The Girl in the Oversized Sweater

WARNING: Subjects discussed here may be offensive for some readers. For that, I make no apologies.

Witness Account 1:

I first saw her sitting at the bus stop, she had short dyed hair and wore an oversized dark sweater with a gray patch across the front, she hadn’t looked up when the bus had stopped, I remember being momentarily grateful for what I had at the time mistaken for a rare act of patience. There should always be a sign that says people on the bus get to get off first before the people coming on. The girl never even moved, she just sat there, hands clasped in her lap. I had rushed on to my busy day.

I did not think of that girl until much later when I stepped out to find coffee. The sun was high in the sky and the day looked bright.. I saw her then, the patch on the sweater was unmistakable. She was standing at the side of the road, as one would when waiting to cross, except she couldn’t have been less than 40 metres away from the crossing.

The lights changed and I joined the melee crossing the street. The coffee shop was right across; I dashed in, smiled, and asked for my usual. It was a short wait, same as always. My name was called and I went to retrieve the coffee and that is when it must have happened, the hand that had been holding out my coffee had been withdrawn leaving my coffee to fall to the counter, open and splash everywhere. I had looked up in irritation, only to see the waitress was shaking, her hands clasped on her mouth, stifling a scream. The cashier next to her was pointing. I followed their eyes to the commotion outside. It seemed like there had been an accident. Then I saw her, lying there in the middle of the street, the gray patch on her sweater quickly changing colour.

Witness Account 2:

I don’t know what to tell you, she gave me her seat, a bit presumptuous really, the idea that because I am not a 19 year old ballerina then I must be completely incapable of standing in line and waiting for a bus like everyone else. But, the sun was out and the spot shaded, so when she sprung up from her seat, I gladly took it. I thanked her. If she responded, I did not hear it, she just walked away, further up the street.

I felt bad for her, it couldn’t have been comfortable in that sweater, in this heat, and really there was no reason for her to be standing there, so far away from the bus stop. I decided I would offer her the seat back. So, when the next bus came and there was plenty of room, I walked up to her. She was a little further now, past the crossing, and she stood so still. I touched her only once, gently like. I wasn’t trying to startle her, but she was a bit shocked, she drew away from me, her eyes so dark and empty like. Then she just walked out into the street. Mind you, I didn’t push her, no one did. She was just a crazy one.

The girl in the oversized sweater

Its funny isn’t it. How the sun is always so fucking bright when the world around you is falling apart. I do not need another reminder that my life is meaningless. I should get on the bus, go home, but what good will that do, sit through another episode of These are the thousand ways in which you disappoint us. How stupid I had been to think this would work. The city, a world of opportunity, a place where no one would care that I was different, a place I could start over, but they do, and they want to cut and prod and take little stupid notes. Well, no longer!

I will not be anyone’s experiment anymore, and I don’t have to be Mommy’s perfect little boy, in his perfect little box. God, this city is crowded, and they are always staring. There is an old lady here now, did she follow me from the bus stop? I can guess what she wants to know, what they always want to know, am I a boy or a girl, what is under the shirt. It never ends, I will give them something to stare at.

This was always the plan anyway, go out on my own terms.

I step out, there is hooting, some yelling and screaming. The sun is so bright and warm. I couldn’t have chosen a better day.

_____

Afternote:

I first wrote the little story above as part of writing exercise where we had to tell a story from three different perspectives.. something about speaking in different voices. I did the exercise but have been coming back to it from time to time wondering if I should perhaps be working on a longer version of the story.

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To journal or blog personal feelings

Full disclosure, I have 5 blogs, 2 art journals, 2 diaries, 2 websites and a hoarding problem.

MINE

Keeping a journal is very impractical, given that in the very likely event of your sudden death, (let’s not kid each other, death awaits us all), all our deepest darkest secrets are left behind for all to read and gasp in horror.  Things that we wrote down because we couldn’t say them out loud. For me, that means several pages professing an undying love for someone that I would later lose.

With that loss came the stages of grief – denial/desperate for answers, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance. This was made so much worse by three other factors, 1. That she hadn’t died, she was just no longer mine and I was to somehow move on with my life without her 2. That I was in the closet and therefore could not exactly run into my mother’s arms and weep inconsolably – she would have thought I’d gone mad. So I suffered her loss, alone.

When the anger came, I couldn’t write it down in my journal because I kept thinking she would come back one day, and how horrible it would be if she ever read the mean things I had written. I also couldn’t blog about it because she was one of the first people I had run to tell about this secret blog I had started just so I could be able to write about us. So I suffered silently.

Now, more than a month later, the pain has dulled, I have re-activated my facebook and can see her pictures on one of our friends’ timelines without wincing and needing to run out of the room. I can write again without the need for venom or tears.

Now that it is all over, I wonder if I should keep this blog.

TBD.

PK.

My absent valentine

kim 13

I have to confess, I do not understand the intricacies of the valentine’s day ritual. I know it involves roses and chocolates and declarations of love but that is about  it. I haven’t had anyone to practice with for almost 10 years, but now I find myself here, and even more confusing is not knowing who is in charge of doing what and how the rules change if your relationship is long distance.

As it turns out, K is off skiing in Germany, and I am holed up in my room in Kigali hiding from the sun. We are miles apart and while I miss her terribly, I can’t help feeling oddly relieved. I have a little longer to figure this thing out or hopefully have a chance to build new traditions.

Happy 14th of February.

Long Distance Madness

SELF HUG It has been all of 10 weeks since I met my person ( I still have trouble calling her girlfriend or partner – partner is weird right? well, not weird, but too early perhaps?) well.. since I met this person I have the butterflies for.

I did not meet her online but a lot of our early getting to know each other was through an IM app, I had met her  before but at the time we had been as good as random strangers passing each other on a busy sidewalk with barely a minute to exchange the customary nod and mumbled hellos.

She might have continued in my memory as the stranger in the orange dress if a mutual friend that knows both our secret had not put us back in touch. Except, this time she was living thousand of miles away and the only way we would have another chance meeting would be for one of us to subject themselves to the discomfort of travelling in a metal cylinder, tens of thousands of miles off the ground while breathing the same air with 200 or so other strangers, what could be more fun!!?

But we made it and were able to share a few days of storybook bliss before she had to take off again.

I thought the worst part was the crying fit in my car after saying our mirthless and purely platonic they-could-be-friends goodbyes at the airport. Yes, that was heartbreaking but it is quite different from the slow mental breakdown that happens as you slowly realise that you will not see this person again for another couple of months.

So, as a coping mechanism, your mind begins to compensate for the massive hole that is now in your life. It starts in a very unassuming way, the unbidden smile as you remember the good times, something she said, the wild look in her eyes as she realised that you weren’t kidding about thing you wear to bed, some little thing you both found funny. As time goes on and the time until you see each other again seems further away, the mind starts reaching, this is because the memories are starting to fade.

So instead, it begins to make up new things, at around this time you begin to remember things that didn’t happen, something that was harmless funny now has you laughing hysterically within the confines of your car and crowning evidence of your descent into lunacy? The full blown conversations that you begin to have with the part of you that is no longer there. First they are in your mind, a sort of, if I said this, she would probably say this, then the mumbling begins, you say something and you imagine them says something back, or for added drama, interrupting you and shouting something back as they walk out the room. Then after a while, this is no longer enough. The conversation are out loud, your mind is no longer content with your imagination filling in the gaps, no, you must now do both voices.

This is my life now.

The thing about stereotypes

My butch-femme stereotypeI have been what most may refer to as a tomboy for the longest time. It became more apparent in my early teen years when my weight skyrocketted and then oversize jeans, t-shirts and sneakers became a comfortable fall back. As I grew older, my ‘sheroes’ were women that looked like Sarah Connor from Terminator 2 or Jodie Foster from Silence of the Lambs – They were strong women that looked like they could kick butt if the kicking of butts was ever required of them.

I then went to art school where I would often be seen in either a paint stained t-shirt and worn jeans or overalls. It was comfortable and helped me get the job done. This became my uniform. At the time I wasn’t seeing anyone, In fact, I would continue to be celibate until the age of 29 – but that is a story for another day.

The thing is, my wardrobe choices didn’t change for a long time, I went from art school to a career in design and advertising. Even on the days with big presentations, the dress code would be a nice clean shirt, sleeves neatly rolled up, tucked into a clean pair of jeans and coupled with dress shoes – preferably oxfords.

At age 29, I left it behind and took a role at a bank where the accepted dress code for women was well cut A-line dresses with heels. I expected to hate it, but I don’t. Thinking about it now, I am reminded of this video from Cameroon Esposito in which she talks about how some of the things that society has taught us are for men (short hair, flannel shirts etc) are actually for any body.

So here I was, I had been this person for so long that it was no longer about what I felt comfortable wearing to do my work or go about living, it had become almost a brand image that I had to keep up. Women that were tomboys, or butch had to therefore act in such and such a way. I thought I am this way, does that mean I should like women, or does that mean I am a man trapped in a man’s body. These were real debates I had.  I imagined a future were I was a strong fit woman and my partner was a damsel in distress and I was the dark knight swooping in to save her, the oak that she would lean on.

In the end, this all turned out to be romantic drivel. The things I imagined in my head were messing up with my outlook on real life. I am woman, yes, I like to dress comfortably, yes, and while that will never be a tight leather skirt and nine inch heels, it will somedays be a dress with boots and a scarf and other days it will be jeans, t-shirt and sneakers.

I am 5,1′  – a short person by any standards, the only way I could be the towering knight in armour for my mate is if she was from Lilliput, but she is not, she is a beautiful gazelle from the Netherlands, and that is okay. I am okay with simply being a woman that loves another woman. I don’t know why I ever bothered with all the other stuff.

She is here!

first-date_k (1)  After two months of talking, I finally met her, the one. I had met her once before, three years ago. Then I had said hello and quickly averted my eyes. It is what you do when you are a woman that is constantly hiding her truly self. Not knowing if you made eye contact a second too long, or if your eyes wandered. So I have found the quick ‘hello’ and then look away works for me.

It turned out that she was also a woman that liked women, I found this out much much later.  From a mutual friend, after she was long gone. Now, three years later, we got in touch through that friend and started talking via whatapp. I was immediately struck by her sense of humour, and her unwillingness to be politically correct. She spoke freely and in doing so allowed me to loosen up and be me. For the first time in a long time, I was having a conversation with someone in which I could just be myself and it felt so refreshing.

I just spent the last 5 days with her before she had to take  flight back to her country. It was a wonderful few days, the kind that make everything else seem dull in comparison. She is gorgeous, and has that certain quality in her voice and her way that makes you want to curl up in her person and just get lost in her. I love her. For the first time in a long time, I am in love again, but it is a woman.

The question i new find myself asking is ‘What happens next?’

It was all well and good when I knew in my mind that I was a woman that was attracted to women, but this changes everything. There is a real person involved and I feel so much.

Can I really keep it a secret?