Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Fear of Growing Old

I'm twenty-nine now. I can never be younger again. My body will only age and age and age while I try to keep in shape. One day, it will quit, but probably not all at once. Like my grandma, it might be slow and exhausting. It might be filled with family members staring at me, wondering if I'm sleeping or just half conscious from drugs.

The past couple of weeks have been tiring. Friday, the 10 of january, grandma died all night, but only in our minds. I left work at 4:30 and spent the next 7 hours in the ICU waiting room with my loud family. Grandma's blood pressure kept dropping, her lung filling with fluid. At one point, for no reason, someone stared crying. We all started crying. I found my dad near the men's bathroom sobbing quietly into his hands, the way I found him once when I was 4, after a head on collision my mom and I had with a drunk driver. I hugged him and thought about what to say. Instead, I patted him and walked away. That's what he really wanted.

At 10:30 p.m. someone thought to get fried chicken, so we feasted.

But, Grandma turned out fine and went home that tuesday. She stayed home for five days. I called on Saturday, the 17th to ask permission to come do our interview. I'm going to take the camera down there and let her talk, about whatever. I'll ask some questions, and let her ask me some questions. We scheduled it for the next saturday, so the 24th.

January 18th, this past sunday, was my birthday. Mom and Dad were coming at 11 to take us out to lunch and just hang out. When the phone rang at 7:45 that morning I already knew. For my birthday, the truck battery was dead as Mindy and I tried to leave for the hospital around 9. We stayed at the hospital until 2:00, then we came home and slept.

Just this morning grandma has gone on dialysis. She watched her husband go through it, and she chose to do it anyway. In a way, I keep hoping she'll let go during one of those surgeries. Just slip into a much deeper sleep. But, for whatever reason, she's still fighting.

It's not like she just lies there unconscious. I make her laugh until she coughs. She says witty things back. Her brain is just fine. And maybe that's not good.

Yesterday I forgot my teaching bag, but remembered my teacher clothes. I felt myself getting sick, you know, stuffy nose and just general crap feeling. This morning I woke up sick. And tired. I slept in. I mean, even though I'm sick, it feels great to be home. It's like I've never been home. I don't mind being sick because I get to rest. Finally.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Comes Love, Then Comes Gay Marriage, Then Comes Mindy and Christina Paying Thousands of Dollars for Sperm that Some Man Spanked Into a Cup..

The rumor is true, we're pregnant.

That was a test. How did you react?

It's a conversation that we've been having lately. Mindy wants to have a baby, I mean, she wants a baby to grow in her womb. I'd rather adopt. A teenager, that way the commitment isn't as long. Babies are boring, anyway. Their little heads just bobble around. They're little machines that process food into poop and that's about it. I want a kid I can talk to already. I'd even settle for three or four years old. I want a human, not an alien poop machine. Mindy wants a baby though, so we can form it in our own image or whatever, but no matter how hard parents try the kid grows up to hate them and rebels against something.

"Christina, you don't really seem like the 'parent' type." I don't agree. I think I'd be a kick ass about 20 years. I love kids, but then, I've never had my own. But we can't wait that long. We have to do it relatively soon, especially if Mindy wants a parasite to grow inside her healthily. But she thinks she's a barren wasteland already. I'm not sure why. She always tells people that and then looks at me, "she's our back up plan."

"Christina, you don't really seem like the 'pregnant' type." You're absolutely right. Here are the things I can't do while I'm pregnant: drink, smoke, play rugby. I don't want to destroy my body. No, let me rephrase, I want to destroy my body with sports, not babies.

The truth is, I'd rather adopt. Kids need homes. I'm adopted. It all makes sense. Of course, that's the hardest option since we can't legally adopt as a couple. And in Arkansas they're trying to, once again, stop the gay agenda.

But, by one of us having a baby, it highly increases our legal rights. I mean, obviously, if Mindy had the baby she'd have every right to the baby. I wouldn't. At all. We'd have to pay lawyers lots of money to help me get some rights to the kid.

Adoption is legal papers for both of us and even more money. But, I'd like to be able to tell the kid who where he came from. For me, finding out my biological family was an obsession. I had to know. If we had a frozen pop baby, that kid would never be able to see her face on another human...well, Mindy, but she'd never know the other half. And, I know, some people don't care. But I'd like to give the kid the option to choose.

Of course, the easiest and cheapest way to have a baby is to go to the bar. We probably wouldn't even have to buy our own drinks. Let me set the scene:

In a Bar
(list of characters)
Mindy: Curvy, dark haired lesbian who wears a low cut shirt
Christina: athletic, blonde haired lesbian who can talk about sports
Bob Smith: straight man

Lights come up as Christina and Mindy sit on two bar stools by Bob.

Mindy: (to Bob) Hi. We're lesbians, uh, and we've never had sex with a man.
Christina: Ever.
Mindy: Would you like to...
Bob: (dragging Christina and Mindy out the door) Would I!?

So, that would be easy. Except all the parts later. You know, the sex with a random guy and all that. And then explaining to the kid, "Your mom and I wanted you so much we..."

And again, we'd never be able to tell her her heritage.

Of course, I could ask a guy friend for his sperm, which we've considered. But then, one of our close would friends would be the father of the baby. That seems wrong, too. But maybe not.

Yes, I do want a kid. I said it. I want to have a kid someday.

Mindy and I lay in bed last night discussing this. I said I was too afraid to have a baby because our relationship is so awesome. Why would I want to change the great thing we have? We'd be tired all of the time, have fights about parenting techniques, we'd never have time alone. I think I'm too selfish to make the decision to go through with it. "You'll have a lot more to write about," Mindy said. I guess, but when would I find the time? How would I do all of the things I love?

Mindy's other concern is jealousy. She thinks the baby will become the most important thing in my life and all of my attention will go to it. And our poor cats would suffer, too.

I've never had a sexual encounter where I had to worry about "protection." In fact, it's impossible in my reality that two people can make a baby by having sex. I can't believe it's that easy and cheap, but it happens all of the time. That baby will come out, looking like the two of them and no questions will every be asked about their parenting skills. They won't have to undergo psychological evaluations, have people come to their home to see how clean or baby-friendly it is. They won't even have to pay for rights to that baby.

And those women will have a pretty easy time answering the question, "who's the father?"

Sunday, January 4, 2009

To die, to sleep...

I was awaken this morning to my ringing cell phone; it's a fake rap song that yells out when my mom dials me. Actually, Mindy woke me up off and on by having a bad dream and crying, and then snoring. So, the phone rang and I jumped up and ran to the living room naked to answer it. Mom was already leaving a message.

She called to say grandma was in an ambulance because she couldn't breathe. Again.

I showered, made coffee, and left in 15 minutes. My heart felt heavy.

This has been happening more frequently. Each month, just one or two more visits than the last. I know what happens eventually.

When I arrived, there were only a few family members in the waiting room. One person came out from the ER with my little, crumpled blue piece of paper that granted me access to the locked door. I found Grandma on the far left in the far back. She had an oxygen mask sucking and blowing at her face so hard I couldn't really hear or understand what she was saying. Her breathing was labored and her left hand gripped at her chest, all of those rings stuck to her swollen fingers. For the first time in my adult life I held her hand, her nails stained with blood that had dripped from the catheter stuck in the back of her hand. She squeezed it in rhythm to the breathing and I suspect, the pain from her drowning lungs.

When my aunt left our side for a few minutes, I promised to stay there. She squeezed my hand and said, "It's just you and me, Christina."

And it was just us for that long minute.

I've mentioned earlier that I'm just realizing my grandma likes me. I guess I see that I like her too. For a long time she hated me...or I thought she did. It was just us. And my mind is still swirling wondering what it really means.

I've also said I don't know my grandma. I said this to Mindy tonight and she said, "Do you really think that?" I do. I hardly know that woman, and I wonder how much the rest of the family does.

My family doesn't know me just as much as I don't know them. I don't know if they believe in God, which way they vote, what their favorite book is, what music they choose to sing to when they're alone. I don't know them at all. But, they also have no idea who I am.

They don't know that I write. Most don't know what an archaeologist even does. They don't know what I feel about my last name, or the town I grew up in. When they look at me, and hear me, sarcastic and dry, do they understand anything that's true?

But, I only see them at moments like this: in the hospital; at weddings; at holidays; at funerals. For me, this is when people are at their worst. At least, that's when I'm at my most cynical. I hate holidays mostly because of commercial reasons. I don't like weddings for the same reason coupled by the fact that I can't have the same rights, and no one likes to be in the hospital (on top of that, I've watched my other grandma and my grandpa Holzhauser die in nearly the same fashion). And funerals, they make me vulnerable, make me feel like I'm staring at the ocean for the first time in my life, make me feel guilty for being so intrigued.

I mean, I don't invite my family out for drinks. Most of them haven't seen my house, or know where I live. I wonder if they want to.

At the hospital they all try to talk over each other. The one who talks the loudest is the one who wins and gets to talk the longest, about whatever subject. No Holzhauser is wrong. Ever. About anything. I've learned to keep quiet and nod at whatever they say. To try to get to speak is too much work and not a game I'm willing to play. Sometimes when I'm asked a question, I get cut-off half way through my answer, the subject turns to something else, and I'm lost, left to live only in their suspicions and assumptions. I think this is true for all of us.

I've always asked myself whether or not I'd be friends with my family members. Some I would choose, others I would never give the time of day, and most I'd tell to shut their racist, bigoted, isolated mouths. That's harsh. It's true, though, tonight. Everything seems truer at the moment.

So what, right, we all feel that way at times. Again, I turn to adoption. Do I feel that I'm not close because I'm adopted, or is it because it's just true for my family?

I asked Grandma at Christmas if she was ready for that interview we talked about. She said, "anytime." While I was showering and getting dressed this morning I rubbed that phrase into my body. I have a lot to ask her. A family sex scandal. If she believes in God. If she has regrets. If she really likes all those damn cardinal figurines and sweatshirts she gets for her birthday and holidays. I'll let her ask me things too, if she wants.

Because really, how much does the family know about me or her? We've never asked personal questions; we avoid difficult topics. Only my two cousins who are within a couple years of my age ever asked about me being a lesbian. The hatred, confusion, denial, sadness, and acceptance all passed silently, just lines on our faces speaking for us.

When my grandma dies it will be loud and violent. She will drown in her own fluids, her lungs struggling to pump because her heart has weakened and can't pump the fluids through. Her body will be starved of oxygen. Her chest will heave. There will be wailing from some of the women while God is asked some hard questions. Of course, after all that, silence.

Grandma, it is just us wondering what it's all about. Why we live and then die. Because I've always been cursed with an overwhelming knowledge and fear of the end of my own consciousness. Some think we wake up in the sky, wearing wings and living eternally. Actually, some must think I'll wake up in a fiery pit with the wailing and gnashing of teeth. But I think one day I will go to sleep and never wake up, and never know it.

Grandma must struggle with it, too, knowing it could be anytime and she might not even realize it when it comes. Or maybe she will and she'll have to watch us all, silently dealing, while the family grows and separates. And time again.

Congestive heart failure happens when the heart is diseased, injured, or overworked.
Congestive heart failure is a progressive and eventually fatal illness.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Ex-Boyfriend

December 12, 2008

Like most people, I explored my options in my early twenties. After one woman broke my heart repeatedly, after shoulder surgery and an intense love of percocet, after all that, I dabbled in heterosexuality.

Working on a dude ranch in northern California, I met a sweet guy from Virginia. The ranch (
was up in the mountains and hundreds of miles from any city. There was a smattering of little towns, but the closest to the ranch was about 15 miles away and its population was about 600, I'll guess. It was just the two of us working there for about a month. We drank cheap beer in my cabin every night and I learned how to smoke weed. Poor Mark would shiver as he handed the bowl to me, all cozy in my down sleeping bag. We became close in the way survivors do; it was us against the world. Why do people travel across the country to work at a dude ranch anyway? I liked him. I wished I could be straight so I could marry him and take him home to my family and wave my hand when they asked about all the girls, "A phase" I would say.

One night we kissed, sloppy drunk, as we slithered off the bed and to the cabin floor. "How was it?" he asked. "Ok, but this his how a girl wants to be kissed..." We only kissed one more time, deep into the ranch summer. There were 20 people our age, all hormonal and stuck in the mountains. At one point we tried going to Lake Tahoe together, to see what would happen, but the Polish girl invited herself. Of course, he knew I was a lesbian, that's why it was weird. He did say once, absolutely sincerely, "If you'd like to sleep with a guy just to see what it's like, I would do that for you."

Ultimately, I fell for a girl from New Zealand.

* * *

Only a year later I found myself liking another man. He was my boss. He was skinny, a runner with no hair on his stomach. I spent a couple of months wondering what was happening to me, why I'd suddenly liked the idea of being with a guy. But, it made sense. Men are easy to get along with. They say what they want and need. Generally, they like to play sports, go hiking, things that interest me too. But, then I guess I sound like those straight girls who say how easy it must be to be in a relationship with a woman for all the same reasons. People are people. Relationships are all the same and all different.

So, my boss and I went on a float trip and stayed in the same tent. After a day of drinking cheap beer and paddling, there we were in a tent, in the woods. We made out a while, but it was when his sweat fell on me, that he had this look in his eyes, that his face was scratchy and he smelled funny...that was when I realized (for the hundredth time) that I was a lesbian.

* * *
But there is one man who will always be my ex-boyfriend. Though I dabbled with those guys, there was no agreement of relationship. The last time I called a guy my boyfriend was in 1997. And he was gay. More accurately, we were both gay. But the most accurate statement is this: Though we had homosexual tendencies, though everyone we knew thought we were gay and talked about us behind our backs, we had not yet quite put our fingers on those realities, but would soon.

I can't remember why or how we started dating. He was a great singer, in the musicals and plays. I was a varsity ball player and president of every organization I could get my unusually coordinated hands on. We spent a lot of time at his parents' house listening to RENT or other musicals. On one date he insisted we go to the mall to get me a cute red sweater. He often told me I dressed too much like a boy. He picked out my prom dress. During rehearsal for one of the musicals he had a little fit on stage saying he didn't know how to dance to that kind of music. After a few times of him whining, I jumped up out of the pit (where I was playing trombone terribly) and did a little dance. In my memory, it's like a scene of a bad movie. I hoisted myself (very skillfully) from the pit, and said, "Like this!" I saw our band teacher smiling at the both of us.

I remember before we stared dating I said, "Everyone thinks you're gay. are you gay? I don't wanna date a gay guy." And he said, "well, everyone says you're gay."
"Well, I'm not," I said.
"Me either," he said.

We made out a few times. There were so many times we were at his house with his parents not there (I should mention here that his mom was my 7th and 8th grade English teacher. She had a great laugh, always got her glasses caught in her hair, explained to a me what the word "sadist" meant and was the first person to call me "Chris."). When we were there alone, I felt like there was something we should be doing, something we should be taking advantage of, but instead, we sang or sat quietly on the couch. At school we stood out like, well, like two queers in a small town high school.

He smelled nice and had nice lips. I don't know what he saw in me at the time. It was a relationship, I see now, based on something kind of resembling friendship. But maybe not friendship, just kinship. I can't speak for him, but I saw things in him I wanted to be, or thought I should be. He could dress himself ( I wore softball t-shirts, boxers, jersey shorts, and those damn adidas sandals). He could sing and got good parts in the musicals (something I've always wanted, but I couldn't sing to save my life). He was more cultured than most people I knew.

So, in the summer of 1997 I went on a trip to Europe and found a girl who I couldn't stay away from. It took a while, but I realized what was happening, so I called after I got back to the states to tell him.
"I think I like girls," I said. There was some more conversation and he said, "You've destroyed my manhood," and slammed down the phone. I laughed for him and cried for myself.

I saw him years later at the gay bar in Columbia. He was wearing a scarf. We were both drunk. He introduced me as his ex-girlfriend to all of his girl friends and they all giggled and squealed. I tried it with my friends and smiled and sipped their beers.

He'll always be my ex-boyfriend, I'll always be his ex-girlfriend. I like that. I like to say that my ex-boyfriend is living in New York and doing hair. I don't know what he says about me..."My ex-girlfriend lives in mid-Missouri and...plays rugby?"

I don't like the term ex-boyfriend. Yes, we broke up, but not because I found another guy, not because I didn't like eating dinner with him and singing "Today for you, tomorrow for me." He's more like my "always boyfriend." If we didn't have each other for that year(?) we dated, we would've had to date other, straighter people. And what they would've expected from us would've been quite different than the quiet, peaceful time we spent together, our minds spinning violently behind our faces.

I Hate Football

December 7, 2008

Maybe that's too strong of a statement. Maybe not.

In the early 90s I devoured football, as did my dad. Of course, he's the reason I watched at all. I loved Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. We hated Dan Marino. Dad called him a fag when I was young, because of those, like, driving glove commercials I think they were. I begged for a helmet and pads, a jersey. Anything. When Dad and I threw a ball in the yard, I realized that the football didn't fit my hand so well. I couldn't throw it like I could a softball and it was then I decided I was a wide receiver. We also hated the Cowboys.

This weekend I've watched more football than I have since I was 16. There's a reason. It's called rugby.

No, I should go back a little bit. My senior year of high, my junior year of high school there was a petition sent around who would play football if we had a football team? I signed. People laughed at me, like I was kidding, like ha you're a girl, that's funny. But I meant it. I didn't think we'd really get a team though.

But we did. I didn't try out though. I was too busy with softball, trying to get scholarships. No, that's not true, either. I knew I had scholarships, but I was in love for the first time and my parents hated me and I hated them and that story you've heard a thousand times. I had nearly made up my mind to move to Houston (a college with no softball team) to be with Lacey. I couldn't pull myself away from softball to try out for the football team.I had played softball since I was 5. It was my identity. And how horrible would it have been to be a lesbian AND playing football? I would've made the team. I was fast and I could catch a ball and take a hit. That's what I told myself.

So, I moved to Houston and didn't take any of those scholarships, and my dad cried. And I cried, too.

But rugby found me only a few months after having moved there. I worked with a six feet tall woman who played. After I asked what the hell kinda sport was that, she invited me to practice. I wasn't hooked immediately because I wasn't good. I wasn't good because the sport is completely foreign to any American. Especially Americans who watch football.

If you don't play rugby, this is what you know about it: It's kinda like soccer and football mixed. Well that's more wrong than it is right. Rugby is like rugby.

Here's a quick lesson in rugby:

1. You can't pass forward. Only laterally and backwards. (you're thinking, "how the hell do you ever gain yardage?" well, it's not called yardage, for one, and for two, it works, trust me)

2. You can kick the ball to move it forward.

3. After a tackle the ball is still live. (very unlike football)

I guess number 3 is the reason I can't stand to watch football anymore. In football, the ball is thrown or passed off behind the line of the way, "scrimmage" comes from the rugby term "scrummage"... after that the person runs until he's tackled.

And, jesus, are people proud of themselves when they tackle someone. They pound their chests, do stupid dances, hit their helmets like they're really something.

In rugby, you tackle someone, they release the ball, and someone else grabs it and runs with it. If a rugby player beat her chest for every tackle,she'd look like an asshole. Just like football players.

The same with touchdowns (which are called "trys" in rugby.) In rugby, a try is scored by touching the ball to the ground in what football players know as the end zone. A football touch down can be scored by breaking the plane of the end zone. Did you notice that the term "touch down" comes from rugby? If you see a rugby player running toward the uprights you'll hear the team screaming, "Touch it down!" So, there ya go.

When football players score a touch down, again, the cocky dance. They throw the ball somewhere, wait for their teammates to get there and do some chest bumping. In rugby, if you score a try, good for you, but you couldn't have done it without the team. No one is singled out in rugby. You're supposed to tackle all the time, you're supposed to score. That's how you play the game.

And now, the padding. Football players wouldn't need the padding if they learned how to tackle. Over my weekend of football watching, I saw 3 wrap tackles. The rest...people just plowing into people with their heads. Throwing their whole bodies at people, just jumping at them. Maybe I forgot to tell you that rugby players don't wear padding. It looks uncomfortable and dangerous. Since we don't tackle like football players, we don't need all the padding.

So, what am I saying? I dunno. Football sucks. Play stops every few seconds, everyone's so arrogant when they do things they're supposed to do. It's boring. Yes, football is boring.

Football players are athletes you might say. Ok, they aren't in terrible shape, but I just saw some guy sucking on an oxygen tank on the sidelines today. Oh, and quarterbacks have a little play list on their forearms. How is it a sport anymore?

Now I know homeland security's gonna snatch me up for being un-American, but I ask you to give rugby a chance. Just take a peek at a few minutes of a youtube game or something.

So, let me finish by saying this: Rugby players are in better shape than football players and they're tougher. Put that in your oxygen tank and suck it.

15 Holzhausers Walk Into a Hospital...

November 24, 2008

My grandma is dying.

Not in the sense that we're all dying every day, but in a real, very obvious sense.

She is my last grandparent. My mom's dad died when I was 2, his wife died when I was 9, though I was at her bedside when the very end came. My dad's dad died when I was 17 and it's still a haunting memory of violence and then nothingness as I hid behind a curtain and watched.

Grandma's been having congestive heart failure for the past month. Every time, she is taken in an ambulance to Jeff City or Columbia, and the whole family is called. We all arrive and sit in the emergency room or waiting room. If you can't imagine 15 Holzhausers in an uncomfortable situation it is much like arriving to a party and realizing everyone there has been drinking since the early afternoon. They are loud and telling stories they've told many times: Uncle Greg nearly bit some guy's nose off in a fight. We laugh heartily. Dad had to shoot the deer over an over before it died. Some of us laugh with a wheeze and a red face. I suppose it's comforting to hear what we've always heard and it feels like Christmas or Thanksgiving. I feel sorry for the other guests who are waiting, in pain, to be seen. Or the other people who are waiting, like we are, in case this time is the last.

I came out to my family 11 years ago and since then, I've been working my way back into their lives. Or, maybe I'm starting to work into their lives, as an adult and not as a child or a teenager who felt out of place.

Two weeks ago I went to the hospital to see Grandma on a Friday in the afternoon. I meant to stay 30 minutes and leave. She was sitting in a chair with tubes and everything stuck into her and running out of her. She looked older than I remembered. She asked how my teaching job was, I told her the drama. She asked about Mindy. I showed her my latest rugby injury and she shook her head, smiling. Then we started talking about Mindy and me. I mean, really talking. I told her that we had no legal rights to each other and she told me to get it done soon because you never know what could happen. She asked if we wanted to have kids. I said someday, that Mindy would do it. We talked about sperm donors. "Grandma," I said, "did you ever think you'd have a conversation like this with me?" She laughed that old smoker laugh until she coughed. "No, honey, I didn't." We laughed together. And after that, she wanted to talk about everything with me. I stayed for 3 hours.

I called her on her birthday not long after that and she said how much she enjoyed visiting with me. Mom called to tell me that grandma had called to tell her that I'd called and said we had a nice conversation.

Yesterday she went back into the hospital so Mindy and I drove to Jeff City. She was in the emergency room waiting to get a bed. When I walked in, her face lit up. I made her laugh a couple of times. We didn't talk too long since she was feeling bad, but I remember she said, "I just wanna feel like Edith again."

The idea of aging has really been bothering me lately. Old people aren't aliens, they're like you and me except they're older. I know it sounds stupid, but people forget that. One day, you and I will have the same brain but in a crappier body. That's all an old person is: a young person in a wrinkly body.

So, Grandma's body is trying to quit and she must know it. She just turned 78.

I've been meaning to video her for years, ask her about the horse and buggy, all those things that are being forgotten more and more every day. There was a sex scandal she was involved in in the late 40s. That couldn't have been easy. She ran a bar for years with Grandpa. I wonder what she's seen?

I'm embarrassed to say this is what I know about my grandma: she is 78, her name is Edith, she's quoted as saying, "Vince Gil could leave his boots on my bed and I wouldn't say a thing to him." And that's it, really.

My grandma likes me. She laughs at my smartass jokes. She loves Mindy and calls her "dear." She even asked yesterday if I played rugby this weekend.

So it seems my time to get to know her is very limited, but if I start asking too many questions, will it make her feel bad? Will it make her feel like we all know it's near the end?

Yesterday we stood there, the 15 of us, around her hospital bed. People were playing with their cell phones ("I can't figure the goddamned thing out") or laughing (Joe's so goddamned afraid 'a snakes one time..."). Grandma tried to keep up, smiling at the funny stories, but she kept drifting asleep. For one moment, everyone was quiet as we looked at her, her eyes closed, her false teeth out. The moment it got quiet, she opened her eyes, like she was afraid to miss something, and someone started, "January 17 we're having a fish and chicken fry out..."

Are we human, or are we dancer?

November 14, 2008

After a week of coming home hating my students more and more each day, I decided to take the rugby girls up on their offer of "hittin' da club."

I haven't gone out in a while. Which means, I haven't had a few drinks and danced naughty with people who aren't Mindy in a while. Here's a little known fact: I like to dance.

Ah, but only when the music isn't crappy new hip-hop. I recognized one song last night, and that was one that the drag queen danced to. I can't remember what it was right now, but it was circa 2000 and brought back memories of Houston and the gay bar I went to, which the older girls called "The Barn"

I had a fake i.d. Well, it was an expired driver's license of a friend. Ok, she was kind of a friend, but more like a girl i really liked. She had five tongue rings (that she'd done herself), pink hair, and drew carey glasses. Anyway, she gave it to me. The picture of her was taken when she was 69 pounds an anorexic. I guess it kind of looked like me.

But there wasn't just her. No, there was the tall, older butch girl who I worked with. She had a short skater cut, you know, with the underneath all shaved. (or maybe you're too young?) We were friends first, she introduced me to rugby, to bars, to ideas.

And then there was another girl. This one I would fall madly in love with. She was a painter, an anthropologist, a smoker, a debutante. The next 3 years I'd spend most of my time with her or without her and in tears.

But then, I can't leave out the reason I moved to Houston in the first place. I'd sworn my life to a shy, tone deaf, blonde haired, blue-eyed physcologist (who now is Dr. and works for NASA) when I was 19, but within months realized all the options I'd yet to explore.

And explore I did. There were the older rugby girls. One night she wore a skirt, had a little too much to drink, and happened to dance with me for one song. Maybe not even the whole song. That was all our relationship lasted, and she didn't even know she was in it with me. She had big hands, that's what I remember most.

I lived and dated and loved like I had to get everyone in before I made a choice. Because if I didn't meet everyone in the world, how would I know I'd chosen the right one?

In those sweaty, bumping bodies last night I saw myself. I was in among them, too. God, how beautiful we all are as a swarming mass of youth. The looks on their faces so bright from hormones, drink, and dance. Those are the times we are infinite, when when can conquer the world with our hips.

I drove home through the rain to my wife. My mortgage, the cats and bills. I woke her up and buried my head in her neck where she smells most like herself. "I'm attracted to them," I said, "I'm sorry." She held me tighter, giggled and said, "but now you're home."

About Me

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Writer, teacher, and archaeologist. Contributing essayist in the anthology "Crooked Letter I: Coming Out In the South" from NewSouth Books.