Most of these stories have a format. When I met her, I admired her. And then I realized I wanted to be like her. And then I realized I was in love with her.
Sounds pretty simple. Except, the first time it happens, nothing about it is simple. You are so cool. I hope, at some point, to be as cool as you are. Wait. Wait, what? Oh. Dear. God.
And I always seemed to be the last to know. For a subtle person, I miss a lot of cues. You really just have to tell me. If you tell me, I’ll act, but, you know, turn on the brights.
Erin is describing the endless walking she and her soon-to-be-first girlfriend did. They walked everywhere, for hours, and would randomly say something like, “So, Mark thinks I’m attracted to you. Isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?” Because partly there’s this terror, this unknown thing — we all worry what we feel won’t be reciprocated — but, added to that, is the worry that what we feel may be ours alone. This girl may not be queer. Hell, I may not be queer. I have these feeling I don’t understand and they scare me.
You find yourself postulating. “What if I’m in love with you? I mean, hypothetically, if I said, ‘I’m in love with you,’ how would you answer?” Or, “When you say you’ve never felt this way about anyone before, do you mean, like anyone, or just, like, your friends, or whatever?” Implicit in all these conversations is, “Do you feel this, too?”
I’m not talking about coming out, I’m talking about the first time you realize, the first time it stands fully formed in your head like Athena: What I feel for you is unexpected. And completely miraculous.