volume seven

well this turned into an essay - pt 2

each week, once I have decided what is weighing heaviest on me or magically pulling at my heartstrings the most, I start to write and then I don’t stop. I write and write and write until I don’t have any more thoughts (for now) on that topic. sometimes that turns into 4600 words, so welcome to part two of three. you can read part one of this essay here.

When I was fifteen my friend’s boyfriend (who had also been my boyfriend when we were fourteen for maybe seven days?) started giving me the cold shoulder and I didn’t understand why — we had all been friends for some time. I eventually asked him about it and he said it was because it was clear that I was a lesbian and in love with his girlfriend. (I actually think he used the phrase “obsessed”).

When I was sixteen my best friend at the time would later stop being my friend because her boyfriend decided he liked me… ugh I didn’t even like hanging out with him, I found him needy, immature and annoying. I just did it because he was her boyfriend and I wanted to make her happy. I just really wanted to be around her, spend every second with her, choose the same classes as her, dress like her, tell her everything, like all the same music as her, like all the same TV as her, spend every weekend with her, have her drive me home from school and stay to hang out, pay for her things when we hung out in the only way a teenager working at McDonald’s could spoil someone by buying them ice cream and coffee. I didn’t have the capacity to realise what those feelings meant yet. Which was why it was doubly heartbreaking when she cut me off and we had a big fight at school where I screamed and cried and she just laughed in my face. I didn’t realise then, but I wasn’t just losing a friend.

Before this gross boy ruined my life and made me drop out of school because I was being bullied so much by her, (don’t worry, insert Rhiannon who is still my best friend to this day and who I am not in love with for the record, who told me that I should hang out with her and her friends and not drop out of school so I came back and thrived and graduated) my previous best friend and I spent one New Years Eve together. As teenagers not allowed to go to parties without parental permission, which was far too embarrassing to get so it was easier to lie or make other plans, we decided to spend it at the local carnival. Imagine getting booze from one of your friends who looks eighteen years old so they can buy it, then getting drunk in a park with lots of bright lights and loud music and that’s what we did. To my Mum’s knowledge, we were riding merry-go-rounds.

The only openly queer person I knew at this time was a girl a year younger than me who was an out lesbian. She and I were giggling and laying on the hill on the side of the park, next to each other with all our other friends when she said she would like to kiss me. I said yes and we made out HARD on the hill. There were a lot of amazing feelings (and other things) I had never felt before. Writing this I am realising how pivotal and special this tipsy make-out was, but what always sticks out in my mind is how my friend reacted. When this girl asked me for a kiss and I said yes, my friend groaned and while I was making out with this beauty, my friend made remarks to the guys she was talking to behind me about how I was drunk and that I should be embarrassed. I carried those comments for a long time, I still carry them. While I write this knowing I am bisexual, I still feel the need to prove that I am, which is just my lovely internalised bi-erasure and bi-phobia at it again.

When midnight hit I texted a boy who I was crushing on, who immediately wrote me back. We spent the night texting while I spent the night hanging out with this girl. Messy bliss.

When I was eighteen I was at a nightclub with some girlfriends. A guy I had always had a crush on in high school was also there. He was a couple of years older than me, was known by my family as a respectful and delightful young man and I had bumped into him a few weeks before at a pub and that led to us sleeping together.

I wanted to date him, he was just out of a break-up.

I saw him and mentioned him to my friend’s friend who was with us. I knew her, but not as well as my other friends and in looking back I was probably excited to brag to someone new that I had slept with this mega babe. I must have told her something about how he wasn’t talking to me. (Better known as me being too shy to say hi and being on the other side of a crowded nightclub there is a good chance he didn’t see me or that he just didn’t want to say hi who really knows?)

Her response was to “make him jealous”. She grabbed my hand and led me right to him. I had no idea what was going to happen but as he said hi to me she grabbed me and kissed me as he and his friends gasped in delight. (I know, but it happened so let’s continue to roll with it, stay with me, this whole three-part essay is my coming into my sexuality and there are reasons I am telling you this.)

My other (much closer) friend stormed up to us and pulled us away. How could we be acting like this for the attention of men? Look, she wasn’t wrong, that scenario makes me feel all sorts of uncomfortable things. But what happened next was not for anyone’s attention. This girl and I danced close together and kissed and touched all night. We were off in a corner, this wasn’t for entertainment, this was just delightful. 

At the end of the night, my friends dropped me home in a cab. I wanted so bad for this girl to come home with me so we could continue what we were doing in private. I asked clumsily if all three of the friends would want to come inside and have another drink? Keep the night going? The girl said “should we go to Lauren’s?” excitedly. The others were tired and said, “no let’s go home”. The girl was visiting and staying at their house on the other side of town and so she left with them. 

When I was twenty I moved to Sydney for the second time. A couple of friends I knew there were queer and then when my roommate moved out and I put the word out for someone new, my queer friend from my old job put up her hand and moved in. Suddenly three of the very few queer people I had in my life were in my life constantly. I then met their queer friends and people they dated and spent time with them in queer spaces.

For the first time, queerness was part of my everyday life and it was like taking a breath after a really long time of holding it. It wasn’t something that was talked about in hushed places, or laughed at or heard in whispered tones as “did you hear?”, or perceived as attention-seeking. It just was. I finally saw that this could be my life, that I could be who I knew I was in my heart and not keep it to my journals and dreams.

I still didn’t know if I had a label for it at this point. But I knew that my sexual and romantic desires were not confined to one gender. I also knew that I was incredibly shy when it came to expressing these feelings and that most of the time was spent not feeling them at all for anyone until I did. I very much summed this up as my catholic guilt and that I would grow out of it, with sexual and dating experience.

continued next week.

I love you,

Lauren

xoxo

Three things I struggled with this week:

  • I look after dogs through a dog sitting app. It is so, so wonderful. This week I got a new doggo and it didn’t go well. She was upset and unhappy and ultimately bit me. I called her owner (who didn’t care for the record but that’s another story) and I said it was best she didn’t stay for three days because she was unhappy. I love dogs, so much. This was a really sad time for me but personal growth means I am proud of how I handled it. For instance, I didn’t just accept that this was my life for three days and get drunk to deal with it, I decided myself and the dog deserved better.

  • How do you deal with the dread of thinking about going back to work all day on the Monday of a long weekend instead of just enjoying the fact that you have an extra day to relax or spend as you wish?

  • On that note — both good and bad — I am almost always living in the future instead of the here and now. Struggling to find that balance of planning and being excited while not forgetting where I am in the moment.

Three blessings from this week:

  • I have a friend who has the best dog in the world and sometimes I can just text him and say “hey does Goliath want to visit?” then I get dog love for a night or so.

  • Season Two of my podcast wrapped. I am so proud of what we have created.

  • One of my closest friends has started joining Sunday afternoon (aka Monday Kiwi Hour) Writers’ Hour. While we are hours apart and can only really squeeze in a phone call once a month or so, this is the perfect way to feel connected and see each others’ faces — it’s a fun thing we can do together and I love it!

Three goals for the coming week:

  • Putting all my eggs in one basket and crossing my fingers and toes for this AMAZING loft apartment I am viewing. It will save me loads on rent which means I can save for travel that WILL happen soon. It is the kind of space I can get cosy and happy and creative in — for many years I would look for places that were good for entertaining so I could have friends over and have parties and get drunk. Home is my sanctuary now. Keep everything crossed for me!

  • I am sorry to all my friends who have already been texted about this but holy fucking shit is Miley Cyrus the biggest fucking icon of our generation or what? She posted a video recently that made my eyes well up. Is she Debbie Harry meets Janis Joplin? (No Lauren she is Miley Cyrus and she is a legend.) Anyway, I guess my goal is to live (and dress) as authentically as I can. I am feeling so fucking inspired. There is something so magical about seeing her grow up in the spotlight — something we are not owed at all but something I am grateful for as a shining example of you can be whoever you want to be whenever you want to be. Just be YOU!

  • Someone said to me this past weekend that his husband says to him often “there are only so many Sunday afternoons” and wow did that hit me. Sundays have always been and always will be my favourite, sacred day. There is no guarantee how many Sunday afternoons I will get. Even if, according to my plan, I live to be 100 years old there is still a cap on Sunday afternoons. My goal is to embrace them, enjoy them, never waste them. What is your favourite way to spend a Sunday?

What I am enjoying this week: It seems fitting to mention Jake Wesley Rogers makes reels every Sunday. They are everything I feel and more. Sundays are perfect. There is a highlight on Jake’s Instagram page where they are all compiled. Make a cup of tea and enjoy! ☕

Ask me a question: What is your favourite toy? I like dice and fidget toys (for example). From Jac (they/them). Pacific Northwest, USA.

Hi Jac! I love this question, thank you! In writing about my childhood, it got me thinking about how much I used to love playing dress-ups. I know that is not really a toy, but I would take any chance I got to incorporate make-believe into my days and use my imagination of whatever was around me to take on my character. As an adult, my favourite toy would have to be stuffed animals. I tend to have a lot of “throw pillows” in my home — like a lot! They are all squishy and comfy and cuddly. I hold them on zoom calls, I cuddle them while watching TV, I squeeze them for comfort. I don’t have any stuffed animals anymore but I am realising I treat my throw cushions the same way I would a stuffed animal and when I get to watch a dog who has its own stuffed animal I LOVE playing with them. I think I might get myself a stuffed animal again — any tips from anyone on what it should be?