My lover strokes my face and melts my heart as she does.
I sit next to her on the couch. She shifts her tiny body around and scoops me in with the strength of a lumberjack—and I have never felt so wanted and loved.
Her soft lips on my neck are the stuff of which dreams are made, and I wonder how I can also feel so…afraid.
I’m terrified to love this, to enjoy this, to hope that it lasts.
How can I—an almost 49-year-old mother of eight kids, with an absolutely average divorced, single mom existence—get to have this? What if it’s “too soon?” Too soon for what I think? To be loved by someone for the first time in my life?
I’m terrified, but deliciously so.
What is it to love and know someone who is giving you their true self? I have no idea; it’s new and exciting and terrifying because I know this person, but I don’t know this person.
The more I sit with her and touch her and love her the more I want to know her. And rather than be bombarded with information designed to make me love someone—force me to love someone, marry someone—I feel like every encounter with her…her…is like tugging gently at small threads in a sweater. Sometimes the threads unravel fully, and sometimes they stop at cross-sections.
Sometimes the threads each of us are tugging at gently, at the same time, intersect. The more you unravel those sticky ones—the ones still stuck on knots or stuck inside other threads—the more they intersect, the more you start to realize you have all of the makings for a whole new sweater.
The unraveled threads sit in a pile before you, but maybe you lay them out nicely and smooth them out a bit and soften them, so they can be knit in with new yarn, and they create a whole new fabric—whose pattern and design are completely different than anything else at all.
I feel like I’m crafting this fabric blind. With my eyes closed. No pattern to follow. I don’t know what it’s supposed to look like, and that bothers me. I like to know what it’s supposed to look like first. I can play the piano, but I can’t compose music. I can’t make it up. But I can play well—as long as I know what it’s supposed to sound like.
So what is this fabric supposed to look like? I have no idea. What is it going to look like? I don’t know, but I have a feeling it’s going to be awesome. If I can trust enough to just let it emerge.
I never gave my sexuality or sexual orientation much thought—it wasn’t something we ever talked about when I was a kid.
I don’t remember anyone really being gay in my life or my world or my school. I met one friend who was gay during my time at camp, and he was older. We hung out together a lot, and I just would ask him questions about what it was like occasionally. But I never thought of it as an option. No one offered me the chance to say, “I prefer girls.” Or even, “I definitely liked guys.” I also didn’t seek a chance to choose.
I didn’t know I was allowed to have a preference. What turned me on sexually was not the same, I thought, as how I was supposed to live.
I was a sexual kid. Probably more so than I should have been (at least by society’s standards), and I explored from a young age. I learned early what turned me on, and I learned that I liked exploring that with others. I explored with both guys and girls until I was told I was too old to be exploring with girls anymore.
“What do you mean?” I asked my friend—and fellow explorer.
“Well, we can’t do this forever,” she said. “Now, we have to find guys and be normal.”
And I never gave it a second thought. Oh. So that was just silly fun—didn’t mean anything—and now we move on to boys.
Practice if you will.
Never mind that I never once found a male body attractive in a sexual way—just more in an admiring an Adonis kind of way. I find men beautiful. But that wasn’t why I slept with them. I slept with them because I loved sex, and I loved being touched, and I didn’t know that I was allowed to have that with women.
By the time I realized it (well into my 30s) that I was likely bisexual (or so I assumed), even though I told my friends I wished I wasn’t heterosexual but still purported to be vehemently heterosexual, I figured it didn’t matter because I was married. So what went on in my head sexually, still went on, and who had to know but me?
What was the sense in coming out into a heterosexual relationship I intended to stay in? I confessed to my husband that I might lean both ways, and the repercussions were severe enough to make me never want to mention it again. So my secret fantasy life just continued, and my normal life remained the same. I remember often saying to myself, “Well, he doesn’t ever have to know what I think about. He can’t see into my brain,” even if he was watching my every move.
By the time I realized I may have wanted to explore an alternative sexuality scenario, I was 15-20 years into a bad marriage and raising four, then six, then eight kids, all homeschooled at one point, working full-time, trying to pursue my own dreams, and truthfully, not concerned about sex except what I could use to excite myself for 10 minutes in a shower (if we had a shower).
I never considered cheating or exploring outside my marriage. It’s just not who I am. So I just went with that and chose to be happy with what I had instead of what might have been.
You can survive a long time on clichés and sentiment. But you can’t really live.
After it was evident that my husband and I were going to divorce, I started to date. And I opened up my profile at one point to men and women—to see what might happen. I did not have an epiphany of the sort that said, “He’s gone! Now I can be gay!” It still felt a little strange to think of myself that way. But I wanted to know for sure. What began was a true adventure in every sense of the word—and I don’t just mean sexually. Naughty reader!
I started to date without boundaries. I decided that if I hit it off with a person, online—because kids and then COVID-19—I would date them, no matter their age (except I drew the line at anyone at or younger than my oldest child), sexual orientation (as long as it included women), gender, or whatever. I did have other needs as far as being active and other things, but I wanted to be as open as possible. I did draw the line at Trump voters.
It was an interesting time.
I chatted with a lot of people. I dated probably three people with serious intentions, and the rest were either potential friends with benefits, hookups, or just dates that weren’t going anywhere. Two of the three almost serious people were men, strictly because I liked them and had fun with them. In those cases, the chemistry wasn’t great. In fact, it was then that I started to realize that none of the chemistry with men was great in a romantic or sexual way.
I’ll pause my dating story for a moment to explain this:
I used to joke that I was my father’s only son. There were three of us girls, and I was the one who played baseball to please him. He bought me football jerseys and baseball hats and for the first seven years of my life, before my sisters were born, I was treated like my dad’s buddy. His “boy.” We worked in the woodshop together. I grabbed him his beer, his smokes, that nail over there, the hammer from the spot in the dining room where he had it last, and then another beer. I didn’t think a thing of it. My whole life. Until I did.
So maybe I thought that my comfort with men was what had to happen in order for me to be sexual with them. And so, I was. But to get to that sexy place with a guy, I had to go to that sexy place in my head—and that place was filled with women. Not men. What’s a girl to do?
Well, way back in 1990 if you lived in Central Vermont and really wanted to be the president one day, you married your high school boyfriend (we divorced and I remarried), rarely had sex, and did other things with your time (like mush sled dogs, have a lot of kids, and do a lot of gardening).
After my brief dating life where I endeavored to sow a few wild oats I didn’t know I had in my younger years (I was a mother of four by the time I was 25), I stopped dating for a while, went through the holidays alone with the kids—quite joyfully, I might add—and decided to date myself for a bit.
For fun, one night, I went on Bumble, which in my area of the world is a fun and friendly way to meet people as both friends and to date. It was the only real dating app I kept even when I wasn’t dating because it felt benign and noninvasive. I had set it for women only for the six months or so prior because I had found that I couldn’t have a conversation with a man past the first few paragraphs without them wanting to know the most intimate details of my sex life—or body parts.
And boy, they loved to share pictures of body parts with me too! Usually without me even having to ask—how kind of these men. Just a side note: no woman (even one who thinks she’s heterosexual) wants to see that right upfront. Really. Keep that to yourself a while. You will never lose a potential date or even hook up with a woman by keeping those tidbits about yourself—to yourself.
One night, I poured myself a glass of wine and decided to just see if anyone looked fun to talk to…
While lazily swiping left and left again, listening to Schitt’s Creek, and drinking probably a second glass of wine, she appeared in front of me. And I was done.
I actually said to myself, I think she’s my person. She could be my person. If she would let me be hers. Or just one of hers.
I was smitten immediately, and I never thought it could happen to me. I didn’t really believe in love at first sight. Love at first sight seemed silly. Each of my relationships (all two of them) had taken convincing on my part. Both men, constantly seeking? Stalking? Relentlessly pursuing until I thought that’s what love was—giving in after a relentless pursuit.
This wasn’t that. And it was comfortable immediately. What was uncomfortable was the realization that I would have to tell people. Not because I was worried about telling people I was gay. The gay part of it didn’t really seem to factor to me at all.
As soon as I met Cassie, I knew she was my person. The fact that she was also the most beautiful woman in the world, just seemed to be a bonus to me.
But I realized that people were going to hear “woman” before “Cassie” and that they were going to tilt their heads a second and look at me funny. Which is cool, as I’m kind of used to that anyway for lots of other reasons. But I thought maybe my nearest and dearest deserved a bit of a warning.
Being me, the warning or “warming up” period, if you will, was not long. I just started telling everyone I am dating a woman named Cassie, and she’s amazing and so beautiful and really smart and can fix things and has a pickup truck (a really cool one), and our first date was at Home Depot. Yup! The gayest first date ever.
And all of my kids said, “Yeah, well, duh.”
“Wait! Wait!” I said to my kids one night, explaining I was gay and dating Cassie, “You knew already?”
“Well, no…” one of them said, “but now that you’ve realized it, we are all like, well..finally. That makes more sense.”
And it’s true.
I didn’t even have to come out. Not to my kids, really. Not to my friends.
In fact, dating a woman has been the most natural thing I ever did. And not one person close to me reacted surprised. Every single one knew to one degree or another already.
I kinda wish they’d told me sooner.