My college was filled with brothers looking to hook up casually, date other men or find women who didn’t resemble their mothers. I took my search for love to the internet and I will never forget what I found.
He was 5’11, with brown locks and a stunning smile. Our discussions began with the rise of the moon and ended with the break of dawn. The euphoria was immense, immediate. And when it was time for us to meet, I was a sucker at first sight:
"We should definitely check out that museum."
"I can’t wait to see your city."
"I’d love for you to meet my mother."
For two months we went hard; I even hosted a small dinner at my place, so he could meet my friends. They all approved of him immediately.
However, everything wasn’t so perfect.
Our relationship was bereft of any intimacy. He hadn’t tried to kiss me and seemed to be physically distant. Annoyed with this, I decided to make the first move. One morning, after breakfast, I leaned over and snuck my lips near his. He moved away suddenly, alarm painted on his face. I was hurt immensely; I asked if he was really interested.
He sighed. His mouth began to pour a history that would make any listener cringe, one filled with molestation, hurt, and absence. “I need time to get to know a girl, before I can truly be comfortable with her. Give me some time.”
I trusted this. I took his words and tucked my feelings away for a better time.
A close friend and I were studying for finals in the library and found ourselves swapping stories of significant others. She asked what he looked like and I pulled up a few photos on my phone. Her face twisted suddenly, leaning into the computer to get a closer look. “I think I know him.”
She thought for a few minutes, unable to recall their unified history. We continued to chat when suddenly, I saw it dawn on her brown face.
“Erica, I’m going to tell you something, but I don’t want you to be alarmed.”
“What is it?” I was concerned, but absolutely sure she was going to provide knowledge that would explain his detachment.
“You’re boyfriend…he’s…he’s a girl.”
“Listen, I know a girl that looks exactly like him and I’m absolutely sure she doesn’t have a brother.”
I laughed heartily, convinced she was trying to be funny.
“Does he drive a red Toyota?”
“Is he from Maryland?”
“Is he Bajan?”
She leaned back up from the computer, “Yeah, that’s her. Search this name.”
A student at the same school as the one “my boyfriend” attended frequented the Google images. She was a beautiful girl with the same brown locs, same stunning smile. I was floored.
I called and confronted him/her. I used the name that my friend gave me and she hung up immediately.
I sat on my sofa and replayed the events of our brief relationship and fell asleep angry and defeated, but resolved to gather myself in the morning. After three hours of slumber, there was a knock on my door. I answered it sleepily, assuming it was a collegiate neighbor, trying to make out the figure that stood before me. It was the girl I’d seen within the images, earlier that day. Bereft of a goatee and boyish clothes, it was hard to imagine how I’d never seen the truth.
“Can I have five minutes to explain?” she asked.
Five minutes became hours and my anger evolved to sadness as she choked through her layers. Temporarily put out of the house when she came out to her family, she hid her lifestyle from them. At home and during the day, she was an attractive and athletic girl who was straight and happily single. At night and on the internet, she was cloaked in boys clothing, a sock for genitals, duck taped breasts, a movie-set faux goatee and a swagger like no other. She would end relationships with women before they discovered her secret, convinced she fulfilled the urges inside of her.
“I’m sorry," she said.
I suppressed the urge to apologize back. I was sorry that she’d been forced to mask one thing over another. I was sorry that her truth was quieted. However, that was the end of our romance. I needed a man and she needed a lesbian girlfriend (and also to make peace with who she really was; she claimed she didn’t identify as a man and had no desire to have a sex change).
I told her that her truly beautiful persona wouldn’t be realized until she was honest with herself. “All I’ve ever wanted was someone to tell this. It’s been so hard keeping it to myself. I just wanted someone to listen.”
And so I did.