She sips her coffee slowly and examines the cup, searching for the best way to put her feelings into words.

“I’m not quite sure how to describe this,” she says.

Why not?

“Because I’ve never quite felt this way before.”

Felt what?

“I’m in love. For the first time in my life, I’m really in love.”

It happens.

She laughs and shakes her head.

“Not like this.”

What do you mean?

“I’m not really sure I should be talking about this.”

It’s your meeting. You called me.

“Yeah, I know. I had to talk to somebody about this. I sure can’t talk to my mom. I don’t dare tell anybody I work with.”

Why? What’s wrong with being in love?

“Because I’m in love with another woman. That’s what’s wrong.”

She’s 26 and blessed with the kind of All-American looks that drives men wild. Up until two months ago, she considered herself a normal, healthy heterosexual adult woman.

“We have been friends for about two years now. Just friends. Then, one night we were setting in my living room, just talking, drinking a little wine, talking about feelings. Then she leaned over and kissed me. At first I was shocked. Then I realized I had wanted her to do that. So I kissed her back.”

On that evening, nine years after she surrendered her virginity to a young man in the back of a van on a lonely North Carolina road, she found herself surrendering again, this time to another woman. Afterwards, no guilt, no remorse, no second thoughts. She was head-over-heels in love.

“I guess it surprised me that I didn’t try to talk myself out of it. It happened. I wanted it to happen. I was happy it happened.”

So why the guilt now?

“What guilt?”

You must be guilty if you can’t discuss this with your mother or your friends.

“Oh God, they’d die. They’d absolutely die. All my mother talks about is how forward she looks to me settling down with the right boy and giving her grandchildren.”

What about your friends?

“Let me tell you what happened at lunch a couple of days ago. We’re sitting there, discussing the trial of that FBI agent, you know the one who tried to kill his ex-wife because she was had an affair with Patricia Cornwall, the author. Well that started 30 minutes of lesbian jokes. You think I’m going to jump in and say, ‘oh, by the way, I’m in love with another woman?’ Not me.”

The waitress refills the coffee. She continues to stare at it.

“I’ll tell you this. The last two months have taught me a lot about the difference between love and lust as well as the difference between sex and tenderness. I’ve had sex with men who were kind and considerate in bed, but I’ve never been treated with the tenderness that I have now.”

So what’s next?

“I don’t know. We both live in Virginia, which isn’t the most enlightened place in the world when it comes to same sex relationships. She works at the Pentagon and her security clearance would be out the window if they found out. You’ve heard of don’t ask, don’t tell? It really means, don’t ask because I’ll have to lie.”

So you both stay in the closet?

“You know, I really hate that phrase, but yeah, we stay out of sight for now. Maybe someday, people in general can accept the idea of two women in love. I don’t know when. Sometimes I wonder. If this hadn’t happened, I would have been laughing right along with the lesbian jokes and talking about how disgusting the whole thing is.”

She finishes her coffee and looks at the empty cup.

“I guess one way to look at all this is by thinking that if I can change, maybe the rest of the world can too.”

–Doug Thompson
Washington, DC

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