10/03/17, 12:54pm

Last night, HJ asked if he could sleep over at X’s. Naturally, she felt insecure again: this was too much X for HJ; surely, something was wrong.

She said yes.

They talked little, touched little: X finished up a homework assignment as HJ scrolled through his phone. Post-hopping into bed and turning off the light, X remembered she’d left cooked quinoa in the rice cooker. There is something about the word ‘ladle’ that X especially liked; it felt like a rocking chair, and she felt this as she scooped the quinoa from the old rice cooker to the tupperware by fairy light, sitting on the floor in her underwear, spilling small solo quinoa seeds onto the carpet.


 

Today, X brought up sexuality with HJ:

I’m here for you, she said. If you want to discuss. I don’t have experience, but I think I’m a good listener, an ok question-asker. I know you haven’t told anyone else. But if you just want someone to vent to or someone to probe you, I can be that.

Yes, he said.

But I don’t want to hold you back, she said.

You’re not, he said.

But I think I am, she said.

You’re really not, he said

This is an important time to explore, she said.

No, he said.

How no, she said.

I love you, he yelled into the pillow, quietly.

 

Oh

 

 

she

thought.

 

She looked at his tuft of hair in her fingers.

She looked at his buried head, his hidden face.

 

She inhaled.

 

He exhaled.

 

She wrinkled her eyebrows.

I think I love you too, she said.

 

The snooze alarm went off for the third time. X threw off the covers. The sky was blue and the air was crisp. They sat up, got dressed, and biked to class.

Have a good day, they said to each other. She turned left. He pedaled straight.

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continued, already

X is having a bad night. Earlier HJ invited her to hang out and she began to get paranoid, because Why does he want to suddenly spend so much time with me? The insecure, big, small X thinks he is trying to prove something to her. X doesn’t like that there might be something to prove, because it means there is something to doubt. This is all in her head, of course. That’s what the healthy, logical, big X knows.

And so the healthy side of X texted HJ that she could maybe sleepover? even though she was a little busy? And although she was happy and content that he responded to that quickly enough, he responded slowly to the follow up message, and in the 20 minutes he took X began to feel tight, and achy, and cold. When he did respond, she began to cry a little. She decided to stay in her room and cry here, because X felt not good and although going there would make her feel good she was scared, now, of that good. X had decided recently to never run from good because it was ephemeral, but old habits die fucking hard, and goddammit X was having a bad night and goddammit she needs time to process these newly returned defense mechanisms.

And she felt confused and sad and angry all at and about herself, but most of all she felt ashamed. It wasn’t rational, X knew this, and furthermore it was selfish. Because what she wanted was for nothing to change, even as she saw change glow in HJ and felt it twist in her. She didn’t like that: that she twisted. X prided herself on something to do with this, exactly what she wasn’t sure, but whatever it was X felt she was failing miserably.

dream 09/28/17

I’m with HJ and S, studying in the library at our school. I scroll through Facebook and notice a series of posts by AM, racking up, as always, hundreds of likes. They are a series of poems, each a horrifying portrait of me: my insecurities, ugliness, inconsistencies and secrets laid bare through AM’s eyes, which have looked at me long and hard and deep, which I let in willingly as though there is no key, there is a security guard, finicky, picky, jaded from birth and secretly scared.

“X, with a slightly liberal slant”

“X, with a slightly conservative slant”

“X, victimizing herself through her relationship with her parents”

It doesn’t matter that it was wrong to do: the poems are not mean so much as they are mocking. It is all true. It is all real.

a short story, tbc

Yesterday, HJ told X he’d been having dreams about hooking up with men. It had started in the middle of summer. It had transitioned to real thoughts about physical sexual experiences with men as he walked around during the day, as he looked at their bodies. X thought she was thoughtful and supportive. She asked carefully, What conversation are we having?  She asked, Are you still attracted to me?

Yes, of course!

But you think that you might also be attracted to men?

Yes. Maybe.

That’s so exciting, X said. Maybe we can objectify men together.

She encouraged him to perhaps experiment, told him she would be open to him exploring with other people. She understood the importance of self-discovery, she really did. He said he wouldn’t. And then he said he might.

There’s a guy in one of my classes.

They looked him up on Facebook. He has the cheekbones of a saint, X said. X thought she was thoughtful and supportive. X meant what she said.

HJ and X lay in bed talking about nothing until 2pm. They went on a date that evening and parted ways for the night. X went to a party with friends wearing blue eyeliner and blue mascara and bobbed her head to a Solange remix, then walked home in between two of her close friends who had hooked up not too long ago and were now slightly awkward when they were alone.


Today, X found herself thinking. She looked up the guy from his classes on Facebook, by herself. He was half-Asian, tan, long, sinewy. He really did have the cheekbones of a saint.  He smiled a lot in photos. He seemed easy-going. X thought about what a threesome would be like. She wondered if her tastes would perhaps change with time. She wondered if she could somehow force the process.

X Googled, “gay v. bisexual”. X remembered that just the day before the day HJ told her he’d been having dreams she’d thought a little about her own gender. X was pretty sure she was heterosexual (she thought, though she hadn’t actually tried anything, so who was to say?). She thought maybe there was something more to be said about her gender. Recently, X had felt less and less connection to femininity and had been dressing in figure-disguising clothes, not shaving, not wearing a bra, and considering shaving her head. She Googled, “gender v. sexuality”. One website said that the definition of ‘transgender’ was “an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation. Therefore, transgender people may identify as straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc.” She thought that might describe her. Heterosexual and semi-transgender? That didn’t sound like a thing, X thought. Maybe she wasn’t anything.

X remembers a snippet of their conversation from the day before. She had asked, “Have you told anyone?”

Just you.

Then she’d asked, “Are you going to tell anyone?”

Not until I’m 100% sure.

X felt her heart beating very fast. X thought about HJ. X thought about how much she cared about HJ, how she had just — really, very much just — began to let herself need HJ. X began to get sad, and scared, and anxious. X thought about HJ and the guy from class. They looked so right together, X thought. Because why was HJ with her in the first place? X began to think about I Love Dick. She had stopped reading at the part where Chris left Sylvere after Sylvere had been so supportive. Was she Sylvere? In her head, she was already Sylvere. And yet, there was nothing that Sylvere could have done other than what he had done, because Sylvere, like X, had wanted to be supportive, and thoughtful, and understanding. X empathized with the idea that a significant other could become more attracted to person other than herself, to the helplessness of both of them. In her head, it had already happened.

X began to believe the end. She wonders, Does she withdraw into herself now, to prevent hurt? Does she hold on harder and convince him that she’s worth sticking to, against all odds, against all curiosity, against all change?

X finds the word ‘change’ ironic. X remembers when she was the one changing.

X realizes that she cannot talk to anyone. HJ has her. X has no one. X feels her chest grow tight. She clears her internet browser history quietly. She looks out the window of the room she is studying in as her friend reads next to her. X feels, suddenly, very, very alone.

8/30/17, 10:33am

I suppose I can’t really be sure whether I’m only home for a short enough time that there’s not enough time for things to blow up or whether I’ve matured enough to preserve my healthy self in a toxic environment. I hope it’s the latter. More likely, it’s a combination of both, possibly skewed towards the former —

I’m coming more to terms with the fact that my parents are people first and parents second: that being a parent was a role they played, but not their entire being. It’s having lived a summer as a bona fide, financially independent, solo adult playing her own one-dimensional roles out for certain people. It’s then having come home to a mother who is now a middle-aged single woman falling way too fast for a middle-aged single man, and although he seems like a wonderful person, it’s all too fast and too much and too middle-school naiveté all the same. It’s noticing that my father is now an aging single emotionally-stunted man with a twisted worldview that will never bring happiness or community, that perhaps if he’d been more lucky he’d have gone down in history books as some sort of crazy genius, but instead fishes every day and gives the catchings to friends he can’t bring himself to truly trust and is happiest when reliving small inventions of his childhood. They have been freed of the immediate role of parenting and have become people — and it’s taken me this long to see that, to treat them as damaged people and not adversary parents, to realize that I can give them love and understanding and support without being influenced by their toxic philosophies and fights.

It’s good to be away. Maybe it can also be good to be home.