About Longing 💔

Sometimes love can get messy and complicated, but that doesn't mean we should run from it.

When I was going to school at Sarah Lawrence, I dated a very beautiful girl from a political family. Her grandfather was a Supreme Court justice. She was ardent about being a lesbian, always frustrated that I hadn’t come out to my parents yet.

A few weeks after we got together she took me to her family’s beach house. I met her mother and her grandmother. Both of them held my hands and smiled at me. We walked along the beach, made out behind a dock, splashed each other in the water.

At first we had a lot of sex; she always had to be drunk. Then I told her I wanted to fuck while we were sober and the sex tapered off. We would hold each other as we fell asleep. Sometimes I would try to initiate, but she would roll away from me. I gave her space.

I was starting to explore my gender publicly and I was shocked when she told me she would break up with me if I ever used male pronouns.

They’re just words,” I contested, “It wouldn’t change who I am.”

I am a lesbian,” she would respond.

A big pack of us went to MIX together, a queer film festival started by Sarah Schulman in the 1987. We watched a short film about two boys falling in love and I cried. The boy sitting next to me, someone I had admired from afar on campus, saw my tears and held my hand. He had the beginnings of a mustache from new testosterone and a little rat tail, carefully braided.

There were bean bags in the lobby of the makeshift movie theatre and we sat and he asked if I was okay. I told him about everything that was happening and he put his arms around me. He smelled good, so I nestled closer. I told him what happened and he shrugged it off, saying, Sometimes people get really attached to identity.

I should have broken up with my girlfriend, but I was still infatuated. I didn’t want her to hate me. We held each other every night. By day, we drifted away anyway, mutually flaking on our dates, and I started hanging out more with this boy. He was a year ahead of me and his family was from Amherst, his mothers were famous academics. He would play with my hair and we would drink ciders together while cuddling on the couch, talking about critical theory.

Then it was Thanksgiving and my girlfriend’s family flew us up for the weekend. She put me in one of her dresses, did my hair and my makeup. I was shocked they didn’t cook their own Thanksgiving, but I didn’t say anything. It was a different world. My attempts to fit in passed, I made the right jokes, the right references. They put me in their holiday photo, my girlfriend smiling proudly and clutching my hand. Her stepfather took me aside, patted my shoulder and told me, Take care of her, speaking to me as if I was a good man. He brought me back and told everyone we were beautiful young women.

We had sex in her childhood bed and when I kissed her I tasted her foundation. I wondered if I tasted the same to her. Neither of us came. She looked up at me, eyes big and vulnerable, and asked me if I wanted to have kids or if I would ever marry her. We had only been dating for a few months, but I said I loved her.

When the boy and I would cuddle, I felt hot under my skin, an overwhelming sense of longing. Sometimes we would fall asleep on top of each other and I would wake up with my hands in his hair and his lips on my neck. We would walk around the city or take the subway together, letting our bodies lean together as the train lurched around corners, and I would yearn at the touch, wonder whether or not he liked it, whether he even noticed it. He never moved away, only closer. I rested my head on his shoulder, hand on his knee, and I listened to his heart beat. He swallowed hard. So did I.

I told my girlfriend that I thought we weren’t compatible and she cried. Why did you say you wanted to get married? She asked. All I could do was shrug helplessly. I was so cold. I blocked her on Facebook.

A few weekends later, a bunch of us went camping upstate. We built a bonfire and my boy held my hand, rubbed my palm with his thumb. I was shivering despite the fire and he wordlessly took off his sweatshirt and put it over my head. It was warm from his body and smelled like him and I leaned into him. He kissed the top of my head.

The next week, my ex saw me in the dining hall. She made a beeline for me. I must have looked terrified.

“Why did you block me on Facebook?” she asked.

“I don’t know. I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do after you break up.”

She shook her head, “We’re not straight people. We don’t have to act like that.”

She sat down beside me, giving me a gentle side hug.

“I missed you.”

I eyed her warily. Then I told her the truth: I missed her too.

Reviews

Books

I’ve started a Goodreads account in case you’d like to keep up with what I’ve been reading! I’m sort of loathe to discuss books I’m not super enthusiastic about on this newsletter… But if you guys *would* like to read some negative book reviews from me, let me know in the comments! I will oblige!

I’ve been working my way through Sarah Schulman’s Let the Record Show which has already made me cry multiple times. It’s not a book I would recommend to someone unfamiliar with the AIDS crisis; if that’s you, Schulman’s book Gentrification of the Mind is a better place to start. But for someone like me, who is already familiar with Shulman’s oeuvre, this book is a meaty and satisfying read. A truly impressive work of research documenting the work of ACT UP.

Movies

I recently saw the Mortal Kombat movie. I personally loved it - I was also very stoned. I definitely recommend getting stoned for this one, unless you really like watching this sort of movie sober. It was campy and ridiculous, which is exactly what I wanted. The fight scenes were hit or miss; some were really amazing, with beautiful choreography. Others were boring and bland. I watched it twice, both times with friends who were dedicated fans of the franchise. Their knowledge of Mortal Kombat lore absolutely enriched the experience.