It was in the month before the plump, ripening moon of harvest that I met HER.
The evening was well on its way to revealing the wonders of the universe, pinpoints of light pierced the darkness as I gazed out my loft window. Both Yorkies at my feet, and they would steadfastly remain there until I ordered them to do otherwise.
The faint glow from the monitor reflected hope as I studied the pictures presented, and almost without thought, I pressed the wink button. HER semblance was not what I found interesting. It was something in HER smile that intrigued me.
I continued perusing the other profiles of an online dating company that was presented to me as possible matches. This was not a new endeavor. I had been corresponding, on-line dating, since school let out in June. I had become very cavalier, even jaded, and had lost hope of ever finding anyone. The two dimensional reality seemed doomed to remain just that.
Yes, it was initially titillating, using a computer service to connect me to other women, 'out there'. The possibilities seemed endless. Every discussion seemed to highlight another part of me revealing something about how I participated in relationships.
Several aspects of myself came to the forefront as I experimented with different profiles. I tried on different personas like a young girl would try on new outfits. First, I dallied on a single dating service, next on multiple others as my attention began to wane.
Slowly, I became my own sociological experiment.
Sassy Sandals looking for a Good Pair of Boots was my first on-line persona. By this time in my coming out process, I had determined I was an old fashioned Femme girl, and I wanted an old fashioned Butch. It was become politically incorrect to assign those 'labels' to lesbians by this time. I decided to hell with them all. Butch women made the hairs on my arms stand at attention. Each hair saluting. Finally allowing myself to be in a relationship with a butch woman was the best thing I could imagine, and the most frightening, all at the same time.
It took enormous courage for me, but I chose tall, dark and dangerous.
SHE turned out to be none of the above.
SHE was more.
It was hell living a lie. I did so for 42 years of my life. Finally, I had reached a point where my children could not be taken away from me, and I was free to be ME.
I longed to soar.
My daughter was the inspiration for me to begin dating on-line. She insisted I get a computer and "Get out there Mom. That is how dating is done these days." I raised a good one there.
She was sick of seeing me mope.
I was sick of moping.
Sassy Sandals was my first moniker. That particular profile brought in some lively prospects. I chatted endlessly with numerous women all over this country, even a few in Europe. It didn't take me long to figure out dating long distance was a bust for me. I longed for physical connection. Words are wonderful, necessary, but they were no substitution for a warm body with arms to wrap around me.
By the time summer was coming to an end, I had three on-line personas. I had begun to realize how I chose to present myself, especially my "title" would attract certain types of women to respond to my ads.
SHE did not respond to Sassy Sandals.
Later, at our first meeting, we discussed my experiment. I viewed my activities of the summer as an interesting adventure. I still do. I am glad I took my daughter's advice.
I matured into my lesbianism that summer, on-line.
I can't actually remember which persona I was using when I winked at HER, but within a half hour SHE winked back. Our online conversation was very brief. It didn't seem natural to me to be chatting with her online when I could actually talk to HER. I was beyond excited. I was thrilled. She lived in the same city as me. A miracle in and of itself. I longed to hear a real woman's voice. We made a 'date' for me to call HER in ten minutes.
I called HER in five.
"I thought you were calling in ten minutes." SHE sounded very sassy.
"I can hang up, and call back if you would like," was my equally sassy reply.
"No, no, that is fine. Let's chat." SHE was laughing with an easy chuckle.
I liked it.
We continued having a very witty conversation for at least an hour before SHE asked if I wanted to meet for coffee the next day.
"Sounds good to me."
We met at a local Starbucks. I arrived first. I was in a short summer dress with heels.
She showed up wrinkled and wet. No boots. Tennis shoes.
I didn't have a stellar first impression. It wasn't the shoes. I just couldn't get passed the wrinkled and wet.
We both got a coffee, and sat down to chat, face to face.
I noticed SHE was more than a bit guarded as we started to get to know one another.
I came clean about my various persona's including Sassy Sandals.
"I saw that posting. What the hell did that mean?" SHE asked with HER arms tightly crossed over her breasts, and her eyes narrowing. It was as if SHE was an entire fortress all onto herself, and I was not granted entry.
I explained I loved sandals, and as a matter of fact, wearing sandals was how I identified summer was actually here. Being a California girl, I longed for the feeling of freedom sandals gave me. Sandals meant summer, but an even better feeling is no shoes at all.
That is total freedom I explained.
And, being as I also associate my high heel sandals with being a Femme girl, I likewise associate a pair of boots with being Butch.
There. I said it ALOUD. There was that word, hanging in the air. BUTCH.
A word that had been used for generations as a weapon, "trying to be a BOY," "wanting to be a BOY," but NEVER "good enough to be a BOY." All of which are horridly WRONG. At least in my opinion. Butch women are Butch women, and decidedly NOT men, nor boy wannabes.
I knew my soul-mate would be a Butch woman.
What I wanted to do was to take the weapon-words back. Make them MY words. Words of love and longing, NOT words to be used to batter and bruise.
I am sick of being told what I am. What I am not.
Who I can love, and who I cannot.
I am taking my life back for ME.
To be sure, some agree with my viewpoint. Others do not.
SHE was not ready to be identified as BUTCH.
But, BUTCH she was.
She made the hairs on my arm stand at attention. I could not understand why SHE was so guarded, like I was the enemy.
Here I sat. I am your GURL. Even if you cannot SEE me, I am your GURL.
Somehow, we made it through those first few dates. We hiked, we lunched, we talked on the phone, and we slowly came to know one another.
Then one day, SHE saw me. Me. Really SAW me.
It was a moment I will never forget.
HER eyes grew wide. HER nostrils flared. HER lips, pursed. SHE cocked her head slightly to one side. It was as if SHE could not see me head on. SHE needed to gather my likeness a little askew.
That was the moment when WE connected. In a crowded coffee shop restaurant. HER favorite. There was a spark of recognition, and then every noise melted away. All became background. It was only the two of us.
A lazy smile danced across HER lips.
"I was wondering if you would EVER see me."
"Are you ready to go?" she asked.
"Absolutely," I replied breathless.
I don't know how WE made it to her house, but when WE got in the door, SHE wrapped me up tightly in her strong arms, we fit nicely, and SHE kissed me like I had never been kissed before.
The world stood still for just that moment.
WE are coming up on our sixth year anniversary since our first date. WE have lots of anniversaries these days, but somehow the moment when WE recognized each other will be the most important for me because I am reminded that what I think I want, and what is really good for me, are often two different things.
The first six months were rocky as hell. We both have such strong personalities. WE are equals.
But tonight, as WE sat on our patio enjoying the lazy summer evening, I thought about how we met. It brings a smile of contentment to my face, and fills my heart with an abundance of joy.
In another month the anniversary will be official. SHE is the keeper of the dates, I am the keeper of the moments.
I couldn't wait to tell the story to myself again. Here I sit, barefoot, looking into the laughing eyes of the woman I married. I am securely wrapped in joy. I AM a happy girl.