The Hardest Answer: Unspokenbycawastedyouth©
A rather quiet Sunday downtown, and Lauren looked at the woman sitting in the movie theater box office. She had gay pride written all over her. The nameless woman in the box office spoke through the speaker, her voice garbled by the technology and the three teens gathered their money and tickets.
'I bet everyone hits on her.' She sighed sinking onto the bench concrete planter created while she scanned the marquee trying to decide what movie to see: a late birthday present to herself courtesy of her first paycheck from work. Yet another reminder that being alone was not fun. She would have asked Jo if Jo didn't have children at home. Anyone, just so she wouldn't have to go to the movies alone. But resolve won over. And this offered an opportunity to sit here and question her own sexuality in ways Lauren had not ever thought she would think about.
It felt like just yesterday, she might have been able to just walk away and be a non-sexual being. She had enjoyed her sexual ambiguity.
Too bad sexuality requires someone to respond to my action. She sighed softly. She knew that wasn't necessarily true: she could be very sexual without anyone else. She just wondered what it might be like to understand that someone else had physical wants and needs. It's a huge leap. Lauren conceded. She often could only barely understand what she needed.
Lauren looked again at the woman trying to decide if she was just simply cute or just intriguing.
Her short dyed hair and the rainbow earring hanging from her left ear left only a little for Lauren to expound her limited imagination. Her heart pounded in her ears.
Lauren swallowed her resolve was finite. She was going to ask this woman out, go down in endless flames, and begin her first step into the rest of her life. It was the depth of her conviction, which was unusual for Lauren. In her entire life had anyone asked her 'why' at that very moment she had made a crucial life decision, she would have only shrugged, but today, she knew why: she had a crush on Ms. Lasting.
Lauren started to walk to the box office, her money burning a hole in her pocket and then she had the strangest thought: 'I'd rather ask Ms. Lasting out.'
She paused in her tracks and looked at the box office, the temptation of asking her first woman out stood only feet away, but the thought of asking Ms. Lasting.
'No, wait if I'm going to ask her out, I have to call her 'Julia.'' The resolve was growing stronger. 'Julia.' Her name redirected Lauren elsewhere. It didn't matter that Lauren would not be able to see the movie that was only going to be in the theater for one more day right that instant. Lauren stuck her hands in her jean pockets and trudged home through the small piles of browned oak leaves.
'Julia.' Her name was distracting to Lauren. At work, if she saw her walking around the halls, Lauren would watch her.
Lauren trembled, unlocking her apartment, nearly devastated by the realization that her thoughts repeatedly were independently about Julia. What had surprised her most of any thought: was simply that Julia was ever present in her mind.
This awakening was disturbing and hard to address. And every night, after a day fraught with frustrations with her students, trying to understand her role as an employee, or as a member of such a large collective, Julia's image floated above her, calming her into her dreams. Lauren would close her eyes tight and try to imagine anything else, the whole time wondering, 'Why is it bad for me to see her as an image?' Lauren entered her apartment and locked the door behind her kicking off her shoes.
Lauren settled into bed, her hands behind her head looking up at the white ceiling allowing Julia's image to float above her. And then, equally startling, she saw the image in her mind to lean in and hug her, just like Julia had done on the first day of school. And the face that her shoulder had cradled, it turned, and kissed her neck.
Lauren jolted out of the fantasy. Not so much because it was too real for her mind, but because she realized she had wanted that to happen. 'She'd be my first kiss.' Lauren was a little goofy with the thought. Having been shunned by the boys in high school and again the men in college, mostly because she wasn't interested and mostly because she was afraid of them, Lauren had never been kissed by another person.
'What would it feel like?' she wondered. Lauren moved as if to allow the image of Julia a place next to her on the bed and snuggled up against her as if she had really been there. Julia would idly play with the crease on the white sheet folded against her chest. It brought a coy smile to Lauren's face.
She saw her first kiss like some movie scene. Julia would carefully take her chin in her hand and tip her face just the right direction drawing her close. Their lips would brush softly; Lauren would tentatively lick Julia's lips as Julia's left hand came up at the back of her head. Lauren would guide her hands to draw Julia's body against her rock solid body. Their breasts would smash against each other, as Julia would guide Lauren into the art form of such a deep and wonderful kiss.
Lauren felt a sigh as her eyes closed to the image.
'Okay, this can be a crush.' She conceded, her heart pounding in anticipation. But even her concession was unsettling. More information was needed to convince Lauren that this crush was worth having.
'And a fantasy crush is not exactly like going through the motions. It's just an idea.' She reminded herself. 'A really great idea I wish would come true.' She smirked. Lazily, she stretched and closed her eyes, curling on her side.
However, the next day her distraction of Julia would become much more distressing. Lauren was meandering to her second PE class, taking a longer break than usual mostly to keep her mind from swimming with the confusion that was her math class. She had time to burn: she wasn't needed in the locker room and the routine established by the automated warm-up system the PE teachers used rendered her generally useless for the first fifteen minutes. Heading to a PE class, Lauren glanced across the empty hall, to her surprise, she saw Julia standing outside of her classroom talking on her cell phone.
Lauren didn't bother to wave or be acknowledged, just bent her head down and headed dutifully to her class. Protected by her sunglasses, she kept Julia in the corner of her eye. Inside, she felt light and a smile creep to her lips. Seeing Julia these days did that to her.
Then, Lauren was startled by something that came out of Julia. She giggled, "Oh really?" she asked with the wide smile on her face, lost in her private conversation.
Lauren's heart dropped. 'She's flirting with someone.'
Lauren swallowed hard and headed into PE with determination, pushing down the uncomfortable churning in her stomach. She tried to give herself a little reassurance.
'She is happy, that's what is really important. She told herself.'
Again, her conscience came up as she tossed a basketball to her student. 'She's such a beautiful woman; no one would pass up the chance to date her.'
But no matter what she told herself, it didn't stem the sinking feeling in her heart. The disappointment was such a deep cut, but Lauren forced a generally happy face. Her stomach twisted as she ate lunch, oblivious to the behaviors of her students that she should have curtailed.
As she biked home, she gently reminded herself one very important fact: she did not know what context the giggle was given. It was her own paranoia that automatically leapt to the assumed conclusion. It clearly wasn't an illogic conclusion; she after all, could not pass up a chance to even spend private time with her, if the opportunity existed.
The sob held in her throat. She had happier thoughts to occupy her mind. Dwelling on this unpleasantness that was beyond her control was not what she wanted, especially right now.
'When I'm ready, I'm certain love will find me.' She reasoned with herself, but it still didn't fill the void of curiosity and longing that was beginning to win within herself. Patiently, Lauren pushed away the feeling having associated it with her depression.
'I have so much to be grateful for; I have so much to learn and do.' The mantra calmed her until her eyes grew heavy and she could no longer feel her emotions protesting against the demand for sleep.
In her own room, Julia sat up as the sun barely started to scratch at the sky's dark colors. She could no longer sleep. She instead hugged her legs and watched as the sun softened the sky's colors. First the hazy hues of blue and purple, and the clouds turned to grey and pink from the stringy white wisps.
And as she looked through her window, she wondered if Lauren was up already. Lauren looked very different than the child she had remembered. There was definitely more physical weight, but what was more gratifying was more confidence from Lauren.
The child she remembered was hardly a shell of a person. Lauren had struggled so hard, and she was so close to losing herself. Even as a child, she was tormented by a series of demons, her family her struggles with coming to terms with a new understanding of perfection and the rush of hormones. Lauren reached a philosophical and existential level much sooner than her peers. It was moderately frustrating to watch her struggle because Lauren was reaching so much beyond herself before she really had an ability to really understand the questions that she was posing.
But Lauren had trusted her almost as an idol. Even when circumstances were the bleakest for Lauren, Lauren faithfully did her class work and homework without a moment of a whimper. But the thoughts that had been encompassing Lauren whenever school was not a focus began to hamper her as she tried to reach to an adulthood that would not have been possible at such a young age.
Julia's thoughts quickly stretched away from the world that would have destroyed Lauren.
'Lauren is still here.' She reminded herself gratefully and hugged her knees harder.
But something in a recent memory made Julia think things had not quite reached their pinnacle. 'Dating hasn't happened of any gender.' The memory had floated in front of Julia causing her brow to furrow. The comment was awkward even for Lauren. Lauren had come to a place where she understood that she was different, but not necessarily ready to question.
'Has she decided to come out? Is she ready? Is she still questioning?' Julia wondered if she was the right person to help Lauren find this path for herself. Without hesitation, Julia wanted to be the one who Lauren came to with questions. It would complete the circle that had begun so long ago. And she would undeniably develop a friendship.
It felt natural that Lauren would lean to her; Julia did not want to do anything to discourage it. After all, her own coming out had only been five years ago. Certainly things hadn't changed that much in the community in terms of accepting non-straight people. She used that term because it fully enveloped the umbrella better than the multi-letter acronyms used by most organizations. The letters did nothing to make people feel less uncomfortable, but she wasn't going make any apologies for being a lesbian.
Julia's heart quickened at the thought of being with Lauren watching her discover her own sexual identity. Unlike the other friends she had in the gay community, something about Lauren was different. Sure, Julia had tried to date other women and their break ups had been mostly amicable. But no one had been able to reach her. Coming out had been one thing, being divorced was certainly another, but dating a woman and feeling a connection for life had been illusive. Julia attributed that fact to not wanting just anyone to be a stepparent to her son, but that was not the most important consideration when she was dating.
Julia wanted more than sex, endless throes of passion, or even someone to be at a pride rally with. Julia wanted a partner. It wasn't hard to find one if you were a lesbian. Most women were naturally interested in a long-term commitment. Especially since most had children already. But to consider someone who was innocent of understanding in a relationship, those deeper connections were missing in Julia's opinion.
'She's so innocent.' Julia's reflection about Lauren startled her.
Certainly innocence was part of Lauren's character. Having gone so long without meeting someone who had not spent a long time questioning himself or herself, who could possibly be so unsure made Lauren physically and emotionally desirable.
'But she is quite fragile.' Julia conceded. Recognizing Lauren as questioning was one thing, but even someone who was questioning could realize that they never needed to question their direction.
Julia pushed that thought out of her mind, not knowing why she felt so strongly if Lauren had found her answer to her questioning mind to be that she was straight. Julia knew that Lauren could not possibly be straight.
Lauren's confidence was an important factor in her ability to begin questioning, but anything could scare her. Julia knew that the fear instilled in Lauren through her parent's rigid discipline had left its scar. Confidence could easily be mistaken for bravado, especially when reaching the boundaries of one's sexual identity and preference.
As Julia's alarm shrieked the reminder that Julia should be up and about, Julia stretched and then paused for a moment in prayer, her eyes locked on one of the last visible stars in the sky. 'Please let Lauren come to me when she's ready to find out. I held her trust before; I would like to have it again as she finds this path for herself.'
Julia never questioned at that moment whether or not it was a good idea to want to place herself in the supportive mentoring role for Lauren. It was a natural progression for her. Julia's heart soared at the thought of being able to watch Lauren take on this very difficult change in her life. She wanted to see Lauren grow, something she had missed out on when Lauren had moved on from the middle school.