There's No Such Thing as Innocent Cuddling: How Two "Straight" Girls Fell in Love
Life was so much easier when the world was black and white, when you believed that mainstream socialization paved your way, and your identity was constant and uncomplicated. But experiencing love unravels the easiness and naivety of life into an unmanageable mess that somehow makes all of the sense in the world as it’s occurring. Add in an unlikely lesbian relationship, and you’ve got one hell of a mess. It is quite the challenge to honestly recount a love story from the beginning when you weren’t consciously aware of the fact that you were in love. What follows is an honest documentation of how two supposedly ‘straight’ girls fell in love.
I spent my first 19 years of life under the false pretense that I was completely straight. I was a pro at learning how to flirt with guys, how to tell when a guy was actually into me, and how to spend countless hours at girls’ nights overanalyzing every detail of our current flings. I went to college and continued down my slutty and sloppy path, hooking up with whomever showed interest in me, and then bragging about it the next day at the dining hall over far too many chicken fingers. At a point, I realized something was missing, but there was no reason to question the way I was living my life. Looking back, one particular question enters my mind about my sexual behavior: Was I participating in heterosexual hook up culture to simply fit in, or did I actually enjoy it?
I ignored the reality of my heart’s desires for months…discounting the intimacy of cuddling with a friend, and finding rationales for my inexplicable jealousy. My inherent fear that I had feelings for Gabi grew daily, but that fear made me feel alive because I knew Gabi felt the same way. These fears should have distanced us so that we could protect our “normalcy”, but instead, in these moments of fear, we clung to each other (quite literally), strangely desperate to face these fears together. And that was a decision that was never discussed, just mutually understood. “You find yourself in college”, they say. “Step out of your comfort zone”, they say. “Date someone of the same sex, particularly a teammate/best friend/roommate”, they DO NOT say. Avoiding this situation seems like common sense; I mean, we have all seen how roommate relationships work out, a la every season of The Real World. But we are always motivated to be the exception, especially when the odds are against us.
Gabi and I played volleyball together at F&M, and we were best friends, so naturally you can imagine the overload of Hashtag Blessed selfies that I narcissistly demanded to be taken, and then later shared with my 700 instagram followers who have had enough of my face. To say Gabi and I were “comfortable” with each other would be a serious understatement. What I mean by comfortable is when I told Gabi I still used pads, she insisted on inserting my tampon, so yeah, comfortable is an understatement. Our friendship entered ambiguous and complicated territory when I moved into Gabi’s room my sophomore year. I was living in a single in a dimly lit basement of a dorm, that I often scapegoated as the catalyst of my self-diagnosed “seasonal depression”. Sometimes I like to joke that my mom is responsible for my lesbian relationship as she is the person who suggested I should move into Gabi’s room. In a double that she occupied herself, Gabi originally had her two mattresses piled on top of each other. When I slept over, we would lower the top mattress onto the floor, but when intoxication and laziness kicked in, we ended up sharing the same bed. The thing is, when it comes to sharing a twin bed, you have to get really creative to fit two people. Hence, the cuddling began. At first, cuddling was a strategic way to compensate for our laziness. However, no matter what anyone says, recurrent cuddling is never innocent. There’s an intimacy to cuddling that feels so special. It felt like we were one unit, like two flawed puzzle pieces that were only useful when paired together.
I remember when Gabi was seeing this guy whom we shall call Ex (short for Experiment), and my jealousy that accompanied it. When giving my best friend advice, I somehow twisted my jealousy into sage advice; franticly suggesting she stops seeing him. Ex visited Gabi on a Saturday, and the night went very poorly, and by poorly I mean, I remember waking up to Gabi banging on my door Sunday morning, because she wanted Ex to leave her room, and her immediate solution was to hide in my bed with me until he left. I felt relieved when she crawled into bed with me, because I knew that Ex was no longer a threat to whatever Gabi and I had. The next few weeks were full of similar events, both of us trying so hard to maintain our heterosexual status, because we were so afraid of what our relationship was progressing into. For instance, I repeatedly fell asleep mid intercourse with a guy, which should have been a red flag. Even if I wasn’t fooling myself of my sexuality, I at least was convincing my colleagues, friends, and teammates, which is sadly all that mattered to me.
Gabi and I became literally obsessed with cuddling. We would go out on the weekends, and secretly text each other across the room about how excited we were to go back to her room. Looking back, I cannot believe I was so naïve to what was actually transpiring. There is flirting that is questionable, and then there is blatant ,in your face flirting, and we were the latter. Winter break is when the reality of our situation became apparent to me. We planned two visits over the course of winter break. Gabi and I were used to spending every second of every day together, like to the point I was incapable of doing my laundry without her walking down the hallway with me. So we spent winter break glued to our phones, detailing our days down to the amount of cream cheese we smeared on our morning bagels.
When I visited Gabi, we prematurely decided the first matter of business would be cuddling, not exploring Philadelphia, or getting food at a hipster café, but cuddling. We experimented with multiple cuddling positions, but our favorite one involved us facing each other, legs intertwined, with the top of my head gently resting on Gabi’s chin. We could spend hours in this position, silent, as Gabi would run her fingers through my hair. Gabi’s mom walked up the stairs to greet me, while Gabi and I were deeply involved in a cuddling session. To make matters worse, Gabi was only wearing a bra. We both realized how bad this looked. Startled, we jumped off each other, and Gabi threw a blanket over herself. I remember very clearly thinking at this exact moment: Fuck. What did I get myself into…but that didn’t stop me.
Then New Years Eve approached. I remember how excited I was for Gabi to drunk text me, especially because my night was spent sober in the company of my parents. I stayed up until 3:30am just to receive Gabi’s text messages. She told me maybe 20 times throughout the night how much she loved me, and how she couldn’t wait to be reunited and cuddle, and it was EXACTLY how I felt. She was making out with a boy at night, but somehow she managed to simultaneously text me, saying how bored she was, and how she would rather be with me cuddling. The amazing thing about Gabi is that she is so bold and clear about what she wants, without coming off as overly emotional, which to me seems almost impossible to maintain such a contradicting balance. In the end, these drunk texts led me to understand what I wanted as well, and I wanted her, whether I was ready to accept it or not, I wanted to be with her.
(Inspired by my own true story, with the input from Gabi herself. This was purposefully crafted as a cliffhanger -- stay tuned for my follow-up posts)