Wednesday, October 20, 2010

18 Again

A couple of weeks ago I received a text from one of Beanie’s high school friends, now in her first year of college. She is also the daughter of the man I work most closely with. I have known her since she was born, watching her grow up through the pictures and stories and occasional office visits to her dad.

After a couple of greeting texts -

Hi, this is A.

Hi A.  how is college life?

Okay. Lots of drama.

What’s going on?

I think I’m a lesbian.

You want to talk about it?

Oh yeah.

And we arranged to have lunch when she was home on break.

I have had this opportunity many, many times - to talk with some young person struggling with their sexual identity. I generally enjoy it. But in light of all the recent gay teen suicides, I have to admit I was feeling a little stressed about it this time. I was feeling a lot of pressure about saying the right things, and giving the right encouragement, and generally not screwing it up. I read a lot of things on line. I talked to my therapist. Suddenly this seemed like a lot of responsibility. I was very nervous.

On Monday we met at a local pizza place. I started with questions about her classes and activities at school. And then asked her about what she was feeling about her sexuality.

Well, it turns out she is quite comfortable about who she is. I asked if she had told her mom (her parents are divorced) “Yup, she’s cool with it.” Then I asked if she had told her dad, thoroughly prepared to go back to work and rip him a new one if he had been a schmuck. “Yeah, he said he just wants me to be happy.” Hmmmm. I was feeling very relieved but quite curious as to why she wanted to talk. I asked when she first recognized her feelings. She replied she had her first girl crush in 10th grade. “Who was that?” I asked. “Your daughter.” I smiled. “Did you tell her?” I asked thinking that *this* must be where the conversation is going. “Yep”, she said “she wasn’t interested in that but would always be my friend. In fact, she always told me that I should talk to you”   

So I finally asked exactly what it was she wanted to talk about. And then she welled up with tears. She had fallen in love and the girl first reciprocated and then backed away and they had just shared this heart stopping sex and spent the night snuggling and eating Oreos and they were just made for each other and now this girl is acting like she didn’t even know her and flirting with other girls and she thought this would be forever and why is this girl acting like this and what did she do wrong and why are lesbian relationships so fucking complicated and how will she ever be able to find someone again and what should she do now?

And yes, she said all that, and more, in one long heartbreaking sentence.

Yeah, even when your friends and family know you are gay, you still want to talk to someone who understands girl/girl heartbreak. I get that. But I was prepared to talk about coming out to your parents and feeling good about queerness. I was not at all prepared to talk about lesbian drama.  It has been a long, long time since I had to deal with that crap.

Still, I dug deep and shared with her my college stories of steps and mis-steps. So much intensity and insecurity. So much angst. We talked a long time about love and lost love and how much that can hurt. She had me remembering all those adolescent crushes and unreciprocated lust. How do we ever live through those times?

Lately, with my arthritic foot and now my gimpy knee, I have been feeling older than my years - thinking that it would be great to be young again.   But I don’t think I would ever want to go back to 18.


  1. I will always be grateful that you 'ripped me a new one when I was being a schmuck.'

    It's funny how we tend to romanticize our youth and forget how difficult those years really were. I wouldn't want my 18 year old life back either - but I would like to have my 18 year old waistline back!

  2. Send her to me, I've got all the drama she could ever hope to not have...

    Poor thing. I think this is another instance where "It Gets Better" is true. But, it's not specific to gay teens. It's for all teens.

    *Agree with you and knitter ~ a younger body would be nice but not if I had to go back and do it all again. No. Way.

  3. I'm just glad she had someone like you to turn to. :)

    "Gimpy knee" and all...

  4. I'm with e - sometimes drama follows us all the days of our lives.

    Does it get better?

  5. How nice that she felt comfortable enough to pour her heart out to you and also tell you about her crush on Beanie. That's so sweet.

    I wouldn't do 35 again much less 18!

  6. I wish I could have had you around to tell me about the girls hanging out by my classroom when I taught. I had no clue. And really regret it.

    I was there for them, but not the way you are. If I knew then what I know now... Heck, I'd have liked to talk openly with someone when I was in 7th grade.