So, I had some adventures the other night, relatively speaking. Thought y’all might like to hear about some of them.
There was going to be a movie showing on campus, and it was a movie that I’d seen and liked, so I decided to go, despite not having anyone to go with (and feeling really awkward about it). Luckily, when I arrived, I found a friend of mine already there — she was sitting next to a girl I’d seen in class, too — so I joined them, and everything was pretty cool for a while.
Then I happened to glance around and see that girl in the audience.
Immediately I looked away and sunk down into the collar of my puffy coat. I’d had a close call with her earlier in the week, when I was in the library and overheard her loud voice, and my heart rate sped up and my chest constricted and I must’ve spend a good fifteen minutes in a panic, waiting for her to leave, then looking around the building for some other exit so that I could get out without having to go past her. In the end, I couldn’t find any other way out. I carefully planned some options for how to reply if she said anything to me and then avoided eye contact and made a wide berth as I slunk past her to the door. To my knowledge, she never even noticed that I was there.
Back to movie night. It was becoming apparent that Evangelizer was going to stay for the movie. I was nervous, but I tried to avoid looking back at her and just focused on talking with my friend, which helped a little — even after I caught sight of that guy, too, sitting with some acquaintances of mine/friends of his who had earlier in the night smiled and waved at me.
I hate having all these people to avoid.
I almost made eye contact with Ex-Friend and I almost ran into Evangelizer after the movie, thanks to not looking where I was going for fear of looking at her. I slipped past and didn’t end up having to interact with either of them, but I was anxious until I and Friend’s group left the building that night.
Somehow, a flock of people amassed as I and some others walked with Friend to her dorm/apartment. They weren’t people I knew well, some I didn’t know at all, but the group dynamic was fun and nobody was asking anything of me, so I stayed with them.
Here was the eventual setup, in case you want to visualize: I sat on the couch with Friend, and across from us, on the other side of the small yellow coffee table, my Classmate was sitting in a comfy chair. A girl I didn’t know sat on the floor at the end of the table, between the couch and the chair, and a guy I didn’t know sat on the floor on the other side of the chair, such that we all formed a circle.
We were a pretty loud bunch with several conversations going on at once, but at one point, when Friend was gushing over an attractive guy, I said something teasing about “such heterosexuality” and somehow, even though I’d muttered it pretty quietly, merely hearing the word “heterosexuality” got Floor Girl’s attention and suddenly I was the focal point of the circle. Ostensibly to explain my comment, Friend decided to announce to the entire room that I’m asexual.
That was her choice of words, by the way — not gray-ace or on the asexual spectrum, even though I’ve used those words to her before. “Asexual” is easier for non-aces to remember.
I cringed and said something like, “wow, way to out me to everyone,” both to be humorous and out of self-consciousness, and to her credit she was instantly apologetic. For me, this was a room of strangers, and now they knew something about me that I didn’t want certain people to get wind of. It’s important to understand, this is a small school where gossip spreads fast. Not only did I not know how these kids, themselves, would react, I was also worried about who they might tell.
It’s hard to recount all the details of what exactly happened after that, because it was one of those groups where everyone speaks over each other and things move fast, but after seeing my hesitance, Floor Girl said something like, “It’s okay, I’m bisexual,” and then Classmate threw her arms in the air and said, “I’m… I don’t know!” and then Floor Guy said something like “I read an article on asexuality once,” a response which I think was well-intentioned but also hilarious.
Floor Girl was sweet and gave me a pinky-promise that she wouldn’t tell anyone. Then the conversation moved on.
Floor Guy had started playing some music on his phone, and at some point, I half-jokingly suggested we have a dance party. Floor Girl took this suggestion very seriously, and she stood up, offered to dance with me, and took my hand, pulling me up from the couch all before I had time to stop looking bewildered.
She was probably quite drunk, I should mention.
We held each other’s hands as she did some hip-shaking thing and I just stood there, our conversation going something like this:
“I don’t know how.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Benign smile, slow shake of the head.
“But I don’t know what to do.”
“Doesn’t matter. Just move how you feel.”
“But I don’t feel anything.”
“Just move to the music. Find your own beat.”
“This music isn’t good for dancing.”
And back and forth like that, with several variations.
I probably sound like I was making excuses. Don’t get me wrong, she was clearly trying to help me have fun, and every now and then she would ask, “Do you want this?” and I would always reply, “Yes.”
That wasn’t a lie. I do like dancing, deep down. Me awkwardly standing there as she tried to get me to dance was — if you want to talk about it this way — a consensual experience. The problem was that I didn’t really know what to do with myself, which she seemed to interpret as me needing to relax and let go, and I didn’t put much effort into resolving our communication issue because I’m accustomed to people giving up on me after a while.
To go back to my boat metaphor, I did have the paddle in my hands. I did feel like I could leave the situation if I wanted to, and I didn’t want to. The waves were choppy, and it didn’t look like things were going smooth out any time soon, but I remained put nonetheless, despite the friction, because I was content to see where the boat would go. It can be annoying when people don’t understand what I’m telling them, but in terms of my wishes and boundaries being respected, it was a good experience.
In the end, the reason we stopped was because Friend had a party she wanted to go to.