Remember that quintessential heterosexual American dream that women have of a white house with a picket fence, a loving husband, two children and dogs? I have my own queer version of it: a slightly shabby white house, structured to afford enough privacy. There is a traumatized dog ambling behind the gates that has over time been befriended by gentle hands. There is a garden; there is coffee, art, and freedom. And there is a woman I love.
I once imagined that the line my life was following — of frantic fumbling kisses and being led through doors to mattresses, of awkward whispered confessions and hastily wiped fingers — would lead me to peace. I imagined that I would finally have a chance with someone; that I could be honest in my love and madness and have it reciprocated; that after years of grappling with my queerness, I would be at peace. My queer self would be at peace.
But it seems now that life will allow me only a few moments of peace. The only experience I have had with intimacy in all my 21 years lasted only a few brief days, while the recovery has stretched endlessly. What do you say when you have climbed over mountains and broken down walls of your own suffering city, finally trusted yourself to be with someone, and despite the terror, surrendered and let someone in? What do you say when the dam breaks and your restrained hope comes cascading out, and drenched in new sensations, you feel washed and finally at peace? And then what do you say when she tells you, 48 hours later, that what took years of grappling with your queerness — your single act of bravery that you, for once, performed for yourself alone — was just an isolated, independent event that will not be repeated because she is in love with someone else, and that you were just another mistake?
I have fallen in love enough times to be exhausted by it already.
I have fallen in unrequited love enough times for me to start questioning whether I even know what it means.
I have fallen in love enough times to fall out of love with queer love. To break up with expectations of kindness. To abandon hope. To want to walk away from the most poignant parts of myself.
How many times is enough really?
I was so optimistic about my ability to love that I turned a blind eye to the odds. I turned a blind eye to my need to heal and rebuild who I truly was in the absence of love. If there is anything heartbreak teaches me every single time, it is that I have not spent as much time trying to love myself as I have in loving someone else.
It feels like my queerness hasn’t allowed me to be unbothered by my aloneness. Somewhere due to the lack of information, experiences and community, I have turned into an illogical monster, warping my odds out of proportion and stopping me from hoping for love, just because I haven’t found it yet.
I want stories. I want stories of people who have remained single and virgins in their 30s. I want stories of sexual inexperience and apprehension. I want stories of people grappling with loneliness while surrounded by songs and movies and social justice movements hinging on their ability to love. I want stories of elusive orgasms and all the negative space of sex positivity. I want stories of not knowing – just not knowing how to have sex, or how to be in relationships, or how to pursue either of those things. I want stories of aloneness, however sad or happy they might be. I want stories on feeling acutely the impossibility of love and yet surviving.
I know these stories exist but we just don’t talk as much about it because we cloak ourselves in the shame and apprehension of being left behind or wondering if there is anything wrong with us. Maybe it is just me. Maybe there is someone else too. I want these stories to break the awkward silence I experience all too often when I say I have never been with someone. I want these stories as much as I want these stories to be queer as much as I want to be told that it is fine.
I want to be told that it is fine to take time and that there is no ticking clock. That the sound I hear is just my pulse racing because of the anxiety of a future of aloneness that is equally probable and improbable. That it is fine to respect myself and not label myself desperate for harbouring these emotions. That it is fine that I have days when I feel this way in spite of focusing on my work and learning to love every other bit of my life, in spite of working with my counsellor to work through deeply rooted issues. I am learning to build a healthier relationship with my aloneness, but I haven’t learned how to start hoping again yet.
I think I just may need my stories for that. I need my stories to learn to hope again.