I. Have the most exhilarating news. I am going to see Ani. In concert. AAAAAAAAAA! that has been a rare semi-teenage moment from she who despises such things. Sorry. Won't happen again. For a while. But, life is shaping up. I still can't stand my parents, but I'll deal with that. I'm making friends with the new girl, Juliette. We talk. She smiles at me a lot. I can make her laugh. Good stuff. She looks a lot like I think Agi Pek will in a few years. She's cute. Okay. I'm not considering my sister's new babysitter in that light. Really. I'm not. That's my father's job. I didn't mean that. Except, that I did. Ugh, memories. In any event. She is cute. And she's nice. And I like her. And she's coming with me and my father to see Ani. Except that Daddy isn't going to the concert, because even I have more sense than to take my republican father into an Ani Difranco concert. Even if it is in Duluth, Minnesota, it's going to be full of people of various sexualities. In short, I'm not taking my father to an Ani concert anymore than I'd take him to a dyke bar. I don't need him asking questions. I don't need him to see who, if anyone, I'll be flirting with and/or ogling at this concert. And please, nobody ask me why in that case I'm bringing Juliette. Cause, the answer is simply, I think Daddy wants me to have a chaperone. And I don't mind having a friend along. Especially if she's cute. I have no proof that she's straight. Other than the boyfriend she lives with. But, that doesn't prove anything; she's here, isn't she? And I'm NOT bringing her for anything other than the music. Myself, maybe, but her, no. And anyway, she's more friend than family, and hence, I'm not hiding anything from her anyway. Hm. I don't think I'm convincing myself, here. But I do know better than to let myself develop anything for her. It was one thing with Linda. What thing, exactly, I'm not sure, but one other than this. With Linda, we were friends. And then, we were more than friends, in a not-quite-sisterly kind of way. In a way that started with sisterly. With holding her hand as we went down the stairs 'cause she was afraid of the dog. With teasing her, 'n stuff. And which sort of turned into flirtation. And she being the naive, innocent girl that she was, she didn't know when she was being flirted with. Or maybe she did, and she just did it back anyway. In any event, it seemed like a close friendship until, I don't remember what. But until all of a sudden, we were staying up 'till all hours of the morning in the computer room, a mile-long playlist on Napster, and my head in her lap, her fingers in my hair, talking. Then, it was on the bed, my head in her lap, her fingers in my hair, talking. Then the talking stopped, and we were just touching each other. Her fingers in my hair, my hands around the back of her waist. A hug, sure. But we stayed that way for hours. Just touching. Then, just holding each other. She kissed me, three times ever. Always when one of us was leaving. When I left for Colorado she cried. She was the only one. And we held each other in the train station for so long... And I didn't want to let her go. And it was like she was a sister, but so much more than a sister. A friend, and something else. That thing that wasn't a lover because I was 14 and she was 23 and ostensibly straight and had never kissed anyone before. But the feeling was the same. And we just didn't want to let go, but we had to, and eventually we did. Then, over thanksgiving, more in the computer room, and everywhere. Just being together. Biking. Laughing. We did a lot of laughing. Just being together again and being friends and filling that space in each other. That space that wasn't quite a lover, but that screamed to be touched, held, valued, cared for. Holding. And over christmas, and over spring break. And it was in the spring that she kissed me. She was going out for the night, the night before the morning I was leaving. We were going out for dinner, my parents and my sister and I. I was in the computer room, and she had a friend over, and she came in, and it hit me that that was the last time I'd ever see her. She came in, and didn't say anything, just closed the door and held her arms out. And we just stood there, locked together, for what seemed like forever but at the same time no time at all. Then, we went over to the computer and I put Napster on Leaving On A Jet Plane, the Bjork and Jewel version that I had specially downloaded for us. And I sat in the grey computer chair, and she sat in the wicker one next to it. And I spun, and put my head in her lap, and she pulled her fingers through my hair, brushed smooth to go out. And we said nothing, but everything, in our hands. Hers in my hair, mine on her face, her arms, around her waist. All the safe places that couldn't have been less safe. And then, my parents yelled from downstairs. Time to go. And we got up, I smoothed my hair, and she pulled me to her again. And I held as tight as I could, trying not to cry. And she held as tight as she could, tears welling in her eyes, making them bigger. And I looked up as she looked down, and she kissed my cheek. Then, briefly, gently, my mouth. Just for a second. But held it long enough for both of us to know. That it was a kiss. And then I went downstairs, feeling like somebody had just ripped my heart out and sent it to France in a suitcase labeled Linda Bouhlalib. Too numb to cry. Sat on the back staircase. Then she came downstairs. Beautiful as I always saw her, in black jeans, one of her many soft sweaters, light blue, and that black coat, getting ready to go out with her friend, Sandra. And she saw me sitting there, and she hugged me one last time, and did it again. That brush-kiss, held just long enough, said she loved me, and then she ran out the door. And I stood in the doorway, and watched them drive away. And I saw my heart go with them, blurred as everything else by the tears in my eyes. Then my sister came up behind me, and we went to dinner. I spoke to her again, online and on the phone, and we never said anything about it. But from then on, the phrase I love you was put into play. It was the last thing I ever heard her say, the day before she got on the plane to go home. I said goodbye. She said, I love you, in that accent I loved so well. I said I love you too, and the phone went dead.