There’s a Yiddish proverb: Man plans and God laughs. You can set an intention or hold an expectation for an experience but come out of it learning an unimaginable lesson.
This weekend, I traveled to Richmond, Virginia, which is the capital of Virginia and one of the oldest towns in the USA. The first thing I noticed was the Federal and Washingtonian style of the town. The energy is hip and unique and the businesses reflect that attitude. There is a very large university (Virginia Commonweath U) in the middle of the city so it feels cerebral and young. There are a ton of specialty shops and small businesses which was very pleasing as I am anti-corporate kind of chick. At one day at sunset, we went on a long walk in and around Belle Isle at the James River. It was stunning to say the least.
My friend, Jen*, picked me up and we were just thrilled to see each other. She’s attractive, intelligent, and has a little bit of male energy which I’ve been drawn to since the first day I met her.
The back story on our relationship starts Freshman year of university (not VCU). We lived on the same dormitory floor in thematic housing and shared a majority of the same courses. The year before (my senior year of high school) I was in my first gay romantic relationship with another student. At the time, I was very curious about this part of my sexuality and I had ‘gaydar,’ I could feel gay energy in other girls. When I arrived to university I met Jen on my dorm floor and I could immediately sense her male energy and suspected she was gay. Jen had no idea what I was talking about.
Jen tells me that one of the first things we did was go to my dorm room and I encouraged (more forced) her take a random online “Are You Gay?” quiz. She did not have any experience with women at the time and didn’t think about being gay, but nonetheless, I ignited a curiosity in her. We became very good friends. For our junior year, we decided to live together in an apartment off campus with another girl, Ann, who also lived on the same dorm floor in Freshman year and who happened to date both sexes.
When we moved in, I was shocked to discover Jen was in a serious relationship with a guy. I was definitely holding an expectation that Jen and I would spend more time together exploring our sexuality and being close friends. I didn’t have any romantic expectations but I knew that we had some sexual tension. I felt hurt when she became consumed in this relationship and did not have energy to spend on ours. She didn’t seem happy. There were many times when I wanted to pull her aside and say “aren’t you discovering that you are gay? Why are you in this relationship?” But I was very wise to stay out of it and allow her to take her own journey. Nonetheless, I continued to love her dearly.
During the time period we lived together, I became very depressed and ended up moving out of our apartment rental lease early to move in with my boyfriend (now husband). Jen and I sort of lost touch, especially after I got married and had children. I did find out that after 3 years, she broke off the relationship with the man, and started to date women. By that time, I had not longer considered myself gay because I had been in a couple of heterosexual relationships since Freshman year. I chalked my homosexual vibes off as an “experimental phase.”
A couple of years ago, when I started codependency recovery, I started working on surrounding myself with people that loved me – a network of support. Jen was one of the people that wholly accepted me for who I was. I felt I could be myself with her and that was a rare friendship for me. I started communication with her again and made an effort to maintain the relationship. We agreed to see each other last summer when my family and I vacationed in Virginia. It had been 11 years since I saw her and we sat in a restaurant and spoke for hours. The energy between us was pure love. I told her how dysfunctional my life had been and how I was JUST learning how to be healthy and recover. She told me about her life, her girlfriends and how she was interested in metaphysics (this was the inspiration that got me into metaphysics as well). There was an ember of sexual tension still there but we did not bring it up. We just gave each other a lot of love and went off on our ways.
The following year, we talked on the phone and texted here and there. A few months ago, I received some texts from Jen and she wrote: (1) that I was the first girl she ever fell in love with and (2) that she wondered what it would be like to make love to me. I responded with gratefulness and expressed the same curiosity towards her. But I hadn’t thought about women in that kind of way for so long. It kind of reignited an excitement in me but I shooed the feeling away. We sort of swept it under the rug after that because we were both in relationships.
For this summer we planned I would visit her and her live-in girlfriend, Kay, in Richmond for the weekend. I was looking forward to it and sort of boxed and labeled it the way I wrote in my original post About to Get Lost & Explore. I was just excited to see her and Ann was going to come up for a few hours as well. I labeled it: college roommate reunion. That’s what I told everyone.
I initially spent a lot time with Jen and Kay which was very pleasant. They are an attractive couple and Kay is clearly ‘in love’ with Jen. Being so close to Jen, I know about the issues within the relationship and I feel I came at an awkward transition time for them. Nonetheless, the conversations seamlessly flowed and we had a grand time.
On the full day that I stayed, I started building anxiety. I rarely drink alcohol, but on this particular day, I had been drinking since the mimosas at brunch to the beer at midnight with some tequila in between. I definitely wanted to speak to Jen about the revealing texts but was waiting for the right time. The time came when Kay had to go to work for for a few hours. It was initially very uncomfortable to bring it up because I was out of my home (my comfort zone) and in their territory, but I did. I was relieved that she was very open to communicating with me about it. We acknowledged the sexual tension and romantic curiosity that we’ve always had for each other, the reasons for the distance between us the time we moved in together, our current relationships, etc, etc. Everything was laid out on the table. It was cathartic.
Later, we reunited with Kay and headed out for dinner and then went to a gay bar. I hadn’t been a gay bar for 10+ years. There was one thing I tried to convince myself of before I arrived in Richmond: that I was going to behave in a platonic way towards other people, that I was in a relationship that was strained from my infidelities (among many other things) and could not afford to bring out my sexy hat. Well, remember that Yiddish proverb? I was on the dance floor and an attractive hot girl was dancing next to me. Next thing you know, we are dancing together the entire night and playing tongue hockey. It was so natural and unforced. These emotions that I haven’t felt from over a decade (when I was in my gay romantic relationships) were flooding out of the dark hole they had been hiding in.
At the end of the night, on our way back home, Jen (who was very intoxicated; as I) began expressing her feelings of envy over my connection with other women. She was happy for me, she just wanted it to be her. All inhibition was gone. Kay was very angry because Jen was so intoxicated and resisting her need for attachment at the club, Jen was ignited from watching me interact with other women, and I was processing all those dormant feelings that came into the light. So Kay went to bed and Jen and I stayed up to hydrate and wait for sobriety. In a moment of eye contact, we naturally began to physically act out our feelings for each other…kissing sporadically throughout the night. It eventually stopped because we were both feeling guilty.
The next (really, the same) morning, we had a chance to talk alone again and decided that we enjoyed each other and we would continue our friendship since we were in relationships. However, we played the “what if we were both single” game. The conversation made me realize that the gay part of me was never an “experimental phase” and that it has always just been a part of me. I forgot the way I feel when I’m with women. I truly feel joy. I don’t like to define my sexuality – I feel like sexuality is a fingerprint and unique for every human so I choose not to say what my orientation is. I just know that I will never again restrict myself to to one gender. It’s been uncomfortable to think about it in the past but I am ready to face the fears I have about my own sexuality. This trip triggered it.
If you have been following me, then you know that dysfunction is rampant in the sex and love categories of my life. As I continue to discover myself and seek this spiritual path, I must open myself up to the truth no matter how uncomfortable I feel or how uncomfortable other people feel about it. This weekend’s lesson involved finding a huge missing piece to my sexuality puzzle. I’m so grateful and will be thinking about it as I continue my journey.
Thank you for listening.
*All names changed.