The Shades in Between

Delta Winds cover 2007Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


The Shades in Between

Lois Steele

As long as I can remember, my attraction to other people has been a bubbling fountain. When I was younger I was more single minded in my devotion; as a child and as an adolescent I became painfully infatuated with one particular person. I am in my twenties now, and my fountain overflows to dozens of people at a time-male and female. The dynamics of being bisexual and the relationships that resulted from it have changed my life forever.

I had been aware of heterosexual urges since I was five years old, but I did not discover that I had homosexual feelings until I was sixteen. I began to think, "I'd date a girl if she asked me." Girls appealed to me; I idolized them and put them on pedestals. I would blush when my sister Leslie's friend Veronica paid attention to me, as I did when Leslie's friend Matt spoke to me.

Not long after my sexuality crystallized and hardened in my mind like a sculpture, I came out to my family. I told my sister Suzy over the phone, the line crackling with tension until she replied cheerfully, "So, what kind of women do you like?" I caught Leslie while she was sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of her full-length mirror, putting on her makeup. Her reply was similarly nonchalant: "So am I, so's Jason, so's Peaches." My father bought me a button that says, "I don't do boys." My mother was unsurprised; she had accurately guessed the sex of her other two children, but had thought that I was going to be a boy.

Pictures of me from that time show a girl invariably in jeans, with a boy's haircut. She wears a pentacle and black lipstick and t-shirts with slogans such as "Let's get one thing straight. I'm not." I wore cologne as well as perfume and worshiped k.d. lang. I bought a Marilyn Monroe poster and made collages of actresses that I thought were attractive. I dressed and acted the way that I thought a person who likes women was supposed to act, not the way that I was. At the time I believed that I had fallen in love with my coworker, Sok. One sunny day I strolled around my neighborhood and composed a poem confessing my feelings. I was foolish enough to give it to her, my raw feelings that could never have been reciprocated. I might as well have given her a grenade. She let me down gently.

My first serious relationship was when I was eighteen, with Ryan, a man six years older than I. Ryan had just moved to Stockton from Washington, where he left behind a mother dead from ovarian cancer and two small children. I was alternating between periods of suicidal depression. I fell desperately in love with him, and he let me. I thought that I could save him with my clingy love. Picture a seven-year-old trying to lift a fifty-pound duffel bag and only being able to slide it across the floor a little.

I was dabbling in Buddhism by then, and I decided that I should love Ryan unconditionally. I tried my best, when he went to Washington and did not talk to me for a month, when he said things he did not mean, when he refused to acknowledge my pain because his pain was sharper. Our relationship limped along like a wounded animal; it lay down, got up and shambled around, lay down again, and then it finally died. The third time that we broke up was the last time. After a botched attempt at being friends, I stopped speaking to him. I have not seen him since.

As greatly attracted to Ryan as I was, I was intensely eager to be in a relationship with a woman. I met Angela the day before my twentieth birthday. She had not been in a relationship for two years, after her last girlfriend cheated on her with a male friend. I was desperate to be with her; I had yet to meet a single female who was attracted to me. Less than a month later I told her that I was in love with her, and two months after that we were living together. Picture two adjacent seesaws, with a lone child on each, trying to operate them; they both realize that they can share one seesaw, and they go up and down, up and down.

At first, we were quite pleased with each other. "You don't make me psycho," Ang would confess lovingly. Then I realized that I did not want to turn off my fountain, or direct its spray in one direction. I became taken with a male coworker and pleaded with her to let me date both of them. We fought constantly, and one night after she had stormed out I locked myself in the bathroom with my sleeping pills; I came very close to killing myself. However, I called my friend Genevieve and she talked me out of doing anything rash. As time passed, I was able to see how insensitive I was being to Ang, and our relationship improved. In fact, everything about my life improved. With support from Ang and our circle of friends, I was able to overcome my suicidal ideation and depression. The two and a half years I spent with Ang were the happiest of my life. Yet I realized that we would be better friends than lovers. I loved Ang, but I was not attracted to her. We parted ways amiably, and we are still friends.

I enjoy being bisexual, for the most part. I have experienced remarkably little prejudice; the stereotypes about bisexuals being fence sitters and unfaithful lovers have not affected me. I am comfortable with my sexuality and my mannerisms; I am no longer interested in changing myself to conform to clichés of how I should be. Unfortunately, I still have the annoying habit of confessing romantic feelings that are unreciprocated. I like to think that my past relationships have taught me about life, and that I am not as naïve as I used to be. Now that I am single, my fountain is going full blast and I am open to starting a new, healthy relationship. Picture two adults who like each and enjoy each other's company.