Scene 1: Any family gathering between 1993 and 2000
Everyone is here. My uncles and aunts, cousins, friends and family. We eat, we laugh, we play little games about our lives. But I have a secret. Perhaps some others here have secrets, and I sit and wonder, hoping I'm not alone, but knowing that I am. You cannot know how this feels.
"So, who's your new boyfriend, Lisa?" someone will ask. Not that I've mentioned one, it's merely a device, a clever method to bring up a new subject. An old subject, by the time I'd turned eighteen.
"Mmmm, no boyfriend yet." I shrug and smile, pretending that I'm lying. There must be a boy, after all, because I'm so young and pretty and smart.
"I remember when you were five and I asked you if you were going to get a boyfriend in school. Remember that?" This from my Aunt Susan, the closest thing I've had to a mother for many years.
I smile politely, having heard the story countless times. It isn't a very good one, but she enjoys the memory and tells it every time.
"You told me, 'No!' and you were so serious!" Aunt Susan laughs, drinking more wine. "I asked you why not?"
"Why not, Lisa?" my twin sister, Rachael, teases me from across the table. She knows why, but I know all of her secrets too.
"I remember," I nod, looking down and feeling a little embarrassed to be at the center of a conversation. Even such a small and meaningless one.
"And you said, 'Because, I want a girlfriend!'" And Aunt Susan laughs, clapping her hands as if that's the funniest thing in the world. Everyone else just smiles, because they know that story too well.
What they don't know is that it's true. I've always known I'm gay, before I even knew there was a word for it. Before I knew the real differences between boys and girls. Afterwards, when I realized I was different without knowing how or why, I led a double life. Keeping the secret safe. I went out, sneaking into lesbian bars, underage and frightened, meeting people. Meeting ... women. Looking for what I'd only imagined in my heart - a girlfriend.
Scene 2: In the basement with Rachael. September 1994
My sister and I had our first menstruation barely a month apart. Rachael suffered some embarrassment, coming unexpected and without experience like it did. The episode seemed only mildly frightening to me, and slightly humorous as our father had no idea how to deal with it. He called his sister, Susan, and she came over to help.
When mine came, we were ready, but I didn't like it. I didn't even expect it, not really, but my denial was foolish and I'd never imagined myself a boy; I just didn't want to be a girl. I shouldn't have been having a period. That was the worst, the way my body betrayed me like that, proving with painful finality that I was in fact a girl.
I sat in the darkened basement, crying, hitting my stomach with tiny balled fists. I hated my body. I hated myself. I didn't understand why I'd been born this way. I didn't ask for it, I hadn't begged God to make me a girl, or give me feelings that didn't belong in this body.
"Are you okay?" Rachael sat nearby, not touching me, just hugging her knees and watching. "Lisa?" she whispered in a soft and frightened voice. We were alone, our father gone to work.
"Leave me alone," I told her, staring down at my hands. I felt hot and headachy, grown fat with little cramps and wet with tears. Lots of tears.
"It's okay." She didn't really know what to say. "It's just your first time. It's okay."
"I don't want it!" I screamed at her.
"Nobody does." She left me and that made it worse.
She didn't really understand me then. It wasn't the menses I hated so much, it was what it represented. The thing behind the thing, I chiefly hated. We were 12 years old.
Scene 3: November 1st 1995 in our bedroom
Rachael won't get out of bed. She came home this morning, before the sun came up. Our dad thought she'd stayed over with a friend, but she hadn't. She'd gone to a party with her boyfriend. We're only 13 and already she has a boyfriend. I don't. All I have is a crush on one of my teachers, Mrs. Gable, and I dream she will love me too. That one day she will find me alone after school and tell me she understands. That she loves me. That she wants to kiss me. My heart won't let me imagine more; it isn't necessary.
But Rachael. Her boyfriend is eighteen already and he took her to a party. I don't know what happened, only that she won't talk to me. She won't get up. She won't even look at me. She's so tired, I know, and I climb into her bed. Just to be close, feeling frightened for her. She pulls away, turns over so she faces the other way.
"What happened?" I whisper, but she won't say. Rachael and I stay like that a long while. I think I fell asleep, perhaps she did too, but now we are awake.
"What's it like?" Rachael whispers.
"What?" I whisper back, even though it's noon and we're alone in the bright room.
"Liking girls." She won't turn over.
"I don't know," I shrug. "It's not like anything."
Quiet. We're very quiet again.
"I had sex last night," Rachael says, and I think she's crying.
"Don't tell Dad." She is crying.
And then she tells me how it hurt and how it was more than once, with not just her boyfriend, but other guys too. She wanted to do it with her boyfriend, but not with his friends. He made her do it, Rachael told me. If she didn't do it, he wouldn't love her anymore. That's what he'd said.
"I wish I was like you." Rachael turns over finally, and I put my arms around her, as if I might protect her somehow. "I wish I liked girls."
"No you don't," I told her. But maybe I was wrong.
Scene 4: The Casa de Blanco 1998
There's a club, more of a bar really, called Casa de Blanco. I know about this place because of rumors. Everyone says it's a gay bar, a lesbian bar. The people who say that make funny noises, roll their eyes and laugh. I do the same, pretending to find such an idea equally revolting. I'm fifteen-years-old, nearly sixteen in a few months, and I'm so desperate it hurts.
I go to school and see girls that I know. I'm drawn to them sexually now, emotionally. I want to reach out and touch them, to confess my feelings. One girl in particular, several years older than I am, named Beth. I think I've never seen a girl so beautiful in my whole life. I write her poems, unsigned, and put them in her locker. I confess everything to her, except who I am. And what I am, I cannot bear to tell her, even anonymously, that I too am a girl.
But I need to feel something, someone. I have to have it, this thing I imagine love to be. And that's how I'm decided to go inside this place, this Casa de Blanco and find it. I've told Rachael what I'm doing. I even asked her to come with me, but she won't. I'm so afraid. My heart is pounding and I can barely breathe.
I've dressed to look older, I think. I hope. But I'm still barely 4'11 and 85lbs of teenage girl. My hair is long and black, loosely tied behind my back. I'm wearing a white blouse and a pair of jeans, so dark they're almost black. With one inch heels on my feet and probably too much makeup. I never wear makeup and Rachael helped me, but it feels like too much. Lipstick alone would feel like too much, though.
We're Amerasian, my sister and I, although our Filipina blood is more Spanish than oriental. We look more Mexican than anything else, and I'm hoping this will help me look older. That and the dim lights inside. It's a small place, but the music is loud. And I am so scared as I walk in, trying not to look around too much. Trying to look like I've been in bars lots of times. The place isn't very crowded, perhaps a dozen people are there, mostly women, but some men too. They're playing pool or sitting at the bar or talking around small booths against the wall.
"You have to be 21 to be in here." The bartender is a woman, old like my dad, I think. She sounds not angry, just deliberate as she kicks me out.
I look at her, unable to look into her eyes though, and nod. My throat feels so dry, if I tried to talk it would be a croaking sound. I don't move though, not right away, even though I want to run.
She gives me a barely there smile at least. "Do you have an ID, sweetie?" She knows I don't. "You can't stay."
"Okay," I try to say, but nothing comes out and I do turn away then. Feeling embarrassed, as if everyone is staring at me. Wanting to run and forcing myself to walk with a dignity I don't possess. I go home, feeling worse than I ever have before. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. There's no one I can ask, no one who has the answer. I can't tell any of my friends, any of the girls at school. I'm sure none of them are like me, they couldn't be. I'm more alone than ever.
"How did it go?" Rachael asks me. We're in her bedroom and I'm an inch away from losing it completely. Any second I'm going to cry again.
"It didn't." I wipe at my eyes. "I got carded."
"Duh!" Rachael laughs. "I could have told you that was gonna happen."
"Why didn't you?" I glare at her, transferring blame and she shrugs it off.
"What are you gonna do?" she asks and I don't have an answer. "Look, if all you want is a kiss with a girl ... just kiss me."
Rachael's become weird. Ever since she lost her virginity, things have been different for her. She has sex all the time, with anyone who asks. She takes pills and smokes and drinks, her grades are bad and it drives me and our dad crazy. She writes about dying and killing, and cuts herself, although she thinks I don't know about that. We're still friends, still close, but were less like sisters now.
"It wouldn't be the same." I shake my head. "It would be weird."
"Come on, Lisa. Who cares? You need sex! You can fuck me, I don't care."
I don't know if she's serious or teasing me. All of our conversations these days seem to be woven with lies and truths and hurtful things. I always think it's just her, just Rachael being weird, but maybe it's me too. I can't tell sometimes.
"That's the point." I have to wipe my nose because I'm crying. "I do care. I want to be with someone who cares. Not you."
Scene 5: The big white house in Everett June 1998
We moved. As if everything wasn't bad enough, we packed up and moved 2000 miles. We'd known it was coming for a long time, but we'd ignored it, Rachael and me. A week after school let out for the summer, two months before our sixteenth birthday, we moved to Seattle.
No friends. School is out, so we can't meet any, except the people we see on our street. Time moves slow and we spend our days unpacking, rearranging, and settling into a quiet, lonely existence. I write my friends back home, my real home, this place - this Seattle - will never be home, I'm sure. I write my friends and tell them I hate it. How all the people here are different and strange. How the weather sucks and the houses are ugly.
Rachael wants a boyfriend and within a few days she has one. A new boyfriend to go with her new home, how easy for her. All she has to do is smile and let him feel her up, and she's in love all over again. I ignore the boys, the men, the guys, all of them. Staring at me, smiling at me, saying hello. I hate them all because they want me. It isn't fair.
I want a girlfriend, but I can't get one. I'm too afraid to approach a girl I find attractive. I follow them sometimes, at the mall. I might see a girl and think it would be nice just to know her name, to say hello and find out what kind of books she likes. What music she listens to. I follow her until she meets her friends or family, or simply leaves without me. And I'm alone, wondering how I'm supposed to do anything.
I'm sitting on the steps of our walk, not the house proper, which is set a long ways back from the street, but on the two steps that rise from the sidewalk to our walkway, straight as an arrow across the broad lawn to the front door. I'm waiting for the mailman if anyone should ask, but they won't. Some people go by on bicycles, a motorcycle, some cars, a man running his dog. We've been here two weeks and I'm dying inside.
"Hi!" her voice surprises me. I hadn't heard her approaching, although the roller blades she wears are loud on the asphalt.
"Hi!" I smile back, mostly out of reflex, but then I look at her. She's blonde and pretty, in a wholesome, Americana sort of way. Like a girl from a Rockwell painting. Except for her clothes. She's wearing short shorts, cut off jeans with loose threads hanging everywhere. A t-shirt, red and white with the Coke logo, showing off her full breasts. She's beautiful with her long, not yet tanned legs and graceful arms.
"I'm Jenny. I live down there." She gestures vaguely down the street. "You live here?"
"Yeah." I nod. "We just moved in. I'm Lisa."
"Cool." Jenny sort of circles around a little on her blades. "Pretty boring, huh?"
"You got any blades?"
I shake my head. "I've never done it."
"Want to try mine?" she wonders with a smile and that's how I meet Jenny.
I had my own roller blades the next day and we spent the summer hanging out. Jenny was sixteen too, and bored, and I spent the days with her at my side, giggling and talking and going wherever we wanted. I spent the nights with her too, in my dreams, kissing and touching, whispering and making love.
She met Rachael, of course, and they hated each other. I don't know why. Rachael won't tell me, even to this day. And Jenny, she just thought Rachael was my evil twin. Everybody's got one, Jenny would laugh, mine was just more obvious. Her words bothered me sometimes, but I largely ignored it. Blaming Rachael, for the most part and suspecting she was jealous in some way.
The first time I slept over at Jenny's house was very difficult. Being so close to her felt like an ache. Watching her undress, and me undressing shyly for her, although she didn't know it. Everything I did was for her. I knew her family already, they were nice, and I painted her toes. They were nice too, and I could have done that forever. Sitting on the floor, Jenny on her bed with one leg down, the other pulled up so her foot held the edge of the mattress. And me sitting there on the floor, looking at her toes, and beyond them to her white panties stretched tight over her sex. Catching a glimpse of her brown pubic hair when she moved, just a bit, curling out one side or the other.
What could I do?
I tried to kiss her. I did kiss her, while we lay there in the darkness of her bedroom. The lights were off, her small radio played softly. We were facing each other, under the covers, and talking. Jenny wanted to tell me what school would be like, what I could expect, and her restrained excitement made me smile. We were both smiling and I just did it. For no reason, without thinking, I kissed her on the lips.
She didn't move and neither did I. I knew I shouldn't have done it, I knew it right away, and I tried to say something, anything to make it right. But I was lost.
"It's alright," Jenny told me a minute later, after she'd thought about it. "I'm just not like that though. Okay?"
"Yeah," I said, feeling my heart dying inside, more from embarrassment than anything else. I hated myself right then and I felt so stupid.
"Don't be mad," she said.
"I'm not," I replied with my eyes closed, my arms hugging my breasts tightly.
"Me neither," she promised. "We can still be friends, right?"
And we were friends after that, as if nothing happened, which was more Jenny's doing than mine. I was frightened for weeks afterwards, sure that one of those days she wouldn't answer my phone calls, wouldn't want to go to the mall or roller blade or just hang out with me. But she always did, and that only made me love her more. And she knew that I think, or at least suspected, but Jenny didn't show any fear of it and I never tried to kiss her again.
Scene Six: A party at Alki Point in August 1999
I'd come with Rachael to this party, like a big outdoor Rave. She was pissed again. Her boyfriend had been cheating on her and Rachael had dumped him ... Again. All that meant was that she was looking for someone to fuck her, anyone, because that might have proven she was worth something. I'd tried to talk her out of going, but not very hard because I'd wanted to go myself. Summer had come around again and I'd spent most of it with Jenny, as much as I could, but she had found a boyfriend and that cut way down on our time together.
It also made me a little jealous, and I felt guilty about that. Jenny was my best friend and I should have been happy for her, but I wasn't. So I wanted to go out, with my sister - meaning alone - and just be crazy. I felt reckless, there's no other way to describe it. I'd aced school the previous year, finding it ridiculously easy, and I'd played the good girl to my sister's evil. Now I just wanted to cut loose, for one night in my life.
"Hey! You need some of this!" a girl said to me, a girl my age or maybe just a little older. I couldn't tell.
"What?" I looked at her and the place was full of people, a couple hundred kids dancing, and all kinds of chaotic. I'd already gotten a little drunk, filling my plastic cup from whoever happened to be passing by with a bottle.
"Some glitter!" The girl laughed and she had a small, plastic jar, like the kind baby powder comes in. She started shaking it all around us, into the air so it got in our hair, and on our skin and clothes. It was funny and insane.
"Hey ... You want some?" Another girl turned me around, maybe twenty-years-old, standing there in a wet t-shirt with a red bikini underneath.
"Sure." I held out my cup and she poured half of hers into mine.
"You dance?" she asked and I nodded and we didn't even bother moving, the whole place was a dance floor.
It was fun and I laughed, dancing with this girl, covered with glitter and balancing my drink. The music was loud, thrumming deep bass and techno screams, and I felt like I was flying and we were close, this girl and me. Getting closer, smiling and nodding our heads, and her leg went between mine and I grinned, lowering my hips and riding her thigh.
Somewhere I'd lost my drink and she held her glass to my mouth, pouring it wetly between my lips and spilling some down my chin. She gave me all that she had and then put her arms around me, licking the alcohol off my face, and then we kissed, my mouth still full of peppermint schnapps. I used my tongue to push it between her lips, not understanding yet that this was my first real kiss with another girl. And I didn't even know her name.
I'd worn a pair of tight hipsters and a t-shirt, and I felt her hands on my ass, and I had mine under her t-shirt, feeling her warm damp skin. We were just making out, moving against each other, but it wasn't dancing. I knew people were watching, but a lot of people were doing the same thing we were and neither of us cared very much about anyone right then. We stayed at the party for awhile, staying very close together and not really talking or anything, just dancing and laughing and drinking. Someone passed us a joint and we smoked some, making my head buzz even more.
Rachael found me at one point, saying something about going home with some guy. I was too stoned to care and I just nodded.
"Let's go," the woman said as she took me by the hand, leading me down the street. It seemed like a long walk and I didn't mind. It had felt so warm at the party, all those people and the music and the lights. But as we made our way up the hill it started getting cooler and my head cleared a little, enough so I had the sense to ask her name.
"I'm Heather." She smiled at me, a soft warm smile too. She seemed different then. At the rave she'd seemed wild almost, stronger and larger or something. Now she stood just a little taller than me, slender and shaking loose her dirty blonde hair as it clung to her neck and shoulders. We were both damp with sweat and spilled drinks.
"I'm Lisa," I said. "Where are we going?"
"I have a car. We can go to my place, if that's cool?" Heather still held my hand and I suddenly realized that what I'd been looking for had finally found me.
"Yeah." I swallowed nervously, feeling excited and just a little bit afraid. "That sounds okay."
"I gotta drive slow," Heather giggled. "I'm pretty buzzed."
"Me too," I nodded as we drove out of West Seattle towards the interstate. She promised it wouldn't be too far. Heather lived in Renton, in a condo she shared with a friend of hers.
"She's cool though, she won't care." She seemed relaxed, smiling and talking as if this wasn't any big deal. "She knows I'm queer." And that honesty, the way she just said it, amazed me for some reason.
I spent much of the ride listening, nodding my head and trying not to do or say anything stupid, anything that might ruin what was happening. I felt like I didn't deserve it and someone would take Heather away from me any second.
"Are you out?" she asked me.
I had to think about that for a second, just because I hadn't expected it.
"I guess not." Heather laughed when I didn't answer right away. "That's alright, I won't tell." Her hand found my thigh, her fingers stroking my leg, and I laughed with her.
"I've never done this before," I said, without meaning to.
"I've never been with anybody," I confessed, thinking that sounded kind of dumb. "But I want to, you know?" I giggled nervously. "I really want to."
"That's okay," Heather promised me. "I've been there, believe me. It'll be nice, okay?"
"Yeah," I agreed, really wanting it to be nice.
"In here ... Shhh..." Heather shushed me with a grin, leading me by the hand and giggling. "Here..."
We found her bedroom and Heather turned on the ceiling light, but only long enough to find her lighter and light some candles, then she turned the light off. She had a small bedroom, but very pleasant. Comfortable and warm, and well-worn, you know? A twin bed and a desk, some books and clothes everywhere. Heather gathered some skirts and blouses and panties off her bed, tossing them towards her open closet with a playful shrug.
"Maid's day off," she sighed, falling onto the bed. "Come here."
I'd never been so nervous in my life, but it was an elated, excited nervousness. A happy feeling of desire mixed with fear of the unknown. I sat on her bed and then lay back, laughing softly as Heather moved her arm to catch me, pulling me close and turning her body. I wasn't sure how fast or slow I wanted to go, but the woman had brought me here for one reason, and she kissed me before I could even catch my breath. Softly at first, with lips still tasting of peppermint.
I opened my mouth for her and Heather's tongue slipped inside gently, her hand moving to my breasts. I wasn't wearing a bra and she played with my hard nipples through the cotton of my t-shirt, making me moan as I sucked her tongue. I'd just turned seventeen the month before and I was finally having my first kiss. If my inexperience disappointed Heather, she didn't show it. Her hands were very tender and just kissing her made me hot all over. I moved my hands across her body, feeling her bare skin as all she wore was that bikini under her own t-shirt, and that was soon gone. I pulled it over her head and a moment later she had mine off as well. And then my pants, kissing my trembling tummy as I kicked and Heather pulled.
"Come here now ... Let me see you..." she whispered, peeling my panties down slowly, and I could feel her breath on my skin.
I could only lay there, watching her, and I felt so hot inside. My pussy had grown wet like I'd peed myself. I'd never been so wet and she hadn't even touched me there yet. I felt Heather's fingers on me, on my sex, and I spread my thighs as she gave my pussy its very first kiss ever. I almost came then, I was so close, and I lifted my ass, pushing myself up against her mouth. Heather teased me, pulling away and giggling at my breathless protests.
She just wanted to get undressed as well. Heather knelt between my legs, her pretty face smiling at me as she reached behind her to unclasp her top, tossing it away so that her beautiful breasts hung free. They weren't overly large, but they were perfect to me, and her nipples were long and hard and dark. Heather pushed her bottoms down as well, showing me her plump sex covered with hair that hid her lips and clit from my view. But I knew they were there and I longed to feel her pussy, to play with it and kiss it.
I reached for her, lifting my hands to touch her smooth thighs, but Heather didn't come to me, instead she put her own hands beneath me, under my ass and pulled, making me gasp and giggle as she lifted my butt off the bed. My legs went over her shoulders and she held me with her mouth at my raised cunt, while I lay on my upper back and shoulders, looking up at her. She grinned like a sexy blonde wolf and her mouth made wet, sucking sounds. She stiffened her tongue, which seemed very long as she pushed it inside me easily. Heather was fucking me that way, with her arms around my waist and her breasts against the small of my back. She had me almost upside down and helpless as she moved her head back and forth, jabbing her tongue inside me and occasionally taking long soft licks from my ass to my clit.