May 13
ShuaAla's picture

Learning to Breathe

Finn
 
   I never liked boys. Never had boy friends, never hung around all the boys who existed in my tiny little world of the West Village in Manhattan. I truthfully don’t even know what it was. I always used the excuse that because of my sister, Angel, it was ingrained in my unique nature that I was drawn to forming relationships with women. For that supposed reason, I fostered a strong love pertaining to girls, and I still do. I was given the opportunity to experience happiness, to be so innocently free around my friends, to express myself, to show compassion, to show love… things that prompted vile whispers from the boys, chuckling under their breath as they would call me names. Time deceived me of course, just how all meaningful people and things do in the world, and eventually the planets made enough revolutions around the sun for me to have my fair share of female friendships. 
   Well, it wasn’t exactly by choice. Other kids at school began to pick up my unique friendship patterns, and soon enough I found myself wondering if I was ever going to connect with a boy the way I did with a girl, partly because I wanted to escape their threatening ideas about my existence as an individual, to escape this narrative that I was odd, or weak because I hung out with girls. 

That’s when Finn came along.

    It was fourth grade, little me felt so big and grown up, but looking back it’s funny because I was just a painfully innocent, naive 9 year old. I played joyfully in the schoolyard with my friends everyday at noon. Occasionally I would let my eyes graze around the open space, listening to the screams of my fellow classmates, watching balls bounce left and right, standing atop the large slab of concrete that was encased by a large metal fence, trapping us into the school premises. From a distance I would quietly study the boys playing sports in the far right corner of the yard, almost as if they were a foreign alien species that I had absolutely no connection with. Their presence marinated loosely in the back of my mind; I knew enough about them to simply be able to watch them from afar, but never interact.
    I don’t exactly remember how we had met, but I guess one thing led to another and somehow we crossed paths– I assume via mutual friends, which is definitely a term I never would have thought of using back then. Finn was blonde. Way blonder than usual, like abnormally blonde. Jules from Euphoria blonde. And it was natural too, which is a trait I am definitely jealous of now as a fake one. His figure was tall, and his voice soft, his demeanor playful. He had striking blue eyes that were so blue that I rarely ever noticed them; I was too focused on him as a person. From time to time I would spot him across the yard also hanging out with girls. That caught my eye. Another kid like me I thought. 
    Fortunately I wasn’t the only one who had been taking note of this, as my sister Angel had picked up on this too. “Look, that boy likes to be friends with girls too,” she said. Clearly she was attempting to make some sort of connection between me and him. He walked quickly along with his group of girls, the sound of their voices faintly muted as I clocked them from a distance. His short, straight blonde hair fluttered in the wind as he twisted and turned, conversing joyfully with his peers. I had seen him around, and he seemed cool. I so desperately wanted to fit in and not be such an outcast anymore. Plus, he was popular, so I began to feel less and less alone. 
    He played basketball with all his guy friends–and some of his girl friends too. We somehow connected, and I deemed it reasonable that we could possibly get to know each other. Off the bat, boys were different. They were a little too consumed in their personal interests, so it was a bit of a shock to me when I had to do everything he wanted to do. 
   It was the beginning of November in 5th grade, and our friendship had just taken off. We were aimlessly standing around in the schoolyard. It was lunch. Stationed away from the basketball courts where everyone else was, we stood alone in the one court no one used. I asked him what he wanted to do. “Poison,” he replied quickly, as if I was supposed to understand what that meant. “What’s that?” I asked inquisitively. He explained quickly that it was a basketball game he enjoyed playing, speaking fast as if he had some important location to show up to and needed to get done speaking so he could leave. I was confused, of course, and hoped he would display a bit of compassion for the fact that I did not want to go. He walked away, so I followed after. Anything for him I guess. 
    As I grew attached to our friendship that was steadily forming, I began to like Poison more and more. It opened a segway for our relationship to prosper, and gave me the ability to let me spend more time getting to know him as a person, as an acquaintance. After a while I found myself utterly consumed in this little game, constantly engulfed by a small crowd of my classmates that liked to play too, intertwining through the chilly autumn air as our shouts and movements echoed strongly through the schoolyard. The seasons morphed effortlessly into each other; time was like honey, sliding carefully and beautifully down a slope. Poison blinded my ability to consciously process time, and I allowed myself to fly like a butterfly, to embrace this new friendship with jubilant arms. We played it everyday, and it was our thing. Our bond grew bigger. It felt so loose. Like elasticity. I was expanding into new territories and I kind of liked it. 
   He liked to sing and dance too, which were two things I had a very strong passion for. Every Friday, employees from a special dance organization called “NDI'' would suddenly appear inside our school. My class and I would cheerfully walk down from our classroom on the 4th floor to the auditorium on the 1st, teeming with excitement at the thought of being able to have fun for one whole period. We’d go about flailing our arms and legs for an hour on the stage while our teacher would sit far back in the seats and stare complacently at her computer, or her papers, or whatever else she was doing. Aside from that, Finn and I loved NDI, and we were the best out of everyone else. We were exuberant forces, balls of energy that could not get enough of this wonderful opportunity. We worked together, outperformed the other dancers, and most of all, we had fun. Eventually we did everything together. We shared common interests, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t scared to openly say I liked dancing or liked hanging out with girls, because I had a new friend by my side who I could relate to. 
   He liked to sing too, which was a shock but worked like a match made in heaven, because I genuinely had my heart set on singing. I was pretty good, too, and as I revealed my true self, so did he. We fit like cereal and milk, like ketchup and fries, like a really pretty necklace with a nice outfit. But what’s sad about those things is that while they do go together, they don’t need each other. Just how cereal may need milk but can be eaten on its own, and just how an outfit looks better with jewelry but no one ever said it was necessary. I felt like I was the milk, or the necklace. 

It seemed that I liked him more than he liked me. 

   …We sang “All of Me'' by John Legend for the talent show at the end of the year. I was Ten, and felt fuller than ever with pride as my current friendship was one of my greatest. My mom would pick us up after school, and slowly we would walk down 6th avenue to my apartment, the bustling city street noises humming casually around us as we were heavily engrossed in conversation. We’d go chatting about as she gleamed happily at us, and I would sometimes catch her looking down at us, her pure, lovely energy would warm my heart. She’d hover over us from a distance, turning her head here and there while she grinned widely at me, glad that he and I seemed like such a good pair. Once at home, we’d sing. My dad had gotten my sister and I this little karaoke machine, and so being the persistent friend I was, I edged us to use it in order for us to practice our routine. 

And so we did. 

   Eventually it was show day and my heart beat vigorously inside my chest. Sitting off to the right side of the seats in the auditorium, we were quivering anxiously with the many other students seated around us. The large room was dimly lit and the bright lights shone on whatever performer was on stage. Situated there in the darkness, I could feel my blood pumping rapidly through my veins. Oh how it felt like there was a weight on my chest… my nerves were accelerating at speeds that my mind could not handle, and I attempted to catch my quickening breath. After zoning out for a while, swimming poorly in a sea of my own anxious thoughts, our destiny had arrived. We nervously rose as we heard our names being announced for the next performance, adjusting ourselves ever so quickly and traveling timidly up the squeaky wooden steps that led to the stage. All I could feel, think, and hear were the thoughts in my own head, the tense sensation of a beating pulse hammering incessantly inside of me. Everything else faded out, I ignored everything around me and focused on us…
   Long story short, we sang our hearts out, or at least I did. That song really meant a lot to me, and still I don’t know why. It was either my passion for singing that drove me to be so resilient, or subconsciously it drew me closer to him. It was our thing. Our song that we practiced day and night. Up there, positioned on the hard wooden stage floor, light beams blinded my vision. I failed to recognize any of the faces in the crowd, their dark figures being the only thing I could perceive. It made me feel a little better knowing that the viewers were faceless; unable to cast judgment on me as my eyes didn’t let them. It was almost like staring at a giant shadowy blob, occasionally managing to make out the line of some kid’s head, or a random man’s hairs that were statically sticking up. 
   The song went on and I continued, shaking softly notes rolled off my clammy tongue. The music was loud, and the microphone stood helplessly on a stand, sort of like me. The sound waves of my vocal chords traveled swiftly into the object, yet the noise was so prominent that I eventually couldn’t hear myself sing, causing me to continue in hopes that I sounded alright; but I could hear Finn beside me. At some point during the song, lights still shining powerfully in the line of my vision, I caught a glimpse of the dark silhouettes of the popular kids, sitting evilly atop their imaginary throne. Packed into the seats that were stationed in the left side of my view, they collectively created a bit of noise, leading me to become painfully aware of their existence at the talent show. Although only for a short second, it was too late, and my eyes had sent what I had seen to my brain, processing what I was viewing fairly quickly. My heart sank like a roller coaster, caught there in the moment as time came to a slow stop. There I stood, suddenly engulfed by a quickening flash of worry and shame… I could instantly feel that he was embarrassed. His friends were there, and that was the first time I realized that they were probably making fun of us… of me. 
   The applause luckily drowned out my worries. I was living blissfully in the moment, perched graciously atop my mountain of success. He seemed a little upset, almost embarrassed. I wondered why. 
   The year came to a close, and he began to steadily inch away from me. Yeah, we were still friends, but slowly and surely my spot at the lunch table was unfortunately not accompanied by his. He scaled up to the table away from mine where all his popular friends lived in their little kingdom–engaged in their own world of cool kid antics and naive supremacy. Clinging to him like usual, I would make my way over to him and his group, internally shivering as I was typically scared of the individuals he surrounded himself with. Politely I would ask him to come sit with me. Never was he mean or mad. So I thought nothing of it. But he always gave some sort of miniscule excuse that he was simply sitting there with his guy friends… harmlessly existing with people who weren't me. But the clock kept ticking and so did my patience. Soon enough we were starting to drift away, and the unsaid feeling of distance began to creep between us. We never formally said anything, never got into fights, or displayed negativity towards each other, yet I was left wondering what I did wrong. What was the reason for him to suddenly diverge from our previously close bond? Maybe he’ll come sit with me tomorrow? But that never happened. The days filed out in front of each other and before I knew it, fifth grade approached, then occurred, and he marched up a new path, seemingly happy in his other friendships. I felt like a paintbrush, my tender bristles drying up with excess paint as I went unused. It hurt me every time I was dipped in water; I didn’t want to be washed away. I didn’t want to lose a friend whom I cared so much about. It bruised me dearly, but nevertheless I held my head up, stupidly trying to see the good in things. Little naive me just didn’t realize. 
   Fifth grade ended and I switched from elementary school into my new middle school. So did he. We never talked again–except for one time when I bumped into him–but never again. Funny enough he somehow managed to become friends with some of the students from my new school. It made me happy knowing that he was still connected to me in some peculiar, but interesting way. I learned through a series of awkward encounters with the cool kids from my school (who somehow knew him) that he had talked to them! About me… and my name surfaced in his conversations with these particular people. The tables turned instantly, and the bowls on top quivered; the earthquake within me rattled my intestines as I rubbed the fog from my eyes; I became aware of what he really thought of me. I discovered that he had claimed that I was weird, and clingy, and he and all his past friends considered me to be strange, to be odd and unlikeable. He put on a fairly good show, acting as if we were never like puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together. Unfortunately those puzzle pieces came apart, but I assembled them back together, putting the clues one before the other and realizing that he wanted nothing to do with me. Although never interacting with him, the kids from my school frequently saw him and would occasionally report back to me, maliciously explaining the things he stated in regards to my existence, clearly doing it to leech off my pain–something that they found comedic amusement in. Truthfully, it was hurtful to hear what he had said, considering that during the duration of our friendship we were nearly glued together. Waves of embarrassment shot over me everytime, as if giant towers of hot water were being flushed rapidly across my skin within seconds. Him and his companions supposedly taunted me for the way I was attached to him, calling me names that pertained to certain sexaul orientations, poking fun at my femininity, and the fact that I was ‘obsessed’ with him. I was torn, yet rom time to time I would let my mind wander back to him and the things that came out of his seemingly loving, but deceiving mouth. I could not understand why he would do these things. 
   Middle school ended and I grew into who I was. I became confident in the way I expressed myself, my sexuliaty, my gender, and eventually began to realize that he himself was struggling with those things too… his world was precariously crumbling before his eyes; he did not want to continue any ties that kept us together, because it drew a larger target on his back; made him stand out, or appear more ‘girly’, or peculiar for hanging out with a person like me. I  had Innocently always acted as myself, never over analyzing who I was. I exhibited compassion and kindness for him, but his peers thought otherwise. Unfortunately I began to understand much longer after 4th grade that he wanted to save himself, throwing me so rigidly under the bus because he was scared that people would see less of him for the bond we shared. He was terrified others would question his every being, all the fibers in his body, all the choices he made… all the things pertaining to his identity. The connection we presumably had was shattered by his own personal motives and I was left to receive the brunt of the negativity that followed harshly afterwards, while he got to proudly walk away on his elevated hoax of a path. He enabled himself to pose as a guy who was one of the ‘boys,’ and deemed friendships like ours as strange. It was a facade he put on, one that I too had to put on in middle school, in hopes that people would stop nagging at me about my sexaulity or gender or things of that nature. But I blossomed,  leaping out of that phase, and I could see right through him as if he was a glass container filled with secret items and components. In my bare hands I had held those components, cradled his soul and delved into his personality. I knew him. I knew us, and the friendship we had created. When I looked in a mirror, I saw him, and he saw me. We were similar in many ways, and till this day I do not know what he’s doing or who he’s become, but I know who he’s hiding, and I’m hoping that one day it will come out. 

Emma
 
    Eighth grade was an interesting year, to say that least. Last year of middle school, swimming in dumb (and petty) teenage drama, attempting to navigate the world in hopes of discoverig things about yourself and others. When I think about it, it all was quite crazy, as there was so much going on, so many things that I was involved with, so many friendships that succeeded and didn’t succeed. I was friends with this girl named Emma. We were like the closest of closest people you would know. Constantly you’d find us laughing our hearts out, flailing about onto each other until our ribs hurt. She was cute and short, with wavy light brown hair with little blonde streaks here and there that seemed to be straight in some parts and curly in others. She had uniquely big eyes that sparkled everytime she had an idea, or when she giggled at the thought of something silly. I don’t remember the color though, I never really was too focused on that. 
    8th grade began, and I was delighted to find out that we were in the same class. Something about being in the presence of your best friend all day long really made you feel safe and secure in the relationships that you had going on in your life. Thus, I tried to spend every moment with her, as best friends would. Our energy clicked like two magnets, drawing us closer and closer together into a bond that was quite strong. I’d walk loosely by her side as we transitioned from class to class, looking down at her head because she was so much shorter than me. I’d lean in carefully to speak, lowering my body closer to hers, my eyes still set on the hall in front of us as I spoke. I’d listen closely to her voice as we stepped one foot in front of the other, intertwining ourselves through the busy walkway and intense chatter that hugged our limbs tightly. Everyone laid their dull eyes on you in that hallway, their dense cotton-balled braines quickly analyzing you as you exchanged quick glances. Everyone saw you, or more so who you were with, and I was confident being paired with Emma.
    Middle school had been rough. Constantly I felt uneasy, as if I was living inside a small cozy little box, existing peacefully in comfortable spaces that positively suited me, but others around me were reluctant in trying to find a way inside. That box was my love for girls. But not in a romantic way or any other weird way. My love for girls solely on a friendship level, because the only true friends I had ever had were women. My soul felt feminine, as if I was similar to my friends–especially Emma–allowing us to interact on an easy and fluid level. I felt free and happy, and just so normal. I clicked with girls so well sometimes I forgot that everyone else precieved me as a boy. But the unfortunate thing was that everyone did see me as a ‘boy,’ and that’s where things were slightly complicated.
    Identity is such a vague term, but back then I only knew of it as something that seemed to harm you if you explored it. I had existed for nearly 3 years in a toxic environment, drowned in harsh rules and stereotypes about the ways in which you were supposed to act according to your gender. I had gotten used to the incessant rumors and talk about me, trying to lightly ignore the others who were attempting to consume themselves in my life and investigate my friendships. It always felt like I was looking over my shoulder, every movement I made and every thing I said was devoured and carefully digested by others. At times I could be so pleased with a particular moment that Emma and I were involved in, but thunder would come striking down on me, shocking me back to reality. I’d have to remember that people didn’t understand my love for my friends. And if they did, they’d think I was gay. Or a girl. Or some dainted label they plastered onto me because they were so peculiarly engrossed in the life I lived and all the processes I went through. It forced me to think of myself as an outcast, a single candle burning ever so brightly amongst others that were unlit. My spark, my fire, was the compassion I showed towards others, but it drew attention to me in ways that made me uncomfortable.
    I tried to change. I stealthily observed the popular guys in my classes, analyzing their designer shirts and cool shoes they would wear to school from Monday to Friday. The dark colors and intricate symbols stitched onto their clothing intrigued me; the way in which they carried themselves caught my eye, something I wanted to emulate. I longed to shed my skin and step hurriedly into a new one, a character that would push others to interpret me as a thing that I wasn’t. I copied their outfits and shoved many green bills onto countless counters in various stores, attempting to morph my figure into a mold that fit more closely to the idea of a ‘masculine boy.’ I needed a remedy, a facade that would divert the attention away from the topic of my identity. I desired to feel ordinary in hopes no one would continue to question why I was friends with the people I was friends with.     
    It was 2019 and the school year was going fairly smoothly-so was my new persona that I had cooked up. Everything was settled in and life carried out like it always did. Emma and I were still close, but my twin sister Angel had slithered into the picture. It was always a little complicated going to school with her, because not only would we fight, but we had a very bad habit of finding interest in the same people to become friends with. And guess who that one friend was? Emma. Due to the time Emma and I shared, we all found it suitable if Angel tagged along. After school we’d exit the building, the chilly spring air rinsing itself over our pale skin. We’d chatter away, walking as a trio up through Union Square and maneuvering through the blobs of people rushing speedily out of the train station until we reached 14th street. Emma lived a little further down on East 14th street, and so we made the quick adventure to her house quite frequently, pacing along the concrete slabs and gazing up at the towering structures that loomed above us. There was a Vivi Bubble Tea shop positioned next to the entrance of her building, and so this prompted us to regularly visit and purchase drinks. I’d sip up the tapioca pearls through the thick plastic straw, my mouth filling with many of them as I attempted to swallow them all at once. I’d clench down eagerly on the tiny black balls, chomping away at the chewy texture. We’d smile and stop for a moment, involved in consuming the tasty liquid and simply standing there with one another. I still remember the smell of the shop, the smell of our friendship, in its freshest moments. “Hi, can I get a medium passion fruit bubble tea with tapioca please?” God I don’t even know how many times I said those words. Emma introduced me to bubble tea, and later on looking back on it, I can never really forget her because of it. 
    Aside from our weekly, and sometimes even daily, trips to Vivi, we enjoyed walking around Union Square when we got the chance. Some days, the three of us would strut over to 5th avenue and 13th street. There, a cute little women’s shop called “Brandy Melville” stood. It was really popular. Super popular even. All the girls from our school and from all the neighboring schools around us congregated there. It was like the holy grail of immaculate feminine energy intertwined with pretty clothes and long lasting bonds. It was everything I wanted to experience. Yet everytime Angel, Emma and I walked in, eyes grew on the back of my head. The uneasy idea that I was being watched would arise within me, becoming self conscious because being inside a women’s store threatened my idea of masculinity that I so fakely wore day-in and day-out. Inside I felt so casually at peace with being in Brandy, shopping around with them, letting my vision wander about as I peered at the cream colored crop tops and high waisted mom jeans, the golden jewelry and canvas checkered belts. But my appearance was a physical burden to me. Something I couldn’t erase due to how scared I felt to embrace who I was. I shoved myself inside my costume every day, pretending to be this individual that just so happened to be friends with lots of girls and went into Brandy on a regular basis, but wanted nothing to do with it. Yeah. That was a lie. And I knew it and forced myself to live it. I could hear my heart calling out to me, knocking on the inside of my chest, asking me to do what made me happy. To browse around with Angel and Emma, to try on the clothes they were trying, to embody their spirits the way I had so desperately wanted to for so long. No matter how prominent these sensations came to be, I swatted them out of existence, sentencing them off to forbidden parts of my consciousness. But still, I felt like I stuck out. I couldn’t put my nose on it, but I just wanted to be one of them. 
    I kept my feelings to myself, gluing them into the chambers of my brain where I hoped they’d stay and never jump out. I stuck nails in my emotions, boarding them up as the months carried on. I always told myself that I would have to wait to be my true self until I was in my last year or two of high school. It pained me that I felt so insecure, constantly worried about the thoughts that others had of me, what they’d think of me if I dressed the way I wanted, talked the way I wanted, or acted the way I wanted. I was tired. I just wanted to experience being normal, but my battery was being drained and I was at the point where I didn’t know if I could recharge it. I had no choice though- or at least that's what the status quo was telling me to do.
    Angel and Emma eventually grew closer. The more time we all hung out the more I realized they were a better duo than I thought Emma and I were. It made me jealous, so freaking jealous. My stomach felt sour with sorrow when I would glance over at the two of them walking a little bit ahead of me, their shoes lined up together as they moved in unison. I was a ghost trailing them, simply there to amuse them or surprise them every once in a while with my presence, which they had indefinitely ignored. Time scratched me in the face and didn’t bother to stitch me up. As it went on, my bond with my best friend was deteriorating and its light kept fading. In the back of my mind I had a hunch why.
    One time, around May or June, Angel and I showed up at Emma’s house. The green leaves sprouted on the trees, sashaying beautifully in the wind as the fresh spring air encapsulated itself into my lungs. We chilled inside her living room once we got there. Her house was small, sort of like ours, and she walked clumsily over to a semi-dirty mattress propped up sheepishly against the wall. Carefully, she gripped the sides of the large object and let it fall down onto the hard wooden floor. THUD. It was her parents bed, statoned admirably by two older looking windows that gazed out onto the narrow pavements of 14th street. Angel and Emma plopped themselves atop the mattress, shifting about and adjusting their outfits while Angel extended her phone out to me, inching her body closer to mine. “Take photos of us,” she demanded. She moved back closer to Emma. I was typically commissioned to be their photographer, although I truthfully didn’t like this role because I always wondered why I couldn’t be in the photos with them. My fingers gripped her phone, and I quickly tapped the gray shutter button in the camera application, snapping numerous images of the two as they huddled close together, posing in their pretty outfits from Brandy. With each tap, I grew more annoyed, trying to hide the fact that I wasn’t exhibiting signs of happiness like they were. Inside, a boulder crashed into my soul like it always did. I continued to take photos, spacing out and attempting to understand the feelings that had manifested within me. I wanted to cry. To scream. To disappear or to instantly shapeshift into a being that would fit right in with them. But I couldn’t. All I could do was sit there and feel sorry for myself, repeatedly clicking the shutter button as I watched my best friend grow tighter with my own sister. I wish I was a girl, I said to myself. It would make me closer with her anyway. 
    I didn’t understand it at the time, and I’m still not sure what exactly I meant by those thoughts I was thinking. I so violently dreamed of being able to equate myself to Emma the way Angel did. It was all I wanted. More and more instances occurred where I felt this way, and soon enough I started to think, maybe she doesn’t want to be friends with me because I’m a ‘boy.’ Those words were a knife tampering with fresh wounds, scarring me deeper and deeper every time I heard myself say them. They weren’t true, or more so the ‘boy’ part wasn’t true. I was me. Just myself. A person with a life and interests and a smile and passions. A person who loved Vivi bubble tea and made an effort to develop my relationship with a person who seemingly didn’t return the same energy. It was challenging to assess who I was in comparison to the people around me, because all my life I was told who to be or judged for who I wanted to be. I just knew, without having to be told, that this was why Emma was drifting away from me.  
   The three of us hung out more and more until the end of June, but in the course of time Emma washed away with the waves, joining a new group of people that I had a particularly bad history with. She left me stranded on an island, alone to evaluate the things that rattled the walls inside my head. She still talked to Angel of course, which most definitely did not aid the internal sickness I was dealing with in terms of my identity. I was at a crossroad, fed up with being pushed away simply because of something so stupid as the gender I was preceived as. I contemplated long and hard about who I was, still managing to show up to the last few days of school with a bogus grin taped to my face, trying to control the weight of my hidden feelings. Eventually and slowly, I let it out. Began experimenting with clothing in new ways, expressing my appearance in new ways. It felt scary to me, and it overwhelmed me at times. It had to be done though. 
   After my friendship with Emma, I realized that without her I wouldn’t have really discovered my true self. My normal self. Although painful, her existence in my life lit a path of warming torches, all leading towards self growth and acceptance. I went from wondering how our relationship would be different, to actualizing that the best way to grow close with someone was to be authentic. 

    Many years after those two friendships had subsided, I came to an interesting conclusion–or realization–about who I was portraying myself as. Cemented deep within me were the beginnings of a beautiful plant attempting to sprout; rooted deeply in thick, rich soil that held it vigorously to the ground. The many seeds, so small and fragile, were the cumbersome foundations for the new feelings developing in my core. I started off slow as a slug, although it felt like I was sitting in the front seat of a wobbly wagon, being pushed forward at a very fast pace while I sat uncomfortably inside, unsure of where I was headed . Every wobbly step I took to align my expression with my internal wonders, I carried weights that attached themselves to my shoulders. Even though I was starting to do things that made me happy, I was frightened and constantly on edge about displaying a new side of myself, one that had been wrongly blurred for quite some time. But ultimately after experiencing certain events with Emma and Finn, I fathomed that femininity was a telescope, something I wanted to wrap my fingers around dearly and peer fondly into. I wanted to explore it, to learn it, I wanted to wear it and eat it and sleep it. I wanted to swing from it and rock it in my desperate arms. I wanted to become it…  and so I did.

    

 
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About the Author: ShuaAla
Joshua. Alatriste
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