I sat at my desk at work, and felt it, felt everything, all the stories and details and thoughts, and embarrassments and shame and secrets, felt it all rising up the back of my throat like vomit. And the only person I wanted to tell was him.
And I had a link, I had my phone, it was all right there, all I needed to do was message him. And it was all I wanted to do.
And then, idly, the thought popped into my head:
“What if I texted Sitara?”
I hadn’t talked to her in two years. I’d met her in a homeschool bible study, seen her every few weeks in high school and then, after a spat of texting back and forth for a couple of months in college, I asked her out on a date. It was the first date I’d ever been on. We had a really good time, we mutually Jesus-dumped each other afterwards. She’d said she wasn’t that attracted to me in a romantic sense, and I was relieved but also annoyed. I started dating my ex a few months later, and we hadn’t really texted since.
I didn’t even know if I still had her phone number.
I checked. I did.
I had this vague idea that she’d ended up going to some kind of bible college. And maybe she was sort of pastor-y now. Maybe the kind of person who could be trusted to take confession.
And then I just sent her a text. “Hey, is this still Sitara’s number?”
I immediately regretted it.
We hadn’t talked in two years, there was no reason that she would be able to understand this, no reason for her to respond at all.
But she did.
She said "Yeah, who's this?"
And I told her and we were mutually surprised at what was happening, that I reached out. It'd been a while. She asked how I was doing.
And I sat at my desk, my stomach churning, and I typed out that I was "going through it, as my Grandma would say" and asked if I could just vent.
And she said sure.
And I had someone to talk to.
And so, with this weird, unasked for feeling crawling up my spine, of serendipity and strange, holy dread— I did. I vomited, I fumed, I raged and I whined and I cried.
And I listened. Because I typed out the words “I’m Bi”, hit send, my chest tight and painful, I got back “Oh heyyy what’s up bi friend lol. Yah I’m bi too.”
And this feeling washed through me.
It’s difficult to say exactly what that moment felt like. I don’t know if I remember, I don’t know if I’m exaggerating it now looking back, I don’t know if I even noticed it then, but it was like the floor had just dropped out from under me and there was something better underneath, or maybe more like something had reached out and caught me after I'd been falling for a long time. Because all of a sudden I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t a freak, it wasn’t just me.
It felt like the sky had opened up, and that suddenly there was the only lifeline that really mattered.
Because she’d been through this too, this same thing, and, suddenly, there was a path (maybe) to the other side. To Another side.
This could be survived.
So I listened, and for the first time, I swapped stories. I traded pains and embarrassments and (for the first time, for the first time) pleasures. I didn’t have to shout, up and out of the pit I was in, that I had dug myself.
I could just talk, face to face.
And she questioned with me. She flaunted her doubts, accepted them, moved with them, and I watched with a shocked and slightly queasy awe.
And I tried it out.