By Bri Kerschner
“Are you sure you’re not in love with her?” My therapist sat across from me, a woman with whom I had been sharing my deepest secrets and emotions to for over eight years.
“What? Why would you say that?! I came here because I don’t know how to deal with her. She wants to have kids together. What the hell am I supposed to say to that?” I wave my hands in emphatic frustration. Of course I wasn’t in love with her. She was my best friend of ten years, and we had just rented a townhouse together with the intention of making it a wonderfully cozy nest. That’s literally how we described it to people. We were just friends. Good friends. We hadn’t kissed or had sex. Besides I would know, with that deep-down, bone marrow self-truth of knowing, if I were gay. I wasn’t interested in men. I mean women. I mean I wasn’t interested in anyone. Definitely not my best friend of ten years. Certainly not her.
My therapist slowly leaned forward and stared right into my eyes.
“Are you SURE you’re not in love with her?”
No! Of course not, I angrily thought at my therapist. But the words wouldn’t come out. Instead, they broke inward like shattering glass, sticking in my throat. Was it possible? Was I so blind to my inner self that I literally hadn’t even considered the possibility of falling in love with her?
Where was the evidence? I mean, when we watched movies together we shared the same snuggly blanket, would lean on each other, hold hands. But besties do that. I remember her hugs: at first her ballerina arms and thin torso would feel like they would break under my squeeze and then she would return that strength, her arms would become safe iron bands around me and I’d just want both of us to melt out of the world together. But she hugged other people, too—surely I was exaggerating it in my mind.
And then there was that time at the fair, when I was with my parents and she called me just to ask if I would be home for dinner. My mom asked, “Who’s calling?” And I replied, jokingly, “Just the wife, nagging me about dinner tonight.” And we all laughed while something warm and cuddly and soft nestled in the pit of my stomach.
There was the issue of health insurance. “I want to put you on my health insurance so you can go to the doctor without worrying about it,” she had said.
“Honey, you can’t put me on your health insurance unless we’re married. And same-sex marriage isn’t legal here.” I was always so practical.
“Well when it’s legal, we’re getting married and you’re going on my health insurance.” She was so matter-of-fact about it that I just laughed. Pipe dreams from a caring person. It wasn’t anything more than that.
But I remembered how soft her hair was. She wanted to grow it out and put upwards of 15 products in it, but it was like a river of honeyed gold in my hands. And the way her green eyes captivated those around her when she told a story. Even if it was a story that I had heard her tell numerous times, I was just as captivated by those eyes. When I came home, crying from when a man harassed me at work, those eyes flashed dark and dangerous on my behalf and I had never felt so safe and cared for.
She always smelled amazing! I would love getting ready for work in the mornings and she would breeze through the bathroom to the bedroom and I could smell her scent, fresh and comforting and wonderful. I missed it when I was home for the holidays. I woke up in my old bedroom, wondering why it smelled so wrong—where was she? But before I called out for her, I realized where I was and suddenly missed her so fiercely, I could feel it in my marrow.
She wanted kids. We had tossed around the idea of getting married as a “joke.” We weren’t serious. Neither one of us identified as lesbian. But then she said she wanted kids with me. “We could adopt. We would love and spoil them so much!”
“Are you serious? I’m not sure I want kids. Besides we’re not even married.”
“I want to adopt kids with you. We would just explain that their Mommies sleep in different beds.”
I couldn’t fathom this. Kids had never crossed my mind. Marriage had always been just something we teased each other with. Besides, it wasn’t even legal in this state at this time. But I found myself debating if kids with her were a possibility. Did I… care about her enough to want to raise children together?
Oh no. I couldn’t be in love with her. I couldn’t be gay. I had liked men—I had dated them. Sort of. Jared and Paul and Chris. But then a flood of other names of those I had loved crowded my thoughts: Nicole, with the flaming red hair and kick-your-ass attitude. Michelle, with her love of volleyball and her passion for animals. Amber and her intense study of chemistry, of which she would detail her studies to me as I hung on every word. Lisa had the singing voice of an opera star and I could have listened to it forever and that time when I stayed over at her house I remember feeling that I couldn’t love another human being more. Well, until now.
“Oh shit.” I didn’t try to stop the avalanche of tears that came. My therapist patted my hand and gave me the whole box of tissues. “How could I not know?!” I sobbed to her.
“Denial can be very powerful if we aren’t ready to face the truth. It seems as if you’ve realized some core truths about yourself. This is wonderful! Maybe you should do some research about being bisexual. You might find that you’ve known all along.”
Bisexual. I realized that I had indeed known all along. The first love of my life had forged me into the truest version of myself. A truth that I still wield today.
Bri Kerschner is an English Instructor at a two-year community college in Minnesota. In addition to spending time with her mini zoo of animals with her partner, she loves running her small business making soap and candles. She is passionate about eliminating bi-erasure and encouraging LGBTQ+ voices.