Title: The Ultimate What If
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 30 December 2008
Word Count: 1395
Summary: The ultimate what if...
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Disclaimer: Original characters and situations created and owned by the author.
The Ultimate What If
Choices . . . something we make every day. Some choices we make without even realizing it, like opening our eyes and getting out of bed. Some choices are easy to make, like saying yes to free ice cream. Other choices are difficult to make and cause you to take a hard look at your options (if you really have any). Then there are the choices you didn't make, the ones that taunt you with what ifs. I've made a few of those in my life, but there's one that continues to haunt me even though it's been more than thirty years.
This story doesn't start at the moment of the choice. It starts a few years later when I first realized that I actually had a choice to make. Are you confused yet? Well, if you're curious enough to continue, I hope to clear up any confusion and perhaps even provide a somewhat entertaining story.
When I think back on my life as it applies to my sexual orientation I can hardly believe that it took me twenty years to figure out that I am a lesbian. I somehow managed to duck a ridiculous number of clue-by-fours aimed right at my head. I even had a high school classmate write something in my yearbook that proved that she knew I was gay and that I didn't . . . at least not yet. I really wish she had been more forthcoming, but I guess the times were a bit different in the seventies.
I'm not really sure how it happened that I was reading my high school yearbooks some five years after graduating. I must have come upon them while cleaning out a closet or something, which somehow seems ironic. But there I was, turning the pages and remembering some of the best years of my life. My yearbooks were all chock full of the standard it was great to know yous, best of lucks, KITs . . . but amidst the usual fair was a handful of more personal - even intimate messages that just didn't ping my gaydar at the time. And so it was, some five years after graduation and three years after realizing that I was a lesbian, that I found myself reading the adolescent scribblings of those who walked the hallowed halls of my high school between 1974 and 1978.There were quite a few references to Fruits and Nuts class (Home Economics) and how I got the nun to call a classmate Foxy. One classmate wrote that if she saw me selling portraits on the boardwalk for a quarter she would have hers painted. I even had a teacher write the following:
Dear Pest, This year has been a unique and interesting experience. Your presence in class has left an indelible mark on my mind - I hope I can recover.
I'd gotten through my freshman and sophomore books and was starting my junior one when the first truly intimate message appeared:
I would have never believed that I could get as close to a person in so short a time as I did to you. You are a very special person who has a lot to give. Promise me that you will continue to do so. It's hard to write what you feel. It never turns out the way you want it to. But if you remember New York, you'll understand this better. Stay as nice as you are and keep in touch . . .
Remember New York? New York was where we took our Art Class trip that year, and we were all so excited about it. Even the trip up was eventful when one of the girls yelled that there was a guy in a pick up whacking off. Of course the entire bus shifted to that side to try and get a glimpse of the idiot. Thankfully the bus didn't tip over and our lovely art teacher managed to get us all back in our seats. When we finally arrived, safe and sound, we spent the day visiting museums both large and small and had an amazing time.
It could have been because it was a long day, or perhaps it was the bottle of whisky being passed around, or maybe it was the joint, but the trip home was a bit more mellow. One of my classmates and I started singing and managed some decent harmonizing for a while. When the singing ended and I got up to return to my seat I was stopped by Jeanne, a senior classmate. She wanted me to keep singing and, since the seat next to her was occupied, proceeded to pull me onto her lap. Her seat mate didn't seem to mind, in fact she was the author of the note mentioned above. So there I was, sitting on Jeanne's lap and singing in her ear for the rest of the trip home.
Now before I continue, let me backtrack a bit to the first day I laid eyes on Jeanne. It was the beginning of my Junior year and the first day of Art class. As the room was filling, I greeted all of the girls that had been in class with me for the previous two years - and then she came in - a tall, beautiful redhead that I'd never seen before. For some reason we didn't get along very well at first, and were constantly trading barbs with each other. Slowly we managed to get to know each other a bit better and started to develop a friendship that grew as the year progressed. And so it was that I really didn't think too much about her pulling me into her lap so I could sing to her. It also didn't phase me when I stayed there for the rest of the trip just talking with her and her seat mate. I didn't think twice about declining her offer to give me a ride home since my father was there to pick me up. I simply thanked her and went on my way.
Are you starting to see where I'm going with this?
Clueless much? Even though I was one of the cool kids who hung out with upperclassmen and was a jokester in class who still managed to get very good grades, I was incredibly naive when it came to my sexuality. All my friends had boyfriends and so I had boyfriends, even though I couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about. No, I'm not kidding, I know it's incredibly cliché but it's true. I've kissed a fair number of guys in my youth and none of them compared to the first girl I kissed. And no, it wasn't Jeanne.
Speaking of the gorgeous redhead (there's a couple of amazing pictures of her in my yearbook that to this day make me want to cry), I have to say she did her best to let me know how she felt about me. And so without further adieu I give you the largest clue of all, her entry in my Junior yearbook.
If words could convey true feelings clearly - I'd write you a book - since I can't make myself completely clear I'd just like to say I have very special feelings for you and our friendship - and I really am glad I've had the opportunity to share some love, some laughs, a few serious times - but very fond memories - I wish you true love and contentment. Thank you. I love you! Jeanne
Clueless much? Yes, she did underline completely and very, she even included her phone number - but did I call it? Nope, not me. Have I been kicking myself and banging my head against the wall? You betcha! Did I try to find her? Yep, I called the number, Googled her name, I even joined one of those classmate sites, but no joy. It's not like I've spent the last thirty years pining over what might have been, in fact I've had some very lovely relationships over that time. But every time I find myself single (which has been a lot lately) I also find myself wondering what if about Jeanne. How would my life today be different if I had understood and reciprocated Jeanne's feelings? Would we still be together? What would our life have been like? But there is no going back, we don't get do-overs, all we get are what ifs...