New Who: A Personal Essay
The new girl came to Farnsworth Middle School in 2007, winter. With her she brought a warmth that awoken something in me. She introduced this novel, exhilarating awareness that I am my own, and I may do what I want with me. Maybe she was showing me, so I could show her back.
She was enchanting. She smiled a lot. She was haunting in the most beautiful of ways. She didn’t feel like my age. She felt like more. Her hair was jet black, but sprouting from her scalp was platinum blonde. I never knew anyone who dyed naturally light blonde hair. That’s what I always wanted. When I asked her about it, she said she hated blondes, hated everything but jet black actually. But she liked me. She was very different from my best friend Ally. Ally was perky, happy, and in Earth Science with me a year early. The way Ally looked at the new girl was not how I looked at the new girl. I flocked to her, in awe of her. As much as I was intrigued by her, she was fascinated by me. She wanted to know about my parents, about my brother, about my house, about my dog, Luke. I wanted to know about Las Vegas. I wanted to know about her push-up bra that she revealed to me one day in homeroom. We knew the driving element to our friendship was an informational give and take. We wanted a new lens to look through, perhaps mine more multicolor, and hers more muted.
One day I went over to her apartment. It was not what I was used to. I lived in a house. Ally lived in a house. The way to escape the parent’s persistent scrutiny was to run up the staircase, run down the hall lined with family photos, slam the door to a happy, girly bedroom, and talk in hushed tones over snacks. We didn’t have to talk in hushed tones at the new girl’s.
It was a bright day outside, but the small residence clung to darkness. The rays that battled through the blinds had no chance. The gloom cast shadows, defeating the light. Her mother left us alone, going out for a reason I don’t remember. I asked the new girl if she would be back soon, and the answer was a definitive no. I was twelve and very aware that I wasn’t allowed to be home alone with this girl I just met. In this apartment with grey carpets and hardly any furniture. In this time of my life.
While we were sitting in her bedroom, she began opening her top drawer and pulling out underwear. Thongs.
She said, “I steal them all the time from Victoria’s Secret. It’s so easy”.
“How? Why do you wear them?” I was attempting to be nonchalant. My experienced façade would fall soon.
“You just put on like ten under your jeans. And walk out. They don’t put the scanner thing on them. And because they’re sexy.” She shimmied her shoulders, and sat down next to me, close.
Then naturally, the next question I asked her is if she’s ever made out. I certainly had not. She said yes, and she’s ‘done’ other stuff.
“Really? Like feeling up?” I asked, expecting her to laugh and say of course not. Expecting her to say, ‘How could I? My mom would kill me!’
But instead she said, “No…I’ve been fingered and some stuff after that too.” She smiled, friendly. I smiled tersely back, shocked at her language. Embarrassed that I recognized the sexual act she exposed to me. The most incredulous sexual experience I ever heard was of Arianna making out at rock ‘n bowl with creepy Clayton. I would look at Arianna, and feel genuine guilt for her. I would try to rectify what happened by downplaying it, even though she never asked me to.
“What was that like?” As I delved deeper into her personal life, I began to move away from feelings of shame and uneasiness, and towards intrigue. I was breathless, waiting anxiously for each of her responses.
“Weird.” She kept smiling. I smiled back, less robotically, more eagerly. Everything is fine. I wanted to keep going. The tethers I normally felt pulling me away from wrong behavior loosened substantially. The next question lit up in my mind like a firework. I asked her if she did anything to the guy.
I said oh. At the time, I thought there was nothing off about being touched so intimately without reciprocation, without balance. She told her story like something that happened to her, not something that happened between her and someone else. While telling me of her exploits, she spoke proudly and maturely, but she was noticeably wrestling internally with what happened, and coming to different conclusions with each question I asked her. After our conversation, I felt very close to her. Not only did she open herself up to me, but also by prying into her experiences, she let me open myself up to her. We didn’t judge questions. We didn’t judge answers. She was honest, unashamed and spoke to me like a real person would, without a trace of superficiality or filter. Even though I now sense that she didn’t fully understand her own experiences, she still shared them with me completely, willing me to figure them out with her. Once I knew that it was okay to kiss someone, and live to tell the tale, I wanted to try my new super power of guiltless action.
The night naturally progressed with inviting two boys over. Still, no one was home. She wanted to make out, and I think I did too. The one she liked was the boy I thought I loved for most of my middle school years. However, he liked her too. He brought a friend, Nico. When they stepped through the sliding glass doors, crossing the threshold of my innocence, they followed us back into her bedroom and I was calm. This was fun, I told myself. This was what all the girls are doing. I didn’t take much convincing. Normally guilt wrapped me up, choked me and pushed me back to where I was supposed to be. But that night, a switch had been flipped. It wasn’t that I had a sexual epiphany, and wanted to finally give in to my temptations. In fact, at that point, I felt no overwhelming sexual pull. I simply knew that I wanted to take a first step out of what I previously knew as off limits, strictly unapproachable, unthinkable. Because I realized that it wasn’t, as long as I controlled it. The new girl taught me that, although subconsciously.
The new girl and my love began to make out. I thought I would be jealous, but she meant more to me than him that night. I knew she wanted this, and only wanted this with me just an inch away. Nico sat patiently on the bed next to me, next to the two of them slowly, mechanically, kissing. I had never seen people kiss like that up close before. Nico asked me if I had ever made out. I said yes. The new girl lifted her head for a moment and smiled at me, and in an instant we shared a full exchange, her telling me that this is okay, and he doesn’t need to know my history, and me saying that I was fully prepared, but just needed a few more breaths before I took this momentous step. She went back to kissing.
“I just can’t right now. I have gum in my mouth.”
“You can spit it out, you know.”
“Yeah. I will. But it just tastes good.” I knew I was going to kiss him. I just wasn’t sure at what exact moment I’d get the courage to do it. The next moment I hopped off the bed, spit my gum out, climbed back on the bed, and laid down on top of him, squeezed against the new girl and my love. My old love with my new love. We were stuffed together like sardines on her twin bed. Without hesitation, I brought my face to his, and began kissing. Not exactly him, but kissing a body. I knew I wasn’t doing it right while it was happening. Too much tongue, and too much control. But I was having a great time. No guilt then. Certainly no guilt later.
The boys left. Her mom was still nowhere in sight. I knew I would have to be getting home soon, so I called my ride. The only guilt I felt that night was leaving her alone, waving to her through the glass doors as I hopped into the car. She stood illuminated in the dingy light, her raven hair framing her smooth, bright face. The darkness of her apartment swallowed her up, with no dispute from the now setting sun. She was still smiling. I was able to go home, leave the fantasy, revel in it later in my bed and smile at the unknown of when my next kiss would be. My family just a few bedroom doors away. I could take my new knowledge of myself, and what actions I may take in the future and think about it over a homemade breakfast.
After that night, we saw each other in school. We played volleyball in gym. We flirted with the boys. Our friends knew what happened, but because we didn’t make it important, they didn’t find it important. It was always a memory we shared with only each other, even with two living bodies separating us from the tangible bed. We may as well have been floating. We knew we went through something together, but never mentioned it and never saw each other outside of school doors. It was my first and only one nightstand.
The new girl left a month later. I don’t remember her name.