, we were not physically intimate. I had friends. There were women I had crushes on, but I didn’t do anything about any of it. Instead, I watched and I listened.
This was new. I wanted my sexuality to be personal. I didn’t want it to just be another whoever that I did the same song-and-dance with anymore. Having the friendship that slipped into sensuality and back into easy companions was beautiful. It was also imaginary, according to my limited experience. Women were too emotional, and I was barely able to comprehend myself as a woman. I didn’t need a whole other person with lunar mood swings.
I waited for the phase to end. As I dated more boys, the disparities became more and more obvious. Men aren’t bad, and I didn’t stop seeing them, but they were different. It was like I’d tasted champagne, and couldn’t figure out where to find the bubbles again.
In the spirit of greater self-truth, I came to the decision that I am bisexual. I started to tell people about it. I didn’t act on it beyond kissing until years later when I moved to Colorado.