Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Someone On My Mind

I haven't been able to get to the library so I am rereading Annie On My Mind (spoiler alert: link includes a plot synopsis). It's a story about two 12th graders who fall in love. I read it for the first time about ten years ago.

This book was published in 1982, the year I graduated from eighth grade and started high school. I wish I had read it instead of Judy Blume, which I didn't understand. Almost everything that happened in 11th grade, and a lot of the things I'd felt and experienced prior to that, would have made much more sense had I known that girls could, would, and did like girls. I only knew that boys and men were or could be homosexual. For me, so many things were classified under "If I were a boy. . ." The one book I read that had a plot about gay lovers (from the library at my Catholic school, oddly enough) was about a girl who finds her boyfriend in the bushes having sex with her best friend - also a guy.

I was such a dummy. I only have the Reagan Administration and the total lack of talk about sex at home as my defense. The big mystery is why none of it hit home when my (very progressive) PE teacher brought in a panel to discuss homosexuality and even bisexuality for one class during the "Life Skills" quarter.

Of course I fell in love with a girl in my class, my best friend, and in retrospect I know she fell in love with me too. She had a paper route so she could never sleep over, but when I spent the night at her place, I got up and delivered papers with her. When we got back she made the craziest French toast ("When we make it in New Zealand, we always add hot sauce") and I would eat it and not only declare it, but actually find it delicious. For years afterwards, and I mean years, because the last time it happened has been since I moved back to California, whenever I saw someone who looked like her, my heart would stop and I would have to catch my breath (if that sounds like hyperbole, remember this was my first love and I was a teenager so I've gone back to that place when it happened).

If I'd read Annie On My Mind in, say, 1983, or even 1986, so many things would have made much more sense. The fact that I never got what was so special about boys, just for starters! And maybe this girl and I would have had an actual relationship. . . Not that it wouldn't have been full of passion, drama, and confusion- an adolescent relationship is an adolescent relationship after all - and its own problems, especially as in 1985, we would not have been able to be out comfortably at our high school.

I was feeling sad last night about this girl for the first time in many years. And it wasn't she that I was feeling sad about really, it was the missed opportunity, or the experience I could have had or should have had, instead of the one I actually did, which resulted in my running around the halls at the school thinking, "I'm too young for this! I'm only 17!" and getting in a stupid, crazy fight on prom night (well, maybe I wouldn't have gotten in that fight, but I'm sure I would have pled youth about anything). I wonder if we could talk about that craziness now; we sure couldn't the last time we saw each other, in 1989. But all of that is a long story, at least another blog post if not a novel.


Tea said...

The things I *wasn't* exposed to, in my liberal, alternative, wacky family astounds me as well. We knew plenty of gay men, but I didn't meet my first out lesbian until I was 28! (granted I had been in Japan from 23-28, I'd like to think it would have happened sooner).

Though how you got throught that life skills class without it sinking in, hmmm, queer, very queer:-)

But paper route together, the morning after--love it!

Saipan Writer said...

Books can and do make a difference to many people. Maybe you missed this one, but someone else may find it, and your blogging about it.

And your own novel needs to be written. :-)

I'm older than you are and grew up, also in a Catholic family where no ever talked about sex. Somehow we all just "knew" though. Clearly by the mid 70's there were a lot of girls (at least at college and post-graduate) coming out of the closet. The women's lib movement was about more than equality in the workplace. It spoke to women and girls being free to be whoever they were.

Don't know what happened in the 80's. I was already here, on a tiny island with a strong Catholic presence, and a (surprising?) tolerance for different lifestyles, life choices.

Phoebe J. Southwood said...

i missed one too. :(

it happens