This is the first time I've ever written anything that I thought needed to be "hidden". It took me a long time to consider exactly how I wanted to do this. I felt like I was doing something wrong by hiding my words and thoughts. "You invite someone into your brain and then you quickly slap their hand away. That's so wrong." That echoed in my brain for a long time. I have a lot to get off my chest. But I wanted to be fair. The facts behind all of this shouldn't be "public knowledge" but, I want to share it with you, Constant Reader. I think the feelings should be.
When I came home today, Els told me that she wanted to tell me something.
"What is it, Els?", I said in a half-annoyed voice. I was busy trying to arrange my dinner. I am always hungry after I get home from work and the sooner I had food in my stomach, the less irritable I am. There is a direct correlation between how nice I am and how much food is in my tummy.
She points to Mike. "I don't want to tell you in front of him." She considers for a moment. "But, you'll probably tell him afterwards anyway."
"So just tell us." Clearly annoyed now. Gotta get food food food.
"I'll tell you later." She murmurs. "I'm shy!" Tinges of wailing.
I took a bite of rice and leaned over. She was sitting at the kitchen table next to me. "You can tell me. Just whisper." I leaned over some more.
She eyes Mike suspiciously. "No.. no.. Later. Later."
We continue this for 5 minutes or so. It becomes a guessing game.
"Ok, does this involve me? Mike? Ma? Pa? Ken? (Ken is Els' exbf that I have a great deal of anger for... but more on that another time.)" No dice. "Jean?"
"What about Jean? She's going out with Ken?"
"No." She leans back further in her chair, requiring me to lean over to hear her. "She's my girlfriend."
Wowah. I don't know what to do except chew on my food. It's not shock out of disgust on my part, but the feeling that it's great that she's got herself a partner. It reminds me of when I was in high school, at her age.
I was a senior and Kate was in 9th grade (like Jean). She was awkward and gawky. Very tall. I would say that she was atleast 5'8. She has long hair, perhaps to the middle of her back, thick-rimmed glasses, and a bucktoothed smile. She was very well-read and very religious as well: she was an occasional guest speaker at her church where she would lead the sermon. We got to know each other because I was an active member and secretary of the Human Relations Club, an organization that tried to create understanding and friendship between different kinds of people. She got involved in the organization.
At the time, I was a questioning kid. My junior year, I became involved in glbt (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered) issues, even considered myself as "bisexual" for a while. I wanted to expose the high school to them and I was an Angry Young Woman(tm) because I felt that the school's discussion about this to the students was inadequate. I started sneaking the all-famous pink triangles (and black ones) on posters for the Human Relations Club. I wanted them to serve as signals. "Here's where you can go and be yourself." Perhaps that's what attracted Katie (k8) to the club. We started talking, especially since I was a very vocal voice for gay issues.
Well, we started exchanging notes and talking. I thought it was all very innocent and just thought she was a great female friend. I never really thought much of it, especially since I was getting more involved with Mark at the time. Then I remember telling her that she would look so much better if she started combing her hair. It was long and almost always in disarray. The next day she came up to me and showed me her hair. She had combed it neatly into place and pulled it together in a ponytail. I've never seen it that neat. And she was beautiful.
We were very close, writing and talking every day. At HRC meetings, she would help arrange my hair, sometimes braiding it. I clearly remember one day when I was pulled into the principal's office. It was the principal of the school and a guidance councellor or teacher. I have forgotten who they were now. The conversation is still very clear, however.
Adult figure: "So, are you and Kate Cort friends?"
Me: "Yes, we are friends. Is there a problem?"
Adult figure: "Well, what kind of relationship do you have with her?"
Me: "We're friends. Does anyone have a problem with that?"
Adult figure: "There has been talking about you two."
Adult figure 2: "People say that they've seen you two kissing in the hallway."
Me: "First of all, I don't think it is anyone's business what relationship I have with k8. Secondly, I have never done anything that can be considered 'inappropriate' in the hallway with anyone."
Adult figure 2: "Well, you know people talk..."
Me: "I think that people should mind there own business." (turning to adult figure 1) "Is there a problem? Otherwise, I don't see why I am here."
Me: "May I leave now?"
Adult figure: "Yes, you can go."
I was definitely an Angry Young Woman(tm). After that incident, I grew even more vocal about the need for dialogue in the high school about gay and lesbian issues. There was not a single out student and the traditional conservatism of the school prevented any open talk about it. k8 and I grew even closer as friends. It was wonderful, but I'm not sure it would go anywhere. I was itching for male companionship, not female. The first half of my senior year, I was involved with a Steve Westdyke, whom I met in All State Chorus. We had a falling out and then I started fostering my old relationship with Mark. As the prom came closer and graduation closer, k8 and I got further apart and I was too blind to see it. I was too busy with Mark. It really didn't hit me until she dropped off my graduation present at my home: the Compleat Stephen King Reference Book. I found it on the back stoop, lovingly wrapped in red paper.
I remember holding that book in my hand, filled with mixed emotions. She was gone and I didn't even see her leave. I never talked to her, not a word after that. I would pick up my sister after school when I was in college and see K8 in the hallway. She would always be busy talking to her friends and I would be busy looking for my sister. I'm not sure if this is a tale of lost love or anything like that. The memories of k8 came flooding back when Els told me about Jean. I hope everything turns out much better for both of them. I think they are starting off on the right foot. They are clear on their relationship and I think they are going to be fairly positive about everything.
As for k8...
Your day breaks
Your mind aches
There will be times
when all the things she said
will fill your head
You won't forget her
--The Beatles "For No One"