In a Catholic school, where daily mass was compulsory, and skirts could not go higher than the knees, I once loved a girl.
It was very discreet and not at all like those secrets you told your best friends after a pinky swear. A cute crush in German class you whispered about excitedly, underneath curved palms. A love letter sprayed with a boy’s cologne was passed around amidst giggles and speculations.
Loving a girl was something known to you and that girl alone, period! It wasn’t a forbidden secret that made people giddy; it made people scared. Like being handed a grenade with its pin taken out, anyone with information on lesbianism had to immediately go forward with it or risk being called one of them. And “lesbian” was the dirtiest of things you could be labeled as.
In high school, a lesbian was basically a sex crazed girl who, in the absence of a penis needed fingers, stolen lab test-tubes and all manner of phallic objects up in her vagina.
The punishment was expulsion, plain and simple.
Strangely, the first time we touched intimately was in public. She made the first move, hesitantly, and then receiving no discouragement from me, she slowly hitched her hand higher up my inner thighs right to my core.
We had friends all around us, amidst a dining hall packed with people and she was simply lying on my lap touching me so intimately! If I wasn’t so turned on, I could have laughed out loud with how ridiculous it all was! The school administration had spies watching out for who was strangely close to who, they strictly forbade sharing beds because temptations, and yet here we were, in a freaking dining hall on a Saturday evening just touching like it was the most normal thing!
And normal it became -the touching- it was all we ever did whenever we could: on library days when we’d sit next to each other, after mass before my cube mates or hers showed up, after evening preps when I’d do her hair on her upper bunker with her roommates around and chatting away oblivious to what was going on…
We were both virgins and fingering we had agreed was too painful to even try. Besides, who needed prodding when caressing felt so damn good?
The day we closed school for the holidays, knowing I’d not come back the following term because I was shifting schools, she cried and said she wished we’d never met. I didn’t know what to do other than hold her. I also didn’t know what to say that I hadn’t said before.
And when she was almost leaving, I remember kissing her. The place we stood was dimly lit by the car she was taking and it never really crossed my mind that we might be seen, by schoolmates also boarding the car or more terrifyingly, our headmistress who was to be the driver of the said car.
This was goodbye and I wanted to kiss her and so I did.
I had told her many times before when she brought up the issue of my leaving, that I would write, that we’d talk over the phone about whatever shit we were still going through. We’d still talk and help each other out, I always insisted! And she’d say “But you will not be here.”
She was wiser than me then.
Absence, I know now, does not make the heart grow fonder. Drawn out too long, it only makes the people of the past stranger.
We kept in touch for sometime; I worried a lot about her. And the last time we spoke, she told me she had a baby. My heart sunk because knowing her situation, I felt she was now trapped for good, and while I didn’t truly know if that was the case, I had seen the cycle enough times and knew how the story went.
I knew too we’d drifted too far apart and we could no longer heal each other as we once did.
Thinking back and considering the guilt ridden teenager I was (blame it on my being deeply Catholic), it struck me as strange that in my diaries from back then, I never once repented for loving a girl when I wasn’t supposed to, and trust me I repented about a lot of absurd things!
The truth is that it never once felt wrong. It also wasn’t a phase that I outgrew once high school ended and I was no longer restricted to the company of a single sex over long periods of time.
I still like girls. I like guys too. I like both. I like pineapples on pizza and I like cats. The world didn’t implode because I swing so many ways did it?