Replay.

We ate a full roll of Mentos. Well, I did. You ate two when I asked out of obligation, but I didn’t ask again. Maybe the peppermint got to me, or maybe it was the fact that I always feel like I don’t belong, but I started to cry. You patted my back and said all the right things.

Once I had dried off and wrung myself out, things were back to normal. We watched two episodes of a 44 minute tv show, which was exactly long enough for me to calm down, forget, and remember again. “Maybe you should see a doctor…” The six words no one wants to hear. My face contorted, softened, and then began looking for an escape route. I chuckled and said, “Probably”.  I’ve never gotten past probably.

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Replay.

And/Or.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been acutely aware of the opposite sex.  Exciting and forbidden, boys were always on my mind.  At just twelve years old, I snagged my first boyfriend.  We held hands under the Bible while the preacher taught us about purity and kissed in darkened Sunday school rooms.  It was everything I ever dreamed it would be.  As quickly as it began, our charmingly sinful love ended.  I was surprised to discover I wasn’t heartbroken.  I just moved on to the next one.  The Skater, the Band Geek, the Cool Guy, the Black Sheep.  Names began to blur.  Breakups became more frequent.  I began to care less and less about having a boy to tote along behind me.  After a while, I stopped noticing completely.  I had seen all there was to see of the male image around me.  There was one figure, however, I had failed to notice before.

She sat in front of me in Biology II.  Her long, dark hair sat unassumingly atop my desk.  I sat in awe, of her and of the horizon broadening ever so swiftly in front of me.  Everything about her was richly dark, especially the thoughts she ignited in my mind.  Appalled and frustrated with myself, I began to act differently around her.  I was fifteen and confused.  I knew no one would understand.  I would be mocked, labeled, and mislabeled.  Lesbians were fetishized in the minds of boys.  The word “bisexual” elicited a cringe followed by a grimace from girls.  I felt dirty.  I felt like less of a person.  I did what any self loathing teen would do; I hid my true feelings away from others and myself.  I kept this secret for over three years.

Finally, on one drunken night, I word vomited onto my best friend.  She said, “Really? Well alright, cool!”  A guy gave me a high five and their conversation trudged on without missing a beat.  People knew.  I was out.  My life didn’t change and no one treated me any differently.  The only one that ever hated me for being me was myself.

And/Or.

Honey.

My mind is a crate full of bees.  At peace, they hum quietly while they work.  Coming and going as they please, every thought is recognized and stored away in an easy manner.  I go about my day without resistance, until the hive is disturbed.  A passing comment, a bad attitude, a funny look, a feeling of incompetence.  I don’t have any control over these happenings, so why should they bother me?  Immediately, thoughts slam around violently, aching to escape.  Scenarios flash before my eyes.  I’m forced to live out every outcome, over and over again.  Unable to move, I remain fixated on the problem I’ve just created in my mind.  Withdrawn from the outside world, I seem merely drowsy, like a bee on a hot summer’s day.

Honey.

Effort.

Every morning, my roommate and I roll out of bed forty minutes before our first class.  Foundation is blended, cheeks are blushed, and eyelashes are curled.  We take turns looking for a suitable outfit in the closet where we can barely fit our massive combined wardrobe.  She nestles bobby pins patiently in her hair; curly hair requires a forgiving hand.  I spritz perfume along my neck while absentmindedly pawing through my collection of earrings.  We’re often asked “Why do you look so cute today?”  Why?  We do it for ourselves.  Spending time with myself every morning while I get ready is my personal form of meditation.  I’m readying myself for the challenges of the day that lies before me.  It doesn’t matter where I’m going or what I’m doing.  I’m gonna look good and look good doing it.

Effort.

The Baby.

If I’m mentioned around my family, I’m referred to as “The Baby”.  “Where’s the baby? What’s the baby doing?”  I earned this title by being the last born child, 13 years younger than my sister, and a whopping 20 years younger than my brother.  Being called “The Baby” is one of my earliest memories.  I remember looking up at my father’s much younger profile as he was speaking of me to my mother, almost as if I wasn’t there.  That’s the kicker with being the youngest.  No matter how loud, self-centered, and outgoing I act, I will always be put on the back burner.  The first child is the trophy and the middle child is the long lost prize.  I’m the wrinkled participation ribbon.  My parents love and care for me, but they know I’ll always be around.  My independence is chained up due to the idea that I can’t do anything for myself.  I haven’t done anything my siblings haven’t done first.  An excruciating inferiority complex will always accompany the exhibition of my achievements.  But hey, at least I always get my way.

The Baby.