I watched her through my second floor window every night for weeks. She spent a lot of time in the living room of the house across the street, and I would watch her talk and laugh and hug her knees up against herself. I felt like a creep, but I couldn't stop watching.
I finally gathered up enough courage to ask her out, and we went on this incredibly stereotypical date to a lesbian-owned bookstore, both of us with our shaved heads and comfortable shoes. It was ridiculous, but I didn't care.
I was so desperate for it not to end when our coffees grew old that I convinced her to wait for me in an alley while I sneaked into my old landlord's basement to steal two bottles of his homemade wine. We drank it on my living room floor and laughed shyly at one another from across the room.
Later, she would move in with me for a short time, and later yet, we would break up on another living room floor in another house. I didn't want that to happen. Our relationship was following an arch I did not understand and could not control, and I just didn't know what else there was to do. I was still living a largely closeted life, and living that way imposes closets on the people you are close to sometimes, and I couldn't bear imposing my closet on her. She had fought so hard for her own health and welfare up to that point.
We lost touch. I didn't see her for years. I have heard through the grapevine of friends and acquaintances that she is now a man, and her old name is now a new name for him, and I wonder if I would recognize him now.
I googled him today. I am not sure about how he spells his first name, or even what it is in its full form. I don't even know if he kept his original last name. I was anxious while I searched for him, because I've discovered deaths this way. No matter. Google gave me no clues.
I had no plans to contact him. I am comfortable with the fact that we are strangers now. I think I just wanted confirmation of his continued existence. Who we were, what we were, how we were: all of this makes so much more sense, in a way, now that she has become he. I never got to say goodbye to her, not properly, and maybe I hoped to see our truths in his face, as it is now, but with the same quiet smile where she used to hold her braid.
In the wise words of Ash Beckham:
I can give you a hundred reasons why coming out of my closet was harder than coming out of yours, but here's the thing: hard is not relative. Hard is hard… There is no harder. There is just hard.