Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I was taught as a child, that because I was a girl, some things were not OK. It wasn't OK for me to want to be president. Or a pastor. Or Superman. I think the only reason it was OK for me to aspire to be a physician was that my aunt was already in medical school. It was not OK for me to prefer pants to dresses, or to be so rowdy, or to prefer blue to any other color. It wasn't OK for me to ask for a model car for my birthday.

Also, it wasn't OK for me to decide who I liked and to show any kind of interest in them. That was for boys. Girls were supposed to sit by on the periphery and pretend they hadn't even noticed the boy or man until he asked her out. Girls like me, who wanted a choice in the matter, who looked over the selection critically and found a favorite, were not only wildly inappropriate, they were certain to find the shame, disaster and ridicule they'd courted so brazenly. I didn't listen, and they were usually right. I said nothing at all when there was a girl who had caught my eye. Nothing. I'd never heard of gay women, only the faintest hints about gay men, and absolutely nothing about bisexuals. Such people did not exist at all in our world, so that on the occasions when I was attracted to girls or women, I was confused and had no idea what was going on except that it should probably be kept secret. Boys were appealing too, so it was easy enough to chase them instead. Yes, chase. I was the fastest girl, and often the fastest runner, period. Even in my co-ed freshman gym class (all of one month of high school), I was third when the coach ran us through our paces, close behind the two boys ahead. Smallest, but fastest....so when I played tag, of course I chased the boys and tagged them. I was such a shameless little hussy.....

They're still right, aren't they? If I could only conceal the way I feel, hide it away, pretend it's not there, until the other person said something first, then I'd be safe. It isn't ladylike for a girl or woman to show interest first. I haven't learned how to follow these rules. What I have learned, very well, is to be afraid when I realize that there's someone I have feelings for. I was absolutely terrified when I realized what was happening. I tried as hard as I could to hide it. I tried to be careful. And finally I just couldn't take it anymore; the fear was eating me alive. I could feel it, that horrible feeling you get just before someone turns to walk away, just before the door closes, that dread, that apprehension. And even as I ran, faster, to slam the door first, just to get it over with, to not be afraid of it any longer, before you could pull it closed quietly, unobtrusively, as the terror and the pain screamed within me, I knew that it was my fault, only my fault, because I had not waited for permission before I fell for you.

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