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 (www.coffeecreekranch.com)
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.