By Desiree Michel
This is about a very good friend I’ve had for a very long time who’s slowly slipping away as I’m writing this.
She used to kiss me with her tongue at parties to tease boys. The same ones who later told us at a fast food joint that we’d cast a spell on them. We’d have midnight escapades, singing at the top of our lungs in our friend’s car during the best summer of our lives.
We’d fool around in my bed, the only place I tolerated her hands all over my skin. She’d pull on my wet bottom lip and look at it with big eyes in the middle of the night. She’d tentatively touch me with those wild hands and ask me if I was alright.
And I couldn’t feel a thing.
This wild girl, she was my youth and my teenage years; the poster child for what it’s like to be seventeen and feel like the world is at your fucking feet. There are a million songs that could be written about her because she truly was impossible to catch. Like a lightning bolt or those unforgettable girls Alex Turner writes about. But she still left me cold.
When we were outside, she’d try to hold my hand or put a strand of my hair behind my ear, but it just frustrated me. I couldn’t look her in the eyes or talk when were fucking around. I wanted to make her as little as possible and let those made up boys in my head take all the room.
I didn’t know how to tell her my attraction for girls stopped at the end of my bed.
She would cross her heart and hope to die that she didn’t love me, but she wanted to spend every second of the day with me and would make a fuss when I refused. She would play all these mind games and guilt me into spending time with her. It always felt like we were driving straight to the edge of a cliff.
The 13-year-old girl in me wanted to be happy. She was yelling at me to accept this because, for once, someone didn’t seem to be able to live without me; my presence was a constant need. Yet, it didn’t feel satisfying one bit to have someone want me like that. The more we fooled around, the more I started pushing her away. I couldn’t stand the sight of her or hear her name. I was confused for a long fucking time.
I didn’t understand how I could be straight, yet regularly sleep with the same girl. Or why I almost hated her whenever we were done, why I wanted her out of my bed and my life. The thing is, I didn’t grow up in an ‘exploring-your-sexuality-is-good-for-you’ family. No one told me sex and sexuality didn’t go hand in hand. I hated myself for being this way with her: so cold after the act. I felt like the toxic asshole, using her like a little doll.
And I tried so hard, too. I tried not to recoil from her touch and I’d give her my hand when she wanted to hold it. I let her sit too close to me on trains and buses on our way to parties, sharing a bottle of hard liquor we were barely trying to hide. I would reason with myself that maybe I was this way because I wasn’t taught it was okay to like a girl, that I pretended to hate the affection she would give me simply because I hadn’t learned to accept it.
But it all felt wrong.
My stomach would sink when she’d ask if she could spend the night. I don’t know how many times I rolled over to my side of the bed afterwards, wishing for a way to go back in time and push her hands away from me.
I was scared it’s the intimacy that I hated, that I couldn’t be with someone who wanted more from me than a kiss in the dark at a party with high schoolers. I thought I was broken and that I didn’t know how to be loved.
It took me way too long to realize that it’s her I didn’t like. I liked the act, I did, I just wanted the sparkles in the eyes to belong to a boy’s face and to run my tongue along a strong jaw. I didn’t mind sleeping around with a girl, I just didn’t want her to be the one to love me.
It’s a year later, and I know now that what I like and want in bed isn’t what I want in life. Sex and sexuality don’t go hand in hand, they don’t even have to like each other.
As my friend is pulling away now, as our friendship has started to go astray, I realize that I never hated her. I just didn’t love her. She has taught me a lot, this wild girl. When Prince said that life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last, he was talking about her and me.