My sexuality was something I had always hidden away.
By Monica Bielanko — Updated on May 17, 2023
Photo: Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock
I engaged in the obligatory drunk girl-on-girl make-out sessions in college and actually enjoyed both incidents enough to briefly wonder if I was bisexual.
But since I was raised in a church that regularly tries to counsel homosexuals into being straight and in a home where terms like “rug muncher” and “carpet licker” were casually bandied about by homophobic brothers, I never allowed myself to entertain the notion.
Fast forward a few years.
Two shots of Jagermeister in, my friends Tim, Alexis, and Sasha, are en route to Tim’s apartment for an after-party, laughter, and marijuana smoke trailing after us, the perfume of partiers.
Tim drops his keys twice before managing to fumble his door unlocked and push it inward.
Sasha giggles and marches into the kitchen, “What’s there to eat in here? I’m starving!”
“Don’t have much, haven’t gone shopping in a while.”
“Figures,” Alexis mutters. “You’re such a stoner.”
“That’s why you like me!” Tim pulls himself up onto the counter, leans his back against the wall then stretches his long legs down the countertop’s length while Sasha scavenges his empty cupboards.
“Dry pasta noodles! That’s all I can find in this degenerate’s cupboards!” Sasha laughs. “Who wants some?”
We pass the dried noodles and a fresh joint. “Which do you want, Monica? Noodles or pot?”
“Noodles. Pot, too. Both!” Crunching and conversing.
By the time the joint makes its fourth lap around the room heads have turned into helium balloons, gigantic, floating parade novelties attached to string necks.
Their mouths move and I selectively listen, tuning in and out of the conversation. My private thoughts are like a radio knob dialing in different stations.
“Tim. Where’s your roommate?” I ask either 10 minutes or two hours later.
“Nicole? In her room I guess.”
“I’m going to introduce myself as the crazy girl from the lobby.”
I set my handful of dry spaghetti noodles on the counter, pull my feet from their spot in the kitchen sink and jump to the tiled floor. The others are engrossed in a heated debate on which is the better breakfast cereal: Trix or Cocoa Puffs. They barely acknowledge my departure.
I walk nervously toward Nicole’s bedroom. Her door is slightly ajar so I peek inside. It’s dark save for the moonlight creeping around the blinds illuminating a pair of lean, muscular legs twined around a tangled sheet.
“Nicole?” I whisper, playing up the drunk to alleviate accountability later. Her face is cast in shadow.
“Hi. I’m Monica. You awake? I came to say hello.” I giggle for appearance’s sake, and because I am suddenly very nervous.
“I’m druuuuuunk.” She moans. Her voice is low and scratchy and sexy in a hoarse-Sheryl-Crow kind of way. “I think I’m gonna be sick.”
Suddenly, she sits up. Moonlight shattered by slats from the blinds over the window casts her face in alternating light and dark, like a zebra.
It’s a small, pixie face with limpid eyes. Clear, tropical ocean, green high beams rimmed with a thick black fringe of lashes. Her eye makeup is smudged from sleep in the fashion of magazine models attempting smoky, sex kitten peepers. Her short, chocolate-brown hair is punk. A tousled mess, it sticks out crazily in chunky tufts. She is indeed a sexy lesbian.
“Here, let me help you to the bathroom.”
I place my hand on the back of her tank top. It’s a filmy, girly undershirt with a tiny, pink rosebud in the center of her slight cleavage. Like my old training bra, I think to myself.
As I help her stand, moonbeams trickle across her body like water bathing her back in gentle, white light. I glimpse an expansive stretch of luscious, olive-colored skin with delicate shoulder bones protruding like baby bird wings.
I support most of Nicole’s minimal weight as we cross the hall to the bathroom. She swoons against me and I half-carry her the final few feet. She staggers to the toilet and immediately begins retching. I close the door and stand outside waiting for her to finish. When the heaving finally subsides I wait a moment.
When I hear no sound behind the door I tap gently.
“Nicole? You okay?”
I feel strange. I just met the girl and we’re already engaged in the intimate dance of drunken friends taking care of each other during a violent session with the porcelain god.
She’s sitting cross-legged on the floor facing the toilet. Her sinewy limbs are flung across the seat, her head resting on her right forearm. I flush the toilet, startling her. She raises her head and for the first time looks at me, really looks at me. And smiles. A tired, embarrassed grin that she simultaneously manages to make look sweet and sexy.
“I need to brush my teeth,” she says breathily. I retreat to the hall and close the door.
“Don’t go,” she says. “Stay.” I lean against the door, tongue-tied.
What is going on? Certainly, I’m curious about lesbians. The girls who like girls. But I’ve only really given the subject consideration after a terrible breakup when women seemed like my only viable option for a happy relationship.
Now, at two in the morning, alcohol racing through my bloodstream, weed making wicked work of rational thought, the abstract concept of lesbianism was staring me in the face.
And it had the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen. As she squeezes toothpaste onto her toothbrush, I caught Nicole sizing me up, perhaps wondering about my motives and sexual inclinations.
She brushes her teeth unabashedly, watching me in the mirror as she scrubs her teeth, then her tongue. She rinses and spits, something I can’t stand watching my boyfriend do at home, yet I cannot turn away from her hypnotic gaze.
She noisily sucks air through her teeth and smacks her lips, “Much better. Come on.” She pulls me back to her bedroom.
“Lay down with me until I fall asleep. I’m having trouble adjusting to my new bedroom.” Wordlessly I oblige, stumbling after her into the dark bedroom.
We lay in silence, the traffic below a soundtrack to my erratic and somewhat erotic thoughts.
I keep waiting for her to try something, anything, foolishly assuming the fact of my gender earned me an attempt at flirtation from her. Maybe a hand on my arm, rubbing my leg with her foot … something.
After about half an hour of nothing, I take offense. Am I not pretty enough I wonder? Maybe she doesn’t find me attractive. The slight was as stinging as it would have been were I to share the bed with a man who ignored me.
I am nearly asleep when Nicole’s bedroom door creaks open. Our weight on her bed shifts slightly as someone sits down near our feet. I breathe louder to feign sleep and after a minute risk a peek. It’s Tim. What is he doing? He puts a hand on my leg. Oh. That. But WHAT IS HE DOING?
Tim begins rubbing his hand across the back of my leg. It takes every ounce of self-control not to kick him squarely in the choppers and bolt from the room. Although that would feel gratifying in the moment it would only complicate the issue by creating sticky long-term problems.
Our relationship would morph from casual banter to awkward fumbling. Whatever, Tim was probably just really stoned. Maybe he didn’t realize who I was or what he was doing.
Suddenly, Nicole’s hand finds mine underneath the comforter. She grabs and squeezes.
My eyes pop open and I am staring directly into her wide, moss-colored eyes. She raises her eyebrows and I answer with an imperceptible shrug.
At that moment, Tim’s busy hand leaps from the relatively innocent territory of my calf to the much riskier thigh region. Sensing my distress Nicole begins thrashing about on the bed.
“I’m so sick!” she slurs sleepily. Immediately, Tim removes his hand from my leg. “I gotta puke!” Nicole tosses off the comforter and darts for the bathroom, zigging and zagging for drunken effect, ignoring Tim’s strange presence in her bedroom. I hear the bathroom door slam shut and a ferocious spray of water splash into the porcelain sink.
Startled at the sudden turn of events, Tim hovers uncertainly over the bed. I moan as if disturbed in the depths of dreamland and keep my eyes squeezed shut.
“Good night, Tim, honey,” Nicole says ushering Tim out of the bedroom and twisting the lock in the door. I watch as her lithe body tiptoes across the patchwork of lights and darks on the floor and hops back into bed. She immediately snuggles up to me until our noses are nearly touching.
“Nice one,” I say. “I wasn’t quite sure how to handle that situation.”
She smiles, lips pursed, dimples deepening, and says nothing. We stay that way for a few minutes. Foreheads pressed together noses nearly touching, exchanging hot breath. Then she runs her hand tenderly along my cheek.
“You are beautiful, you know.” It’s a statement, not a question. Our faces are so close we only have to pucker our lips slightly and we are kissing.
“Soft,” I manage to sigh. And it was the softest, sweetest kiss I’d ever shared up until this moment. No awkward fumbling for lip placement, no tight lips with no give, no loose rubbery kisses.
I’m kissing a girl. Feels just like kissing a boy, only nicer.
She pulls back and looks at me, eyes searching for confirmation. I imagine my face was a series of O’s. Round, saucer eyes, mouth rounded in surprise. She must have seen what she was looking for because she smiles gently then leans forward and sensuously licks my bottom lip. I gasp.
Okay. Time out! I am not a lesbian. Am I? I was enjoying this as much as I’d ever enjoyed any snog. In many ways it was superior. More comfortable. Familiar. Easy.
We continue kissing. I simply cannot stop myself. But I can’t close my eyes. I luxuriate in the landscape of her gently sloping forehead, delicately arched eyebrows, the tender skin of her eyelids, and the thick lash that dusts her cheeks.
The kissing progresses, as kissing often does, to the exploration of other body parts. Her lips find the velvety softness of my earlobe, her lips discover the contours of my neck, thin skin stretched across tendons.
As her mouth snacks on my neck, her hair tickles my cheek like a feather duster. Then it taunts my naked chest and finally, it’s tickling my stomach as her tongue continues its southern trek sending shock waves rippling through my skin.
Within seconds, I’m no longer pondering lesbianism or any sexuality. I have no thoughts. My mind is blessedly blank. It’s my body doing all the thinking.
She is on top of me two hours later when a line from Ani DiFranco’s song “Shameless” whips through my mind: “I’ve got to rub up against it ’til I break the skin.”
“Jesus!” I gasp, taking in her sculpture of a body. “Half of me is jealous of your amazing body and the other half wants to ravage you.” She tosses her head back and laughs, her emerald eyes sparkling in the morning sunlight.
“I have to go,” I finally say.
“Um … should I call you?” I ask uncertainly.
The situation is no less uncomfortable because we are both women.
It’s still the awkward early-morning moment at the tail end of a one-night stand. Do I acknowledge what I hope we both know or do I pretend I’ll call?
Suddenly I know how all guys feel at the end of a one-off. And so I do what all guys I know do after engaging in a night of meaningless sex with a woman they just met. I ask for her phone number with no intention of calling.
Then I say goodbye.
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Monica Bielanko writes about relationships, her personal experiences, and co-parenting with her ex. Her writing has appeared on The Huffington Post, Yahoo!, and Mom. me.