night. But I wanted more. Not in those moments of drunken frivolity but an underlying desire that had existed since childhood. In third grade I wrote in my diary that I liked girls, only to have one of my friends find it at a sleepover and read it aloud to everyone. Teased and embarrassed, I stuffed my desire down, locked away deep inside me, left to be ignored. I was curious about the female body in a way that attracted me and yet it was a part of me I had never explored. And so, I didn't know if being with a woman was something I was more so curious about or something I was actually interested in. I decide that tonight, filled with inebriated confidence, I am going to find out. I walk out of the bathroom and right up to her.
Rewind to hours earlier... I'm in a Japanese restaurant sitting at a table across from one of my closest girlfriends from college. We're passing a hookah back and fourth and having a this-is-what-I've-been-up-to type of conversation. I hadn't seen her in over a year - not since she graduated the year before me and life got busy and we allowed ourselves to fall out of each other's lives. We were having dinner to catch up. We were having dinner because we missed each other. We were having dinner because I loved her for the way she was there for me when I was a broken shell of a person after my brother died. Fast forward back to the club. Back to where a "let's have dinner and catch up night" turned into a "I'm going to try and sleep with my friend night." Here we are hips on hips, hands clutching drinks, engulfed in loud music. I don't think she kisses me or I kiss her, somehow our lips just meet. It's ferocious, passionate and laced with sloppiness. More dancing, more drinks, more kissing, and then it's time to go. As I walk up the stairs in front of her I lose my balance and stumble backwards, grasping at the hand rail to save me. I end up on the ground, legs open, cheeks redder than before. On my second attempt to leave the club I make it all the way up the stairs and out the door. Once in the cab we continue to make out, I'm sure to much of the delight of our cab driver. When I untangle my tongue from her's long enough to inquire about getting back to my apartment, she tells me that I am going to her place. Stitched through those simple words is a silent understanding of what we are about to do.
It isn't long before the two of us are enveloped in the darkness of her bedroom, limbs knotted together and clothes decorating her floor. I don't know what I'm doing, not really, but I have watched enough porn to pretend. I copied what I saw, trying to replicate the moans I heard from the girls in the videos. We do all the things I thought we would, but the alcohol has made me sloppy and I'm certain I'm not a graceful lover. Her, me, us. Lips, tongues, hands. Every part explored. And then it is over and we're messily strewn on her bed, empty but heavy. She gives me pajamas to wear, which is another new experience because I'm used to sleeping naked next to my partner. Dressed and under the covers she wraps herself around me. I feel the rise and fall of her breath on my back. I can't sleep. Too many thoughts are speaking to me at once. I lay there absorbed in an uncomfortable feeling; it was the first time I felt that way all night. It wasn't because I had just slept with a woman, that part I liked, and I knew now that being with a woman was more then curiosity. It was because I had just stupidly, drunkenly, selfishly, slept with my friend. I cared about her too much to use her, and yet I did. I wanted the experience of being with a woman and I took advantage of her sexuality to get that. I treated her like a variable and not like a person. I cuddled with shame that night as I finally shut off my brain long enough to fall asleep.
Fast forward to the awkward morning after. To the waking up and the immediate "okay, I'm going to go." Over night she had stopped being my friend and transformed into just another one night stand. "You don't have to go," she says. "You can stay and hang out." Oh, well that's new. No one has ever asked me to stay past the waking up. In this moment she transforms back into my friend. We spend the day lounging in our sweatpants, eating breakfast burritos and laughing over a show about people with bizarre sexual interests. There's no affection in our behavior. There's no mention of the night before. Here we are, both pretending we hadn't just slept together. Like last night was just empty space that exists in the story of our friendship. That works for me, I've never been much for confrontation. It's time for me to go and she walks me to the subway. She leans in and kisses me goodbye with the promise to call. Oh, well shit. I guess last night wasn't something we had both silently agreed to ignore. That was just me.
A couple weeks pass and we text here and there, but I always have some creative reason why I'm not able to see her. It's not that she isn't attractive. She is just my friend and I could never see her as more. Since I am the opposite of wonderful with confrontation, I always use the strategy of avoiding until eventually they stop trying or the equally mature pretending nothing happened and hoping they do the same. Fast forward to another club. I've run out of excuses and I'm dancing with her, but only as her friend. I'm simultaneously texting this guy while she asks for my attention. The evening goes on and there's no mention of the naked time we spent together. My texting has gotten increasingly more frequent and now this guy is coming over later. I manage to make the evening as casual as I can, reciprocating her affection with ignorance. If someone hits on you and you pretend you don't notice, then can't that mean it never happened? Fast forward to outside of the club. To "will you stop texting a guy while you're with me?" To "I have feelings for you." And to me; lonely, insecure and desperately wanting to be loved asking this girl to swallow back up the beautiful confession spilling from her mouth. I let myself emotionally detach from her because that's the only way I can be honest. "I'm really sorry, but I don't feel that way about you." The tears welling in her eyes sneak down her cheeks. I am standing in front of her, but I am somewhere else. I am with the boy from the phone. I am in my own world of self-centeredness. I forget that I love her. I forget all the ways she added brightness to my life. I forget all of the nights we spent together. I can't feel anything she says to me because I don't let myself. I am hurting her, I know that, but I am too consumed with my own needs to care. We stand there for a moment with silence between us but a million things to say. We hug goodbye but it feels different; the warmth is gone. I know this is going to be the last time I see her. We've gone too far in the wrong direction to bring things back to normal. She walks one way and I walk the other, and that is the end of our story.
It's been four years now since I last saw her. Feelings swirl inside me, but regret is the loudest. It's not regret over the fact that we slept together. I'm glad my first time with a woman was with someone I cared so much about. No, it's regret over how I was entirely filled to the brim with selfishness, so much so that it was spilling out of me into puddles on the ground that I licked up until I was so full all I could do was lay down clutching my bulging stomach. That night, I was so lost in my depression and wrapped up in my own personal narrative that for a moment, I forgot that she was a person. Instead I saw her as someone or something that could give me what I wanted. And once I got that, I discarded her. I made everything about me and ignored the fact that she is a person with a heart and her own desires. I didn't empathize with her feelings of affection or try to be as kind and loving to her as possible. Nope, I was a self-seeking asshole and it ruined our friendship. And that makes me sad. I never said I was sorry for the way I treated her, not even after all these years of clarity. I feel that too much time has passed and I don't want to pull her back to an unpleasant moment. I truly am sorry but I can't change the way our story ended. All I can do now is try my best to be empathetic and loving to the people that make their way into my life.
I haven't been with a woman since her. Not on purpose, I just haven't met anyone. Sleeping with her wasn't a one time thing I wanted to try out, it was a part of me that I needed to explore. I like women, but I also like men. I guess you could call me a bi-sexual if labels are your thing, but that doesn't feel right to me. Labeling myself straight or gay wouldn't be right either because I'm neither of those things. Personally, I'm not into labels, but if you were to call me anything you could say that I am a person who likes people, someone attracted to souls and not gender. My sexuality is not something that defines me: it simply exists within me. For a while I thought that was a part of me I needed to hide, but now I embrace the fluidity of my sexuality. I think the older I get the more comfortable I am with being me, not some idealized version of who I think everyone else wants me to be. I can't help who I'm attracted to, so I might as well embrace it. And to the girl whose heart I wasn't kind to, thank you for everything you have given me. I hope your life is as beautiful as you are.