Note: I wrote this Friday afternoon. I read it Friday night at PJ.
It had been seven years since I’d seen her, seven years since I’d kissed her in our high school auditorium, after losing a bet — probably on purpose — in which my punishment would be kissing her.
I can now say it was win-win. But that took awhile.
Charity, that was her name — of course it was — was the best kisser I had ever had. Her lips, they were so soft, soft like mine, soft like “Oh my god, this is how all kisses should be.” We stood there, alone, next to an empty stage, kissing, and holding each other — not at arm’s length — in the back of the auditorium. We were skipping class, not the same one, but it felt like we were breaking more rules than that.
I don’t remember when the kissing stopped. I don’t remember walking back to class. I remember only the kiss — and how I acted after it.
I thought too much. I enjoyed too little. I fought what I was feeling and instead embraced shame, and fear. It wasn’t pretty and neither was I. I talked myself out of following up. I ignored the calls from Charity, and I let myself live a life that had suddenly become less true.
Just two years earlier, during an argument that began after my sister caught me reading her diary, I had angrily yelled, “I’d rather be a slut than a dyke.” Our relationship never fully healed. For the same reason, my relationship with Charity never progressed. I continued to avoid her calls and to avoid her in high school hallways until she graduated, a year before me, and she joined the Marines.
I continued to date boys and men, whose lips and whose kisses were always a little too rough. The statement I made to my sister would not be an empty threat.
I left Mississippi.
Charity and I didn’t speak or see each other after our auditorium kiss, but I thought about her All the time. During my infrequent trips home, I would picture running into her at Walmart. I didn’t know what I would say — maybe “thank you,” definitely “I’m sorry.”
Finally, after seven years, I looked her up on Facebook. It took me a week to be able to request Charity’s friendship. Though i was a very different woman now, I still didn’t think I deserved it.
She accepted, almost immediately, and she started to chat with me. In the first conversation we’d had since we’d held each other, I clumsily apologized and braced for her response.
“I understand,” Charity said. “I forgive you.” With no transition, she asked: “Do you still like women?”
I laughed. And I answered truthfully. With no shame, with no fear and definitely without regret: “Yes, Charity, yes I do.”
For the last SOML (Stories of My Life) entry, see http://myrediscoveryofme.com/category/soml/.