I’m dating a girl and things are switching in my brain. I used to walk around Chicago and see boys and men and always question what they were seeing in me. I would make sure that my hair and makeup was good and that my armpits smelled nice and were shaved and that my vagina smelled nice and was shaved. And I just don’t really care about that at this point.
I would walk around Chicago and see girls and women and I would see them as my competition. I would instantly rank them as cuter than me or not cuter than me. I would look around a crowded redline car and rank the women in my mind, feeling significantly more confident when I was at the top or close to the top in the ranking. I would think things like, “If a nuclear bomb went off and we were all somehow stuck in this CTA redline car indefinitely, which of us girls would be the most sought after?” I didn’t even think about things like... What we would eat in this somehow airtight bomb shelter of a CTA redline car? Or where we would pee? Or would there even be enough air for all of us? Somehow, in this small post-apocalyptic society that I’d often create in my mind, while stuck in the wormhole somewhere between North & Clybourn and Clark & Division, the only real thing that mattered to me was which of us girls would be most wanted by the men.
But now I am dating a girl and she told me that there is this head nod. She says butch or more androgynous looking lesbians, when they cross paths, give each other a head nod or a look. She says it’s sort of an I got you or I see you look. When I’m alone, people don’t really give me the look, people don’t really assume I would be dating a girl, but when I’m holding her hand, we both get the head nod, we both get the look. When we pass a butch lady or another lesbian couple, there it is. And sometimes we get the head nod from non-coupled, non-butch lady, and maybe that woman is a lesbian or maybe she’s not. Maybe it doesn’t actually matter if she is a lesbian or if she likes dudes or whatever. There still is a silent I got you, I see you. I wish I got that head nod when I wasn’t with her, when it wasn’t clear that I’m dating a lady. And I wish I gave that head nod before I was with her, before I had ever even thought of dating a lady.
So I am falling in love with a girl, a really cute girl who I have this huge crush on, and when I walk down the street holding her hand I am so happy. One, because wow this beautiful person is choosing to hold my hand when she walks down the street, and two, because it feels like my silent apology to all the woman I have sized up and grouped, all the woman I have disliked because they are either not as pretty or prettier than me, all the woman I have ranked in the airtight redline bunker of my mind. Silently, by holding her hand, I am saying sorry to you. You were not a threat to me and you never needed to be.
I wish I could find a way of saying sorry when I’m not holding her hand and I wish it hadn’t taken me up until holding hands with her to realize how sorry I am. Sorry to you, but also to myself, for thinking that your worth diminished mine and that my worth was somehow greater when belittling yours. Sorry, for the years of either hating myself or hating you. And maybe, when I’m walking down the street or sitting on the redline knowing, just really knowing how sorry I am, maybe that could be enough?
So I’m sitting on the redline with the girl I’m dating and this really young, very cute lesbian couple comes and stands right in front of where we’re sitting. I squeeze her hand and she’s not very good at knowing what volume to speak in when we’re in public, so she loudly says, “Anna, look at that really cute couple.” I blush and look up at them and they laugh, looking at us, all smiling, heads nodding, and it feels like, in that moment, somewhere in the wormhole between North & Clybourn and Clark & Division, silently we were saying, I got you, I see you.
About the artist...
Anna Rose Wolfe is a writer, performer, and teaching artist. She is the co-founder and Outreach Director of Scout & Birdie. She is an alumna of Columbia College Chicago where she earned a BA in Acting and a minor in Gender Studies, graduating magna cum laude. Anna is currently a resident playwright with the Greenhouse Theater Center’s Trellis Initiative where her solo play In Her Footsteps was presented, as a reading, in 2017. Her work has been featured in Fillet of Solo, Greenhouse Theatre’s Solo Celebration, Abbie Fest, Greenhouse Theater’s Solo Performance Lab, The Election Monologues, and SheFest.
Want to see more of Anna's work?
Check out her work from previous issues:
- Shadows from Issue X: Home
- Broken Dolls & Chicken Nuggets from Issue VIII: The Witching Hour
- The Ugly Ass Cat Book from Issue VI: Sunburnt
- 270 Ha-Yarkon from Issue V: Fireworks
- My Saba from Issue IV: Be Kind, Rewind
- Annie Rose from Issue III: Roots
- Montreal Bae from Issue II: Messy
- Gan Israel from Issue I: First Impressions