The girls are never supposed to end up together. I watched that movie with Ellen Page and Alia Shawkat, the roller-skating movie, the one where Ellen and Alia are best friends, each other’s only comforts in their podunk town. They need each other, and they hug, and they dance, and they tell each other I Love You, and Ellen meets a skinny boy who plays in a band. It doesn’t even work out with the boy, but that’s almost tangential. The girl was never a real option.
I think that’s why it’s really difficult for girls. For me. We follow narratives and our fingertips trace the contours of the stories we love and we long to escape within the confines of our own lives. Meet your boyfriend in the pouring rain and yank down his mask and kiss him upside down. Run with your boyfriend to the front of the ferry and throw your arms out to the side and scream, “I’m king of the world!” If you are a girl in love with a boy, your possibilities are infinite.
If there is a special girl in your life, you love her as a friend. You love her as a friend, but she becomes less important to you as you grow, and you leave her behind for a boy. She might even stand next to you when you marry the boy, and she might catch the bouquet of flowers that you throw to her. You’re giving her permission to move on, move away from you. It’s a ceremony of separation.
But if you should fall in love with a girl - and loving and falling in love are two very distinct things - the first kiss is the end. You’ve all seen the movie. Or the television show. Or the after-school special, or you’ve read the book that was banned from your school’s library for containing Sexual Content. The point of your story is not to fall in love. The point of your story is to struggle. Your story begins with a lie and climaxes in a truth and ends with a kiss. In the movie of your life, forty-five minutes are devoted to you figuring out how to say that you want to kiss girls, and another half-hour is devoted to people’s objections, and maybe the last fifteen minutes is you kissing the girl. Maybe you don’t even get to kiss the girl. Maybe she tells you that she’s flattered, but she doesn’t bat for your team.
The critics swoon; it’s realistic, they say, so realistic, to depict the struggle of the modern teen, the heartbreak of irresolvable incompatibility. Isn’t that always what celebrities cite in their divorces? “Irreconciliable differences.”
And so you’re lying on the floor of your bathroom, your knees curled to your chest, or you’re on your sofa with a pint of ice cream, or you’re in bed watching your favourite sad movie on Netflix, and the collective weight of all that you consume settles on your shoulders, leans in, and whispers, “You were never meant to fall in love.”
You were never meant to fall in love. Your story ends in tears or it ends in death. Jack Twist was bludgeoned to death with a tire iron and Ennis Del Mar was left alone in his closet to dance with an empty shirt. Alby Grant found Dale Tomasson swinging by a noose in the apartment that had been their safehouse, their respite, and he sank to his knees and cradled Dale’s bare feet and he cried. The Motion Picture Association of America axed Lana Tisdel and Brandon Teena’s sex scenes, but they didn’t have a problem with the extended shot of Lana cradling Brandon’s corpse in her fragile arms and falling asleep next to his body.
Love and intimacy are ours only in death, or so it would seem.
I don’t want to die. Isn’t that a very human experience? Not wanting to die? When does anyone who looks like me get to grow old and raise grandchildren and hold her wife’s hand as the skin wrinkles, turns translucent?
Sometimes my father asks me if I’ll ever date a man. Sometimes he doesn’t ask. “You are attracted to men, and you dream about falling in love with men,” he says, as if he can will his imaginary daughter into existence merely by speaking about her. Or maybe he is just looking out for my safety.
He’s seen the movies, too.
He loves me.
He doesn’t want me to die.
I hope one day
somebody loves you
that they see violets
in the bags under your eyes,
sunsets in the downward arch
of your lips,
that they recognize you
as something green,
something fresh and still growing,
even if sometimes
you are growing sideways,
that they do not waste their time
trying to fix you.
Birthdays. Setting fires. Holding hands. Making stew on cold nights. Mountain climbing. Sleep. First dates. Vacation. Spending the day in bed. Buying wedding rings. Exploring a forest. Playing peekaboo with a baby. Watching someone smile genuinely. Camping. Stargazing. Counting rings on a tree. Realizing that someone loves you. Returning that love. Getting drunk for the first time. Smell of old books. Looking through black & white photos. Learning your ancestors’ names. Laughter. Hot chocolate. The feeling of getting back up after falling down. First day of college. Last day of college. Acing a job interview. Screwing one up and realizing it’s not the end of the world. Collecting shells. Sunbathing. Listening to someone’s heartbeat. Sound of waves crashing against shore. Rain hitting a tin roof. Heartbreak that turns into heart-healing. Your own house. Decorating that house. Coming home to someone you love. Hearing the sound of their footsteps on the stairs. Honesty of fall leaves. Their colors. Fresh snowfall. Singing favorite songs off-key. Seeing love come into someone’s eyes. Watching your parents look at each other like the very first time. Sunrise. Sunset. The way fire burns into ash. Smell of a campire. Waking up with light spilling over the sheets. Breakfast in bed. Living long enough to watch wounds heal over. Change. Wilderness. Forgiveness. Change some more. More change. Spring. Flowers blooming, opening up like you can. Good memories. Learning how to forget bad ones. Warm feet in a cold bed. Sleeping with the only person you care about. Waking up to their mouth and arms. Smiles that reach all the way to the eyes. Letting go of balloons like dead weight. Floating in water on your back. Skydiving. Risk. Adventure. First C on a test. First A. Favorite teacher. First poem. Last poem. Holidays with family. Roadtrips. Changing the sheets. Your father’s gnarled hands when he grows old. Grandchildren. Children of your own. Their first day of college. Their graduation. Their wedding. Anniversaries. Making daisy chains. Smell of freshly-cut grass. Pride. Feeling good about yourself. Loving what’s in the mirror. Not being afraid anymore. No more heaviness. No more grief. Survival. Picking berries til your fingers are stained dark. Frost on windows. Holding someone without sex. Sex with love. The joy of swearing. Counting the years you’ve lived. Another candle on the birthday cake. Another mark of victory. That bellyache laugh that hurts all over. But hurts so good. Breath freezing in winter. Feeling that breath on your skin. Someone’s eyelashes blinking into your palm. Accomplishment. Self-worth. Love. Triumph. Sitting under willow trees without weeping. Apologies that get accepted. Understanding that comes from forgiveness. First fight. First makeup afterward. Less hurt. More good.
The problem here is that food is one of those things that I use to replace the things that make me feel bad. I’ve used it as a coping mechanism ever since I knew that it was there to use. Food makes me feel bad, but I use it to make those feelings go away and it turned into an almost addiction sometime around last year. I don’t know how to fix that, though.
I need to start identifying the things in my life that make me get all depression-y and replace them with something else. I never really thought of doing that until now. There’s a lot of things that make me feel worthless and since I’d prefer not to feel worthless all the time, I need to stay away from those things.
Some of the things that make me happy for a while will make me feel negative after a while. Some things, whether it is a song, or a movie, or a person, I let myself enjoy, but eventually, my brain will catch up to me and make me sort those things into a category of “stuff that makes me feel bad about myself”. That’s where I need to eliminate those things from my life, at least for a little while.
However, before I start with sorting out myself, I need to tell myself that this is beneficial for me. Some things that I plan to do that I think will help me, I end up not doing because I won’t let myself. I have to convince myself that I am worth enough to fix.
i hope when i wake up tomorrow the world and i will love each other again.
This causes you much guilt and self-blame and sadness but above all, an overwhelming curiosity. Are you really that ugly, that unwanted, that uninteresting, that boring, that no one, absolutely no one, has ever looked at you like the only thing on earth?
The answer is no. The better answer is that someone out there, somewhere in the world, is “wondering what it’s like to meet someone like you,” and they have two decades worth of love stored in their veins like a shoot-‘em-up drug, and they’re just about ready to inject it into someone else’s bloodstream. All you have to do is roll up your sleeves and wait for it to happen.
At times you felt so lonely you could stand at the edge of a cliff with nothing beneath you but air and grass and a long, long way down, and you’d still feel emptier than that canyon itself. Maybe you even danced with yourself alone in your room a few times, arms outstretched around a ghost, pretending someone else’s hands were on your waist, someone else’s eyes boring into yours.
Or maybe you fell temporarily in love with strangers on public transportation, fell in love with anybody who so much as accidentally brushed your hand on the way past. For you, falling in love with dozens of people a day was a coping mechanism for not having anyone to love you in return. But people are not eggs and falling in love with a dozen of them does not mean your shell will remain uncracked. One day you’re going to hit the point where you’re so desperate for human contact that you’re going to snap in half and all your love will bleed out like egg yolk.
But someone out there is eating a bowl of Ramen noodles right now, or putting on slippers, or settling into bed. They are doing all the normal things that you’ve done in your own life. They are just like you. They have cellulite and extra fat in all the wrong places and goals and fears and doubts and bad handwriting.
The truth is that they are just like you, and being just like you, they’re looking for a lover too. They’re what you might call a soulmate.
They think they’re all alone in feeling the way they do, but you’re really both two halves of a whole.
And one day you’ll meet them, bump into them on the street, and your two halves will be put together, and you’ll make one."