I never knew when or why it happened, it just did. Everything was perfect- I had the best boyfriend, Kurt, anyone could imagine. I was set to transfer to one of the best public schools in the state to be with him. I was the lead singer of a top-scoring a capella group. I had invitations for Summer programs at some of the best music schools in the country. I wasn't getting straight A's, but enough A's and B's to count as "good grades." My parents had finally begun to accept the fact that I'm gay, even letting me spend nights at my boyfriend's house here and there. Kurt's parents and step-brother liked me well enough. Everything was great.
But then everything changed.
It was May of my last semester at Dalton. I was sitting in my French final, trying to conjugate "venir" in subjunctive. I was halfway done, when I felt weird. It wasn't anything too worrisome, just a little twinge in my stomach. I knew this feeling- it was the same that I got before I went onstage at every concert. But I wasn't about to go onstage. I was sitting in Mme. Percy's classroom. The twinge got stronger. Suddenly, I felt nauseous, like I had eaten something bad for lunch. Maybe my pizza had sat out too long? The nausea spread, covering my whole stomach and into my chest. I was having trouble breathing. The air in the room was too hot. I couldn't feel whether or not my lungs were taking in air. I needed to get outside, to get away from the four walls that were threatening to close in on me. I scribbled down something on the sheet of paper, and basically threw it on Mme. Percy's desk, running out of the room. I scampered into the nearest bathroom I could find, bursting into the first open stall. I stood above the toilet, waiting for the vomit to come up, but it never did. I realized that I was breathing normally again, and pretty soon the nausea was gone. I thought nothing of it, maybe just nerves because French was typically my worst subject.
I managed to stay calm for the next few weeks. Sure, I worried about my grades and how the transfer would work, but I didn't think too much of it. I didn't feel any of that nausea again, but I kept an eye on my diet to make sure it stayed that way. Raw onions and vinegar were out, and I kept a case of tums in my glovebox, just in case. The semester was over, and Kurt and I started to spend more time together. He was helping to redecorate my room now that I was living with my parents again. We spent hours in the sheets section of Wal-Mart, laughing and debating whether a 500 thread count was worth the extra $20 it would cost. I decided on the higher thread count (with some prodding from Kurt, of course), and we made our way to my car.
All of a sudden, my throat started to tighten up. I stopped short.
"What's wrong?" Kurt asked, grabbing onto my arm.
"I don't want to drive right now." I responded in a monotone whisper.
"Do you want me to drive?" He asked. "I've got my license on me."
"No, it's not that. Can we just- can we walk over to the deli down the street? I need to walk around." I shrugged. We made our way over to the deli and got a few sandwiches. I listened to him talk about window trimmings and the pros and cons of bedskirts as we munched on our Rubens. Well, Kurt ate his. I picked the crust off mine and tried to eat it, but my stomach was still in knots. Halfway through his rant on paint colors, he noticed that I hadn't eaten anything.
"You okay?" He asked, making puppy-dog eyes at me. I hated it when he made that face. He could make me do anything he wanted, just by showing me those big blue eyes.
"Fine. Just not hungry, I guess." I sighed. "I'm gonna get a to-go box. Ready to go home?"
He started eating the last parts of his sandwich. "Sure. You cool to drive?"
"Yeah." I tried to swallow the lump that was forming in my throat. I couldn't really explain why I was nervous, but I was. If I had to put the irrational into rational words, I guess I would say that I was worried about crashing the car. I mean, it made no sense. I'm a good driver. I've always been a good driver. I've never gotten into an accident in my life. But there was this weird feeling of foreboding around me. I was terrified of getting in a car accident. No, more than that, I was SURE that it was going to happen. I felt like the world had stopped moving for a second and I was about to fly forward. My stomach acid was churning inside me. The last thing in the world I wanted was to get into that car. But, there was no choice about it. We had to get home, and my car was the only way I would get there.