Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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

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