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?
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?”
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.