The women in my life

I was recently talking to a good friend about past relationships, what they say about you, and the similarities I see in all of the people I’ve ever fallen for — qualities that virtually everyone, from quick crushes to true heartbreaks, has in common.

In the days since this conversation, I’ve begun to look back over my life, specifically, at those who intrigued me, the ones I could (and did) think of romantically, even if only for a little while.

I told this friend that I see the practice of self-analysis as not only vitally important, but also fascinating.

With that in mind, I am feeling a bit nostalgic tonight, and I would like to compile a comprehensive list of these special people. For tonight, I’m listing only the women (we’ll do a separate post for men later, I assure you).

We’re going to look back over it all, from “heart sparkles,” (a term I first heard from someone on this list) to deep, devastating loves.

Let’s dive in, shall we?***

***To protect the identities of those listed, I have chosen to refer to them by whatever first comes to mind when I think about them. Some of these descriptions are more apt than others.

The Badass

I am not shy about the fact that I consider my first crush on a woman to be the one that developed for Pink after watching the “Lady Marmalade” video. (Can you blame me?) But the first real-life, real-world, honest-to-gods crush I had on a girl came in middle school.

She was fierce, powerful, and just about every rebellious, bad girl stereotype you can think of. She acted like a grown up. She talked like a grown up. She was quick-witted, and took no shit.

She also happens to be the sister of one of the other ladies on the list. Awkward, huh?

The attraction lasted until about sophomore year in high school. At that point she became too grown up for me — too rebellious, too scary, too different from myself. We didn’t really seem like the same species anymore. She was no longer just too cool for me; she was on a whole different plane.

The Powerhouse

A “heart sparkle” if there ever was one.

She was loud. Everyone knew about her. She was the unattainable senior, and I, a lowly sophomore.

She was out. She wore men’s clothes and cut her hair short and you just knew she was going to grow up to be a tattooed, androgynous god.

I admired her. I feared her. The idea of ever even talking to her was unfathomable.

To this day, I think I embarrassed myself around her so many times throughout high school, and college after that, that she has to see me and giggle. Weirdo McKenna and her annoying, mousy crush on me. What a fucking loser.

I don’t disagree.

The Quadruple Threat

I only recently admitted to myself that what I felt for this girl was an actual crush; it was simply too easy to pretend as a 16 year-old. Too easy to convince myself that it was one of those meaningless “girl crushes” (I thought that about “The Badass”, too).

But this whole recent wave of nostalgia has taught me otherwise.

I had a crush on her. I crushed and she crushed me.

She was so beautiful, you see. Actual model material. But, more than that, she was hilarious. Talented beyond all measure. Good actress. Beautiful musician. Sharp as a tack. And empathetic. She really cared about other people, you know?

And she had that thing. She was one of those people that draws you in almost immediately. It’s a quality that intrigues you, makes you want to be one of this person’s moons, simply orbiting around them, happy to be in the same space as them at all.

You were proud to be in her life. You felt special being one of the chosen people she allowed in. You think so highly of her that you can’t help but to feel somehow impressed, shocked, and grateful that she picked you.

When senior year arrived, we began to slip away from each other. She went the way of recognition and spotlights. I was up in the catwalks, making her sets look good.

The First

She’s funny. And adorable. And we always just really got each other.

We met through a then-mutual friend, and hit it off.

With her, I knew. I knew it was a romantic attraction. She was the first one I was ever really honest with myself about. There was never any doubt in my mind that what I felt for her was crush material. I looked back at how I had felt about all of the boys I’d ever openly “crushed” on, and knew what I felt for her was stronger than any of those.

You know the moment in the movie when the guy looks at the girl, and you just know? You see the smile on his face as he looks at her, and you just know. Even if he doesn’t. Even when she doesn’t. You — the one seeing it — you know. Yeah, that was me. I was the overwhelmed groom looking at his bride for the first time every time she made a joke or embarrassed herself.

I told my friends that part of me would probably always be a little bit in love with her.

I was wrong.

The Big One

I didn’t like her at first. Hell, she annoyed the shit out of me. She was too young, too strange, too “out there.” She kind of forced herself into my life, to be honest. Sat down with me and my friends one day, and just never left. We couldn’t get rid of her.

She caught me at a bad time. I was cruel. When someone told me that she was in love with me, I sighed. I rolled my eyes. Why? I’m straight, and I don’t have time for this. How stupid.

I knew how she felt. She wasn’t good at hiding it. And I treated her like shit for it. I called her when it was convenient for me because I knew she’d pick up. I asked her to hang out as a last resort. When she asked me to my senior Homecoming dance in pretty much to most perfect way possible, the first thing out of my mouth was “As friends, right?”

The night of the dance, I left early to go hang out with the boy I liked. It’s one of my few big regrets in life. He turned out to be gay.

And I ended up falling in love with her.

After I graduated, she still had a couple years to go. I went off to college as an out-and-proud bisexual. I knew who I was and what I liked.

My first semester of school, I (obviously) didn’t know a lot of people. I began relying on her more and more. She moved up the call list, eventually becoming one of the first people I dialed, instead of dead last as she’d been before.

I began to think more about her feelings for me. Eventually, I began to think that I might reciprocate. Then I knew I did.

I figured it out just in time for her to get a boyfriend.

Their relationship lasted quite some time, and as our friendship continued to grow, so did what I felt for her.

When they broke up my sophomore year of college, I was (selfishly) thrilled. This was our time. This was when it was finally going to happen. I was ready. I knew who I was now, and I knew what we could be together.

She told me she needed time to be single — time to herself to get her head right and recover from her relationship. I tried to understand. The friend part of me did understand, but the part that was in love with her had a harder time grasping it.

She got a boyfriend a couple months later. They’re still together. Two years and counting.

We’ve only recently written off the idea of a future relationship between the two of us. It wouldn’t work. We’re too different. We’re too similar.

But I’ll always wonder. A tiny piece of me may always hope. And I’m good with that.

She was the first girl I kissed. She was my first kiss, period. She also has the title of “First Make-Out.” An honor, I’m sure.

What we have is complicated and weird. Nobody ever knows where we stand — we don’t even know most of the time. What we do know is that we’ve loved each other at all the wrong times. We’ve hurt each other for no good reason at all. Our timing has always been a bit off, but our friendship game is strong as hell.

At this point, that’s all that matters to me.

The Savior

The middle of my freshman year of college my high school best friend and I had a falling out that plunged me into a pretty deep depression (the deepest I’ve ever had). The woman I’m about to talk about is the one that pulled me out. She redirected my focus, and breathed life into me again.

I met her in my dorm. She had that intriguing thing The Quadruple Threat had, only tenfold. She was hip, cool, nonchalant, artsy, witty, strange, awe-inspiring, and overwhelming. That’s a good word for her: overwhelming. All-consuming.

The first time we met we stayed up all night together. We talked and laughed and drew and sang, revealed ourselves and almost set the dorm on fire (literally).

When night gave way to morning and the sun peeked out over campus, we decided it was simply too late to go to sleep. Why stop now? We’d already made it this far, damn it!

When we sat down at a local cafe that will always remind me of her, all I could think about were her lips. She had on this bright red lipstick — one of her trademarks — and every word she spoke seemed that much more important, having been framed by those big, soft, scarlet lips.

I’m not embarrassed to say I was entranced by those lips.

The crush was brief — a week or two, maybe. The friendship lasted much longer.

A friend recently told me she confessed to him that she had feelings for me, too. She once told me the same thing.

I don’t know if I believe it.

The Intellectual

She’s brilliant and artsy and she has tattoos and she’s all about social justice. She’s challenging and she’s a writer and she’s basically everything.

When we met, she was my good friend’s girlfriend. Initially unaware of that fact, I tried to flirt with her the first time we spoke. It wasn’t until later that night when I saw her walking hand-in-hand with my friend that I realized I might want to tone it down.

They broke up a few months later, and at some point I became better friends with her than him.

She’s still all of those things I listed.

The Partner

I’ve had three serious, consuming loves so far in life. You’ve already read about one of them; this one’s the third, and most recent.

By the time I reached senior year of college I had basically given up on trying to find a relationship. I was busy with my job as an editor for the paper, and I was trying to focus on building lasting, meaningful, healthy friendships. I wanted to build a squad. I didn’t want to fall for anyone.

My schedule included an hour of “Gender in World Literature,” a class I — funnily enough — had with the very friend who was dating The Intellectual.

I noticed her on day one — the one who would be called “The Partner.” She was sitting one row over, and two seats back. She had deep, rich, red hair (obviously bottled, but since when does that matter?). She’d mastered the art of the winged eyeliner, and her eyes –. I’m hesitant to mention them because I know past lovers have pointed them out to her and I don’t want to be just another name on the list of admirers.

Let’s just say there’s a reason those eyes have inspired poetry and lengthy metaphors about souls and love and light.

I labeled her as “Cute Girl” in my mind — a name that now seems almost offensive in its simplicity and immaturity, but it made her smile and giggle, and I guess that’s what’s important.

On an overcast Friday last September, we were grouped together in a class discussion. I was thrilled, and spent the whole time shamelessly flirting and putting on a show — trying to be the confident, straightforward woman I’ve always wanted to be. When I think back, I think that her and I did most of the talking, ignoring the others in the group, and obviously just wanting to talk to each other. Or maybe that was just me.

I waited for her after class, taking my time packing, looking at my phone distractedly, trying to plan it just right so we could walk out together without it being too obvious. It worked. She complimented me on my open-front, knee-length lace cardigan. In the moment neither one of us knew what to call it, but I’ve done research since then.

I thought about her all weekend. We went to coffee a few days later, and spent the following Saturday together, too.

The next few months go like this: I like her. I think she likes me, but I’m not sure. She gets a boyfriend. I am convinced that she never had any feelings for me at all, and begin to doubt myself. She tells me that she did, in fact, have feelings for me, but got scared. We build a best friendship together, seeing each other almost daily. She becomes my confidant, and joins the top ranks of closest friends and most beloved partners-in-crime. Her boyfriend breaks up with her. She is devastated. We continue to grow even closer. I graduate and move back home, 91 miles away.

During that time I learn so much about her. She’s a writer, too. She loves cats, Taylor Swift, and handwritten letters. She has never seen my favorite films. She’s a fighter. She’s a protector. She will burn this earth down before she’ll let anyone hurt the people she loves. She tenses up when you compliment her, and makes sounds because words fail her. She enjoys a good steak, but could live on soup and lemonade. She’s a Hufflepuff. She thinks there are four different kinds of bad writing. She laughs at things that are ‘unfunny.’

She’s a magnificent poet.

{I hate poetry.}

Two months ago, almost a year after first meeting her, I took a trip to Los Angeles. While there I thought about her. I thought about her a lot.

I called her and told her that I still have feelings for her, I don’t know when they’re going to go away, and I thought she had a right to know. She told me that she feels the same way.

I want to be with her, and she says she wants to be with me, but we can’t because of very valid, very private reasons.

I still have a hard time believing she reciprocates my feelings. It does not compute. She’s too– And I’m too–

Right now, I have a best friend, and that’s more than enough for me.

The Comic

When The Partner got a boyfriend, I began doubting myself.

It was during this time of doubt and low self-confidence that I met yet another redhead.

She was a friend of a friend who announced on the first day of our Women’s Studies class how much she loved women. She was loud. She was outspoken. She was a goddamned force to be reckoned with. Still is.

I was attracted to her immediately. I called her ethereal the first time I talked to her. It was part of the first sentence out of my mouth.

I didn’t make a move, though. Why would I? I felt terrible about myself, and this woman is gorgeous, y’all. Like, gorgeous. Her hair is always flawless and when she laughs she lights up from the inside and shines outward, brightening everyone and everything around her.

Basically, like all the ones who came before her, she was SO out of my league.

She also had the enigmatic “thing” that The Savior had — a quality which now scares me because things have never ended well with those who possess that quality.

So I said nothing. I told some mutual friends, but that was it. I’d never have a chance, so why go through the humiliation of confessing anything?

I eventually did tell her. I spilled my guts and she got mad, saying that she wished I’d said something sooner.

But timing’s never been on my side. Ask The Big One.

I still don’t know if she ever even came close to reciprocating my feelings. I have a hard time believing she would. At this point I think she probably merely tolerates me.

Blame my low self-confidence; or the pedestal I’ve put her on.

Which brings us to now…

As always, thanks for letting me share, reader.

Next up: “The men in my life


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