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  • Thirteen was an important age for me. I became a vegetarian, I started questioning religion and quit going to church, and I first realized how I thought about other girls wasn't "normal." And I met the most entrancing girl, even though that wasn't significant at the time. Her twin brother was the first boy I'd ever gone on a date with, insomuch as thirteen-year-olds can "date." The first time I went to their house, I met her and she was running around unabashedly, dressed like she was going to be lying in the sun despite the already-chilly fall weather, and talking loudly about anything that crossed her mind (none of those things ever changed in all the years I knew her). There was something about how carefree and animated she was the sucked me in that day. I only saw her when I went to visit her brother, but after a few months that ended.

    It wasn't until my freshman year of high school that I actually got to spend any significant amount of time around her. I'd stayed good friends with her twin brother, and we were all a part of the same group of friends who knew each other from orchestra. At the homecoming dance that fall, I stood around awkwardly, unsure what to do as I wasn't a dancer, but I watched her in that cute, short dress dancing away. I'd never really looked at her before, I mean, actually looked at every part of her. She was a few inches taller than me, slender, and I loved the way her collarbones stuck out and her frame seemed a bit jaunty and her knees knobby. She had short, light-brown hair and a dark brown birthmark underneath her chin, off to the side. She never went out of her way to do her hair, I can count the number of times I saw her wear makeup on one hand, and her clothes always seemed to be haphazardly thrown on, but she looked gorgeous every single day. That night, her legs were endless, amazing, and I wasn't sure why I kept staring at her.

    For the last few years, I had been going to a week-long camp for young musicians at one of the more prestigious schools among the musically-inclined in the Midwest. I went with several friends from orchestra, and the summer after my freshman year of high school I roomed with her. Just us, as we were the only girls of our group of friends that made it that summer. I got to spend a lot of time alone with her. There was one night we were walking back to the dorms from one of the nightly performances and we got caught in the rain. We both loved rain, so we walked as slow as we could, half-dancing while other kids ran past us to find shelter. I think that was the moment it clicked for me, that I wanted her. Walking through the rain, the air hot and thick around us, dripping water as we sploshed through the building, peeling our clothes off in our room... she'd strip down to her skivvies every night to sleep and was the opposite of shy. I remember that night, even though she lying maybe only eight feet away from me, I touched myself and thought about how much I would rather climb into her bunk and cover her in kisses. It's painful to have such a physical reaction to someone and not be able to do anything about it.

    I got to see her half-naked plenty more times during high school, between choir, where we donned long, heavy velvet robes and most girls wore their undergarments and tights underneath and nothing else, and our orchestra trip our junior year of high school, where there were a few hurried instances of putting curtains up half-way through the bus to divide girls and boys as we all ripped our clothes off at lightning speed to get changed for a performance or into nicer evening clothes. I never looked at any other girl the way I did her, and it was torture for my confused teenage mind.

    I've since sorted out what attracts me to women and what attracts me to men, six years after high school ended. Other than her, I've only ever been attracted to women physically, never mentally. The most seductive quality in the world, to me, is a certain kind of bantering wit. If someone can outwit me and trip me up on my words, I'm theirs forever. Usually older men have perfected this, and that explains why I fell for so many of my teachers and co-workers, but it's a quality I seem to find in men somewhat often, and women never. She had this. She could banter with me for hours, spinning more and more elaborate stories. She had fantastic one-liners and deprecating quips and could quote Monty Python all day long. She was thoughtful and intelligent and was in charge of her own show, too. Perfect.

    The timeline of things has become somewhat muddled in my mind, but specific moments stick out very clearly and there were two that crushed me.

    In the first, my friends and I used to go to my best friend's farm and play a sort of hide-and-seek and tag hybrid when it was pitch black outside, which was incredibly fun and led to many hushed conversations depending how good you were at the game. Once, my best friend and I were hiding behind one of the sheds, and he was telling me about how much of a crush he had on her, why he thought they would be great together, all the things about her that he liked. It crushed me, because I didn't know what to say other than play along, even though inside I was screaming that I wanted her to be mine, but I couldn't say so because in a small town, a girl saying something like that about another girl is a problem.

    The second time I was crushed was far worse. She and I had been flirting for years. I assumed it was mock-flirting on her end, though part of me secretly hoped it wasn't anyway. We'd been holding hands at various times for years by then, too, which had started as a way to make the small-town conservatives uncomfortable and have the opportunity to call out bigotry. At our homecoming dance that year, I'd convinced her to slow dance with me. I placed my shaky hands on her hips and looked into her eyes, and it hurt because I was afraid to do anything else. One day, in front of all our friends, she flat-out said she was interested in being with another girl at some point, some day, just to try it and see what would happen. God, I wanted to drag her to the back of the bus and pin her down right then. But slowly, carefully, I tried to charm her in earnest. That was, until she started dating a guy I'd grown up with and completely crushed my hopes of being with her. I felt betrayed, in a way, because she was supposed to want to be with a girl, not a guy. I'd always pitted myself against guys while growing up to see who was "better," and it would drive me insane if they ever came ahead of me in any of my imagined categories, but this one in particular, though we were usually on good terms, I never saw as competition in anything which is what made them dating all that much more infuriating. They didn't stay together long, of course, but by that point I'd come to terms with knowing I'd never have her.

    After we graduated high school, she seemed to disappear off the planet. She and her twin brother went to the same college where I spent a week of my summer trying to accept how much I wanted this girl. I'm sure she's doing fantastically well, off on a million adventures in places I'll never have the money to visit, spreading her joy for life to everyone she happens upon.

    When I fall for someone, I'm completely devoted to them and I fall hard, but sometimes the little nagging thought that I've never actually had the chance to be with a girl pops into my head. I sometimes think I'd have liked to been able to peel off a girl's clothes and bury myself between her legs and hear her moan as she wraps her fingers in my hair, but since that's only a physical wanting, it seems so empty and pointless. She was the only girl I've ever fallen for, and ten years after I first met her, I hope she's the only girl I'll ever fall for, because I think I'd like to keep her tucked away in my mind as a wild and untouchable force, separate from my real, not imagined, relationships.
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