Memories

by Katie Cuer, , March 19, 2009

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Memories to me are like waves in the ocean: they topple over each other washing away the remnants of the last. This, as you can very well imagine, makes it exceedingly hard to recall bits and pieces of my past; though I never really sat down and tried to dig them up and recreate life in them as I am doing at this moment. I do have a few events that stick out much like the thorns of a beautiful rose bush.

My birth was a symbol, foreshadowing I guess you could say, what my life would become: ass backwards. That's right, I was breach. God love my mother. This was certainly not the "normal" way one should enter the world, but then again no one accused me of being such an inauspicious thing. So, there I was. There it was; the undeniable proof that I was a girl staring everyone in that hospital room in the face. I however took more convincing than mere anatomy. I have never identified myself as female. I check off the box with the "f" but that's as far as I go. Everything that I have found interest in is seen as masculine: sports, action figures, playing in the dirt, and of course, girls.

There are spurts here and there; memories that trickle in and filter out, sometimes leaving me with the bitter taste of sorrow or the sweet victory of triumph. I view my life in three parts: elementary (the golden years); post-elementary (the fiery pits of hell); and independence day (the enlightenment).

Everyone was equal in elementary school, relatively speaking, when it came to the physical outer shell; more importantly, it didn't matter. Life was good for me. There were no monstrosities protruding from my chest and I wasn't expected to play a role I felt I wasn't born for. Those carefree days consisted of playing football, kickball, GI Joes, hide-n-seek, teenage mutant ninja turtles, making forts, and getting good grades. I once had the audacity to try and play with some of my girlfriends at recess and I was swarmed with pleas from the boys begging me to join the game of kickball they were starting.
I always knew what I was but that never stopped me from participating in activities that were reserved for the opposite sex. One such activity, however, did throw me for a loop: peeing. One afternoon day my friends and I were playing something boyish (the actual activity escapes me) when someone got the idea that we all should urinate behind one of our neighbor's sheds. That was the first time I ever felt out of place: an outcast that didn't belong. That was the first time gender and anatomy became an issue forced into the reality of what I was. As if being female was some type of hideous disease that I'd never be cured of.

Looming on my horizon was the harsh reality that I was doomed to live a life that I couldn't understand was given to me? My gender and sexuality consumed me for years after that spanning from sixth grade throughout high school. I struggled with my sexual identity and so did those around me who had to watch.

It was a cold day; very cold. Not cold in the wintery sense, but the way the inside of my body felt. I was in my living room sitting on my couch placed on the far wall across from the front door. The couch I believe was brown and plump. One of those couches that swallowed you whole though that day it didn't give me the warm, comfy feeling it once had. The walls were new-age wood paneling with nothing on them but a basic black and white clock that hung over the couch. The carpet was just installed so it had not yet gotten the wear-pattern that would eventually over grow it. It was a plush brown carpet that resembled a field of freshly dug dirt; soft, untouched, new. My mother was sitting on the arm of our un-matching light pink love seat. We always got the hand-me down furniture from my grandparents so we could spend our money on things like record deals and movie equipment for my dad that would ultimately rust in the basement. Our house and it didn't matter which room, bore resemblance to a cave; dark, dry and cold. The few lights that we did have were nothing more than nightlights jacked up on a can of Red Bull. On the wall to the left of the couch was our huge overgrown fireplace and to either side of it were windows not much bigger than a junior size basketball hoop backboard; not much light was let in.

The tears streamed down my face as I tried to divert all eye contact with my mother. Every muscle fiber in my body was on high alert. My heart felt like it was being squeezed by the massive forearms of the Incredible Hulk. My head felt like the inner workings of a jackhammer and my eyes were so swollen and red that I looked like a newborn. I had my feet resting underneath my rear and my elbows were surrounding my knees with my hands hiding what I could of my crimson, puffy face. I found shelter in an oversized gray hooded sweatshirt and a pair of my dad's navy blue sweatpants. I fit in exceptionally with the interior d├ęcor; drab. Most of my head was covered in dark, dark brown hair no longer than three quarters of an inch; the remaining areas were for me to exhibit what a lovely scalp I possessed. (On school days, I would fill these areas in with either a black sharpie or my mother's mascara).

Through the spaces of my fingers I would catch a few glimpses of my mom. She had this look of terrified confusion. Her arms were as stiff as the wood beams that held our house up with her hands on her knees keeping her upper body from collapsing. This made her appear tense as it scrunched in her shoulders and rounded her back. Her eyes were like holes: unknowing, drowning in her thoughts of me and what to do next. We exchanged dialogue:

"Kate, what's wrong?"

Through my tears and gasps for air came out, "what's the worse...thing in the...world you...can think of?"

"Umm...you're in love with your sister?"

"Oh my gosh mom! No! But you're close."

This statement was followed by what seemed to be a decade long pause as I tried to formulate my thoughts into one coherent sentence. I mean, if that was the worst my mother could come up with than I guess what I had to reveal wasn't so bad after all.

"I have a crush on Coco from SWV."

The sound that came out of my mother's body astonished me. As the creases on her forehead that were once filled with panic and pain began to disappear, the corners of her once distressed mouth began to turn up. Her ridged arms became pliable threads of muscle and the hands that once gripped her knees to maintain her posture were now placed over her heart.

"Is...that...all?!" She managed to squeeze out in between her hysterical, relieved
laughter."

My twelve year old mind could not process this reaction. I was numb yet comforted. To me, this was the worst thing anyone could be: homosexual. My mother in later years told me that her reaction was due to the fact that she was waiting for me to say I did not want to be a girl and that they had an issue of gender and sexuality rather than just sexuality; something she wasn't prepared to deal with at the time. There was always a hint in the back of her mind that I was a lesbian and she worried more about the turmoil that I would go through more than anything. She knew what kind of world we lived in and how unforgiving it can be to differences. That was the beginning of my long recovery and discovery of what it meant to be me.



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