Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Water Runs Blue

In my mind I still play it over and over again.
I’m sitting down on a rock. The water rushes across my toes. It’s freezing, stinging them like ice. I search for the blue that has so long been associated with the Crayola creations in my mind. So misleading. As a child I saw things, so vibrantly incorrect, but it doesn’t matter. Water is always blue.
It rolls crystal clear across the rocks, polishing them down over the years. I lift one from the water. Flipping it over and over in my hand. Smooth. Cold. Hard. Much like my heart. I lay it back down gently in the place from which it came, afraid I might disturb some very important structure of the universe. One pebble misplaced, and I could alter the entire rotation of the Earth’s complicated design.
Tears roll off my cheeks. I can feel them. The evening breeze settles gently along their path, cooling the heat that exudes from my face. I know my mother is soon to call me home. I sit silently, the whisper of the wind soothing my inner fears. Reminding me I’m not alone.
Nothing in this world is the same. Nothing worthwhile is ever exactly alike. Why should I be? I feel so lost. My heart pounding from the thought of her voice.
“I’m not gay, but I could be with you.”
Those were the words that she said to me. That’s what started it all.
I had my friend J drop me off at the community pool. We sat under the sunset, waiting for my friend “Raegan” to get off work. We had met two years before during basketball camp. She walked in to the gym with a group of her friends, cocky as she ever was and threw two dollars on the counter. Since our gym hosted the tournament, I was stuck working the concession stand.
“Gatorade.” She said.
“I’m an obnoxious asshole.” Is what it sounded like to me.
I didn’t move, so she reached across the counter and took my Gatorade instead. I didn’t even know her. I had just transferred schools the year before, so I literally knew nothing about her. I jumped up, and threw open the door. I chased her out of the lobby and across the parking lot. Who was this crazy girl? Who just takes someone’s drink? She was fast, and outran me. By the time I made it back into the lobby, huffing and puffing, she was already back, propped up, with my Gatorade on the counter.
“Gatorade.” She said again. This time smiling.
She had a beautiful smile. I walked behind the counter and got her Gatorade. We stood there talking for a moment. Her friends had walked away at this point, and my friends just sat awkwardly staring in our direction. She asked me when I got off my shift, and I told her. Twenty minutes. It just so happened that neither of our teams would be playing at that point, so we decided to meet up outside on the playground. I was going in to the ninth grade. Looking back now, there were obvious signs. Signs that this girl would soon wreck my world.
We sat outside on the jungle gym talking about music, and school. We were both writers. Specifically we loved poetry. She offered to bring her collection the next day. I went home as well and gathered some of my pieces. No one had ever shown interest before. My mother thought that I was talented, but I hid many of them from her. The ones that I didn’t want her to see. The ones that would tell her how broken I was. I was already being picked on at school. The other girls knew I was different. The word Lesbian had been thrown around a few times, but it wouldn’t be long until it was every day. Here this girl was, opening up to me. Asking to read my inner thoughts. Offering to share hers with me.
I separated the casual poems from the real ones, and shoved them in my duffel bag. When I got to camp the next day, there she was. Just as she promised. I tried not to get overly excited. She was so confident. So cool.
She sat in the bleachers with her friends when I arrived. I went directly to my locker room and she followed me in. She was carrying a binder. It was 3 inches thick, and full of poetry, cover to cover. I was in awe. No one had that passion. No one else wrote the way that I did.
She handed it to me. It was neatly packed away in dividers. Crisp. Clean. Perfect. Like her.
I blushed as I pulled my loose leaf pages from the hand-me-down duffel bag. It would represent our friendship very well. She was wealthy. Her father was very prominent in the community. Her two older brothers were star athletes in high school. She was following in the footsteps of a perfect family. No room for mistakes. Here I was, an awkwardly skinny book worm, with no real athletic talent, but a drive to get out of my hometown.
I handed them to her in a messy stack. She smiled and divided them neatly. I pulled out the other stack as well and clung to them.
“These are a little… strange.” was all I could say.
She just stacked them neatly on top of the others and placed them gently in her bag.
We sat next to each other on the bleachers and talked again. We had a game coming up that afternoon against them, and I knew we were going to lose, but I wanted so badly to impress her. I was the most aggressive, quick, and driven that I had ever been. We both dove for the same loose ball at one point, and I nearly knocked her out. Way to make an impression right?
After the game she called me on it. “Next time I’ll wear my brother’s football pads.” she said.
“Next time you’re going to need them.” I responded with a smile.
I read her binder cover to cover when I got home. The poems that I really liked, I wrote down by hand and taped them to my wall. We had one more day of camp. That day we exchanged phone numbers. Myspace didn’t exist at that point, and definitely not Facebook, so that’s what I had. Three days of memories, a wall full of poetry, and a ten-digit number.
Raegan and I remained “friends” over the years. We would sit together at Basketball games and tournaments, usually seeing each other 4 or 5 times a season. We even exchanged Christmas presents the second year. We would call each other about once or twice a month just to catch up, sometimes missing a month or two. By that time, I had been through not one, but two relationships with girls. Both that ended poorly.
I specifically remember calling her one day and her oldest brother answered.
“Hello?” He answered annoyed.
“Is Raegan home?” I nearly whispered. I was a very timid teen when it came to people I didn’t know.
“Raegan, It’s your girlfriend!” I almost dropped the phone. Did he know? Could he tell? How would she react to that?!?
“Hello?” She asked uncertain.
“Hey. It’s me.” I stammered out.
“Oh, hey!” she said without hesitation. Whew.
We were fine. We talked for probably two hours that evening. That’s usually how it went. We would go weeks without talking, but when we caught up you couldn’t get us off the phone. Well. Unless you were her brother.
“Raegan, I need the phone.” He said from the downstairs line.
“Ok.” She replied.
Damn it.  
“Fine! Just hang up.”
When he did she sat there for a moment.
“Want to come over this weekend? I get off work Friday at 6. I don’t work again until Saturday night.”
I wanted to jump up and down screaming “OH MY GOD, YES PLEASE.” But instead I replied, “Sure. I can ask my mom.”
That was still during that awkward time where there really wasn’t much I could do without my parents’ permission, but this time they said yes. J drove me to the pool that day. He sat with me while I waited for her to get off work. She came walking out of the pool and he grabbed my arm.
“She’s hot.” He said.
“I know.” I replied. J was very aware of my sexuality.
“Your team or mine?”
“Yours I think.” I said disappointed. I watched her cross the parking lot. I had almost forgotten how beautiful she really was. She was wearing her one piece lifeguard bathing suit, a pair of basketball shorts, and her ponytail swayed slightly across her sun-kissed shoulders. She had definitely grown up.
“Yessssssss.” He exclaimed, obviously excited by the idea of me having a friend this attractive. “You should come see her more often.”
“Tell me about it.” I sat still a little disappointed he had a better chance than I.
She walked up to the window. J jumped out and opened my car door, then introduced himself, in his “smoothest” way possible. She wasn’t interested. He was a straggler like me. We came from the wrong side of the tracks for her family. In their eyes, we’d never amount to much. I still wasn’t sure why we were friends. Maybe she felt sorry for me?
“Ready?” she asked.
“I’ll be back tomorrow to pick you up!” J just had to throw in another line. “It was great meeting you.”
She waved him off, and we walked to her car. Her eyes were wild with excitement, but I had no idea for what. She hugged me.
“It’s great seeing you.”
“Good to see you too.”
We drove the four or so minutes to her house. On the way I began to feel nauseous. If I told her that I was gay, she might hate me. If I hid it from her and she found out (the kids at school were talking A LOT) she might hate me even more. I sat there until I couldn’t stand it anymore.
“I have to tell you something. You’re not going to like it.”
She just looked at me.
I couldn’t spit it out, so finally she exclaimed “Oh God. You’re pregnant.”
I wish.
She finally pulled the car over on the side of the road.
“Tell me.”
“I’ve dated a girl before.” Really? Really, sixteen year old me? That’s the big icebreaker?
“I date women.” I stammered.
She pulled the car back onto the road. It was her turn to sit in silence. It was already going better than I expected though because she hadn’t hit me, and there were no tears. Better than I could say for some situations.
Finally she pulled into her driveway.
“Don’t ever do that to me again. I thought something was wrong.” She said.
“Sorry. I just wasn’t sure how you’d react.” My palms were sweating at that point.
“It’s fine. I don’t care what you are. Just know that I’m not.”
Fair enough. We spent that evening just hanging out. We walked around outside, the grass under our bare feet. She sat down at the edge of her pool, dangling her feet in. I couldn’t swim, so I stayed as far from the water as possible. Nothing changed. She was exactly the same. She genuinely didn’t care.
That evening, we lay in her brothers bed and watched Shrek 2. It’s odd that I remember what it was, because looking back I remember nothing about the movie. Just that I watched it with her. We talked about college, and what that would feel like. We even said that we would go together. Somewhere. We would be roommates, and get a cat.
She complained of a backache, so hesitantly I offered to rub it. She rolled over, and next thing I knew I was straddling her and my hands were sliding slowly up and down her t-shirt. It didn’t take her long to pull her shirt out of the way. We watched the movie quietly. Her skin beneath my fingertips. She put her head down. I could hear her steady breathing.
Even though I had dated two girls at this point, they were both long distance and this was nothing I was prepared for. I had never been in this sort of exploration situation. I didn’t want to cross any boundaries, but I did want to push them as far as they could go. I hadn’t felt that way before. Finally she spoke.
“Your turn.”
That was unexpected.

I hesitated as I slid off of her, and onto my stomach. The movie was still playing in the background, but it sounded more like an episode of Charlie Brown, if the kids spoke like the adults. I never understood a word. It was humming monotonously in my ear. She climbed on top of me, and began rubbing my back. She ignored my shirt, and slid her hands underneath. I remember the way my breath caught in my throat. I stopped breathing entirely for what felt like two minutes. When I finally breathed out, she asked “Is something wrong?”

Wrong? Your hands are covering every inch of my back, and I’m not sure where this is going. I wouldn’t say wrong is the correct word. Maybe we’ll go with “interesting”.

“No.” I laid my head down, just as she did hers and waited for something to happen. Anything. After a few minutes, she stopped. I attempted to roll over, and she just draped herself across my body. Propping up on one elbow. We sat like that for another ten or fifteen minutes, just talking. She had to have noticed how nervous I was, but if she did she never led on. Why was she so comfortable with this? With me. Why was I not?

She finally stood up and said it was time to go to sleep. We walked to her bedroom. It was just across the hall, but my feet were barely moving. It was the longest walk ever. I laid myself down on the furthest side of her king size bed. She climbed in next to me, and slid her body towards me. We lay there talking, face to face. She was so easy to talk to. So intelligent. Every word she said was beautiful.

Finally she said it.

“I’m not gay, but I could be with you.”

I felt like a train ran right through me. Knocking every hint of breath out of my lungs. I was certain I would suffocate. Did she mean that?

Where do you even take that when you’re sixteen? I had already been with a girl by that point, but never initiated it. I didn’t even know how. What I expected to be extremely awkward turned very beautiful in a matter of minutes. We kissed. There was an immediate connection that happened between us that has been unparalleled by anything, even until now. I leaned in closely, my hand on the back of her neck, and I kissed her. All of the fear that had lingered in my heart minutes before disappeared. I was right where I was meant to be at that moment. There. Next to her.

We made love that night. We explored each others bodies eagerly, unsure of what daylight would bring. Unsure of whether or not morning would bring sadness and sorrow, or a simplistic love that would last us the rest of our lives. We held each other in our arms, and for those few sweet hours, I experienced the equivalent of sheer bliss.

I left the following day, and like any young straight woman in a prominent family, raised southern Baptist and in the bible belt of small town Tennessee she became scared. She didn’t talk to me for nearly two weeks. I went away to my (religious) basketball camp for a week, and when I returned, I simply ignored it. How was I supposed to approach that?

It was just enough to bring her back. She had everything in life except the one thing she wanted, which was me. She wanted to be loved. To be happy. She wanted to be gay.

We dated on and off for two years. Her father found out, and just like we expected, he threatened to kill me. He called my home, morning after morning raging into the telephone about how I brainwashed his daughter. How my sadistic and satanic ways would be the demise of his only girl. My mother finally filed a restraining order. He put Raegan under lockdown. School and home. No internet. No phone. She would slip away every chance she got to call me from a friends phone during practice.

Her teammates stole her journal from her backpack and read it aloud in the locker room. Her secret was out. She was a faggot too. We wanted so badly to be together, but everything in life was rooting against us. We were miserable. And alone. We were different.

I hated myself for letting it get that far. I hated that I touched her. That I held her. I thought life could have been easier if I hadn’t given her that option. The truth was that she would have found it somewhere else. She still would have been gay, and we both would have missed out on one of the most beautiful nights of our lives.

I spent that next two years turning our story into a novel, which I then adapted into a script. It’s still not finished, but writing became my way to cope. It helped me. It saved me.

As I sat on the creek bank. My cold toes in the water, I regretted not sitting next to her that day by the pool. My feet dangling in the water next to hers. One more moment that we would have spent together. I washed my face in the stream of fresh clear water. Dried it on my ratted old t-shirt, and began the slow walk home.

It was the first time I realized that people come and go. Nothing is ever forever. Sometimes we have to let go. That’s the only way we can grow. The only way we move forward. If it wasn’t for letting go of those in our past, there would be no room for those in our future. It’s fine, and I even preferred to hang on to a few of those memories. Keeping them close. Pulling them out a time or two and reflecting on them fondly. You can remember what it felt like in that moment, but at the same time you have to move on, and you have to let them do the same.

She came to see me once in College. We saw each other a few times actually, but our paths never really crossed again after high school. We never wound up with our happy ending.

She dropped out of college. Her father refused to help her pay for it, because of her sexuality, but still claimed her as a dependent so she couldn’t receive financial aid. She was one of the smartest people I had ever met. She wanted to be an anesthesiologist. She could have done it. She could have done anything. However life took over, the bills swept in and they knocked her off her feet.

The last I heard she moved down to Florida. She has a girlfriend, who has a son. They’re a family. She has a mediocre job, but she seems to be happy. She is needed, which is what she’s always wanted. To be loved. To be gay.

I think about her every so often. I wonder how she has been and if life is treating her well. I sit down and pull a memory from my collection… I play through it slowly in my mind, and then when it’s finished I return it for another day. A day where I’ll need to see a friendly face again.

This memory of her, just reminds me that love is out there. God has a plan for us. We just have to find our path. We have to create our passion. We have to love, and be loved. Then again, that’s not so hard. It happens every day.  Just open up your heart and mind. Be prepared to give in to the call.

Remember me,

I’m Tennessee.

Stars and Secrets

I was five. It was space week at school, and our assignmentwas to make a large hat out of our favorite space things. I made mine in the shape of a rocket ship with cotton balls at the bottom for the smoke.

Ben Carrol, the boy who sat in from of me, wore Saturn ontop of his head. At that moment I knew I was in love. In fact I went home and told my mother that “Ben was my lover.” Clearly I loved him, so that was whathe was. My mother flipped out. She tried to explain that lover wasn’t the word I was looking for. She struggled with this discussion. How do you explain to a five year old that a word that sounds like one thing, really means another?

I was never boy crazy. I was more focused on basketball and Pokemon’. In the first grade, my favorite teacher Mrs. Beck had a “mailbox” setup in the classroom for the students to give each other notes that way we weren’t exchanging them in the middle of class. I had long since gotten over my Ben Carrol crush. In fact I didn’t have any crushes. I do remember though that I only ever wrote notes to other girls. As I grew older nothing changed. I was the girl on the playground that all the other girls would come to when the boys were picking on them.

I remember one day specifically that a boy named Kevin was picking on my best friend Kellie. He kept pulling her hair and pushing her down. I walked right across the playground and shoved him into the dirt. He satthere on his butt staring up at me furious. That’s the first time I ever remember standing out. He jumped up and balled his fists. Then he walked away. Kellie hugged me. I felt so proud of myself. Of course Kevin found every way from that point forward to pick on me, but he wasn’t bothering her. In a weird way I felt like it was worth it. I could defend myself.

That same year I began following around this girl namedAllie. She would make me push her on the swings, or the merry go round. I never really got to play, but I could hang out with her. She was popular. That wascool. One day while pushing her on the swing, I wasn’t pushing her high enough, so she kicked me in the stomach. I said nothing. I didn’t defend myself, or complain. I took it. That’s the second time I remember feeling different.

I knew that my mother told my brother all the time that you weren’t supposed to hit girls. They were small and fragile. For some reason it never clicked that I was also a small fragile little girl. From that point forward, I was “the bodyguard”. I remember in the fourth grade I was walking out of Art class, heading to the play ground, and Eric Something-Another punched me in the face so hard I almost flipped over the staircase railing. I didn’t cry. I rubbed it, because I heard that would make it bruise. Bruises were cool. When we got to the playground, I chased him down and hit him back. He left me alone after that. I hit pretty hard… for a girl.

Middle school came. I was a B+ Group girl. I wasn’t popular enough to be an A, but the “A” Girls talked to me. I was a mediator between them and the “C” girls, who frankly were a little scary. The “C” girls were trouble makers. They always got into fights (that’s why the “A” girls needed a mediator). They never did their homework, and everyone was scared of them. The“B” girls fought hard to transition into the “A” group, and occasionally it happened. Very rarely though. In the sixth grade I was right on the border. Ihad no money, but I had a lot of friends. Most people liked me, so it was an asset. I often got used, but that had been since grade school, so it didn’t phase me. I was a good girl. I did my work. Made good grades. Never got introuble. I even had my first boyfriend. I remember standing in the hallway, talking to my friends about him. He was adorable, and really sweet. We got along really well, and he liked to play Sims which was my favorite video game. Another girl who had a crush on him was standing not to far away. She made a few comments about how she would get him before I would. After all… She was a“B” transitioned “A” girl.

She was wrong. He and I started “going out” the following day. We hung out after school. My parents loved him. His parents loved me. We created a Sims family together. We were best friends. (Looking back now, I can see how oober Gay that was.)

That year my mother decided to put me in Home School. For the second semester, I tried it. I hated being away from people. I hated being home all day. My “boyfriend” and I stayed friends, but I think we broke up around that time. (Just for a little clarification, he is now gay too, and still one of my best friends.) I hit puberty. I began a life transition that would change me forever. I went back to public school the following year.

When I was in the seventh grade I met a girl. Her last name was “Ganus” (Gay-ness). Thinking back on it, I’m convinced it was a sign from God. She was a “B” borderline “A” girl. It’s sad really how we labeled ourselves. Her family was fairly well off, and her older brother a hot football star, so she got to sit at the “cool” tables. Somehow we became friends. When I returned to school, I became a little more rebellious. I started hanging morewith the “C” girls, and began dressing more “alternative”. Studded belt, black t-shirts, baggy pants. I was tired of being used, and found a sense of freedom in my loneliness. She was way to spunky, a little annoying, and almost got her ass beat in the gym while waiting for class to start. I stepped in.

“Blondie, you’re going to get yourself killed.”

That’s the first thing I said to her. She ws cute. And it was hard to watch anyone give her a hard time. She also had a wild streak, so before long, she was a misfit like me. I took care of her. I would hang outwith her after school. She stayed with me on the weekends. She liked a boy at my church, so we were together all the time.

I remember the first time I realized I had feelings for her.We were riding my four wheeler, and her arms were wrapped around my waist. All I could think was that I wanted to kiss her. A few weeks later I did. We were playing a game of spin the bottle, and somehow it kept landing on us. I asked my other friends later what they thought of the game, and they admitted none ofthem actually kissed the other girls…

Only me.

My friend and I were the only girls to actually kiss. And not once during the game did I ever kiss a boy. We started cuddling at night during sleepovers, and I would get mad when she chose to hang out with other people over me. The final straw was when she got a boyfriend. I was devastated.I didn’t know why, but I was.

I started getting into trouble at school. One incident specifically with a girl fight in the bathroom left my parents scratching their heads. What had happened to their sweet, fragile little girl?

They switched my school in the 8th grade. I moved to the next county, and tried out for the basketball team. (I tried at my last school, but politics played a large part in that, and I didn’t have the right last name.)

I made the team at my new school, and settled in… But quickly my word flipped upside down. Still in baggy jeans and studded accessories, the girls at my new school made their own assumptions. I wasn’t alternative. I was gay.

The only girl there that would hang out with me was one that I rode the bus with. She was a year younger, always wore a camouflage jacket and a visor, and played softball. Sound familiar? She had been going there for years, so they all loved her. Me. I was an outcast. I still had no idea I was gay, but I was being told that I was and it made me furious. I think it made methe most angry, because I was afraid that they were right. I had kissed a girl. I missed her all the time.

Immediately, I looked for a way to prove them wrong. Amongmy many dumb attempts were dating a guy I didn’t like just to have a boyfriend,and accusing another young girl of being a lesbian just so people would stoplooking at me. She wasn’t of course. She is actually still a friend of mine,and next summer I will be a bridesmaid in her wedding. I am thankful that shepossesses the maturity that I didn’t at the time.

It wasn’t until the first year of high school that I dated a girl. I believe I mentioned it before. I met her at a game against a Christian High School. She slipped me her number in front of the cheerleaders, and they immediately freaked out. Among them was the girl whose wedding I will be with, and our other close friend. I stood by them, free of judgement while the other Cheerleaders gawked.

“Oh my Gosh! She hit on you! That is so gross!”

I immediately walked to the trashcan, and pretended to throw the number away. I put it into my pocket instead. I looked for the girl on theway out. She was cute. Wearing sweat pants, and a headband, and carrying her skateboard, I couldn’t help see her and think… Wow. I was intrigued.

I called her. She told me three days later that she was gay. I told her I was not. A week later she was my “girlfriend”. She was a player,and it was a horrible relationship/ experience, but I finally accepted it. I was a queer. I was a homosexual. I was a lesbian. A carpet-muncher (I hated that one). I was a DYKE. All of the nasty, horrible, things that the people at my school called me were true. I was all of those things, so how could Icontinue to say that I wasn’t?

My mother asked me first. She asked if I was dating a girl. I said yes. It was hell for months. Just like the time she tried to explain tome that lover didn’t mean what it seemed to, I had to explain to her that Gaywasn’t as bad as it sounded. She didn’t get it at the time either, but as she got older she began to understand that I was the same. I never changed. Just like I realized that Ben Carrol was NOT MY LOVER in Kindergarten. Ironic, huh? For more on my coming out you can reference the “Gay is Okay” post from before. That’s not the story I’m trying to tell right now so I will fast forward.

I was out to most people. I had avoided coming out to my best friend at an opposing high school. See following post “Water Runs Blue” to connect the dots.

She and I wound up dating later, and I even bought her a star for her birthday. Strangely, I’m realizing now that the world of stars and outer space have played a significant role in my world, and in my love life.

Those stars got me through crying myself sick when I was being teased in High School. They got me through my first broken heart. I would stare up at the sky and try to guess which star was hers. I fell in love with my second girlfriend under that same sky, and recently I met someone under those same stars as well. Those stars have looked out for me. They have calmed me. Those stars are my guide. Just remember that you’re under those same stars as well. They can help you too. They can remind you how small you are in such a large world. That just because someone thinks that you are different, doesn’t mean there aren’t a billion other different people all around you. It’s ok to be different. It’s ok to be you. I love the stars. I love being myself. I love this life.

Now if I could just find a really great rocket ship spacehat.

Remember me,

I’m Tennessee

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Out on the Ocean

I’m making progress.

I’ve settled in. I’m stabilizing myself. I’m putting more effort into writing. I’m meeting new people. Everything is new. Every day is different. The change is taking place all around me…

I am not scared. I had to think long and hard about it. I’m so used to being terrified, and unsure about everything. Understanding nothing. This time I’m not. I’m at peace with the uncertainty. 
Sometimes, I find myself walking down Sunset boulevard, staring up at the buildings and palm trees, and it hits me. I live in L.A. It never gets old. As I sit in traffic, or pass certain clubs, stores, or landmarks, I’m reminded of the fact that I am not leaving. It’s not a vacation. I don’t have a plane ticket home. This is home now.

And here in my home, I have decided to live. This morning I met up with some of my officemates at a place called Toast for Sunday brunch. Afterwards we all headed down to the beach in Santa Monica. It’s the first time I’ve had a whole day off in a few weeks.  We wandered around between shops. Had a drink (just because) Watched a street performer (who told more racially degrading jokes than anything). He wasn’t my cup of tea.

At 7:30 at night on a Sunday evening you would think thatI would start winding down, I’m getting ready to head up to the Griffith Observatory to see a full moon through the telescopes. Even if I have to go alone (I hope I won’t) I’m excited to go. I’m excited for the opportunities. They’re endless here. Life is incredible. Truly.

There’s nothing special about today. It’s not a holiday. It’s just another day of the week. Just part of what life here has become. I love it.

What I’m worried about however, and I think it’s a good fear to have… I have become so vocal, and am living so out loud, that I don’t spend as much time working on the written part of me. Sometimes I think I need to record my life, just so I can play it back later.

I wouldn’t change a thing. I really wouldn’t. I know I need to be writing more, but I can’t help but think that for a while I’ve missed so much, because I have worried more about the words than living the story. The blog isn’t going anywhere. Maybe more in depth. A few changes are taking place in my life right now that I don’t want to talk about yet, for fear of jinxing them… But I’m excited. I love waking up. I love the little moments. Each one is significant. Each one propels me forward.

My heart is expanding. I’m learning compassion, and confidence. Dedication and creativity. I’m feeling things that I have never felt before, because my soul is a vessel. I’ve turned it out across the waves.

Will you let your ship sail? Will you venture off into the dark unknown, come hell or high water? If so, I’ll meet you on the dock. We will take this journey together.

Also I would like to thank everyone. My blog has broken 10,000 views as of today. Pretty cool if you ask me. See you soon. I doubt I can wait until Sunday. 

- Tennessee 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tumble Dry

I slam the door, insert 14 quarters, and pick up my basket.

Doing my laundry is single handedly the constant reminder that I am not at “home”.  I  put my laundry basket into the back seat of my car, and pull out my lap top. Sitting outside the Laundromat, I wait for this weeks wardrobe to wash, as I type up the latest post on The GraduatesGuide, or read through my training materials for my internship. I don’t like to do one thing for too long, so sometimes I do both.

I’m settling in. I have a routine. I have a life. I am living each day with no thought to whether or not I’m doing “the right thing.”I know that I am. My internal instincts tell me that everything is exactly as it should be.

I’ve dealt with this past weeks nervous break down about being single, and what I’ve realized is that relationships, just like life, will happen when they happen. If they don’t. they weren’t meant to.

I’m a little annoyed with myself really. Why would I worry about my relationship status? Why would I push myself into commiting to someone that A: doesn’t want to be with me right now, or B: I don’t want to be with, or C: All of the above.

It makes no sense.

I have no free time. During the drive to and from my jobs, I call my mother. I have something to do every night when I get off work. I feel overwhelmed and scatterbrained 95% of the time… And I love it. I don’t want to add anything to this pressure unnecessarily, but I’ve got a lot on my plate that I enjoy. That’s where my focus is.

My pillow and I have gotten really close. I find it nice having something to depend on. Everyday when I come home, there she is waiting. Convenient right? That’s more than enough for right now.

I’ve found that the people I get along with the best are usually one or two generations older than me. I was raised differently than my generation, and therefore I possess a lot of habits and desires that most people my age don’t. I look at my mother, the woman who in her twenty’s could make the football team swoon, and I see where she gave up. Somewhere during her mid-twenties, she let her dreams go, and found herself back-tracking in her early thirties.

I watch my father, who spent twenty years chasing smoke, and I ask myself “do you want to be that way?”

The answer is no.

I don’t have to be the best. I  don’t have to be rich. I don’t have to be famous. I don’t have to be in a relationship. What I have to be is myself. What I want to be is happy. Every decision that I make in my life will guide me in both of those directions. Those two things are synonymous.

We choose our mentality.

We choose how we want to act. We choose how we want to respond, and portray ourselves. We choose the affect we want to have on the world around us. We choose the affect that people have on us.

I love people. My favorites are those who can create something out of nothing, whether it be an idea, a song, a film, a picture, a movement, a portrait or peace. I love creative people. I also love people who love themselves. Loving yourself is hard. It’s even more difficult to do when our society belts out around us that we’re inadequate.

Let me ask you this though, “Who are they? What do they know?”

These people, did they write the book of “Who and what to be: Do not stray and do not falter.”? No. There is no such thing. And if there was, do you really think it would say “5’4, great hair, rock hard abs, and perfect.”

Now if that is a spot-on description of you, stop reading my blog. Clearly you don’t need to hear a word that I’m saying. If you don’t fit this description, then welcome to the club. Very few do.

I’m southern. I’ve embraced it. The good and the bad.

I have an accent. I like to get my hands dirty. I feel better after long hard physical labor, than I do after 8 hours shuffling papers on a desk. I like sunshine. Especially when it leaves hints of a farmers tan. I say “Y’all, Sir, Ma’am, and Darlin.” I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, and I know what a 12 gauge is. (Hint: It’s not an ear ring.)

I’m not redneck. I know that the fork goes on the left, and the spoon and knife on the right. Sometimes I like to feel pretty in dresses. I speak eloquently when being addressed in a formal situation. I have a firm handshake, thanks to my father, and courage that I learned from my mother.

Neither of them were really certain how to raise a lesbian, so they raised me a little like a son. I can lift fifty pound bails of hay by grass string above my head, and toss them ten feet across a barbed wire fence in one swift motion. I was also taught to open a door for a woman, elders (and sometimes even a man, unless they take they initiative first.) It’s polite. I was taught never to hit a woman, and to treat her like I would my mother or sister. This has never been an issue. I did have to refrain once from hitting a guy in a bar who poured a beer down my back because I was gay.

I am confident in myself and proud of where I’ve come from. I was told recently by a colleague that “She will always require her assistants havesouthern accents.”

See Johnny Cash? I’m making a good impression for us after all.

I’m not just a southerner. I’m not just a lesbian. I’m an artist. A writer. A photographer. A poet. A daughter. A friend.

I’m a romantic. A go-getter. A dreamer. A do-er.

I’m an influence. A sister. A mentor. A mentee. An assistant. A jokester.

I’m a lover. A fighter (in the mental sense).

I am me. Nothing less. Nothing more. 

Who are you?

Remember me,


P.s. When I went to check the dryer, my clothes were done. The dryer still had another 36 minutes on it, and the latino man next to me had just begun placing his clothes into another dryer. He was standing next to his wife. They had more than a few kids running around them. With four or five loads next to him, I decided to offer him my dryer. He said thank you, and his wife followed him with a "God Bless."

Now even if you're not "religious", you can't tell me that reaction, that moment in life wouldn't make you feel good. When you make others happy, you begn to feel happy as well. It's just food for thought. 

Enjoy life. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Single, But Not Alone.. Ever.

I really like who I am as a person. I also really believe that the right one will come along eventually.  Someone who truly deserves me. Someone that I in turn, truly deserve.

I think that I'm fairly attractive. I believe that I'm smart "enough", and can at times be funny. I'm driven, I never settle, and I'm a hopeless romantic. When I do date someone, I put everything I've got into making it work.

Why is it then, that I have the worst luck of anyone I've ever met when it comes to dating, and seem to be chronically single.

Usually I'm fine with being single. I like having the freedom to go where I want, and do as I please. It makes life easier to not worry about whether or not I am "paying enough attention" to someone who may or may not stick around. I don't like answering to anyone when they're being petty or jealous, so in many ways being single makes perfect sense. Usually, I would embrace that. Usually…

However on nights like tonight, when I get home at 10:30 and have had a long day I can't help but think about it. About what it would be like to have someone to cuddle up next to. Honestly that's what I miss the most.

Cuddling. Especially this time of the year. It's the perfect time for relationships. Fall comes, and people nestle into relationships. They hibernate together for the winter, and fall into that steady comfort. Usually one or both parties gain a few careless pounds stemming from Haloween's candy, and the fine dinings of Holidays. They spend time with each others families and reminisce over the sweet moments they've shared, whether they have had two months worth, two years, or twenty.

I miss holding hands with a girl. Gazing into her eyes, and feeling certain that she loves me. I miss finding a few hours that are unoccupied, and going on a walk, or watching a movie because we can.

I received an awkwardly uncomfortable message from my ex and her current girlfriend a few months ago. Basically the jist of it was they wanted me to be their friend. Apparently my ex's current girlfriends ex (aren't we lesbians confusing?) has just recently begun to hang out with them, so they felt that I should be their friend as well.

Not a chance. I can honestly say I want nothing to do with her, but it did remind me that it was the last time that I spent months on end falling for someone, with every confidence that she was falling back. And now she's doing the same thing with someone else.

Dear heavens, that was three years ago.

Time sneaks up on me.

I've dated since then. I've even been close to thinking it could be substantial… Then they leave. I'm not sure why, but my dating history is incredibly unfortunate. I swear I'm never getting close, and put up this untouchable guard… Then I fall for a pair of pretty eyes and it all falls down. Before I know it, she's lassoed my heart, and is running off into the sunset with the thought of another.

I think that's why now I've developed a disconnect. I love everyone, but can no longer remember being in love. There is an empty space in my chest where my heart used to be.

Which is why I said usually I'm fine being alone.

But not tonight.

Tonight I want to cry. Tonight I want to be held. Tonight I want to be honest. Tonight I want to laugh. Tonight I want to hold hands. Tonight I want to get mad because her feet are cold. Tonight I want to compain that she's making me sweat, but pull her closer anyway. Tonight I want someone to listen.

Tonight I want her.

Tonight I don't want to be single, but I am. And when I wake up tomorrow I will be. After this last glass of wine settles, I will remember all the benefits of not having a relationship, and remind myself why I should stay the way I am. That's tomorrow. That's not tonight.

Until then, I'll wrap my spare pillow under the blankets and lay my arm across. I will cuddle up to it's softness and reassure myself that it's not me. I am fne. I am just waiting for someone who can be fine with me. I know I've always got my back.

While I'm on the subeject of girlfriends, I'll revisit another subject.


Here is the thing. I have a friend. My friend has parents who can't see her full potential.

This girl is GORGEOUS. She has dimples that only God could give a person. She is the light of my life. Intelligent. Wonderful, and all of those other incredible things.

We are NOT dating, not even close, but the reason this post came about is because her parents don't acccept her. We hear this story all the time. Parents disown their children (I don't see how.) My father disowned me. I fought for five years to get him to speak to me again. Tonight, when I read my mother a letter that my friend wrote, my mom broke into tears and said "Tell her to call me. Tell her i'm interested. Her day to day. Her accomplishments and failures. I care."

My mother is a saint.

To the parents out there who think that their child is less worthy because they are gay. THEY ARE STILL AS SMART. THEY ARE STILL AS BEAUTIFUL. AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO LOVE THEM ANY LESS. They are that same baby that you ruffled and frilled at age 2, or tuxed up with a bow tie. And by chance, if they are adopted………

Here is what I have to say. They were your choice. You made it, regardless of what they become whether it be gay, straight or the President. (I feel as if the President and Gay will one day be synonymous.)

They are still incredible. Please crawl out of your small minded box and move forward with the forward thinking section of the nation.

She loves you. He loves you. And you should love them.


Be a parent.

Strangely enough, when I googled the role of "A Parent" this is what came up. By the way, it was posted by a man of the military.

To make a commitment for the rest of your life to your child(ren). To protect them for as long as they need it. Be there for them through good and bad"
If you make that commitment… to be a parent... Follow through. Until then, you can call my mother. she would be happy to talk to you. I'm saying it because she asked me to. My mother says you can call her "Mama Tennessee" or "Mama June", or "Mama Bear"… It's your choice. She has asked me to tell you that if you are in this situation, or need a parent to talk to, call her. She will stand in.

Remember Me,

I'm Tennessee

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Motivate Equality

I'm lying in my bed. 

Out my window I can see my beautiful palm tree. I'm sure God planted it there just for me. I see the sun beating down through the glass, and I can feel the wind breezing through the opening. 

I'm not working today. I've been working everyday lately, and I was beginning to wear myself down. I'm juggling at least half a dozen projects, and I feel like someone approaches me with a new great idea, every other day. They're all good, but I hve to remind myself that I can only do so much. I have to be selective with what i'm working on if I want to contribute my full potential. 

When I met Sajdah and Chanel last October, I really liked the message that they were sharing. Some of you might know them as the couple from The Real L Word (Season 2). Sajdah decided to hold a charity basketball game, with Chanel's help. My friends Kacy and Cori were going to be in it, so they asked me to play. 

I was only around Sajdah for an hour or so. We might have shared a maximum of five minutes conversation, but life is a funny thing, and  it plays out the way it wants to. 

Over the next year, somehow Sajdah and I became friends. Most of it was online. When I went home last winter, Tennessee was discussing the "Don't Say Gay" bill. My mother and I drove two hours to Nashville to protest. When we arrived, Sajdah and I were communicating back and forth via phone and she asked me to send her some footage for her non-profit. It's called Motivate Equality. 

Two words. 


  1. Provide (someone) with a motive for doing something.
  2. Stimulate (someone's) interest in or enthusiasm for doing something


  1. The state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities.
  2. The condition of being equal in number or amount.

The tagline for her company is "Motivate ESince I've known Sajdah, I've realized one thing. She has a vision. She has the ability to inspire, and that is what drives her. She is a lot like me in the sense that I feel much more accomplished when I'm helping others than when I'm helping myself. 

Before I moved back to Los Angeles, Saj and I spoke briefly about M.E, and why it was her passion. She said something to me last night that cleared it all up. In a skit, or post, or event… I don't remember which one… She said someone asked "Mother Teresa" why she was never at an anti-war rally. Her response was "because I'm pro-peace. If we are all pro-peace, there won't be any wars to rally against."

My mind was blown. That's it. We shouldn't have to fight hate. We shouldn't have to protest stupid laws, or bullying. We shouldn't be standing on opposite sides of a picket line, because we should all realize that we're equal. I'm not different from Sajdah. You're not different from me. Ghandi, Obama, Oprah, Romney, Hitler…. Whether you like or dislike them, the truth is they're all human. (Well I question that statement about Hitler. I'm still convinced he was possessed.) What I'm getting at is we're all human. Instead of dividing that into groups of people supporting different facets of life, who don't we all support the equality within life? If we all approach life in this manner,  and teach others that i'm not "significant because I'm a lesbian" or "more proud to be black" or "better because I'm Christian" then we will begin to see that the ground we all walk on is the same for everyone. The air that we breath is all the same. Don't get me wrong. I'm proud to be a lesbian. I've struggled too much not to embrace it. But that's what I am. It's not who I am. 

I am kind hearted and old-souled. I am an advocate for children's rights. I am my father's last born. I am my mother's pride. I am an acoustic music enthusiast. I love adventure. I live as if every moment is being recorded onto a page. I like to give hugs. My favorite thing is making people smile. I am a little bit outside of the box. The box that I don't believe ought to exist. In fact. As often as I can, I jump out of that box and pack up other peoples problems, just so I can give them a break with that weight off their shoulders. 

I just happen to be a lesbian. 

Saj and Chanel joined me two nights ago in Hollywood. We went Salsa dancing. We were joined by 7 or 8 people from my internship. A majority of the people in the club were hispanic or latino. I was clearly not in my element, but I danced around the room high fiving people, and explaining that I couldn't dance to save my life. I had at least 6 people attempt to show me how, guys and girls. What I realized as I left the club that night, is I can stand anywhere. Being unique is wonderful, but were all still the same. Everyone knows what it's like to be judged. Everyone knows the pain of loss and rejection. We are all alike in that way as well. Why not do what we can within our power to strip that away from life, and help our children not make the mistakes of previous generations? 

I love each and every one of you. You inspire me everyday. 

Please email me, tweet me, instagram me. I love hearing from you!

Remember M.E.

 I'm Tennessee.