“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
In one of my first posts on this blog, I mentioned that I might eventually write about other people, but only with their permission. Well, Naomi* and I have talked, and after seeing that I have readers that number in the dozens, she has decided that the promise of real internet fame is pretty irresistible. So, with her blessing, here is the first part of a long story about how my ex-girlfriend’s all-but-husband became her ex-girlfriend, and how an utterly unique and indescribably beautiful friendship rose from the ash pile.
*Before I begin, I should mention that Naomi is not her real name. I gave her the option of retaining her actual name, or using a pseudonym, as I have. She decided to go with the latter, using her old name from high school Spanish class.
Naomi and I first met when I was still living in Arizona. Fate sort of conspired to get us together: she and my sister were best friends growing up. Moreover, at the time, her sister was dating one of my best friends. To hear Naomi tell it, she told my friend that she was interested in me. My friend presented it to me as though he thought we would be a good couple. Who knows the details–I wasn’t there. All I know is, when I went home to visit for Christmas of 2014, Naomi and I were introduced.
We hit it off pretty much immediately. Though I was only in briefly, I can remember at least three times we went out together: first as a group, then as a double-date, and finally as a proper one-on-one. We drove around the county in my papaw’s (read: grandfather’s) ’84 F150, talking about whatever it is people talk about in those moments. I should mention that this had heretofore been a ritual I had always engaged in alone the night before leaving home, so doing it with another person was, in itself, pretty significant. At any rate, the night reached its peak when, after pulling up to her and her sister’s apartment, she asked if she could kiss me. I told her I was planning on doing that after walking her to the door. She turned red, we laughed about it, and then we walked together to her porch, where she once again took charge of the moment, saying “okay, I’m going to kiss you now!”
Her anxiety was so adorable. It was an amazing kiss.
She then said I could date anyone else while I was in Arizona, and if I didn’t kiss anyone else, it better not be because of her.
Of course, I never kissed another after I left home.
After completing one more semester in Arizona (and sending an endless stream of Snaps back and forth), I returned home and began working on my MA TESOL degree at the local university. Naomi and I were reunited, and began what, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be a fairy tale relationship. Over the two or so years we were there, we basically (though unofficially–long story) lived together, and were thick as thieves. Everything seemed perfect, not only to the outside observers who so often commented as such, but to the two of us, as well.
That is, we made ourselves believe that, anyway. We both knew our relationship was not perfect.
Even still, I tried. I really, really, really tried to believe that things were as good as I wanted them to be, just as I really, really, really tried to believe that I wasn’t trans. People are often shocked at how well I keep secrets in general, but especially how well I kept the secret of my gender over the course of so many years. The sad truth is, I only attained that skill after lying to myself my whole life.
I hate that Naomi ended up being collateral damage in my own self-destruction. God, do I hate it.
Sometimes I was able to convince myself that everything was fine, that I was okay with being “the guy” (to use an extremely heteronormative model for a successful relationship). Then again, I started this blog a year before coming out to her. So, really…how successful was I?
By the time I completed my degree (and, again, started this blog), the writing was on the wall for us, regardless of whether or not we acknowledged it at the time. Our sex life, which had languished for the better part of a year at least, was all but dead; my gender behavior was constantly in question.
Whatever, we still planned to get married, because even in our worst times, we were the best friends we had ever had. Even if we struggled to be sexually romantic with one another, we had the “important” stuff. I’ve never been so truly and completely in love with a person.
And so with that, we packed up our things and moved half a day south to start our life together.
It took another year before things had degenerated so badly that I finally stopped lying to her (and myself). Of course, that meant coming out to her…twice. The first time, I was met with the exclamation that began this post. But that’s a story for another day.
It’s impossible to separate the story of my transition, and all its ups and downs, from Naomi, even if we aren’t still together. It’s a story of deception, anger, and deep sorrow, but it is also a story of friendship, perseverance, and above all, love. It’s also a pretty freaking long one: it could probably be a blog in and of itself. Therefore, this is going to be another story that has to be taken in parts, complete with its own new category. I seem to have a lot of those these days.
So yeah, things are great now, but it took a lot of heartache to get there. In part deux, The First Coming (Out).