I told everyone once (several times, actually) that sincerely is how I end my letters but never how I live my life, and it is perhaps the one thing I have never lied about.
One day, you might be happy, but you are not happy now. I want, so desperately to tell you that you are happy when you are twenty one or twenty five, or twenty nine, but it just isn’t true.
You aren’t unhappy because of how your life goes (although I suppose that’s a factor), you are unhappy because you have been lying for almost three decades.
It doesn’t feel like a lie. More of an accident. A terrible mistake that went unresolved for far too long. You said something, and then you kept saying it, for a very long time. Then you said something else, to be a bit more adventurous, but the thrill was short lived because there was someone walking behind you, taking every step that you did, watching the way your mouth melted around every lie, until the rest of you dissolved and there was nothing else, but her.
She is terrifying to you. She looks like you. She dresses like you. She talks like you. She types like you. She orders a McNugget meal and a McFlurry every Thursday night and watches Drag Race, just like you. That is because she is you, I’m afraid, but there is one key difference. She is a…
You have told the truth, entirely, out loud, once. Just once, and that was by accident. You were talking to a friend, and she asked you about dating and you called yourself THAT word. It’s lucky that you were on the phone, because you clasped your hands over your mouth and hot tears began prickling at the corner of your eyes. You didn’t even know why you were crying. It was just a word. Just a label. Just seven letters.
You have typed it into your Twitter biography but I think most of your followers think you are joking. I cannot tell you why that is, because as I am sure you are already aware, you are not funny. You are the straight man, if the straight man was a woman, who wasn’t straight.
You hadn’t told your grandparents yet. As of writing, you still haven’t. You had planned to tell them a few days before that phone call with your friend, at dinner (your family keep making dinner plans with you since the Covid-19 lockdown ended, because the novelty of your company has not worn off yet), but you couldn’t say it. Every time you thought about saying it, your throat got tight. You felt sick. You imagined looks of disgust and pity on their faces. Your grandfather asked if you were seeing anyone. He made a point to keep the question gender neutral. He said “someone” not “him”. You changed the subject without answering the question.
You went home that night and cried yourself to sleep. I still don’t know why. Does it really matter if you say it? Maybe they already know? Maybe they’re fine with it. Maybe if they’re not, you could still just marry a man and have a baby, after all. You never cared for intimacy anyway, so why not just do it? Find the first frog that crosses your path, close your eyes and play Princess.
Please tell them. I am begging you.
Nobody will love you any less, my girl. It doesn’t matter though, because your name is nobody. You despise yourself. You despise the future, and how it wouldn’t be what storybooks and pop singles from the 90’s said it would be.
I don’t know why you can’t say it. Maybe it’s because you’re afraid that it means something more than “I am exclusively available to one group of people.” Maybe it’s because you are frightened to admit that the dating pool getting smaller means that you have even less chance of getting the fairytale ending to life that you want. Maybe it’s that the things you want in life are only the things that you want because they’re easy to obtain? You aren’t the prettiest girl but you’ve had at least one serious marriage proposal, and you threw it away, why? Because he wasn’t a…
Your grandmother pulled you aside that night, at dinner. She can always tell when there’s something stuck in your throat. She asked. You couldn’t look her in the eye, because you knew that if you did, you’d say it. They already thought you were halfway down this path, so what difference does it make if you keep walking and find a rainbow, or whatever?
It makes a difference to you. I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t, because I don’t know. My throat is tight, just now, and I have a feeling that I’m on my way to a screaming headache. I have an unread message from someone who’d like to take me on a date. I am afraid of her. I’ve done this before but it’s never been so final. I always had the get out of jail free card of comp het, and how easy men are to find, and how I’m really just your neighbourhood friendly bisexual with a mild misandrist streak (that is a joke, it turns out you ARE funny, so please, no emails from men), but now I’m…
I went on a date with a man in June. He was several decades older than me, and he told me that one day, he’d love me to live with him in Dundee, and I thought “Yeah, okay, why not?” I like Scotland, and I liked him. Honestly, I did. He thinks I didn’t, but I did. He made me laugh, and I liked that he moved really quickly, because it didn’t give me time to think about why I’d probably be better suited to a…
He knew. A man who had known me for just a few weeks knew. He said it, completely openly as we had drinks and I almost choked to death before spluttering out a denial. I wasn’t a… I definitely wasn’t a… I would definitely not be better suited to a…
I HAVE NEVER SUCCESSFULLY PLAYED GOLF!
I suppose I should have reacted with something other than childlike distress at the mere mention of sex, if I wanted to pass as a friend of Thatcher. As it all turns out, my dead eyed, dissociative drama show is harder to replicate over text message. I’m not normally there, when a man is, you see. I go to this place. There’s nobody there but me. I play guitar in a meadow, or I walk along an empty beach. I play him a record of sighs and screams and I just wait behind the scenes for him to fall asleep, then I normally cry in a bathroom because I feel invaded, and it isn’t his fault, because I did say yes, but I’m too hysterical to swallow the blame myself.
They always say I’m so tight but they never wonder why that is. I am not sixteen anymore. I suppose if I know why that’s a problem, I should be in good order when it comes to handling…
I actually wouldn’t. My first girlfriend was a heterosexual who had the hump with her fella, and wanted to make him jealous, and the second was sweet but even more repressed than I am, so we just sort of held hands in a wardrobe for a few months, and then she had the audacity to die (one day, we will write something about how self centred you are, but one thing at a time), so I am right back where I started. Starry eyed and scared of how quickly I can lose “it”. Wishing I was sixteen again, so I wouldn’t have the stigma of being SUCH a late bloomer.
You have watched the episode of The Simpsons where Patty gets married a million times. It has become comforting, because you know that even though it’s possible that someone who loves you will stop as soon as they see the truth, they’ll always come around by the end of the episode. Your life is not an animated television show, my girl. You are not less of a bein’, and maybe everything will work out well, or maybe it won’t, but either way, you are being followed by THAT girl, and THAT secret, so close to being spilled, and the pain is immeasurable.
Your grandparents are some of God’s better people, and they taught your mother to be kind, which was passed to you, in utero and on the outside too, so what are you so afraid of? They’re used to you being dramatic, so if it all goes wrong, we’ll pretend it was an improvised monologue, like the first time you told a girl that you loved her, at eleven years old (you have spent years pretending that she was a boy when you tell that story, it makes her look of horror a little less harrowing), and then we will marry a man, with a job and a car and a high sperm count, and hopefully he’ll have an affair and leave me the fuck alone, and I’ll write a record about it and get custody of the kids, and they’ll all hate him, so he’ll never come to visit and I will never be invaded again.
The phone is ringing as I write this last part. I secretly hope I hear my grandma on the answering machine, so I can mumble something about how it wasn’t important, and I’ll call her back later. Either way, whether she answers or the machine does, we all know I won’t be able to tell her, out loud, on purpose, that I am…
I am a….
Well, you know.