Moving back to a place you’ve lived before comes with a lot of peculiar experiences. One of which is running in to people you’ve known before. Today, I ran in to someone I knew in my early 20’s, when we were both different people.
She was someone I crushed on so hard. I went to the coffee shop she worked at every day, just so I could see and talk to her. I was so young, and in such a strange time of my life. I didn’t understand the world the way I do now. After several months of coffee shop talk, she invited me to a party and I went. I was introduced to a world I’d never known, and while I was trying to make small talk (hell for an introvert) I was trying so hard to fight the urge to run.
I didn’t make any new friends, or get folded in to the social scene, but after the party I decided to ask her out. She said yes and we hung out a few times but nothing ever came of it. I met my ex wife, and moved away. A few years later I ran in to her again at a club. I was dancing, and was really excited to see her. When I said her name, she immediately corrected me and gave me a new name, new pronoun, and a huge hug. I was also given an apology for the weird/abrupt way our dating had gone. In that moment, I understood. He looked so happy, and I was happy for him.
Today, I went out to breakfast with my family. Sitting in a small (amazing!!) bakery across from my husband with my daughter on my lap and my son outside with the puppy and his best friend I saw him again. He came in with what I can only presume is his wife (rings, matching tattoos, public displays of affection) and they were both smiling. I looked at him, and looked at my husband, and realized how my life has changed. It also brought me back to a conversation I recently had on social media.
I live a hetero normative life, yet I do not identify as heterosexual. Outside looking in, I am presumed straight. I have to fight for acknowledgment as a member of the LGBT+ community instead of being relegated to “ally”. My sexuality is fluid and I haven’t identified as straight since I graduated high school. I have had girlfriends, boyfriends, a wife, and now a husband. I am attracted to men, women, and trans-gendered individuals.
As I sat in that bakery this morning, so much was clear to me. One thing was that I am incredibly happy in the relationship I am in right now. I love my husband, and am incredibly loved by him. I love our children, and what we have worked so hard to build. I love how far we’ve come, and while we’ve not always had it easy, it has been worth it.
As I looked at the man who I’d once known I realized that we’d both lived entire lifetimes since we knew each other. I could have said hi, and said “I knew you when”, but really…while a moment of connection would have been nice, it was great just to see the light in his eyes when he looked at the woman he was with. The strength and confidence he carried himself with. Which lead me to wonder, do people see that in me? Do they see the love I receive when I move through the world, and if not, what do I need to do to make sure it shows?
I kissed my daughter and looked at my husband as the boys and puppy appeared near the door. I felt calm. There is so much chaos in our world, and I embraced that years ago. I thrive in chaos, and show up as my best self when I feel useful. I am learning to allow the peace to permeate my soul. I am growing.