I’m pinning my iPhone to my ear with my left shoulder as my best friend’s voice crackles from the other end. A steaming hot coffee is in my left hand and Chrstine Adiche’s “The Thing Around Your Neck” is atop a stack of freshly critiqued papers under my right arm. The café is bustling with frantic underclassmen and a short stubby brunette girl elbows me in the gut in an attempt to move past my frozen statue of a body. Saliva pools under the right side of my jaw and begins an escape attempt as I hear his informing words.
“So I forgot my cigarettes in my car” he begins. I nod silently as if he can see me following his narration.
“Wait,” I cut him off. “Is this about—“ I hold my breath hoping he goes into detail about some girl we despised in middle school who had quintuplets out of wedlock and now carries them to her community college classes on multi-colored leashes. My chest is numb with nervousness because I know from his tone of voice what this is about.
“Mady,” he announces solemnly. His tone reminds me of a certain disappointment—the kind of disapproving voice you give your dog when it shits half-digested kibbles mercilessly in twenty different spots on the brand new carpet.
I drop my coffee and grimace at the steaming brown liquid sprawled on the tile. I apologize politely to the worker with the mop and begin filling up a second cup with my free left arm.
“What about her?” I pep my voice up, trying to sound more curious than crushed.
“She’s with this new girl! I never would’ve seen them together if I didn’t forget my cigarettes.”
“Is the new girl cute?” I want to punch myself in the face for asking but I lack a third arm. I consider pouring the steaming hot new cup of coffee over my head in a bout of sheer lesbian craziness but I can’t bring myself to make the same boy mop again.
“She looks sort of young, picture a generic white girl—a real basic Becky,” he replies.
My eyes water and I’m internally screaming at myself for being so vulnerable, sleep deprived, and sensitive.
“Her and I aren’t together,” I attempt to justify her to myself without realizing I’m speaking aloud.
“Yeah, but I know how you are, let her go—she’s clearly let you go” he’s giving it to me harshly because he loves me and I know that there are people who wish every night that they had a friend like him. I thank him and we end the call.
I walk into French class feeling like the subjunctive is the last thing I want to put my focus on. “Il fait que” translates into “it’s not fair” and then I’m lost in my own ADD-world picturing the two of them frolicking together in the sunlight. Ellen DeGeneres locks hands with them and they swing in a lesbian circle of eternal happiness as Tegan and Sara blast from the heavens. Ikea swings down and endorses their love with a $5000 gift card. I feel nauseous from stress-chugging my coffee and the boy sitting next to me has his one eyebrow raised at me—I’m so obviously distressed.
This, my dearest friends—is lesbianism at its finest form. Picture a heart monitor at a hospital with consistent bleeps that hike upwards and slope back down immediately following. This numbing plunge in my chest reminds me of the time my brother and I attempted to impersonate jousting knights on our bikes—using hockey sticks as lances. Some days, I feel a bland nothingness; similar to the emotions evoked when you stare at a blank canvas. There are spiking seconds where I feel my arm extending outwards towards my sinister iPhone desperate to formulate some well-written text. My fingers yearn to push the blue “send” button and then stare with wide eyes at the ellipse that appears when she begins to respond—iMessage be damned. Then there are days where I want to throw my iPhone into traffic, the wall, even the occasional deer I see when I’m out on a run–and shout to the world (or the wild animal) that I am done with her shit.
I want to end this with the generic “it gets better” slogan but that would be a disservice to all who read my essays with empathy and a bucket of chocolate chip cookie dough. The truth is, I don’t know if it’s going to ever dissipate! I never asked to have these feelings—but that’s just the thing. I didn’t need to be asked to have feelings for her–they just happened. It’s like when someone sideswipes your car during a drunken parallel parking attempt—it just happens. Or in this case, finding the most adorable puppy only to have it run away forever two weeks later (which happened to me as a kid and I never want to discuss it in detail ever again).
If (prepare yourselves for this ambiguous word) love in general resembles the heart monitor in the hospital, then I don’t want it to ever flat-line. In a world shrouded in so much indifference and apathy, it’s refreshing to be reminded that you are a human being capable of such a vast array of emotion. When someone comes around who flips the switch and manages to accidentally reiterate and evoke your most passionate emotions—thank them.
Thank them, because a flat-lined heart monitor means you’re dead—and we are all so very far from that.