i’ve always been a hopeless romantic,
writing poems and prose about the boys
who stole my heart: their big brown eyes,
thick eyebrows, and velvet-smooth voices.
i’ve always been a sucker for their strong,
masculine hands and their rough (but attractive)
touch over my soft, curvy hips.
girls? were pretty. beautiful. adorable
but nothing more.
just girls: someone i’d want to be, but nothing more.
i then met a girl with porcelain, pale skin.
her lips full and pink and- why was i staring?
her hair was short and brown, and i had an urge
to play with it on a cold, stormy night.
she kissed girls, and i knew that was okay!
just… something i would never do,
for i liked boys. all my life.
i’d kissed their lips and heard their moans
and had fallen in love with their “boyish charm.”
and yet, i desperately wanted her attention.
we began talking, and every “you’re so cute”
sent butterflies fluttering through my veins.
flirtatious banter was what we played,
and i was a little too good for someone who
claimed not to like the game.
and it was a warm summer night
when we giggled through our laptops,
watching each other on webcam with
smiles glued to our faces.
and when she wasn’t looking, i wrote down a poem
about brushing my lips against her jawline,
questioning why i was thinking of her
“in ways i should not,” and how she was “the puzzle
i was too afraid to finish.”
i never did kiss her, though we wanted to, several times,
but i was shy and so was she, and neither of us wanted
to cause a scene.
she was the first girl i ever dreamt of.
i continued talking to boys. i flirted and giggled
at their silly jokes, playfully touched their strong arms
and developed enormous feelings for a boy whose eyes
have been the subject of many, many poems.
but i’d still look at girls with a spark in my eye,
curious of how their lips felt against mine,
and how it’d feel to stare into their beautiful eyes,
hidden by precious, thick, long eyelashes.
celebrities were hot, sexy, adorable, and cute,
and my friends would speak of “girl crushes,”
of how they didn’t count, of how it was just admiration.
but where was the line between admiration and attraction,
and where did i stand, knowing damn well i would gladly kiss
and hold and touch those girls the way i would with a guy?
i’d overhear my mother speak of girls being curious,
of questioning souls just like myself. my head would perk up,
awaiting her response, hoping an adult could make sense for me.
“has she been with a girl?” she’d say, brushing it off.
“she may think she is, but she wouldn’t know for sure.”
i stared blankly at my mom, my voice of reason, and wondered
why a girl would need proof to admit she’s not straight,
when no proof is needed to assume that she is.
mother knows best, i said to myself, making excuses to avoid
what, now, seemed like the obvious.
so i carried those excuses in my pocket like anchors
and tried to trudge through life, dragging along the phrases
i’d been taught: “curious,” “girl crush,” “admiration,” and more.
i never dared to look at a girl for a second too long,
or dared to speak of one the way i spoke of boys.
and it wasn’t too long before i developed a crush
on a cute, skinny girl with short brown hair and
big doe eyes whose voice reminded me of spring.
and the nerves came back, and the desire to talk,
to cuddle, to hold her hand. and a few nights ago,
i awoke with a smile after dreaming of giggling under
the covers with her in her bed.
so i’m smitten with a boy who smells like home,
and i get nervous around girls whose hands could fit well in mine.
and now i know what i wish everyone would have told me before:
to not brush off genuine feelings of romance and attraction,
to not give in to the heteronormativity by which i was surrounded,
and to not tiptoe around what i knew i felt
while fully supporting those who embraced their sexualities.
i knew it was fine and normal for people to love whomever they wanted,
but now i know that it’s fine and normal for me to do the same.