I want to say I fell in love with something about you. Your passion for art, your talent, your brown eyes, the exhilaration I felt riding scooters with you. The way you understood and didn't make me feel like a freak when I chickened out and asked if we could take things slow. Maybe even your endless compassion. How you balanced college courses and a job, yet still found time to volunteer with the homeless. As much as I wanted to care about others, I could never do the kinds of things you did. I was never as selfless as you were.
When I think about it, though, none of that was what I fell in love with. I was nursing a broken heart over a girl I could never really have. I was staying up late wondering why love had to be so completely impossible. More specifically, why a girl would choose a guy who pressured her over someone with a long history of lying in bed beside her and never making a move (or a sound). Charlie, you made life seem uncomplicated. I didn't have to be hopelessly in love with a straight girl anymore. I didn't have to be alone, like I had been since Declan (and I) discovered girls.
I wonder what you thought when you met me. Did you think a high school girl with less relationship experience would have less baggage? I imagine you did. I saw it in your eyes when we were intimate. You looked more relieved than in love. I wondered if there was someone else who you wanted, that I was just filling in for. Maybe the roommate who threw you out. I shouldn't speculate. I shouldn't have to speculate. Girlfriends should know those things about each other. With Holly J, I loved her because I could literally tell her anything and knew she would always be there for me. I was a romantic, and I was a sucker for the kind of romanticism that only seemed to occur between girls. The kind where you can wear each other's clothes and fix each other's lipstick, evolving a friendly intimacy into a romantic one in a way that was seamless and beautiful.
I wonder if, while we made love, you were thinking about what you might or might not have been doing wrong. When I asked if I was doing alright, I wonder if your "yes" meant "yes," or if it only meant "I don't want to hurt your feelings." Maybe the fact that I wonder these things shows that I'm insecure and messy, not ready for a relationship. Maybe the fact that you removed a girl's clothes (and defenses) when you didn't even know her basic history shows that you're not ready for a relationship. We could spend forever assigning faults and trying to blame someone, but ultimately it's pointless.
You held me and kissed me and whispered, "I am really falling for you, Fiona."
You waited for me to giggle-blush and respond, "I've never liked anyone the way I like you."
It wasn't enough. All it took to destroy us was champagne. I had to avoid alcohol, and you didn't want to give it up. Maybe the fact that I didn't tell you about my alcoholism made it my fault. Maybe the fact that not being able to drink in a place you were living in rent-free was enough to abandon the place (and your girlfriend) made it your fault.
I ran the question by my therapist, and she simply looked back at me and said, "who do you blame, Fiona?"
"Myself," I said. "I completely, totally blame myself."
When I was straight Fiona, I had Adam. He knew I had a problem and supported me through it. The moment I was done with rehab, he was back and ready to give me a second chance. We were biology-crossed lovers. His female body (what attracted me to him the most) tied him to the life and identity he hated. In the end, he didn't leave because I drank. He left because I couldn't love him the way he needed. When he was gone, my mother was at wit's end, and Declan was distant, there was always one constant in my life. Holly J. She didn't leave me, even though I've done more than enough to deserve it. I kissed her boyfriend (my brother) in front of her because of champagne (at least partially). I helped Declan manipulate her into sleeping with him while she had a boyfriend. Then, I turned around and kissed her myself, telling her I loved her when I knew it wasn't fair or right.
I thought I could forget her with you, Charlie. That wasn't fair. You didn't really love me, and I didn't really love you. What are you supposed to do when the one person who can love you just doesn't? I don't know, Charlie. Sometimes, I tell myself that you do love and care for me. You're just afraid that you'll hurt me. But if you did love me, I can't convince myself I'd go back. When I ask myself honestly who I love, it's still her. It's still her because it was always her.
Holly J Sinclair.