In my second year of college, at the end of a disastrous relationship - my boyfriend had begun to stalk me, and things had NOT been fun - I decided to be a wild child. I’d always been something of a “good girl” - good at studies, plenty of crushes but no boyfriends all through school, not much of a rebellious teen either. I figured at the end of that relationship that it had perhaps been my “niceness” that had allowed the boy to push me into a corner. So, time to NOT be so nice any longer, to let go of my inhibitions, and so on and so forth. Now, how to go about it?
I had not, at that point, developed much affection for alcohol. And my sole vice - cigarettes - was something I’d junked with the stalker-boyfriend. And since I didn’t want any cigarette-shaped reminders in my fingers, pot was not going to be road to wildness, my salvation from goody-two-shoed-ness. Plus geek at heart that I was (and still am), I wasn’t quite ready to chuck those books and become a degenerate college dropout. Coupled with that fear of being “too nice” forever was the fear of being unemployed forever. So what WAS I going to do? I approached my dilemma the same way I’d approach Sudoku puzzles: made notes on a scrap of paper, with scribbles on the margin, ruling out whatever proved unfeasible.
And then, after a week of thinking, I came up with the perfect solution: I was going to explore my sexuality! Included in the list of things that the ex had done to creep me out was a rumour he’d spread among my classmates: that I had dumped him because I was a lesbian. Though I’d never been attracted to women, I’ve always had a healthy sexual curiosity. So bi-curiosity seemed to fit the bill quite perfectly. No need to worry about mucking up my nervous system, no risk of failing my classes - instead, the potential for intimacy with a wider pool of candidates.
It wasn’t that I just decided to randomly start hitting on women, of course. I had no physical “type”, so to speak - I liked my boys in all shapes and sizes. What really turned me on was intelligence, the potential for sparkling conversation, a healthy debate. So a girl didn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities either. And I met just the right girl. A friend of a friend I’d met via Facebook, and we got along like a house on fire online. As it turned out, she was going to be visiting my hometown on vacation, and Ruhi, the friend in between, was planning plenty of get-togethers for her entertainment.
Faiza and I met in person - and the chemistry was instantaneous. We didn’t like the same things always, but we had so much fun arguing about our widely divergent perspectives. And there were moments. Moments when it felt like no one else existed, when we’d talk to each other and the rest of the world would turn into white noise. Our hands didn’t brush accidentally, but who knew what would happen if we touched each other with intent, with deliberation?! Two drinks down at a party (I was a complete lightweight, yes), we actually talked about it. She was interested too. And willing to explore.
Ruhi was planning a weekend getaway at her dad’s farmhouse in the suburbs, and obviously Faiza and I were both invited. What a perfect, perfect situation. While everyone else who was going made up lists of how much alcohol and other contraband substances needed to be carried with us, and what were we going to eat while everyone got stoned and drunk, Faiza and I started messaging each other about our bodies. How we imagined things would feel. It was a fortnight of slow-burn.
We reached the farmhouse. Various kinds of fun and games ensued. And Faiza and I just snuck off the very first evening, up onto the terrace, away from the splashing group by the poolside. We wanted privacy.
There, under the stars, with the sound of laughter floating up from the grounds, we kissed. Hesitant, fingers entwined, gentle. And slowly moving from tentative to intense. It was lovely. And it left me feeling anything but aroused. Affectionate, yes. Sexual, no.
When we broke apart, finally, we smiled at each other, awkwardness creeping into our manner for the first time since we’d started speaking. While she wanted to try it again, I had come to the stone-cold realization that I was utterly and irrevocably straight. Not a shred of latent lesbianism in me - except in my imagination.
After a few failed attempts at conversation, we went and rejoined the others. We didn’t talk for the rest of the night, or much through the rest of the weekend. We ate and drank with everyone else, no more just-the-two-of-us moments.
On our way back, though, we spoke. I told her - with an enormous degree of embarrassment - that I'd realized I wasn't the slightest bit gay. After all, I’d been the one who’d kind of initiated this, and I felt guilty about saying that it would go nowhere for me. Faiza smiled - a shy yet confident smile that reminded me why I’d even thought about doing this in the first place. She told me that it was okay, she’d liked it very much and would have loved for there to be more - and that even though she’d never been with a girl before, it was very likely that she would give it a shot in the future. It was unfortunate that it wouldn’t be with me, but not the end of the world. And that it was all fine. After all, it had been a journey of self-discovery - even if the results for the both of us had been very different.
Years have passed. She and I kept in touch for a few months, and then our friendship kind of lost steam. She’s married now (to a boy!) and Facebook tells me they’re very happy together. I’m glad for her - that fierceness of her mind, and the gentleness of her nature - she deserves someone very special indeed, and looks like she’s found that person.
As for me, and my further adventures in wildness… Well, those are stories for another time.
* Names changed to protect privacy.
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