The Story I Need

 

What if I were one of those people who could write just to write and not for anyone else to read? What if I didn’t need the feedback and the affirmation?

 

I want to read a story like mine. I want there to be a queer woman who was married to a man, who tried to be (and for a minute convinced her self* she was mostly) straight. I want to read about how she didn’t like her self, not as a second grader who wished she hadn’t been born, or a 12 year old who waited and waited to be special, or a youth group kid who prayed and struggled. I want to read about her apologizing for being fat– really saying the words, “I’m sorry I’m so fat”– to her fiance. I want to read about another third grader trying to make her have sex with him; who even knows if he had any idea? I want to read that she was afraid, too, when a grown man masturbated in front of her, standing in his front doorway, watching her play in her friend’s front yard.  What about all the other men? All the other times?

 

I want to read about how she resigned her self. Over and over, she decided that good enough was good enough. She was motivated to this little acquiescence by religion, by knowing that God, actual God, the actual creator of the universe and the human circulatory system guided her or required it of her.

 

I want to read about how she thought she was in love. People around her warned her that she was too young and that she didn’t know him well enough. She knew that he wasn’t everything she’d ever wanted, but she took vows and committed. She was sure her life would be beautiful and sweet and full of good things. Time went by; it was, and it wasn’t, because life is never just good.

 

I want to read about her marriage ending.I want to read about her coming out of the closet. I want to read about her losing her religion and her belief in any higher power and especially in church folk.

 

That’s where I really, really hope her story differs from mine.  For this story to be exactly what is necessary to soothe this ache in me, that has to be where she learns to like her self. She finds her worth. She invests time and resources in knowing who she is and valuing that person.

 

She falls in love. God, I need her to fall in love. I need to see that someone else loves her. Someone else sees her worth and her glow and her grit and falls head over heels into her. If she is a pool, some other beautiful soul needs to jump into the deep end of her, and she opens herself to it.

 

I haven’t found a story like this. Today, I’m disproportionately disappointed in the internet for this.

 

There is no blogging like angsty, wine-drinking blogging.

*Misspelled intentionally.

 

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The L Word? Or the B Word?

Growing up, it never occurred to me that I might be anything other than straight. People who weren’t straight were equal parts satanic, disgusting, and sad. 
Also, I liked girls. The only dreams I ever had that caused any sexual response in me involved girls. 
Those two things (that I liked girls and that I couldn’t be anything other than straight) never really collided for me. I took for granted that I’d marry a man, and I started praying for my future husband when I was, oh, probably 12. 
I had crushes on boys. I wanted boys to like me. I read books about Christian purity, and I read Christian romance novels. With very few exceptions, the fictional women were reluctant to pursue romantic relationships, and they had to be worn down by the male characters (or rescued, or arranged into marriage). And then they’d be really happy. 
I thought that maybe I’d be pursued by someone like that, or more than one someone. I thought that sex would be one of the better things to happen to me. I thought that I was turned on by guys (and not the feeling of power I got from knowing I was attractive to them. I looked forward to marriage and sex, even boring sex, because of all the good close feelings that would come of it, and I knew it would be my duty to fulfill my husband’s sexual needs. I felt like there was honor and goodness in that. 
I got married when I was 20. I no longer have the prayer journal entry in which I wrote (to God) that I thought it was weird that God would bring me a husband to whom I wasn’t particularly physically attracted. Now…I won’t say that our sex was ‘bad.’ We figured it out together. I will say, though, that mentally I always had to think of women in order to, ahem, get my motor running. 
I told my ex husband about my attraction to women when we had been married for probably five years. I figured it didn’t matter. So, this meant I was bisexual. I was in a heterosexual marriage, and we were monogamous (though he suggested we branch out into threesomes…), so it was a non-issue. 
When we eventually separated and divorced, and my beliefs changed drastically, I figured I’d start dating women. 
That’s how I learned I really liked women. 😳
I also dated men. I identified as bisexual. 
Then I started to realize that I really didn’t like going out with the guys. I just…didn’t. 
The only reason I continued to call myself bisexual was that I’d liked boys growing up. I just didn’t like them anymore. I had a frank conversation with a friend, though, in which she asked me if I wanted to have sex with a man again. I said no. 
That’s how I came to identify as a lesbian. It fits me like worn out jeans, and I like it. 

In His House

Recently, my mom told my dad that I consider myself a lesbian. (That’s how she put it. “She considers herself a lesbian.”) I’d intentionally not told my dad because of his staunch adherence to evangelical Christianity, including Bible verses like Luke 14:26. I might write about that in a more straightforward way sometime. We spent a weekend all together after the outing, and my dad said nothing about it to me.
If my imagination is correct, that’s probably beneficial.

 

x-x-x-x-x-x-x

In His House

 

Sometimes when I’m alone

I pretend I’m finally having the big conversation

With my dad.

The one where we finally talk about

My sin that he hates

While loving me

The sinner.

I don’t need to guess what he’d say.

I lived at home til I was 19.

That’s not quite two decades

In my dad’s house,

And it is his house.

We just lived in it.

 

I always end up crying

Alone

Usually in the car

But sometimes in bed

Or in the kitchen

Where I’ve said my side

Of a conversation

About me and my life and my choices

And, of course, his opinion on them.

 

In most of my imaginings

He says something about

His never knowing

And if I were really

That way

(I don’t think he’d  refer to me as gay)

Of course he’d know.

And then I say something about how

He didn’t know everything

And remember that time

I told him I’d been

A suicidal second grader

And he’d had no idea

 

Of course

The Bible plays a part

In these masochistic daydreams.

He’ll quote Paul the Apostle

So I know

What Paul in the first century AD

(And by association, probably, God)

Thinks of me.

He’ll use words like

Unnatural

Condemn

Deceit

Abomination.

“You have been lied to.” he will say.

Confused.

“You have believed it.”

 

 

I respond with words, too.

I insist, half-yelling at my sunroof

Yes, always.

Always

Secret.

I tried. I tried, I tried..

And happy.

Finally. Finally. Finally.

Happy.

He used to yell at me

To grow a backbone

But

In my angry imagination,

He pushes against it.

Again

He’ll break me

Again

He’s determined

God dammit.

 

The conversation ends

When I arrive

To where I’m going

Or when I’m all cried out

Or when, in my mind,

He tries to force my hand

And pushes me

To admit

Some lie

Some wrong.

Or he wants me

In my mind

To agree to try harder

To change

Because this is his house

And there are things

And choices

And behaviors

And sins

He won’t allow

In his house.

 

Sometimes

In my mind

There is pleading.

It isn’t usually Dad.

Sometimes

My mom pleads with him

To see reason

To not push me away.

 

Sometimes

In my mind

He is determined that

I will see his rightness.

That somehow

I have to expel Satan

And the precious woman

Who can’t wait

To have a half-adventure

Half-boring existence

With me

From my heart.

He might say that he’s sorry

That I am sad.

Then he’ll say that he’ll never apologize

For standing for righteousness.

 

Sometimes

In my mind

I am so outraged

That I call his bluff

And I walk out his door.

I don’t have to listen

To what he thinks

Is wrong with me.

I don’t have to be hurt

And pretend not to be hurt.

I don’t live in his house anymore.

.

 

 

 

Best Date Heather

I recently wrote a poem about what I called “the best first date of my life.” Here’s some more on that.

 

She messaged me on a dating site, and we had a great conversation about the things we had in common. We texted, then talked on the phone while I made dinner one night. (Somehow, my chatting about how I hated to handle raw chicken and my sporadic exclamations to my children of “You’re killin’ me, Smalls!” felt like a sexually charged conversation to her. I have a sexy phone voice, apparently. Won’t my previous employers at call centers be thrilled!)

 

Heather, as we’ll call her, since she has a similarly generic, popular name, is around 14 years older than me. She has short hair, a stocky build, and gorgeous, piercing, ice blue eyes. The age difference didn’t seem like a big deal. I have kids, so that jumps me ahead to a later stage of life than many women my age.

 

She really, really liked me. I liked her a great deal, too. She is interesting, well read, funny, and a strong personality. She sent me links to songs by Ed Sheeran and Amos Lee about falling in love, saying I made her think of them, they made her think of me.

 

The evening we talked on the phone for the first time, she had a date with a woman with whom she’d been friends for some time. She said she wasn’t sure what would come of that date; she was far more interested in me. I told her not to worry. I was on an embarrassing number of dating sites, and I was talking to more than just her at the time, so I wasn’t offended.

 

She didn’t like that. “Don’t tell me that! I don’t want to know that! I don’t want to know that you’re talking to other women!” Her response was so intense that I thought she was joking. I may have told her to simmer down, Kemosabe, as I am wont to tell my children. (If I didn’t, I know that I thought it.)

 

I don’t remember how we següed from that into the rest of the conversation, but around the time I was finished cooking, she was getting near to where her date was to take place. Within a couple minutes of us hanging up, she texted me and told me that she didn’t like hearing that I talked to other women; it hurt her heart.

 

After her date was over, she called me, and we had what felt like an intense conversation. She sounded angry at me, and asked me questions about talking to other women, what I was looking for, what I liked about her, whether I really thought I could be with a woman. I remained calm and answered her questions without emotion; the next day I texted her and told her I was surprised that she’d gotten upset with me. She responded that she’d never been upset with me. She had been feeling confused, and she didn’t know what was going on, why she felt so intensely about me, why she felt so jealous when I’d told her she wasn’t the only woman from a dating site with whom I was currently conversing flirtatiously.

 

We met within a week of that night. About an hour from me and a little over an hour’s drive from her, there is a little bar with a decent menu and drink selection. She bought a bunch of songs on the digital jukebox thing (what are those called?) and told me and the bartender to pick favorite songs. We had a great conversation about family, coming out (or not), jobs, and what we had in common. She knew I found her attractive; I could tell she enjoyed the way flirting with me flustered me. It was cute; it was unnerving to feel the sway she had over me.

We talked about sex. I’d told her that I’d never been with a woman previously; she asked me, “Don’t you want to have sex with some other girls before you have sex with me?”

No.

When it was time to go, we walked outside to the parking lot.

“I want to kiss you,” I told her. I now wonder if I said that robotically.

We kissed. Oh, did we kiss. I put my leftovers on the trunk of my car, and I touched her.

I have flashes of memory of her fingers on the back of my neck, the sounds of my own breathing, the way my body was ready for absolutely anything without any further discussion.

We sat in her car and kissed more. There were occasional jokes about being arrested for indecency in this small town as shirts were unbuttoned.

My head was swimming in the shallows of racing heartbeats and electric touch when she pulled away from me and said, “You need to go. You need to get home.”

I didn’t want to be anywhere but in her car, risking a criminal record, holding my breath, feeling nothing but her.

“You have to work early.”

I did.

 

The goodbye was awkward. I was afraid of being clingy, so I kept my feeling about leaving to myself. I drove home in silence.

 

It was just after 2 AM when I got a text message from her. “You just left me there like I was nothing.”

 

Rain on the Roof 

This isn’t finished, but I thought I’d post it anyhow. 
Turn the radio off. 

I don’t want to hear

What that singer says about love. 

The rain on the roof 

Sounds more like my love for you

Than anything some lyricist can capture.
Don’t accompany the ache

In my chest with guitar chords. 

This is older than stringed instruments.

It’s deeper than an electric bass. 

You can’t record this intensity. 

It can’t be played back later, anyway. 
A yogi told me 

When the universe was first formed 

Its first sound was the “Om”

Like you hear in meditation groups. 

Maybe that’s what hums through me

Sitting with you while it rains outside.

Scars and Baggage

Once upon a time, I went on the best first date of my life. Here’s a poem about it.

 

She gave me butterflies immediately

And unceasingly

And she knew it.

She wasn’t afraid of my baggage;

Maybe her baggage went with mine.

She didn’t get the RENT reference,

But she thought we’d coordinate

Even if the patterns didn’t totally match,

So we each drove farther than we should have

On a work night.

It was the best first date of my life.

It was too bad they didn’t have karaoke,

We agreed.

We ate

We drank

We flirted

Without embarrassment

We revealed ourselves to each other

A stitch and a scar at a time,

With a crazy abandon

And it made sense to us

Then

To just jump on in

With eyes wide open!

With both feet!

No lifeguard,

No floatation device,

Just a deep breath

And a plunge

Into the deep end

Of that sea of broken hearts

And maybe-empty promises

And the faint possibility of love,

Of love,

And safety.

Security.

Not drowning

Because this is what

Meant For Each Other

Feels like

Right?

I kissed her and I knew.

I knew what it was like

To need to touch

And feel

As much of someone

As I possibly could.

Suddenly there was nothing

Nothing

For me

Anywhere else,

With anyone else.

She kissed me, and I knew.

I knew how it felt

To melt

And to burn

And to need

To be known as thoroughly as she could know me.

Her teeth scraped my neck,

And all those love songs made sense.

My fingers found her skin,

And I understood how

A lover could commit a crime

Of passion.

It hurt when

She touched a sore spot, but

I wasn’t afraid anymore.

I couldn’t think of how to ask her

To baptize me in her fire,

But while I struggled with the words,

She said it was getting late,

And I needed to go home.

I hurt so much

Already

That I couldn’t hear anything

Over the sound

Of my startled heart.

I left the car radio off

And I drove home.

I express myself better in writing

Than I do speaking,

And I couldn’t find a way to say

That I was sorry

For my scars

But also

Fuck you

For being mad

That it still hurts

Sometimes.

I wanted to ask her

If she’d maybe

Consider

Letting me explain

Why I can’t promise

To follow her to Arizona

Or drive the traditional

Second Date Transportation.

She didn’t want to hear it.

She hung up.

 

Heartstrings, or Something Else

She says she’s not a musician,

But if she drew her bow across my heartstrings,

I know I’d sing a sad kind of love song

And it would be stuck in my head til it filled me up and overflowed my mind and dripped off my eyelashes

And slid down my face to the fake it til you make it smile

That I perfected for Sunday mornings.

At seven years old, I bought my first insurance policy

To keep me safe from hellfire and guarantee that I’d see my dead grandparents again.

I was trained up in the way I should go,

But I’ve always been unsteady on my feet

And church shoes have always hurt.

I rolled my ankle and quieted my joy on that straight and narrow path

And when my eyes fell upon a girl with doe eyes and Geena Davis lips

My heart damn near broke my ribs trying to burst out of my chest.

I dreamed of the depths of her ocean, the altitude of her clouds.

The bends in my knees were a nightmare that nearly broke me.

In fractured thirds, I wanted to know

The Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost,

And her.

And her.

And her

Whatever made her smile stretch across her face

Or what she’d say when she was full

Of anger like Jesus Christ

Turning over tables in the temple

And decrying desecration.

I may have always feared damnation

But if this happy heat I feel near her

Is anything like hellfire

God damn, do I really have to choose?

The music in her hands

And her heart

The way her words sing

To a wretch like me,

My heartstrings hum with the vibration

Now I’m found

Now I’m found

And I’m afraid of what I see.

My eleven year old heart

Wrapped up in rules and what my mother says,

My heartstrings were knotted

In the nicest ribbon,

My one and only heart

A broken gift

For God?

I never told her.

I was sure

That she would never

Sit next to me at church again.

Daydreaming, Episode 1

Wouldn’t it be cool if something of national political import were to happen right here? I live in the Midwest, hours away from any big cities, windy or otherwise. Barring some sort of high-level money laundering or Catholic priest related scandal, celebrities don’t typically frequent my area of the country. 

However, let’s say, hypothetically, that something happens. Something scandalous. Something that warrants the in-person attention of one Rachel Maddow. 

Pardon my fan girl sighs. 

I cannot help that in addition to my bisexuality I am undoubtedly a sappiosexual. As a woman who has of late embraced a more left leaning political ideology, there is nearly no one who can hold my attention like the acerbic MSNBC commentator. On week nights in which I have no plans and feel perhaps a bit lonely, I derive a great deal of enjoyment from watching the Rachel Maddow show. If I can’t have a stimulating conversation with an attractive woman in person, well, I may as well let the gorgeous Ms. Maddow make me smarter from the comfort of my love seat. 

From time to time, I indulge in a daydream about a hypothetical political scandal drawing eyes and news crews to my locality. I’m sure Rachel (in my imagination, I just call her Rachel and she’s ok with that) is down to earth enough that she eats at diners and does her own grocery shopping. I’m certain that, given the appropriate mix of diplomatic disaster and serendipity, there might be occasion for Rachel and I to be in the same place at the same time. 

Can’t you just picture it? Me, pushing a grocery cart through the produce department, her coming around a corner looking for edamame. Maybe she’ll talk to herself about the Midwest and our lack of organic soybean pods. I’ll of course be too distracted by what I’m looking for (salad mix in a bag; let’s be honest) to necessarily take note of her right away. Ergo, I won’t do something ridiculous like audibly gasp and run over to her talking about  my eternal love for her. Ideally, we just strike up a conversation about green vegetables. I’ll learn from her vast knowledge of controversial agricultural practices; I’ll try not to tell her that absorbing facts from her in person is a nirvana of which I’ve never dared to even dream. She’ll be impressed with my thought provoking questions and interesting contributions to our delightful back and forth. Perhaps we move our conversation to the in-store restaurant. (If there’s one thing we do well in the Midwest, it’s restaurants in grocery stores.) 

And then she can’t help what she feels for me! These things just happen! The heart wants what it wants!

But alas… we both know she can never act on it. A public figure such as herself could never be found to be caught up in an extramarital affair with a woman from middle America. 

With a sigh, we’ll agree that we’ll always have the produce department. 
To be continued…

Lonely Duck

Several weeks ago, I got coffee with a friend we’ll call Brian. Brian is a really cool guy who has a knack for reading people and understanding them. I imagine that comes in handy in his work, as he’s in the mental health field.

 

I told him about my love life, or lack thereof, and about how not long prior to this meeting I’d been texting with this really fascinating woman with whom I’d connected via one of those free dating sites. Let’s call her Eliza. Eliza is smart and engaging in conversation. She has interesting thoughts and doesn’t mind following me down the rabbit trails of weird ideas. Unfortunately, she has this habit of falling off the face of the earth. We might talk off and on for days, then I’ll send a message or three over the course of a couple days and hear nothing back. She says it’s because she’s an introvert. It frustrates me.

 

Brian listened to all this and said “Mm-hmm” at the appropriate moments. Then, he made a point.

 

“You’re kind of an odd duck,” he said. “Do you know what I mean by that? I don’t mean that there’s anything wrong with you, just that you’re different from other people in a way that not everyone is going to understand you.”

 

I do understand that, and I told him so.

 

“You’re going to have to find another odd duck for you and the other person to be happy.”

 

Eliza is currently missing from the earth, or at least my portion of it. I texted her today, and I didn’t hear back. I haven’t heard back for ten days.  Whenever I do hear from her, I wonder if this time she’ll stick around for awhile. She hasn’t in some time now; we’ve been communicating for over a year now.

 

I know that the rational response is to drop her like a bad habit.  

 

She said I intrigue her.

 

I feel like she gets me. I hope she decides to talk to me again and stay around for a while. 

 

I’m kind of a lonely duck.  

I Hate to Ask

I need to ask you something.

I need to ask you if it’s okay

If you never meet my dad.

Is it okay if we always have separate addresses?

What if my mom just thinks we’re friends?

What if we never send my sister

One Christmas card

With both our faces on it

With my kids and yours

And “Merry Christmas from all of us!”

And snowflakes across the bottom?

What if being with me

Means that I make a space for you

In this closet?

I’m so sorry.

I’m not ashamed of you.

I’m proud of you!

You’re like a miracle

That tumbled into my life

And made me do a backflip

Into a happiness I’ve never conceived of

Before now.

I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that the circle

Of my family

Where my heart was formed

And my anxiety grew legs

And I learned to love one way

And never to question

Isn’t big enough

For our tumbling dance.

Is it okay if I am still,

Still,

Still not ready

To force the circle to expand

To welcome my truth

And my heart

And the woman

Who sends a shiver through me?

I am so sorry,

But I can only hide

On this side of the closet door.

It hurts

But please…

Please don’t leave me

Alone.