What a ______ World -- Page 4Mature

She raised her eyebrows and shook her head. She signed softly, gently, No. Tell me about it? She finished with a beseeching look at me.

I nodded and thought for a moment, putting my thoughts in order. It wasn't exactly the topic I would have chosen, but at this point I wasn't going to be picky and talking about my past would distract us both. As I collected my thoughts I glanced around the room – more officers had trickled back into the kitchen from other areas. Officer Davis had an unreadable expression on her face that I hadn't noticed before, and I didn't pay enough attention to the other officers enough to note theirs. I put my focus back on Rosa's face where it belonged. She was sitting sideways, half in my lap, with one of her shoulders against mine. I certainly didn't mind telling her about my coming out story, since that's essentially what it was, but I didn't normally talk about that in front of complete strangers unless there was a reason to. I momentarily considered telling her only in sign without speaking out loud at the same time, but then my mouth firmed into a line and I straightened my shoulders. Let them hear. They could leave if it makes them uncomfortable – this wasn't their kitchen, it was Rosa's. And Rosa I would tell everything.

I nodded again to reiterate my conviction, if only to myself, and began. “It's a long story, and includes my early life and my coming out.” I looked at Rosa for confirmation, and when she nodded to me I continued. “When I was younger and in my K-12 education, I always had trouble understanding the other girls my age when they talked about boys. They would point out one and say 'Oh, he's cute' or 'I'd go on a date with him in a heartbeat'. I never felt that way about any of the boys, not one in any of the schools I went to, but I would always pretend and pick one out so I wouldn't feet left out. The ones I picked were always the younger and more effeminate boys, although I didn't realize it at the time. That's what my husband ended up being – younger, sensitive and a bit effeminate. Though deep down, it wasn't like I didn't really know the reason – I remember thinking to myself in high school that I wanted to kiss some of my girl friends when all of us girls would do a sleepover or a birthday party. I was just … stubborn ….” I paused at the final word and frowned, not knowing the sign for it and so awkwardly spelling it instead. I hadn't known American Sign Language or ASL for very long and still wasn't all that fluent in it.

Rosa responded with the correct sign, which I parroted badly, so she patiently corrected my hand movement until it was understandable. I flashed her a quick, silly grin and said/signed, “You're a good teacher.”

And you're a good student. She harrumphed as she said it but smiled slightly, so I grinned broader. We'd played this game before, where we each tried to put the kudos on the other person for my progress with ASL. She gave me an exasperated sigh and a look that said continue, so I wiped my grin away and put my mind back on the task at hand.

“I was stubborn and … teach me? Oblivious?” I spelled to her, and she obliged with the correct sign. “I was stubborn and oblivious. It was like I had all the pieces to the puzzle but I wouldn't or couldn't see the picture. Something inside me refused – that was the stubborn part. So when I felt a little bit of attraction finally for one of my guy friends from high school I said, this is it! This is the best I'm going to get! And I jumped into a relationship with him.”

I paused and tilted my head to the side, thinking. “Well … I'm sure some of it also had to do with the lure of that mythical beast called sex and me being a horny 19-year-old,” I admitted, pausing for sign corrections at 'lure of mythical beast'. Rosa rolled her eyes at me so I flashed another grin at her. At least Rosa had calmed down to the point where she was no longer trembling in my arms. I put my mind back on the story.

“Things didn't go well, and they started not going well fairly quickly – for reasons that I know now but back then were a mystery to me. I only knew that something was wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. I thought it was something wrong with me. Something I wasn't doing or understanding or communicating in the relationship.” I grimaced, reliving a little the frustrated shame from that period of my life.

Rosa lightly touched my cheek to reassure me, then dropped her hand to sign. It's not your fault. You didn't understand yourself yet.

I insisted. “But it was my fault, at least partly. I knew that I had some feeling for my girl friends, but I didn't want to see it. I ... buried ... it.” I fumbled over the unfamiliar word and received correction. “I don't know if it was in response to something someone said or even when it happened, but I still to this day remember mentally comparing my habits and likes in relation to lesbians and thinking to myself, 'NO. No one can label me, I am not what you think. I'm just a tomboy. That doesn't make me gay.' But part of me always knew, and I hid it.”

I tried to continue but Rosa grabbed my hands briefly to still them before responding. Stop that. Stop it right now. I'm not letting you blame yourself. Yes, ok, you felt some internal resistance, but in the end you realized who you are. There is no blame in that. She paused and looked seriously at me for a moment, then hoping to distract me, signed, What made you realize?

The officers in the room with us fidgeted a little and, surprised, I glanced up at them momentarily having completely forgotten about them. I could still hear the officers talking to each other elsewhere in the house, although the ones in the kitchen were only silently watching us now, search finished. My expression hardened. Let them fidget. I shook my head to clear it and went back to ignoring their presence. I gave Rosa a small half smile and tilted my head to the side, considering her question. “You remember those girls in high school I wanted to kiss? Well, one of them got back in contact with me and all those buried feelings came rushing back. I felt the same way about her that I did then, like I'd never left high school. She was smart, friendly, and pretty. And really flirtatious.” I paused for a sign correction on flirtatious. “It was like being hit by a train – I had no chance.”

The End

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