Defining Characteristic


Look, I never expected it to be me.


You live your high school life and your latest fascination walks down the hallway across from you, a boy who’s slipping drawings in your locker, or pretending to propose to you in eighteen different ways, or singing you love songs in another language, and for the moment, you are captivated by him. But it always proves a temporary distraction, as eventually the drawings are angry, the proposals are sarcastic, the love songs are for someone else, and you call “NEXT.” You pick out boy after boy and don’t wonder if there’s some reason that it never works for more than a few weeks, some reason that you cringe when he takes your hand, some reason that your embrace feels contrived.


No, I never wondered, not once, except every single day. But I ignored that and selected another boy from the stockpile, because gay? That wasn’t even an option.


Turns out I was right. It isn’t an option. It just is.


By the time that I’ve kissed at least five boys, it’s creeping up on me because he kisses me like I’m an angel and I kiss him like he is a brick wall, I’m thinking about what’s for dinner or what time I go to work all the while. I don’t like it, I don’t want to do it, and that boyfriend of mine doesn’t really feel like my boyfriend. He’s not, but he doesn’t know that like I do. It’s always over after one date, one night, one week, one month, because it’s troubling when the best compliment you can give your boyfriend is that he’s a stand-up guy, and you go home and make a list of people you would rather be with and every single one of them is female. It doesn’t make any sense to me because I thought gay was obviously different, I thought gay was defining characteristic, and I don’t feel any different, I don’t feel gay, I just am, but that’s just one thing, it’s not everything.


So he pulls me in and I go willingly, open my mouth and let him in to keep all else from slipping out, and when he leaves I run to the toilet and spit into it for hours. I hold the closet door shut with one hand and bang on it with the other, just hope that someone finds me.


But no one finds me. I find myself.


No one can tell me what I am but me, and if I feel my feet slipping through solid ground at the sight of her, then that’s good, because for once I have a sure thing. Sure things are not for hiding, they don’t belong in darkness, they’re for the entire world if I want them to be, for everything outside. So here I am, opening the door.


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