Chronicles of yesterday. Woke up at 7, assembled various things needed for rock climbing trip. Harness, helmet, shoes, loose yoga-style pants, t-shirt, sweatshirt, camera, CD player, CDs, book, big comfy headphones, water bottle. Washed and brushed, dressed, gathered assembled objects in a fashion that would allow me to carry them. Went to bar fork. Ate breakfast, assembled lunch, loaded objects into suburban, climbed into the back, was joined by Josh, with Katrina and Martin in the middle seat and Dave and Smith in the front, and off we went. Gorgeous drive through Aspen and over Independence Pass and to Monument Rock. Unloaded suburban, huffed and puffed up to the rock in the midmorning shadow of the west side of the rock. Belayed, climbed, laughed, triumphed, belayed, climbed, failed, ate lunch, belayed, climbed, truimphed over a problem I didn't think I could. Took a terrible/marvelously scary fall that left the entire left side of my body sore, bruised, and bloody, but left me exhilarated beyond the believing of it. I conquered the move I didn't think I could manage, I proved that I was as strong and as adventurous as anyone could ask me to be, even myself. It's a good feeling. That was the last climb for me, due to the bleeding and bruises coming quickly into relief all over my left side, but in a couple of minutes I had stopped shaking enough to belay Josh on the rest of his climbs, and on the way back I talked to Dave and Smith about the possibility of doing this again some other Saturday. They're up for it, and as a dorm head I have the capacity to organize such things. So yay to long, sunny, gorgeous days of challenging routes on alpine granite, to taking risks and pushing boundaries and succeeding where I didn't think I could. Especially to friends and teachers who care, to people who won't let me give up because they know I can do something. To my attempts at a "primal roar," which Josh got me to try on the hardest move of the difficult crack route, and to achieving a "primal squeak."
After the climbing came the part of the day that, though also tres enjoyable, has me wrinkling my brows in frustrated confusion. He says he's going to go a-wandering in search of dinner. I say goodbye, he says I should come with him. I agree, make him walk me back to the dorm to drop off the book, CD player, CDs, etc, and so I can change. I find him backed into a corner of the common room when I finish said changing, having disobeyed my orders to go socialize, looking rather terrified. We walk to town, go to Goodfellows, because he hopes that his uncle will be there and he (still) wants to introduce me to him, because he is reportedly the "coolest old guy" I will ever meet. And there we order pizza and drinks and as I attempt to pay for my dinner he shakes his head and says he's got it. I blink, attempt a smile and a thanks, something in my brain screeching "no!" Ever since, I've had a scene from an episode of Doug, a silly cartoon after-school-special type show which I watched as a young child stuck in my head, in which Doug and Patty are going to the movies and are attempting to discover if this outing is or is not a date, and somebody tells one of them that it's a date if he pays. So with the wrinkled brow, and the confused sighing, for much more complicated reasons than the simple 'so does this mean we're dating' conundrum.
Ever since the possibility of us as a couple became something I was even willing to consider, which is to say the end of junior year, I've been forced yet again to re-evaluate the way I look at things like relationships and gender. I was just beginning to grow rather comfortable with the idea of being a dyke. Yes, being a lesbian at a school as small as this one tends to mean one stays single, but there's no particular reason to think I'd be in a relationship with a guy here anyhow - I don't like most of them, and being a senior tends to limit one to one's own class, so that wasn't really a consideration. Plus, it's not exactly something I chose, but being one or the other was something I welcomed. It simplified things, or so I hoped. Then this came along, first as the suggestion from many sides that he was interested in more than friendship, and then as the realization that if that was so, I might be too. So back to bisexuality, and I'm reasonably okay with that. But along with being a lesbian had come a lot of thought about gender roles and how they kind of didn't apply unless I wanted to play the butch-femme games, which I don't. And I wondered, never having actually been on a date with another woman, how that would go. Who would pay? Who would do the little gentlemanly things like open doors? I'm not sure how much my revived interest in feminism played/s off of my sexuality and how much comes from the talks I'm constantly having with Heather Cesca and Roo about the matter, but I eventually evolved to a philosophy that the simplest, most egalitarian, feminist way of dealing with things was for each person to pay his/her own way, and for whoever got to the door first to open it. So when I started to think concretely about being in a relationship with a man, with one of my best friends, with this particular young man, I told myself that I would make that very clear. I have in fact been making extraordinarily brave, clear, strong, feminist speeches to the corner of my room late at night as I lie in my bed before sleep comes, preparing for the talk that I am so determined for us to have. The points I make in these speeches maintain my autonomy as a woman and as a person with a sexuality independent of the person with whom she is in a relationship. I make it clear to the corner that much as I do love him, I am no less a feminist, no less a dyke, no less an independent human being, for being willing and desirous of a relationship with him beyond that of friends. That I don't play gender games, that I will pay my own way, that I will not wait for him to open doors if I am there, and that if he ever pulls my chair out I am very likely to sit on the floor.
The problem with this is that the corner of my room doesn't care. It has in fact been known to laugh at me because it's seen the two of us sitting awkwardly on my bed looking at pictures or talking or what have you, and it's read in my thoughts and about midway back on my tongue the words of this conversation dieing unspoken. It knows that if I were to manage to get the words out that I speak half-out-loud at night to the dark corner of my room, he would be really, really confused. It knows that there is a part of me that likes that he holds doors open for me, and that a little of the reason I felt so incredibly uncomfortable last night when he just assumed it was okay for him to pay for my dinner was because I thought it was nice of him. Because I know that he is not a chauvinist, even of my father's unintentional variety. He's just a nice guy who bought me pizza and lemonade and in fact turned a remarkable (though unremarked upon) shade of red while doing so. What kind of a feminist am I? What kind of a feminist-inclined lesbian allows herself to indulge a mutual interest with her best guy friend? Why do I even have to think about any of this? Allowing Josh to buy me dinner does not contribute to the abuse and oppression of womankind. But who am I if I can't even make my own beliefs something that I believe in? My sister said this summer that it was strange that I worried so much more about a potential relationship with a guy than one with a girl, and I couldn't explain to her that it's more than just being a lesbian. It's the entire fragile philosophy of feminism that I'm trying to make a working part of my life. I'm reading books and articles and online essays, I'm making declaritive statements, I'm developing a firm inner core of personality, not allowing myself to be molded by the people, especially men, who I'm with. With women it's easier. I know what I want and I know that I don't have to think about gender games and society-enforced roles, because if we do play those games we're just making fun of society, not enforcing or embracing it. And now I don't even know if that's true, and I'm feeling remarkably confused by something that should be really simple. Ye gods. There was a time when I would have just been agonizing over whether or not it was a date - now I feel like the entire weight of feminism and the post-feminist world is sitting on my shoulders, a very heavy angel/devil figure that looks frighteningly like a cross between my mother and Hillary Clinton, like generations of Smith and Wellesly women, like every woman anywhere who has ever majored in women's studies, frowning at me. And really. Yesterday. I hauled myself up a rock face I couldn't climb a year ago, I proved in a hundred small ways how much I've grown and matured and learned in that year, and then I went out to dinner with my friend. It wasn't until I sat down to write all this that I really started panicking, but my writing tends to make everything a little bit larger than life. Until half an hour ago it was just the twinge of that's-not-right awkwardness when he paid and the question of datehood and a little bit of feminist guilt, but mostly over the fact that I haven't made my brave speech yet. I just wonder if life has always been this complicated, or if I'm just gifted with the ability to make it that way. Now I'm going to write my english paper, and hopefully, at some point, I will get up the nerve to ask the simple question of whether or not he wants us to be, to use an inordinately juvenile term for an inordinately juvenile situation, boyfriend-and-girlfriend. Let what may happen, happen, and stop hiding behind labels and philosophies. He knows who and what I am, and for the most part, likes me for, not in spite of them. He doesn't want to change me, doesn't want to turn me into my mother or his mother or Hillary Clinton or Martha Stewart. Just me.
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