“Men are awful,” M said. “If I were you, I’d stick to dating girls.”
“I’ve never dated a girl,” I told him.
“Well, something’s going on,” he observed. “I’ve seen the way you look at them and the way they look at you. Especially when you’re on stage.”
I blushed, averted my eyes. We’d been dating for a few months, but I hadn’t told M about the series of makeouts (and a bit more) with two female friends that had gone on for years – ostensibly practice sessions for boys that had gone quite a bit further, cut quite a bit deeper. It’d be another decade before I even knew words for half of what I’d been doing.
And I was more surprised than anybody when things heated up with T (the sister of M’s best friend). It had started so innocently, eating candy necklaces off each other in the van on the way back from the Jethro Tull concert. It was easy to explain away as one of many sequelae from the evening, a contact high.
But when I came back in town to visit a month later, it was she who sought me out at the Halloween party, who led me into her mother’s walk-in closet under the ruse of looking at the designer dresses before pushing me back into the dressing chair, climbing onto my lap, and giving me a kiss that kept us in that closet for nearly an hour. She never took off her kitty mask, but I could see her brown eyes studying me when we finally came up for air.
“Well, this is interesting,” she said.
I kissed her again to shut her up.
Later, dizzy and affected, we stumbled back into the party still wearing our masks, acting as if nothing had happened. I was with her multiple times in the few months after, but eventually the 3 hours and 2 years between us were a distance that wasn’t easily crossed. It was high school, after all, and I still didn’t know the word “bisexual” (that would come first year of college), let alone any explanation why M didn’t mind that I made out with T whenever I came to visit him, other than I knew he cared about me and it made him happy to see me happy. I hadn’t heard of poly, certainly didn’t know compersion, but it was there on M’s face. It wasn’t fetishization. He wasn’t looking for a harem, never once suggested that he join us. He was just happy that I was happy.
It’s funny how memory works. My love life lately has been a mixture of the sublime and the unfortunate with a healthy proportion of mundane and forgettable thrown into things. What it has not been is anything I’ve expected. Sure, this is stressful sometimes and doesn’t always end well, but risk is not there to be eliminated (a fool’s errand) but judiciously managed. Sometimes you land flat on your fucking face. And sometimes you surprise yourself – and pleasantly.
I woke up this morning with a sea of emotions. Running on too little sleep but full of gratitude for the many people in my life that I love. I turned on the shower and whispered to myself, “Well, this is interesting,” before stepping into the steam.