Monday, June 01, 2009

Bryan/Ellie: Too much too young too fast

I was only in the hospital a couple of nights but when I sit down and try to make sense of it all, I get frustrated and put it away. So I've been putting it off - this will be my third or fourth attempt - and I guess the best way is just to begin at the beginning.

The conversation I had with "Kalli" at the funeral had been eating away at me for a while. It's hard enough being a normal teenager... when you don't feel like you have control over your life... I've been fighting that since I got here. But thinking about how this won't be my life anymore soon has made me that much less patient for all the little crap that annoys me, and all the major crap that is being secretly hung over me by the real Ellie. I didn't need her bitter, judgmental attitude.

So it probably didn't help put me in a good frame of mind when Emily and I were hanging out in her room, and there was a lull in the conversation and she just asked me point blank... "Ellie... are you gay?"

I sat up in shock. I guess I thought I had her fooled but she's always seen me as a tomboy and we always joke about how I don't date. I tried to play it cool but I was obviously off guard when I just started blank and asked "...what?"

She tells me, "My brother told me that girl who plays drums, Leanne, is a lesbian, and you're always hanging around with her and it makes things kind of awkward for him because he knows you guys hang out a lot, and then he asked me if you're gay. And I told him no, but then I thought... what if you are?"

She had this serious look on her face... almost like she was hurt by the very idea. All I could say was "I don't know what to tell you."

She just looked at me and said, eventually, "I want you to tell me the truth."

I couldn't look at her anymore, so I just looked at my hands, my thin little fingers on her bedspread. I just muttered softly, "The truth is... I don't know."

She wasn't having it. "What do you mean you don't know?"

I started to babble, "I mean, I'm... confused, and I didn't tell you because I thought you'd think I was too weird and you wouldn't wanna hang out with me, and... I don't know how it happened, I guess I just really liked hanging out with her, and I just... I don't know."

So she asked, "Do you... do stuff with her? Have you kissed?"

I hesitated before answering. "Yeah."

"Is it like... serious?"

"I don't know!" I started to get exhausted with her questions, "We don't go out, we just hang around her place, and sometimes we... fool around I guess."

"Like how we hang out?"

"...I guess so."

She scoffed and moved back from me. I tried to tell her there wasn't any connection, but I don't think my voice sounded like I believed it. I can't deny that the reason I was so drawn to Emily was somewhat the same as the reason behind Leanne. So now I start to feel guilty for peppering my friend with hollow words, so I just keep my trap shut.

She sits with it a while. Eventually she says, "I just wish you told me. I mean, we're friends, aren't we? You're like the only person at that school who wasn't immediately rude to me and I thought our friendship meant something."

"It does, I just... I didn't know how to say it. I guess I was trying to avoid this... entire conversation."

That got a half-laugh... a mixture of annoyance and amusement. Eventually the silence got too awkward and I just asked, "So... what do you think?"

"I don't know El, it's just... kind of a big deal, right?"

"I'm not even sure it is, it's just... one person. I'm still the same person I've always been." Well, that's just not true, but what does she know?

I looked at her face. I could see, slowly, her coming to terms with it. Her mind started to process what I was telling her. And what she said next changed the entire tone of the night.

"So..." she said, "Like... is she a good kisser?"

And suddenly, I felt good. I felt like coming to terms with my feelings, admitting them to Emily, was kind of like, my revenge on Ellie. I didn't like the way she'd handled me telling her this, and now it was out there, and whatever happened, she would have to deal with it. It's not the nicest thing in the world, but I'm sick of getting treated like I'm not allowed to live my life the way I want. And let Ellie deal with it.

So I was feeling all powerful and stuff, really on top of the world. And then a few days later I was... with Leanne. And the thing about Leanne is that her parents are out a lot, so when we hang out there's a lot of... well, we get pretty busy. So we're on her couch, and I'm all snuggled up, under her arm, watching TV, and I feel like closing my eyes and relaxing for a while so I take off my glasses and put them on the coffee table.

She kisses the top of my head and tells me how cute I look with my glasses off. She starts running her fingers through my hair and telling me I should consider getting contact lenses. I tell her I don't know about that, but I was thinking about getting my hair cut (while I was on this "take control of Ellie's life for now" kick.)

That didn't get a good reaction. So I try to convince her that I think I'd look good with shorter hair. And she says maybe, but... and here's where the trouble began... she tells me she wouldn't like it because she has short hair, and she's, quote, "The boy in the relationship."

Now that made me jump.

I have to admit, she doesn't exactly dress in pink frills. I just always thought of her as "a girl" like any other girl I've been with. But what I didn't realize was that I'm not a guy to her... I'm "a girl", and I'm "another girl." A different girl. She does have short hair, and I do let her lead the relationship a bit because it seems to be the way she's most comfortable while I'm still somewhat mystified by the fact that I'm even in a relationship as Ellie. So I guess somewhere along the way we just settled into this pattern, but her saying it was a real wake-up call.

I start huffing "What do you mean you're the boy, why can't I be the boy? Why does there have to be a boy?" I mean, that's the point, isn't it? and if there is, shouldn't it be the one who had a penis?

And she tries to get me to calm down and tells me she didn't mean it like that, and if I want to do something I should, but, well, the cat's already out of the bag and I can't forgive her about it. So I keep pressing the issue... I guess my freak-out was a little girly, actually. I start laying it out, like "What am I to you, anyway?"

And she just shut me down by saying "Ellie, I like you a lot, but... I think the real question is, what am I to you?" Then she points out, rightly, that her family knows she's a Lesbian, but she can't talk about me because I'm not telling anyone, and even though I'm so much younger, she seems to think that's, like, an immature attitude, and she's getting tired of it, and if I can't get serious enough to tell people about her, to be with her in public, then we're not really together.

And then she says maybe it's for the best that we end it now... she tells me she got into Northwestern University, in Chicago, so there's not really any way she can keep seeing a ninth grader.

So I tell her, well, congratulations... but I guess this is the end. I knew it was going to have to end sometime, but I thought it would be more my decision than this. So I walked home in the darkness, tired and frustrated and lonely. And then the next day I was doing some Math homework, and I got tripped up by a problem and started to get really pissed off... and I started to wonder what was the point, and why were things so hard, and why didn't anything seem to work, and it all just sort of... fell in on me. Every fucking bit of stress I've felt since I walked into this house, feeling trapped, feeling lonely, feeling like a fucking liar, it just all hit me at once and I... lost it. And that's when I lost my breath, when I blacked out, and when I woke up I was in a hospital bed.

I feel so stupid for losing it like that. Even in my toughest days back home I never freaked out that way. I guess I really liked Leanne... and all the better parts of Ellie's life I was starting to enjoy.

Well it'll all be gone in a few weeks, all my current problems will be Ellie's problems, and I'll have my own life to worry about.

That's pretty comforting.

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