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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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.

07/21/17, 11:24pm

You’re over JKm. Really. And so you’re not sure why this memory popped up, in the suicidal freefall of the downhill bike ride —

Was it the night you broke up? No — it was before that, you’re sure. You don’t remember what came before, but he looked at you and said,

I’m a complicated person.

Eyes narrowed poetically. His had was in your lap; he was looking up at you. He reminded you of that scene in Kung Fu Panda where Laoshi doesn’t die.

Aren’t we all complicated? You responded. What do you mean?

I’m complicated, he forged on. Less so than you.

Was that when I decided to break up with him?

But was it even fair? Who do I show my complicatedness to? Not him. Not anyone, really.

Maybe biking Manhattan bridge 5 times in a night is melodramatic. Maybe it’s not. Maybe you’re just scared of people thinking that.

Who in your life has biked Manhattan bridge over and over and not told the tale, never will tell the tale? Who has it in store?

4/19/17 10:33am, on my bed in my dorm at college

Loudness is communication. Communication allows for understanding and change. What bothers me about MH, and now HJ is that they are quiet. They do not yell, or protest, or retaliate; they recoil. But this is far, far worse: in their quietness, they are resolute. Their judgements are set, their conclusions wrapped about you and your flaws. I would much rather they criticize openly.

on the walk here

JS is sitting on the steps outside my dorm when I walk out. I see him out of the corner of my eye: a solid pink sweatshirt and a penny board. We throw each other an obligatory wave and head nod.

***

Vignettes of the weddings I would have had with each of my past somethings:

At JKm and I’s wedding, I would have fake-fought to wear something bright — a sunshine yellow sundress. He would protest enough over me embarrassing him in front of his family that I would pick out something white. Something innocent. I would have struggled to mingle with charming, docile small talk — or who knows? Maybe I would have been good at it by then. I would have hovered with his grandparents in the corner, clutching to some conversation about contemporary art.

Barefoot, wearing some sort of wildly appropriated sari for JS. It would have been in India, or Puerto Rico, or Africa — anywhere but here. His friends would be hugging and kissing and my friends from back home would be uncomfortable. We would smoke weed. We would sit cross-legged on the floor.

WB and I would be back home, on the beach, with everyone from high school, or come to think of it, maybe no one from high school. I don’t know who I would be. I was in such a transition period during the period of us: I realize that now. Perhaps he was also, or perhaps I dragged him into mine. Maybe I would watch him joke around with his white, wholesome, cool church community, or maybe not at all. We were so different than we were two years ago; was the feeling the same? This I know, from the start until now: at the end of the day, we would have sat in silence, watching the sunset.

I can’t yet tell what HJ and I will be, except that I think I feel very much myself. I wonder how the legions of radical feminists can each individually choose to make that nod to gender roles and still make grand statements about the collective push against them. I couldn’t wear a white dress now, I think, that low bow to tradition.

I’d be down for a brightly color-blocked skirt, I think.

***

On the walk here, there were pink flowers covering the floor. They look better there, I think, than they do in the tree: a soft sea in grey light below leaves.

a video of HJ

I didn’t think much of it in the moment. I’d spent the afternoon reeling in two distinct housing crises as he watched and offered sympathies. We were about to leave; he’d just finished changing.

This is the video: it opens up sideways. It fumbles until it’s right side up, trained on HJ, still a little lop-sided, or perhaps that is just HJ’s inherent slight lop-sidedness. It’s grainy from the low lighting, which somehow makes it look more like a vintage polaroid than just a shitty video. He is smiling easily, a little awkward before the camera. “Sup,” he says, raising a hand in a geeky greeting.

“It’s really nothing…” you hear me say from behind the camera.

“Cool,” he nods. It’s such a statement, devoid of judgement or anything really but simple affirmation.

And his smile: it is unchanging; it is unconditional good-naturedness. He looks at the camera the entire time — and his look. It’s soft, kind, easy. I watched that video ten times just to feel that look trained on me. I watched it ten more times out of pure affection for his essence, beaming so strongly in that three second clip.

I’m beginning to miss him when we’re apart.

 

another part of that conversation

Wait so…but…that first movie was platonic, right?

Oh, yeah, that was totally platonic.

And then what about the second one? Was that platonic?

That was absolutely not platonic.

Ha! I had no idea.

Really? Do you do that with tons of people?

I have guy friends, you know.

I guess.

I was so nervous, you know that? During that second movie. I had such a big crush on you.

Really?

Yes! You made me nervous. You make me nervous.

I make you nervous? Still?

Yeah.

Aww.

Yeah.

Oh wait, that’s right. I could totally tell. That’s how I knew, after that second movie, that things weren’t platonic.

Yeah?

Yeah! I sensed that you were nervous, and I was so confused. Like, why is he nervous? And then it made so much sense.

Ha! Yeah.