This is a non fiction story about my gradual realisation I was a lesbian.
|A WORD FOR IT
I just wanted to kiss her. That was all. That thought turned my life upside down. It stripped away everything I thought I knew about myself.
I’ll call her Jo. She was nineteen when I first met her, three days after my twenty-second birthday.
It was February and had been raining heavily for days. I worked in East Kilbride in an office at the time but still lived with parents in a little village. I had a two hour journey to work and changed buses at the nearest town. I was getting off at the first stop when I saw her. She was standing inside the shelter, soaking wet. She looked at me and smiled. My face burned.
She asked me the time and I must have said something but all I can remember is stammering. She told me her name and tried to make small talk but I lapsed into a frightened silence so she stopped trying. My next bus came and she got on it as well. I stared at her as she climbed the steps in front of me. Jo sat at the front of the bus. I walked two seats past her and sat on the opposite side from her.
I watched her all the way to East Kilbride. By the time the bus reached the bus station I’d memorised the colour of her hair, the shape of the back of her head, the exact details of the clothes she was wearing and had counted the number of hairs on her head.
Several times during the journey her mobile rang. She chatted and laughed with someone. Every syllable she spoke and every laugh that escaped her mouth hurt my stomach. She got off a few stops before me and I thought about her all the way to the office.
Anyone else would probably have realised they were attracted to her but not me. I’d no idea what was going on. I’d never been attracted to anyone. I’d never had sex and never wanted to have it. I was a twenty two year old virgin. Even the thought of sex repulsed me. The idea of a man and woman being intimately locked together disgusted me. Seeing sex scenes on TV or listening to people talk about it made me feel nauseous.
When I was nineteen I decided it was time to lose my virginity. I had the amazingly stupid idea of going to a bar; getting drunk in the hope I could find a man willing to ‘pop my cherry’. I got a bus to the nearest town and went to a bar. I had a ridiculous amount to drink. I went home with a man whose name I never thought to ask. It wasn’t my brightest moment.
The nausea started as soon as he kissed me. I probably should have ended it there but vast amounts of vodka made me bold. Or stupid. I told myself I must have drunk too much and when we got into it would be better. It got worse. Somehow we ended up half undressed and he started kissing my breasts. I pushed him off me so hard he went flying across the room.
I stumbled to the bathroom and threw up down the toilet. Several times. At one point he offered to dial 999 because he thought something was seriously wrong. I made my excuses and left. I never tried it again.
After I met Jo it took weeks for the penny to drop.
I started wearing make-up to work. I wore nicer clothes. I listened to the song ‘I’m with You’ by Avril Lavigne constantly. I woke up in a good mood every morning. I got excited every day at the thought of seeing Jo. I sat at the front of the first bus eagerly waiting for the first stop. I had a big grin on my face every time I saw her. I chatted incessantly like a budgie overdosed on Trill. I thought about her all day at work. On the few days she wasn’t waiting at the bus-stop I was on a downer all day. I thought about her in bed at night.
We became acquaintances of a kind. Not friends exactly. We spoke to each other every morning. She usually sat next to me on the bus and we chatted until she reached her stop. I got tingles when she was near. I memorised what she wore on certain days; the length of her hair, the way she smelled, the way her mouth moved when she spoke, how her breath sounded and the cadences of her voice.
One night she got on the bus when I was heading home. I’d never seen her at night so was excited at the idea of another hour and a half in her company. A guy got on with her. She didn’t even glance at me as she swept up the back of the bus with him. They laughed and talked excitedly until she got off the bus. Every sound made me bristle. I wanted to punch him. By the time she swept past me and got off the bus I realised I wanted to kiss her.
I’d never thought about another woman in that way before. I didn’t think I could. I’d never even thought of a guy in a romantic context. I’d believed I didn’t have a sexuality like other people. I’d resigned myself to having no romantic or sexual life.
Realising I had a sexual interest in Jo made me question my own memories of my life prior to the day I realised I wanted to kiss her. I remembered having a huge crush on my best friend when I was twelve. I’d never thought of it as a gay thing. It was surely a teenage hormones thing?
Everything changed when I realised how I felt about Jo. I didn’t know how to act around her. I was sure my true intentions towards her were plastered all over my face for the world to see. I got flustered. She caught me staring at her and started to cool towards me. On the rare occasions she spoke to me I got tongue tied and gibbered. I thought about her at work all day. I’d go home at night and lie in bed fantasising about kissing her. My fevered fantasies never went beyond kissing. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what two women did in bed together.
Jo worked out how I felt about her. Maybe I’d said something that revealed my feelings. Maybe she realised I acted strangely around her. The friendship that had started to spring up between us died. I only saw her on the bus once or twice a week and she never spoke to me. I was devastated.
I started writing poetry. My feelings for Jo were overwhelming. I’d never felt so much for anyone. I had a compulsion to write it all down. When I wasn’t thinking about her I was writing about her. You could say I was obsessed.
One day I wrote her a letter. I wasn’t being brave. I was terrified. Things were getting out of hand. I was remembering events from my past I’d never been able to comprehend. I fancied every woman I saw. I was going to explode so I wrote it all out of me. I told her how I felt, said I hoped she felt something for me and asked her to have a drink with me. I foolishly wrote my mobile number at the bottom of the letter. I gave her the letter on the bus one day. I watched her read it. She didn’t look at me and got off at her usual stop white faced.
Two days later I was going shopping in Glasgow when my mobile beeped. I had several text messages from Jo. She wasn’t happy. She used foul language that would make a football hooligan blush. She called me filthy names and accused me of predatory behaviour. She took her happy perfect life with her boyfriend and the baby she was having and forced it down my throat. She made me feel like some kind of pervert. I never saw or heard from her again.
Everything changed after that. All my life I’d never felt like other people. I’d been emotionally closed from the world and people around me. I felt nothing and wanted even less. Suddenly, without warning I wanted things I had no words for.
I’d been raised to believe I would marry a nice man, have nice children and live in a nice house. I knew that was never going to happen for me so a month later I told my parents I was ‘kind of gay’.