This was written for my Memoir and Autobiography class, first semester freshman year at Pitzer.
--Erika



(The Essay)


Hey Mom, I kind of like girls.
Kinda sorta.
Kinda sorta a lot.
Especially this one. Hm, wait. I don't know where to start.


This girl, her name's Marni. Marni Scotten. She's, oh man. She's wonderful. Really. You'd really like her, I know you would-if you didn't know she's my girlfriend. But if you could just not think about that aspect and look? I don't know. Remember when I was a kid and you told me that if Erik or I ever turned out to be gay you'd have failed as a mother? Remember you got all teary just thinking about the potential of it? Yeah. Maybe this is hopeless.

***


Almost a month into my freshman year at Pitzer I have decided that my hair is in dire need of a trim. We, Carlin and I, set ourselves up right outside one of the doors to our dorm; the light is pretty good there and this way dealing with hair all over our joint bathroom won't be an issue. Constantly people are streaming in and out, each time asking 'haircut, eh?'; mildly surprised to find two random girls in a pile of hair right next to the exit.

'Yeh, it was just getting too long!' I'd reply, keeping my head still as Carlin snipped and clipped behind me. They'd nod, offer some empty, friendly chitchat, and then head on their way. Pleasant, but nothing horribly memorable.

Then this one girl I'd never seen before, wearing a purple tank top and baggy jeans busts through, almost knocking the door into me. BAM. Fate punches me in the stomach. She takes my breath away. Lightening strikes me.
[Insert more cliched expressions of your choice] Just BAM.

'Haircut, eh?' Marni says, though I don't know her name yet.

'Yeh, it was getting too long!'

And she left.

***


Aw, mom. Aw man, mom. Don't call me a lesbian. At least, don't say it like that. This isn't something new. This isn't some college rebellion thing. Especially, this isn't to punish you. You know, you know it's not like I sat down one day and said to myself 'Hey! I've decided to fuck chicks from now on! Excellent.'

It's always been there, this affection for boys and girls. It's their surprises and laughter and friendship-- those are what hold me.

I love people. I love all kinds of people.

***


"So, uh," Fake-casually I ask Lynn. "So who's that girl?"

"Oh, that's Marni!" She points to the redheaded girl who just said hi and sauntered on. "We have psych class together. She's pretty cool but I don't really know her that well."

"Hmm. Oh. ... She's pretty cute."

"Dude! You should ask her to dance!"

"Whoah whoah, I can't do that. I- uh-" Quickly I surveyed the party for any excuse. "I don't know if she even likes girls. What if I totally creep her out? Eh, no thanks."

"I heard that she does. (She, like, had to borrow someone's phone to break up with her girlfriend, I think?)"

Lynn sees that I haven't taken my eyes off Marni's retreating back. "C'mon, go ask her to dance!"

"No, no, no. I can't, I-" I've never danced with any girl before is what it comes down to. Not in a way more than friendship. Actually, I've never exactly had any relationship with a girl as anything more than friendship. Six months ago I had broken up with my first boyfriend. We had a sweetly awkward time together with one awkwardly sweet attempt at sex: this is my only more-than-platonic experience. I have no idea how to smoothly go about showing interest in someone. Especially someone of the same sex.

The possibility of touching or even talking to this girl fills me with a frightening thrill. Her face, her body, and the way her hips subtly swayed as she slipped in the crowd; she left a little fire in my head. The excitement she caused is scaring me, I don't know what to make of it.

"Look, all of us will start dancing together and invite her to join us, right?" Lynn motions to the handful of friends we came with. "And then we'll just? sloooowly slip away, leaving you two! Yeah? YEAH?? And then you two can chitchat-oh, I have extra room in my car, you can offer her a ride back to the dorm with us after the party's over. Okay? Actually, don't respond because you don't have a choice."

Which is exactly what happened.

Thank god for Lynn Trickey.

***


My morning ritual:

Everyday I wake up to her calm face next to mine with our arms and legs starfished around each other. Marni is soft and warm and full of circles. There's not an angular feature on her anywhere, every part of her is curved and rounded. For a minute or two I study her, the curves of her face, the sleeping-glow on her skin, the way she breathes. I see my closest friend-a girl full of talents and love. Before I un-entwine myself and slip off to class I kiss her cheek or nose or lips.

Everyday I have something beautiful to wake up to.

***


In my dream I'm confused. Why am I sitting naked in a bathtub full of water and strings of colored Christmas tree lights? For a few seconds I puzzle over this, until noticing my younger brother, Erik, is calmly sitting in it with me, too. He doesn't even acknowledge me, maybe he doesn't realize where he is? Seeing him triggers my memory: I'm trying to commit suicide. But he's not supposed to be here with me, he's going to get hurt-I have to save him. Tongs are in my hands now and I use them to fling the strings of lights out of the tub and away from my brother. I'm gasping and sloshing water everywhere in my mad dash.

And then I'm awake.

***


Already it's ten in the morning but we're still lounging around lazily in my bed; what with it being the weekend there's no classes to hustle for. My head is resting on her chest, the blankets kicked down to our feet. Marni is propped up against my pillow, listening as I tell her about my weird pseudo-nightmare. After I've finished, she says,

"Heh, I think I know what that was about."

I roll my eyes. "Oh, please."

"No, really! I mean, it could mean a lot of things-or nothing -but it sounds like the conflict you have about wanting to come out to your parents. Except Erik is still living at home and would have to deal with the results of your actions, whereas you're off at college and can more easily avoid it, you know? Your mom would get all hard-core and be suspicious of your brother, or at least extra-watchful of him, and, man, that'd just be hell for him. You want to tell them (commit suicide) but you don't want Erik to get hurt in the process (save him from your suicide attempt). -Least, that's what it sounds like to me, and my explanation fits, too!"

"...Hmm. Heh. What are the odds that both her children ended up gay? Poor mom."

***


There's certain words you hear and identify with. Bam. They're a part of your identity.

Girl? yeah,
Short? uh-huh,
Artist? definitely,
Rock star? No.
Lesbian? No.
Bisexual? No.
Heterosexual? No.


Those last few words mean nothing to me, to what I am. Nothing. If I ask you, 'are you Chinese?' you'd feel the same way I do, mom. They're just not what I am.

So what am I, huh?

***


"God, Erika," Marni chuckles. "When you first said that your mom always acted suspicious of you being gay, I thought 'why?' I mean, you hardly ever wear anything other than skirts and dresses and you seem, y'know, pretty girly. Not, like, butch or anything. But, man!" She sweeps her hand through the air, indicating my half of the room. "No wonder she thought that! You have nothing but pictures of GIRLS up. Look. There's NO boys. -Oh, wait, one. One out of, Christ, how many do you have up? Whatever, your walls are covered with girls."

"Hey, hey! There's more boys than that!" I shove her aside in mock resentment. "Right here? and here and here."

"They're in pictures with girls."

"That still counts! ...Hey, and what about Carlin, huh?" I point over to her wall. "Look, she's got girls up, too. And she's totally straight."

"It's different, those are girls she wants to look like or be. Role models. You can tell. But with you? Phhht. You big dyke."

You know, this fact has never occurred to me before. For years all my different bedrooms in life have been covered with images of cartoon women, femme fatales, hip girls, models, pulp fiction vixens? But I never-
I really don't know.

***


Marni's asleep, wrapped around me while I wake up. In her sleep her slow, deep breaths and the rise and fall of her chest are calm. I'm safe. Over each of her cheeks I run the tip of my finger and down the length of her nose. She turns her head, showing me the profile of her lips and chin. I'm warm and happy. Yes, she's beautiful to me, but more than that- Her face is a symbol. You see the McDonald's Golden Arch and you think hamburgers, right? I look at Marni's face and I see my best friend. I see a person who's kind and spontaneous; who laughs a lot, loves a lot; is perceptive; bouncy; exciting; serious; smart. A beautiful human with so much to offer and receive in life is lying next to me and I couldn't be more wholly content.

***


Girl; Short; Artist; Creative; Loving; Friend, Girlfriend; Sister; Daughter.

Those are what I am, mom. I'm just an ambiguously confused teenage girl that unintentionally fell in love.

Don't cry, I'm happy.

***


Now go read the comic adaptation!