Her name was Leslie. We were catholic schoolgirls. We hung out every moment we could. We stood by each other when we wore reindeer sweaters in the church choir. We stood in line together before for her first and my only confession. We sold enough magazines to support the school that we got to go to Disney Land with our class twice. When I won a plush Frankenstein for a Halloween story that was actually what I considered to be a factual How-to-Guide on the killing of vampires, werewolves, mummies etc.; she was cheering in the first row.
Her mothers discovery that I had been teaching extracurricular sex-ED classes at lunch from a book my mother bought me at Safeway called “Snoopy’s Guide to the Reproductive System” cut short our special connection prematurely. She had to call me herself with her mother standing over her and tell me that we could not be friends anymore because I was a bad influence. We didn’t hang anymore.
I ended my classes and instead sat alone on a picnic table in our outdoor cafeteria, rocking back and forth. At first I listened to the Beach Boys on my Walkman.
I don’t even like the Beach Boys.
At some point I got another tape. An oldies mix that had the song, “Going to the Chapel.” This may have been my first tortured love because I listened to that song on repeat quite a few times during my lonely final months at “Our Lady of Guadalupe.”
I loved Audrey and Maggie. They were both super geniuses with great pony tales. I chased the boys off both of them, especially the ones that liked to grab Maggie’s hand. Audrey and I played elaborate fantasy games that carried across weeks of recesses. I was always rescuing or marrying her. I wasn’t gay or anything I was just flexible in my acting and since there were only two of us….
There was no tragedy with Maggie, our love simply faded but Audrey and I were torn asunder when I broke her parents brand new dryer by putting my old army coat with rock filled pockets in it after a rainstorm.
Oh Amanda. I loved you Amanda. We stood away from everyone and read that creepy book about church boys who kill someone in a tragic hotdog stand accident and then are sent to an evil boys jail run by a sexual predator played later by Kevin Bacon in the movie version. Then the boys grow up and they kill that guy and then they successfully cover it up because one of them is a super lawyer.
It was the most intense book I ever read and one of the longest, probably a good 300 pages. We read every line to each other back and forth. We never skipped ahead when it was our turn to hold the book. I felt like crying when it ended not just because the boys were freed but also because everything would change without the suspenseful glue that bound us.
You were so cute in that navy blue sweatshirt that you wore every day, and your sweet round cheeks…the book ended and over summer we didn’t see each other. At the beginning of 7th grade I almost didn’t recognize you. You were a head taller, much skinnier, your hair was pulled back and could it be? My gods! You were wearing lip-gloss! I tried to approach you, you laughed at me and explained in no uncertain terms that in the divine coin toss between sixth and seventh grade we had clearly landed on opposite sides of the cool fence.
The next year I had a boyfriend for six months who I held hands with and snuggled past the football field during lunches. He had long luscious hair that smelled like girl shampoo and very soft cheeks. When we kissed on his birthday it was not my jam, I broke up with him during math class. I just turned around and mouthed the words “I want to break up” when he mouthed back “Why?” and looked so upset, I turned back around. Suddenly I was very interested in the lesson.
A week later I was kissing a girl for the first time.
It was majestic.
I got sober and in the process of self-discovery that was quite a lot like being Elmer Fudd at the end of Bug’s cartoon hammer, I told my best friend that I had reason to believe I was queer. Not just a little, which was obvious if you met me but like really actually a lot, like maybe as much as the day is long or as there are cells in my body.
She looked at me very matter-of-factly and said, “No Duh.” Then for added punctuation she leaned in and tried to speak slowly. She did what she always did when something that the rest of the world knows is finally dawning on me. She leaned in and tried to speak slowly. “I mean, you have been trying to sleep with me since we met.”