I’m Ready To Talk About Cassie

Hi. My name is Stephanie and I am bisexual.

I’m a lot of things; this just happens to be one of them.

One reason I’m sharing this now is because it’s #BiVisibilityWeek. A lot of my friends have already shared their own stories, and I am adding my voice to theirs.

The other reason is that there is a story I need to tell.

(Most of this is taken from random written entries in various sketchbook/journals from over the years. It is edited for clarity, but I have kept the stream-of-consciousness style of writing.)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

*Breathe*

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

So this one time I went to this house for a meeting, and a woman answered the door…

green eyes
long grey hair
round face

Her face… is thoughtful and compassionate and makes my breath catch a little.

Her voice is deep & quiet

Her words are slow & measured. They are ALWAYS worth listening to.

We became housemates, then roommates.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

She waited tables at IHOP when I knew her.
She had studied library science
She wanted to go back and do the LPC program, to become an addiction counselor.

She worked on computers. She would take them apart – at one point her room had computer parts strewn all over it. She would put them back together, then strip the OS down to the code and rebuilt that as well.

She introduced me to Pogo. She would be playing a game and would leave the computer, and I would sit down and finish her badge for her. I thought I was helping, bless me! I know now how annoying that must have been, but she never said anything, bless her. Eventually, she let me play alongside her; we kicked ass together in Word Whomp Whackdown!
(@joycean78)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Her voice was soft and low and deep, and her words had a particular shape to them – not an accent, it never belonged to a place or nationality, it was simply how Cassie spoke.

We talked about books and music and art and film and history and philosophy.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

She was SO SMART.
She read James Joyce
and John Kennedy Toole*
and Gabriel Garcia Marquez

(*I hated that book. But I still have a copy of it.)
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I wish I could stop speaking about her in past tense. I haven’t seen her in thirteen years, haven’t heard from her in almost twelve. I don’t know what happened to her.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I didn’t know
and I blame myself for not knowing.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

How could I not know???

I had known, at that point, for a while

This was after Beaver Run
after all the catastrophes
after Jessica.

I may have dismissed it as a quirk
but it was not unfamiliar territory

It was after Amy
after Planet Hollywood
after Geoffrey & Kim

I should have known.
I WATCHED WILLOW & TARA, FOR FUCK’S SAKE!

Why didn’t I know that I was in love with Cassie?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

…oh god

Because I was already attached to Ken when I met her.
Because being in love with Cassie would’ve required me to give up Ken

which I couldn’t do.

Because it had to be a choice
…and I had already chosen.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I knew I loved her the minute I realised she was gone.

of course.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

AND THE GODDAMN SYSTEM MADE ME FEEL GUILTY.
FOR LOVING MORE THAN ONE PERSON AT A TIME.
FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO CHOOSE ONE AND CAST THE OTHER ASIDE.

For 13 years I have beaten myself up for seeming to regret my choice
. . .
Instead of raging against the machine that made me choose.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I’ve started to forget a lot of the details.
Some of the things I’m forgetting are more than details. I’m starting to forget her face.

I’ve forgotten her birthday.
I’m good at birthdays.
I remember people’s birthdays that I hated in 10th grade.

I can remember every square inch of that house.
WHY CAN’T I REMEMBER HER BIRTHDAY???

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

She just disappeared.

I had moved from Dallas to New Mexico to Lubbock, and we kept in touch all that time. We still played Pogo together. I wanted her to be my maid of honor, but she wasn’t sure about making the trip. Right before the wedding, I lost touch with her.

She stopped responding, and I couldn’t get hold of her. At that point, I didn’t have her phone number – again, I don’t know why. None of our mutual friends had heard from her or knew where she was. She was just gone.

I still don’t know what happened. I don’t know if she ghosted me, or if she ghosted everyone, or if something happened to her.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to stop looking for her.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I’ve become Mad Mr. Morrison, spending my life looking for Annie.

“Have you seen Annie?”
“How’s Annie?”
“Annie are you okay?”

Cassie is my Annie.

Like Mr. Morrison,
I have to believe that someday I will find her.
You have to believe that because the alternative is unthinkable.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The steady rom-com diet of my formative years has left me with unrealistic expectations.

Like, if I keep searching, someday I will find her
and it’ll be Serendipity, and we’ll be Willow & Tara.

Without Warren.
(But maybe with Oz.)

It’s never gonna happen.

But… the last time someone looked right into my eyes and said that to me,

she was wrong.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

I will find her again, someday.

In my heaven, I will sit at her feet for aeons,
listening and learning, and praising the God who made this amazing woman.

#Cassie

Goodbye, my enemy

I think I’m going to have to unfriend you soon, and it makes me sad. I wanted us to be friends. For 25 years, I’ve longed for a world where you & I could be friends. I don’t know much about you now, but for the sake of the person I so admired long ago, I’ve kept trying.

You should know that you are a major character in my backstory. The memories of my interactions with you all those years ago have continued to influence me, for good and for bad. The academic competition between you and me gave me a taste for intelligent companions and stimulating conversation. I discovered Twin Peaks, Metallica, and Saturday Night Live – in some of its best years ever – because of you, and I am forever thankful. I wanted to be more like you. Even the pain I endured at the hands of you and your friends forced me to dig deep and find a strength that I may not have ever found otherwise – though it took me years.

But now things are changing rapidly, and I don’t know if it’s safe for me to continue to pretend that you and I are friends. Right now, I have a certain amount of privilege keeping me safe, but I am preparing to step out from behind as much of that as I can, and fight for those who remain even more vulnerable than I am. I would like to think that when speaking out for the less fortunate becomes a crime, that you wouldn’t sell me out to the Gestapo – but the guy I knew as a kid would have, and I haven’t seen enough in the man who exists now to make me think that’s changed.

So, as much as it hurts me to give up on something I’ve wanted since I was sixteen, I think I have to finally end this superficial show of a friendship. I wish it could’ve been otherwise; I truly do.

Flag Day

21 years ago today, I was a bridesmaid for someone I loved very much – who soon afterward faded away, to be replaced by a stranger.

Today, the U.S. flag flies over internment camps – which we are politely asked to call “detention centers” – for kids that ICE soldiers forcibly took from their parents, for the mere act of showing up at our border to ask for help.

The bloated orange puppet in the Oval Office celebrates his birthday today as well.

June 14 can kiss my ass.

I dreamed about Cheo last night. I just remembered.

It was good. It was… comforting. It was friendly, and warm, and loving.
In the dream, he was still gone. But I got to say some things that I wish I could’ve said.

Dream A Dream

D-Rex has a hard time turning his brain off to go to sleep (he’s my kid!) So when he was little I used to tell him to lie down and imagine what he wanted to dream about. And I would give him suggestions involving animals doing silly things, and he always said “No!” to every suggestion.
But I still do it from time to time.

So tonight I told him to go to bed…

Me: …and dream about goats jumping on a trampoline.

D: NO!

Me: How about camels drinking root beer?

D: NO!

Me: Flamingos with hula hoops?

D: NO!!!

My husband: Would you stop? Now my dreams are gonna be all messed up!

Skin

This piece grew out of my lifelong adversarial relationship with my own skin. I’ve picked at my skin since I was a kid – I still do – I can’t stop. As a result, my arms and legs and hands are covered with scabs and scars, and I’ve never been comfortable showing my skin.

I was well into adulthood before I discovered that there is a name for it, and it is one of the many symptoms of an anxiety disorder. I am so uncomfortable in my own skin that I have literally spent my life trying to claw my way out of it.

I started reading about tattoo artists who cover self-harm scars, and was inspired. That, combined with my love of doodling and my tendency to turn any surface into a canvas, gave me the idea. The spark came when my friend Amanda announced the opening of Nether Lands waxing salon – a joint venture with two of her friends and coworkers. I wanted to help them celebrate, and it seemed like the perfect occasion to bring my idea to life. A woman’s body, naked but covered with intricately swirling lines. Since it was for a waxing shop, I focused on the lower body. I used my own body as a rough model for the canvas.

I drew the body in and painted it very roughly, then I spent forever drawing the tattoo patterns. I would photograph the piece in its current state, print the photo in black and white, then take it with me to my overnight job and draw more designs.

Once I got a design I liked on paper, I transferred it to the canvas in pencil, then painted each line twice – once in burnt umber, and once more with metallic copper.

This was my first NSFW piece, and my first piece to make any kind of a statement. This is about body positivity, and about learning to love the skin you’re in, and about creating art in unexpected places and on unexpected surfaces.

Someday I hope to learn to tattoo in this style, so that I can help other people make their skin amazing, even if it has scars.

“All right then, I’ll GO to hell!”

— Mark Twain
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn