I dated boys for many years. It started when I was 12. When I was 13 I was dating a 16 year old, but he was my best friend, and very gay. He was the best boyfriend I've ever had. When I was 14, I had a "friend with benefits" open my eyes to the underbelly of the internet that the school had blocked. Oh my God, girls could do that? To each other? Obviously, he found it hot, but I don't think he expected it to turn me on so much. Whatever got me in the mood, though, so he soothed me, convinced me it was absolutely normal for straight girls to feel aroused by it as he palmed his way under my shirt.
I will be forever grateful to him for showing me the true use of computers.
However, it was with this way of thinking that I spent my high school years. I was in unsatisfactory relationships, seeking adrenaline rushes, boyfriends, affairs, and taboos to feed this sexual void in me. I couldn't figure out what was missing. And then I slowly began to wake up.
m:2, we'll call her Mary, was my first girl crush that had me thinking sexual thoughts. I was in year 12, so ready to be done with high school, and she was a grade below myself. She had curly black hair (do you see a trend?) that was always in a ponytail, and a huge silver guitar for a belt buckle. She rocked out on it with headphones over her ears like she was practicing for a garage band. She wore jeans and pullovers and the skater sneakers that make your feet look huge.
She was funny. She had a dry humor, a sarcastic wit, and her responses were lightning fast. Her brown eyes could swallow you. She never really smiled -it was always more of a half smirk, but that fit her perfectly.
At the time, I was convinced that I did not have a crush on her. Me? Gay? No way. I went to school with lesbians, I was friends with lesbians, I was part of the GSA. I'd heard them all talk, when you're gay you know it all the way from when you're a kid.
I remember the first time Mary hugged me. There was skin to skin contact and it was a long time before I let her go. No boy had ever made me want to hug him like that. She smelled wonderful and her body fit along mine like we were two halves of the same whole. I fantasized about hugging her, kissing her, seeing her without her sweatshirt. We went on this school trip and stayed at a hotel, and when we all went swimming she had the most amazing body. Her arms were like woah. But of course that didn't mean that I was gay. As my feelings grew I passed them off as a fluke, a one time thing with just one girl. It helped that Mary wasn't gay, so what was the point of trying to talk to her about it?
I graduated, and found out two months later that she came out and was identifying strongly as a butch lesbian. Way to go, me.
I started college that fall. Again, I found myself crushing on a girl. Luckily, m:3 (I'm realizing that I like a lot of girls whose names start with M) was not the girl I was sharing a room with. My roommate and I got along well enough. m:3 had the room next to ours, and she was something else. She was slightly taller than me and much curvier. She was gorgeous. We traded clothes, dresses, makeup. We hugged all the time or snuggled on the couch together under a blanket watching TV. She would curl into my arms and beg me to play with her hair and it was so long and beautiful and felt like silk between my fingers. We sometimes cuddled and fell asleep in the same bed or on the couch, but she was firmly straight, so I couldn't possibly think of her that way at all.
We started having crushes on the same guy, and I realized that I was jealous. I didn't want them to date because then she wouldn't be spending time with me or cuddling with me. I never had dreams about kissing her, never thought of having sex with her, but I craved skin to skin contact. She was so soft, so smooth, so warm that I snuggled up to her like a cat. I was happy just being next to her, sleeping beside her.
I went nine months in silence, not thinking that I liked her in a lesbian way, but I knew something about my feelings for her was different. She graduated and moved away after I let my jealousy get the better of me. She refused to speak to me and I was crushed. Soon after, the summer of my life stormed in like a hurricane.
It began with Patty: she was a very short, curvy thing with gorgeous black hair and dark eyes. She had an attitude that was so strong, confident, sexy. I couldn't take my eyes off her. After m:3, I was a little wary about all of my wonky feelings around girls and I wasn't about to get heartbroken again. I befriended Patty quickly during our shifts together at work, and her laugh was extraordinary. She taunted boys and girls both with her bountiful assets, but I couldn't get a read on her. Would she be offended if I asked her out?
She was constantly teasing the lesbian girl who worked with us. I knew her vaguely- she had been infatuated with m:3 and made her extremely uncomfortable, but Patty didn't seem so uncomfortable, so maybe she'd be open to the idea. I remembered that m:3 was no longer talking to me and I decided I'd be damned if I let another girl slip away.
We were joking one day at work and I tried to be casual about it. "So, Patty, you want to go out on a date sometime?"
"Tabby, you're such a charmer!" she laughed. "Ran out of cute guys to ask?"
"You're prettier than they are," I threw out the compliment unabashedly, but she laughed and took a sip of her water. "God, I wish more people were as sweet as you," she said and walked out.
I sighed and leaned my head back against the wall. She thought I was joking. She thought I was super sweet, which was great, but also that I was straight and joking.
That night I went out to a party, got drunk, and made out with a boy. It was wholly unsatisfying. The next week, Patty began dating the lesbian girl from work. Shit.