Sometime in the early part of my sophomore year of high school, on a hot humid day in Florida (not that there is any other sort), I found myself screaming a girl across the hood of car on the side of the road. This was one of those moments, the ones that snaps in your memory and remains like a Polaroid clipped to a corkboard in your head. When remembered, it is as if I am right there, pumping with adrenaline, feeling the heat beating upon me and pushed beyond the limits, I knew were there, but suddenly and without any polite notice, had been obliterated between the unstoppable force of my stubborn desire and the immoveable object that was one beautiful girl’s core belief in a God, I had no truck with; at least not now, when He was firmly in the way of what I wanted…which was her of course.
In this moment, this girl I had wanted for so long, was so close, within reach and yet I could not convince her I was right and she was wrong (which of course she was). I could not convince her that if her God was the loving force she claimed, he would not forsake her because she chose to love someone. Yet I was the wrong gender. She could not be swayed. Her hair had just been braided into almost waist long box braids, she wore a crisp white t-shirt and a pleated green skirt with a matching white stripe around its edge, her breasts heaved and she sighed the sigh of suffering only a girl who knew she fought a pointless fight, but just couldn’t stop, but then again, neither could I. Her brows were perfectly tweezed, her skin was clear and smooth, her makeup simple and clean. She was an insufferable controlled creature of femininity, reason and faith. She was always at her most beautiful when she was angry and I could always push her to that place where she lost her cool. I loved pushing her to this place where she was purely emotion, purely focused on me. I didn’t care if it was negative or positive attention, it was her attention and I had it. When she broke her tightly wound control, I had won, the battle we had been fighting for what seemed like forever to my teenaged heart. I was always the one that stayed even toned, who didn’t lose her temper and this was frequently the thing that made her the angriest but it seemed like she had finally won, and she knew it. I knew it.
I couldn’t stop myself. I yelled about God and faith and love. I yelled about how much we had wanted each other for over a year, had flirted and edged so close and then backed away from this moment. I yelled that she made me feel crazy and I felt tears slide down my cheeks. We had each dated boys, unfairly to them, because it had all been a game we played with each other. See? I didn’t want you, I didn’t need you. Fuck you. Lies. We had filled the space we couldn’t breach, with lies.
As I cried angry tears and yelled that I knew she loved me, why couldn’t she just let herself love me? I thought clearly for one precise and crystalline moment, I have finally broken, I have finally lost my damn mind. I am truly broken and I will never come back together again…or…I was in love. These were the only two options that made sense. Insanity or love. Maybe they were one and the same? I didn’t know then and I still cannot say I know the answer now. I do know that the moment I realized I was not only in love but could love, was a life altering thing. For most of us, first love is an earth shattering thing and it was the same for me but perhaps even more so. I grew up with violence, neglect and so much pain and I really didn’t know I was capable of this terrible loss of control that hurt and yet I wanted like drug. Once I knew it was there, it changed the world. The framework I saw the world through, from which I based my own sense of self and what I might be capable of, was blown to pieces, over the hood of a piece of shit car, in the face of a God I would lose too, in a land of sand and sun. There was a precipice there, I had always known it existed, and I had always feared taking a step too far into the abyss that was feeling, vulnerability and connection to lives that could and would disappoint, hurt and betray me.
While I have seen many ideas about how to define insanity (and there are plenty of serious diagnosis that are useful in clinical situations) the one that makes the most sense to me in the day-to-day flow of life is: “extreme foolishness or irrationality”. Whether it is delusion or the simple momentary loss of reasonable emotional faculties, this definition works. What is more foolish than love, trust and the utterly irrational belief that one person has all of the power in the world to crush you’re very being with their simple (heartless!) rejection?
At that time, in the searing heat of the Florida sun, beside an old car on the side of the road, I realized I had finally fallen horribly and irrevocably in love. I had believed, up until this point, that I might not be capable of this particular human condition. I did not cry or scream or lose control in this highly undignified way, I was not this crazy screaming creature, fighting God for the hand of a girl who was as afraid as I was. I didn’t understand that she was afraid or even that I was as well. I didn’t understand that it was this fear, the loss of love, that was what finally took away my hard-won control and overcame the core of distrust I had viewed the world through up until this very moment. It was love, the type that defines all fist loves, the desperate pathetic, passionate headfirst into the rabbit hole kind. Additionally, as I was rejected for God and lost my mind to blind heartbroken rage, it became clear that I lacked all the tools necessary to deal with it. This was not the last time I would feel this way, just the first.
I have always believed that we don’t know what we are capable of without knowing who we are when we are in love. In love we are the best and worst versions of ourselves, the most insane, terribly cruel, generous, selfless, truest extremes of our own personal spectrum. This is not just romantic love. Parents, soldiers, the closest of friends, all of these versions of love can push us well beyond what we believed we knew about ourselves. What we believe to be concrete facts about our personalities. Love shifts the paradigm through which we see ourselves the world we live in. Some people seek these things out, the moments on the side of the road that change the world for us and many run from them as fast and as hard as they can. I cannot fault either but I will always be on the side of the former.
As I work on some other projects and am looking for the places in my life that utterly redefined the world for me, this one stood out. This is not about being a lesbian, which is simply the lens I see this crazy world of dating and modern love from. It is just about questioning what I thought was true, about me and the world. Remembering these moments reminds me of how often I have been wrong about…everything. I love these moments, not necessarily the screaming at God and stubborn first girlfriends part, but the way the earth shatters and a new ocean spills forth..the moments that new land is discovered to explore.
Sometimes seeing it from a slightly different angle makes it easier to see and sometimes it changes everything. I am hopeful about the first and just arrogant
enough to believe the former is possible as well, but then again I always pick love so my sanity is, by my own definitions, up for debate.