It was a Saturday at the end of the March 2004 when it finally hit me.
The whole week after leaving Cincinnati, I felt weird. Half-empty. I was so happy to be home with Henry, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing.
“I guess I just miss Christina, that’s all,” I wrote in my journal. The weekend was fucked up where her sister and friends were involved, but when it was just Christina and me, it was really fun. Aside from Henry, I had never really spent time with someone who wanted so badly to make me happy. It was like winning a contest and getting to take a tour of the inner-workings of Awesometown. She did everything I wanted, when I wanted it, and how I wanted it. Like I was royalty.
A girl could get used to that right quick, you know.
I took her CD with me to work and listened to it all week, the same 20-some songs over and over. I sat at my desk wondering why my stomach was feeling like mush, like I could puke at any second; wondering why listening to a bunch of songs was making me want to cry.
Henry and I went for one our cemetery walks on Saturday, March 27 and he grumbled the whole way there in the car because he hated the Used, and I had started listening to them again since the Christina Weekend. When “Blue and Yellow” came on, I caught my breath. You know how sometimes you can hear a song a thousand times, and then suddenly on play #1,001 something finally clicks and you start to really listen to the lyrics and it’s like being socked in the gut by a brick-fisted dwarf?
That happened to me that day.
And you never would have thought in the end,
How amazing it feels just to live again,
It’s a feeling that you cannot miss,
And it burns a hole, through everyone that feels it.
Well you’re never gonna find it,
If you’re looking for it, won’t come your way, yeah
Well you’ll never find it, if you’re looking for it.
Should’ve done something, but I’ve done it enough.
By the way, your hands were shaking.
Rather waste some time with you.
Listening to it, I felt my stomach flutter. I started to get giddy. I felt my face flush.
A few minutes later, as Henry and I walked through the cemetery, I blurted out, “I think I have a crush on Christina!”
Try to imagine the glint of horror that clouded Henry’s normally vacant eyes.
“No, you don’t,” he rushed to say. “You’re just confused. You miss her and you’re not used to missing a friend, that’s all,” he tried to rationalize.
“I think I need to tell her,” I mused.
“No. No, that’s a really bad idea. Don’t you dare tell her, she’s fucking in love with you, I could see it all over her face when she was here last week.” Henry looked very worried. I liked that.
Friends, once the seed is planted in my head, I’m not satisfied until I let it sprout and find myself on an operating table, having some poisonous vine extracted from my scalp. Try to advise me all you want, it will be in vain. Just like in 12th grade when my friend Christy tried to warn me not to date this guy she knew, but I ignored her and now I have nearly two years worth of Psycho Mike tales to share with Chooch one day when he’s older.
By the next night, she knew I was having feelings for her. Sylvia was dropped like an over-sized sack of ginger potatoes and Christina started sending me romantic emails and poems, and it was exciting. I loved Henry, but he wasn’t sending me romantic emails and poetry! Letting her call me her girlfriend was like having the best of both worlds. She said things like, “I’m struggling to keep things out of my head and palpitations out of my heart. Do you know what I mean? Like, little forceful firecrackers blowing holes into each breath? No one has ever lit those before.”
It was just like But I’m a Cheerleader! Except I’d have preferred Clea Duvall over Christina Harrison.
While I was enjoying all the pretty words and sentiments, I admitted in my journal that I wasn’t sure I could go through with it. It wasn’t that she was a girl. And her face had even started to grow on me by the end of that weekend I spent with her. It was more of the “what if”s that had me bugging out. Henry kept lecturing me that it would ruin the friendship, that I was playing with fire. That she was in love with me, when all I felt for her was some crush born from confusion, curiosity, and subtle persuasion on her part. And I considered that, and even wondered if she somehow made me feel like this by going out of her way to spoil me. But I shook off the doubt because it was exciting and new and, selfishly, I liked how it felt. She was telling me constantly how beautiful I was, how funny I was, what a great writer I was – but while most people would end it there, leaving their affectations vague, Christina would practically write dissertations on the colors of my eyes, what she loved about my laugh, how I chewed my grilled cheese sandwiches. I’m not kidding. The girl was very thorough.
By the second day, I was convinced I was in love with her. “I don’t want something sexual,” I wrote on the pink pages of my Hello Kitty journal. “Nothing beyond kissing, if even that.” Meanwhile, Christina was dreaming of white picket fences and in vitro fertilization.
Fickle at heart, I kept vacillating between extreme feelings of goo-goo ga-ga lust, confusion, disgust, and denial.
I love her. I don’t love her.
I’m gay. I’m straight.
She’s pretty. She’s ugly.
Internally, I had become an amusement park of gyrating emotions, plunging sensibilities, pendulating preferences and swinging sexuality.
Henry was the only one who knew what was going on, so he got to begrudgingly fill the role of armchair therapist. There was a part of him that was intrigued by it, because come on, he has a penis after all. But then he’d remember it was Christina on the other end and would immediately go limp. I think there was a part of him that was scared I was going to discover that this latent lesbian tendency was something more than that and he’d wind up sitting on a curb amidst his garbage bagged belongings.
I was too scared to tell my friends about it, and I think some of that was actually thinly-veiled shame because she wasn’t exactly the type of girl I ever would have imagined liking in that way, and I certainly couldn’t see myself parading her around town. Anytime the thought of going public would enter my mind, my embarrassment and shallowness would push that thought right back to its grave.
It hadn’t even been a week yet, and I was already having doubts. In fact, it was only three days after I threw Christina that initial love bone, and I was already realizing that I wasn’t in love with her so much as the attention. That I would never leave Henry for her, or anyone. That she was making me feel trapped and…kept. And my least favorite sensation of all? Smothered. Ooh, how I hate to be smothered. She was coming on so strong, pressuring me to make plans with her, and I was starting to freak out. I tried to tell her I was feeling claustrophobic and that she needed to back off a little.
Yeah, that went well. She cried and cried and cried and flipped out and cried and sobbed. I don’t respond well to tears so I screamed uncle and let her go back to building a shrine for me.
By the end of that week, I was convinced all these feelings were really just worms in my stomach, the manifestation of some unrealistic fantasy. I decided that avoiding her would be the best option, but Henry convinced me that I should just talk to her, or else she was going to keep talking to me at work.
She sucked me back in with her frilly fucking words, goddammit. And the cycle started all over again. Henry suggested that I talk to my friend Liz. She was another girl I knew from LiveJournal, and she was currently in a relationship with a girl after years of dating only boys. I emailed her and she called me right away. At first, she was excited for me wanting to explore that other side of myself, but when she found out it was Christina on whom I had focused my affections, she wasn’t so excited anymore. From watching our interaction with each other via LiveJournal for the past year, and knowing about the Sylvia factor, Liz expressed her concern, citing numerous red flags she saw in the situation.
But I still kept at it. And the longer it went on, the more hurt Henry became. We started fighting. A lot.
“I understand that this is something you need to do, but I just wish it was with some random girl and not someone in love with you,” he admitted one night, after two weeks of me being a faux-lesbian. And then those inevitable words finally came out: “You need to choose.”
And the next day, I kept seeing his face as he said that and it was breaking my heart. He was more important to me than she was, and I broke it off with her for good that time.
I’ve broken up with many boys in my time, but making a phone call to break up with some girl in Ohio was definitely something new, and not something I’d recommend scribbling on your bucket list. She was blowing up my phone, my inbox, my AIM, begging me to reconsider. Now I was just getting angry, really fucking angry. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a sniveling beggar. Show some backbone! I was starting to think that never talking to her again might not be the worst thing in the world. I told her she needed to stop sending me those emails and stop posting poems about me in her LiveJournal, but she said she couldn’t stop because I was her muse.
In hysterics, she screamed, “It’s not fair! Why are you doing this to me? You didn’t even give me a chance!” And apparently I had the poor taste of breaking up with her on the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s suicide. He was one of her idols, so she threw that in my face too. This was my first taste of her emotional immaturity. I knew that she had never been in a real relationship before, and if the two weeks we had spent acting like giddy school girls was the only taste of a relationship she had ever had, well, that wasn’t my fault and I refused to let her make me feel like it was.
Two weeks! It had only been two weeks. Long distance, at that.
When I wouldn’t answer her emails or respond to her IMs, she started calling me at work. This is when I was working at Weiss Meats, that horrible place, and I didn’t feel comfortable getting calls from my mom there, let alone some insane, sobbing lesbian. I shared an office with the bookkeeper, Carol, who was like a second mom to me, and it was so hard to answer these calls from Christina without making Carol wonder what the fuck sort of shit-swamp I found myself wading in this time. Terse answers was all Christina would get from me at work. Sometimes I would simply hang up upon hearing her androgynous voice through the receiver.
While I was sorry that she got hurt in the process and that I didn’t take the time to put some forethought into the whole thing, I wasn’t sorry for admitting my feelings to her, because I needed to know where it was going to go. Selfish? Yes, I’ll take the blame on that. I’m an impulsive person, I always have been. And because of that, I don’t really have many regrets in life. I had hoped that she would see it the same way, that our “relationship” hadn’t gone on long enough for her to really suffer any heart break, and that we could still find a way to salvage our friendship.
For me, I was able to walk away thinking, “Well, that was fun while it lasted” as I dusted the carnage of her shattered heart off my shoulders. I felt confident that we ended it early enough to curtail any collateral damage on the friendship. What I didn’t know was that she was over there in Ohio, making plans to win me back.