This is an excerpt from my novel-in-progress, Ginny Bates. If you are already a familiar reader, skip down to Read More. If not, here's links to background information in the sidebar to the right, third item from top.
At the restaurant, they ordered chagio, then Myra chose her usual pork pho and Ginny got some kind of fish kabob Myra had never tried. After the food arrived, Ginny handed her a bite of fish. It was really good. Myra offered her bowl in return and Ginny shook her head. "I don't eat pork."
"Is that religious or dietary?"
"Well, wouldn't it be both?" said Ginny. "I don't like the taste, but we also never had it growing up. Mother wasn't strictly kosher, just enough to pass in social settings."
"Are we going to count this as our first date?" asked Myra.
"What, you mean it wasn't when we went to see 28-Up?" teased Ginny. "You've had my attention, in various ways, for a long time. But for me, the point at which the penny dropped, the night I think of as our first date, is -- well, don't hate me for this, but it's the night Gil died."
Myra was a little repelled. She stared at Ginny said "I was a fucking wreck -- you found that attractive?"
"No, god no, Myra, not after you found out. I mean before, when we had that talk about exile. Remember?"
Myra was enormously relieved. "Yes, I remember."
"Ever since I can recall, I was determined not to do what my parents did, or my grandparents, which is to get married because it was expected of me. I decided against marriage even before I came out to myself. I wasn't sure it was possible to have a relationship with an equal and be in love with them, too. I didn't date in high school. I wasn't in love with any of my girlfriends, not like people talk about. Attracted, loved them dearly, yes. But I had shelved the big dream, you know?"
"I do know, Ginny."
"But that night, the way you sat down in front of me, the way you had kept coming back and telling me what was going on, doing your own work, and then the way we were feeding each other -- it was like a symbol of what could happen, how it could be. Nourish each other, but still have our own plates. And then when you said that about exile, about needing to grieve it so you could get over it and have a real home -- that's when I knew it was you. You were the one. I wanted to kiss you so badly right at that moment." Ginny whispered the last part of what she was saying.
The waiter came back then and asked if they wanted dessert. They ordered green tea ice cream. After he left, Myra put her arm around Ginny's back and pulled Ginny's head into her shoulder. She put her face down on Ginny's bare neck. She felt Ginny shiver lightly. She closed her eyes and breathed in Ginny's smell.
Just as dessert arrived, a man and a little boy walked by their booth on the way to the door. The man stopped and said, "Hey, Myra!" He had frizzy long hair and was wearing a Rubyfruit Jungle T-shirt. The little boy slid into their booth on the other side of Ginny, looking bored and frustrated. He kicked his heels against the underside of the seat.
Myra said "Hi, Jerry" to the little boy, then, with a reluctance she tried to conceal, said "Hi, Dennis" to the man. He was the guy one of her ex-girlfriends had left her for, a leftie who had a penchant for trying to seduce lesbians back into penisville. Myra had not liked him ever at any point, but especially not now. Her mother's politeness training prevailed, however. She was about to introduce him to Ginny when Ginny said, "Hi, Dennis. Is this your son? I didn't know you had a kid."
"Yeah, that's the whippersnapper." Myra was watching Ginny's face and saw her not like this nickname. She bet Jerry didn't either. Dennis looked as if he wanted to slide into the booth next to Myra. She oozed her aura out to the side, taking up all space. He hesitated, and leaned on the table instead.
"So, what are you two doing here? I mean, I know it's not a date." He chuckled clumsily. "Dating didn't work out for you two, what I hear."
Myra's mother had also taught her when politeness fails, ice picks are acceptable tools. But the little boy was there. She reached down to her dessert plate and plucked out the almond cookie stuck in her ice cream. The lower third of the cookie was soaked with ice cream. She handed it to Jerry, leaning into Ginny a bit to reach him, and said sweetly "Here ya go, Jerry. You can eat this as you and your Dad walk home."
Ginny pushed welcomingly back against Myra's pressure, then slid her hand into Myra's lap and found Myra's other hand. This woman was really good at hand-holding.
But Jerry did not pick up on the permission to leave. Indeed, it was likely he had heard nothing beyond "Here ya go" and the vision of the cookie coming at him. He was eating the ice cream-soaked part first.
Myra turned to Dennis. She kept her tone very jolly, almost intimate, as if Dennis was someone she really admired and they were making a joke together. "Believing everything you hear is one of the hallmarks of a fool, eh? The fact is, we are in the middle of something here, something serious, I do believe." Ginny was squeezing her hand. "And while it is possible it will go on for the rest of my life, still, I am extraordinarily impatient to get right back to it. But thanks for stopping by." Myra took a spoon and dug into her ice cream. At that, Jerry slid out of the booth and started for the door with a bit of cookie left, not having heard a thing wrong. Dennis followed him wordlessly.
Myra did not look at Ginny. After a moment, Ginny pulled her hand tenderly from Myra's and broke her own cookie into two pieces, then slid one half slowly into Myra's ice cream. She said "I agree with you. There's never any excuse to be disrespectful to children. Never."
Myra faced her then. "We can't help who our fathers are."
They ate ice cream. Ginny said "So...we've been gossiped about."
"I guess. Part of it is, Dennis's girlfriend is an ex of mine."
Ginny grinned. "Good thing the kabob skewers got cleared away, then." When Myra busted out laughing, Ginny added, "I guess it's all those years being a dyke, we don't pick up that experience straight women have in filtering out the dicks. I have yet to know a lesbian who went back to men who's picked anything other than a complete asshole to crawl into bed with."
After they paid their check and emerged into now full dark, Ginny linked her arm through Myra's and said, "How's about if I walk you back to your car?"
They headed up the block. This time, Ginny was on the curb side. After several steps, Ginny stopped and said, "This is it."
Myra looked around, confused. "My car is nowhere near here."
Ginny was grinning. "No, this is the spot. Our spot."
Myra looked down, as if there would be something written on the sidewalk. Then she realized it was the place where Ginny had taken her hand, walking toward the restaurant. Where everything had clicked into place.
She smiled from ear to ear. "We have a spot?" She thought about making a joke, but there was no need. They were both laughing already.
Then, slowly, unbelievably slowly, Ginny faced Myra and slid one arm around her waist, another around her neck. Her chest was full against Myra's, but she kept her head back for a few seconds so their eyes could focus on each other. She kept her smudgy blue eyes open the whole time as she leaned in and put her mouth on Myra's.
After a while, they walked on to Myra's car. Myra opened her door and they kissed again, even longer. Myra had to clear her throat to ask, "Shall I give you a ride home?"
Ginny's face was a puzzle. Myra had a moment of dismay, wondering if she had been somehow suggestive or crude. But Ginny looked embarrassed, not upset. She said, "The truth is....my house is next door to Aux Delice. Just the other side of it, around the corner."
Exuberant laughing, followed by more kissing. Ginny whispered, "You meant it? About the maybe going on for the rest of your life?"
"God help me, I do."
"Okay." Ginny kissed her neck swiftly, pulled away, and said, "Tomorrow? I get up at 8."
Myra nodded. Ginny spun around with her arms out, saying "Whee!" and began walking back down the block.
When the phone rang the next morning, Myra knocked over her alarm lunging for it. But it was Allie, asking how she was doing.
"I feel like I just won the lottery. I mean, again."
She told Allie all about it. Allie was silent afterward. Oh, god, was she jealous?
"Well, My....How long has it been since Gil died, five months?"
"Well....you know, in AA we have this rule, well, not a rule, but a guideline that our sponsors really pound into us, about getting in a relationship until we have one year of sobriety. And I know Gil's death is not the same as getting clean, but...Well, I'm just a little worried, that's all."
"Not everything in AA translates into the rest of how the world runs. Not everything is about addiction, Allie." As it came out of her mouth, she tried to soften it. There was a painful silence. Myra sighed. "But, okay, yes, I am in some kind of recovery here. You're right. I'll go slow. Maybe it will be another six months before it gets serious."
"No U-hauls, okay?"
Later that day, Saturday afternoon, Myra and Ginny were snuggled as close as they could get on Ginny's couch, which smelled a lot like Ginny's little dog Juju. Myra was discovering she wanted to talk with Ginny as much as she wanted to kiss her, a brand-new experience for her. They were slowly swapping pieces of biography.
Ginny said, "I've been in Seattle since the summer of '78. I remember seeing you the first year I was here -- it was some kind of gathering against Initiative 13. Anyhow, it was at the Cause Celebre and a whole string of women read poetry, one after another. But your poem stood out."
Myra was speechless.
"The next time I remember noticing you--"
"Wait" Myra interrupted. "What poem did I read?"
"One about your mother, and being raised poor. It was like a jumprope rhyme. Your voice got thick with emotion at the end. I liked it a lot."
Myra closed her eyes because she felt a little dizzy. That was her favorite poem.
"The next time was at a march against the Klan. I was marching with some friends from Evergreen and from the print project. We had drums and whistles. You were in the contingent behind us, a bunch of steel-booted mean-talking political dykes with flannel shirts and bandanas in case there was teargas. You were leading some chants, and you were laughing even as you shouted your rage. I saw Allie with you, and I knew her, so the next time I hung out with her, I asked about you."
"What did you ask?"
"What do you think I asked, moron? Your name, were you single, what were you like."
"What did she say?"
"She warned me away from you. Very nicely, but very convincingly."
Myra was crushed. "How could she do that?"
"Well, let me be specific. She said you were aggressively nonmonogamous, that you treated your friends like they were the salt of the earth but your girlfriends like they were one step away from turning on you, and that if I wanted a lover who could actually process things all the way through, you were not that woman."
....."Oh. What did you do?"
"I decided to check you out as a friend. I came up to you at the next bookstore event and asked you about the flyer you were handing out."
"I have no memory of this. What were you wearing?"
"Likely drawstring pants, turtleneck under a sweatshirt, my uniform those days. What the hell does it matter?"
"And your hair was the same color?"
"I am about to be offended. Are you telling me that it's my looks that count?" Ginny's eyes were glittering.
"No, not now. But they would have then." Myra is limp with shame. But the truth and only the truth with Ginny, that was her chosen course.
"You schmuck. Then, I mean. You completely looked right through me. There was some hottie with a warm fuzzy dyke T-shirt and a cockring around her wrist that you could not stop staring at."
"Pony" Myra mumbled.
"Who? Never mind, I don't care. Anyhow, I tried twice after that, because Allie talked about you all the time, how much you helped her grow and how there you were for her."
"I just -- I can't believe I had seven years this close to you and never noticed you."
"Yeah, well, you were in shit up to your eyeballs, kinda hard to see when that's the case." Ginny's voice is completely without anger.
"Were you attracted to me?"
"No, not sexually. I only get attracted to women after I've decided they make sense for me. It's like there's a switch I can turn on. I got the rep for being cold, as a result. Which really interested some women, made me the one to chase for a while, until I figured out what was going on and smashed up some radar screens."
Myra felt like she was talking to someone from another country. But it was a country she had just immigrated into.
"Well, then, who did make your cut?" Myra is not sure she wants to hear the answer as she comes out with the question.
"The first was in college, one of the women in Izquierda. That lasted a year, and involved driving back and forth to Portland all the time. But I broke up with her, fool that I was, and moved to Seattle in pursuit of Jules Lefkowitz."
Myra felt a knife in her chest.
"She left me after a year."
"She's a fucking imbecile!" Myra said. "I mean, I'm glad she's out of the picture, but I mean, come on..."
"You're sweet. I went a year on my own then, taking stock. Then the most recent was Bonnie, another teacher at my school, a good friend. That lasted almost three years."
"What happened there?"
Ginny shifted position so she could fix Myra in her gaze. "She was an incest survivor, and at first the sex was great, but then it got really hard. We went to couples' counseling, and she decided she needed to be with someone who could role-play exclusively. She wanted a top. I'm not a top."
"What are you, then?" Myra was now flat-out terrified.
"I'm a Ginny. I understand when women have to come up with some kind of system to navigate through the terrain of intimacy, like butch-femme or S/M or other games. But I have no game in me. I'll do whatever you need as long as it's for the moment, not a permanent suit of armor. I don't believe power is an inherent part of sex. I don't find god in sex. I don't think sex means love, although I'm not willing to have sex without love. I like sex for its own sake. I want the real deal, and part of why I'm a lesbian is because women are that much closer to the real deal than men are raised to be."
"Why else are you a lesbian?" Myra wished they were already lovers, so the decision was over and done with.
"Oh, I love the taste of cunt, I love how women move and smell, I have no patience with emotional retardation or keeping it simple, stupid. I have things to do in this life, and I want a complete partner, not a long-legged child. I've taken the last two years to wear sensible shoes in the dating scene. So, Myra Josong: Am I your worst nightmare or the girl of your dreams?"
This was the point in the movies the music would swell and there would be some clever remark, then a passionate kiss. Instead, Myra said she had to pee. While she was sitting on the toilet, she realized she was having trouble feeling her feet and the tips of her fingers. After she peed, she sat there for a while, thinking more needed to come out but nothing did. She turned on the hot water to wash her hands, hoping that would restore some circulation.
When she walked back into the living room, Ginny looked scared. Myra had never seen that expression on her before. She wanted to gather her up and comfort her. Some part of her suspected that Ginny might not go for that. She sat down on the hassock in front of Ginny and kept looking at her. Finally she said, "The best my brain came come up with right now is that I think you are the right choice for me. I still think that."
Ginny breathed out, then reached one finger toward Myra. Myra reached out her forefinger as well, and like god and Adam, they made a single point of contact. Ginny said "Let's walk around the corner and get some food. This is hard work, I need B vitamins."
Myra pulled her to her feet and they left the house.
After dinner, they went back to Ginny's. Myra took a morsel of chicken to Juju -- with dogs, buying love is easy.
"Ginny, if I may ask -- why did you name your dog Juju?"
"I know, it sounds funny, doesn't it. It's short for Jujube. When I got her as a puppy, she was like a little white lozenge."
Myra looked at her blankly.
"You know, the candy, like you buy at the movies."
"Jujubes aren't white, they're assorted colors and fruit flavors" said Myra.
"No, you're thinking of Mike and Ikes."
"No -- I mean, yes, Mike and Ikes are assorted colors and flavors, but they're not lozenges."
"Well, jujubes aren't exactly lozenges, they're shaped more like Contacs used to be, remember those hayfever pills?"
"No, Ginny, that's what Mike and Ikes are shaped like. Jujubes are shaped like Rolos, and they are definitely not white."
"What are you, the candy expert?"
"For poor kids, the only kind of candy we could hope to get was penny candy, penny being the operative word. Is what you're thinking of shaped like Contacs and white?"
"Yes, and licorice-flavored."
Maggie's face showed recognition. "Oh, I know what you mean -- I didn't eat them because I don't like licorice. Those are Good and Plentys."
Ginny stared down at Juju in dismay. "Oh my god, I named her after the wrong candy. I can't start calling her Good and Plenty now."
"Well, she's small and fruity, that's close enough." Maggie gave up trying to hold back her laughter.
Ginny said "The only kind of candy I ever got was at the movies, and it had to have the pareve mark on the side..."
"So jujubes are kosher? Does this mean we could cook Juju and eat her, too?" Myra was howling now.
"As long as there's no dairy added." Ginny joined in the laughter.
Myra had not yet seen any of the house beyond the living room, the dining room that opened off it, and the bathroom. She asked if she could get a drink, and Ginny took her into the kitchen. She drained down a glass of water as Ginny hopped up on the counter.
Myra put down the glass and stepped over to Ginny, then, with a look to ask consent, she pushed apart Ginny's knees and settled into her arms. She laid her head on Ginny's shoulder and was overwhelmed with sensation.
"You're trembling," Ginny murmured.
"Sex scares me to death".
Ginny laughed tenderly. "Uh -- honey? This is not sex."
Myra looked up at her. "Isn't it? I'm not just flirting. Sometimes I can't tell."
Ginny's mind was on, she could tell by looking at her. "When we kiss, Myra -- do the memories come up?"
"Not yet. But it will. It always does. In fact, this is the longest I've ever gone without it hitting."
"How does it come up?"
"I forget who you are and why you are doing what you're doing to me."
"I am so sorry, Myra. I am so sorry."
Myra pulled back. "You better not be sorry for me. You better not pity me."
Ginny pursed her lips a moment. "I am sorry for that girl, I would be a monster if I wasn't. I am sorry you still have to deal with this. That's not pity, not in my books."
"Why don't you just fuck me and get it over with." This isn't what Myra meant to say.
"Wow." Ginny won't look away. "God knows I want you, Myra, but we have more talking to do before we know about that, don't you think?"
"What are you going to do when I start losing it?"
"I don't know. We'll figure it out together. One thing I won't do is forget who I am, or who you are. I won't get confused by your confusion. We get to do whatever we both want to do together, Myra. The past is not going to interfere with me."
Myra pulled Ginny to her where she leaned against the counter, putting her hands on Ginny's ass for the first time and pulling her with all her strength as she began kissing her. Ginny melted onto her, into her, making small sounds, saying Myra's name over and over. Suddenly Myra was crying, she had no idea why. "Don't stop kissing me" she told Ginny. Ginny didn't stop.
It was really hard to go home that night, to put on her shoes and stand up from the couch. "I want to sleep with you. I don't mean that as a euphemism -- well, not just that. I mean fall sleep in your warmth and wake up to the sound of your breathing."
"Yeah, me too. Not yet, though." Ginny hesitated. "Are you HIV negative?"
Myra was dumbfounded. "I have no idea."
"What's your herpes status?"
"Ginny -- hell, what's yours?"
"I got tested last year, clear on both. No sexual activity or blood transfusions since then."
"Fuck me running. No one has ever asked me such things."
"About time, in my opinion."
"I have never had sex with a man -- at least --"
"I know what you mean, Myra."
"I have not had sex with women who have sex with men. I have never used IV drugs and, as far as I know, no one I've been with was a user. I've never had a herpes outbreak of any kind. I've never had a transfusion. Is that good enough for you?"
"No, not quite. How many women have you had sex with?"
"I....I don't know, Ginny."
Ginny's eyes flickered, Myra could not tell from what.
"Have you ever gotten any kind of STD?"
"Yes." Myra began walking back and forth. "I've had many cases of vaginitis. I got Trichomonas once, and Giardia twice. Got treated for all of it. Nothing else."
"Okay. Here's what will work for me: I am not actually convinced women can give each other AIDS without blood exchange. From what you've told me, I don't feel at risk about that. But do I want you to get tested for herpes."
"Tomorrow is Sunday, nothing is open." As soon as she said it, Myra realized what she had revealed.
Ginny let out a peal of laughter. "Ain't it a bitch. Well, Monday then."
"What if I've got it?"
Ginny was still grinning. "Then we will be able to make an informed decision together." She stood up, kissed Myra without any holding back. "Can we spend tomorrow together? Do you still want me?"
"Come wake me up. Here" -- Myra fished in her pocket -- "Here's my house key, come in and wake me up."
"How will you get in tonight?"
"There's a Hide-A-Key."
"Okay, it's a date. Do you by chance have a waffle iron?"
"Yes. And buckwheat flour." They made out again. Then Ginny said, "Myra, I've never felt the switch go on like this. I am actually getting weak in the knees when we kiss."
"Thank god, me too."
"Okay, go. Get some sleep. Eventually you're going to need it."
The next morning, Myra woke up to the glorious sensation of Ginny sliding into bed behind her, slipping one hand under Myra's T-shirt and cupping her belly. Myra pushed her thighs back onto Ginny's and arched her back against Ginny's belly.
"Did you sleep?" whispered Ginny.
"In fact, I did" said Myra.
Suddenly an orange-and-white Manx jumped onto the bed and glared at Ginny across Myra's hips.
"Ginny, meet Alice Booboo. Alice, this is Ginny. Beware, she's major competition." Alice sniffed at Ginny's hand on Myra's belly, then turned her back and curled up in a crescent shape beside Myra.
"Myra...I need to tell you something." The words were ominous but the tone was not.
Myra rolled over and pulled Ginny on top of her. "Tell me." Then, before Ginny could speak, Myra kissed her. Ginny responded passionately, and when they finally paused, she said "Is that a mixed message or what?"
"No, darlin, just loss of control." Myra waited.
"Myra...I think -- I'm falling in love with you. Am already in love you, actually." Ginny's face was the most beautiful face Myra had ever seen. She didn't answer for a long time, letting the words sink all the way in.
"I'm in love with you, too, Ginny Bates. I've thought I was in love before, but I've never felt this. This is complete. And reciprocated."
Ginny let out her breath. Myra realized she must have been holding it. She wanted to kiss Ginny, but wanted to look at her more.
Alice stood up and butted her forehead on Myra's forearm. Her eyes were a deep copper as she fixed them on Myra. "She's saying it's time for breakfast" translated Myra.
Ginny said to Alice "Just a sec, okay?" Then she slid one thigh between Myra's and, cupping Myra's face in her hands, kissed her with complete abandon. After a couple of minutes, Myra found her hands trying to unbutton Ginny's shirt.
"Whoa" she said. "I mean, I don't wanna whoa, my god no I don't, but I'm so turned on I'm half out of my mind." She was wheezing slightly. Ginny rolled back onto her side and Myra faced her.
"We are going to have such a great time together" said Ginny softly.
Myra wasn't sure whether Ginny meant in general or was referring to a specific activity. Either way, she agreed.
Alice jumped onto the floor with a thud and walked heavily down the hall. "That's the loudest cat footsteps I've ever heard" said Ginny.
"I don't know why, she's not clumsy, but she walks like she's got hobnail boots on. We better get out of this bed while we can." Ginny stood up and helped Myra out of the covers. She looked at Myra's naked lower half, her leg hair, then her thighs, then, blushing, back up at Myra's face. Myra pulled on some jeans, fastening the metal buttons slowly, one by one. Ginny's face got redder as she watched. Myra turned her back to pull off the T-shirt she'd slept in and put on a deep blue river-driver's shirt. She sat down on the bed and put on tube socks, then her boots. She slipped a hand under her pillow, retrieved an asthma inhaler, and took a puff. When she stood back up, she pulled Ginny into her arms. Ginny was shivering. "Me, too" said Myra.
They walked into the kitchen where Myra fed Alice and Ginny explored the pantry. Making waffles took an inordinately long time. They were pouring syrup when Myra's phone machine came on. "Just ignore it" said Myra.
But the voice was Allie's. "My? Where are you? I'm at Donna's, I went ahead and ordered. Let me know if you're okay."
Myra began ranting, "Fuck, fuck, FUCK FUCK FUCK!"
"Who's Donna? What's up?"
"Donna's Diner. Me and Allie meet there every Sunday morning for breakfast and read the paper together. They have great pork chops. Fuck, I can't believe I forgot it."
Ginny put down her fork. "Okay, let's fix it. Grab your keys."
"I can't face her, not yet. And she's gonna be mad at you too."
"You'll have the drive over to get ready. And she has no reason to be mad at me. She's my friend, too, I'm not letting her eat Sunday breakfast alone."
In the car, Ginny asked "Have you ever done this before? Stood her up?"
"Not in a long time. Not since she got sober. Shit, she's gonna go ballistic."
"I don't understand why you're so worried. I mean, are you afraid of Allie?"
"No. It's just...we talked the day after you and I first kissed, you know? And she warned me about taking it slow, about me still being in some kind of recovery. And I promised her I would."
There was a long silence.
"It would have been nice if you'd mentioned this to me" Ginny said finally.
"I was going to, in fact, I was going to bring it up today. I swear. There's just so much for me to think about, and thinking in this area is kinda new to me." Myra paused. "And...the other thing is that I wonder if Allie is jealous."
"Jealous? In what way?" Ginny's voice was now completely serious. "Is there something between you and Allie that I don't know about?"
"No...and yes. We've never been girlfriends, our relationship has always been a friendship. But it's a pretty intense friendship. It's like sisters, or some other kind of family. We know each other as well as I've ever known anybody. And...wow, this is hard to say...I've been in love with her, off and on, for years. I wanted there to be more between us. She's the reason we haven't gone there."
Myra strained to focus on the road because she was distracted by her own feelings, but she was also terrified to see what Ginny's face looked like right now. Ginny said "Are you in love with her now?"
"No. Not for over a year. And I gotta say, Ginny -- what I felt for her is nothing like what I'm carrying around for you."
"Did she know how you felt about her? Has she ever expressed a romantic interest in you?"
"She knows about it, yeah. I fucking had to tell her, years ago, because some dumbass part of me thought she felt she same way. See, we kissed once. We had spent the day together, a really good day, and gone back to her place because it was cold and wet. She had put water on for tea, then came back into the living room to keep talking to me. I was sitting on this crushed gold velvet couch of her roommate's, and she sat down on the arm of the couch, and suddenly as we were talking, she leaned over and kissed me. A good kiss. Then the kettle started whistling, and she went back to make the tea. And when she came back with it, she sat across the room from me, and she started apologizing for the kiss. She said it was some kind of thing of the moment, of how close we were, we are, and it seemed like a good idea at the time, but here three minutes later she was really sorry she's done it. Of course, I'd spent those three minutes thinking 'Whoopee, this is it, here we go', so when she apologized, it cut my heart out of my chest with a dull knife, you know? But she said in no uncertain terms that romance was not really part of what she felt for me, it was not ever gonna happen, we were not well-suited that way. And it's been squeaky clean ever since."
They had reached the diner. Myra parked, then looked at Ginny.
"Okay" said Ginny. "I knew you had a past, and that you had a propensity for trying to make messes. Sounds to me like Allie is one of the best things that ever happened to you. Bringing all this out into the open is what needs to happen. So let's go talk with our friend and keep her in the loop."
They got out of the car Ginny refused Myra's hand, saying "I want to, but Allie shouldn't be confronted with goo up in her face before we get a chance to apologize. You dig?"
"Yeah, I agree."
"And Myra? The detail about the crushed gold velvet couch? That's total romance. You need to ditch that version in your head." Ginny opened the door and walked in ahead of Myra.
Allie was at their usual booth. Her face went smooth and a little hard when they slid in across from her.
"I'll start with an apology" said Ginny. "I didn't know about your standing date with Myra when I asked her to have breakfast with me this morning. I'm not excusing her, but I am saying I won't ever ask her to choose time with me over her dates with you. I want us all to be in this together."
Throw me to the wolves thought Myra. Allie turned and leveled her gaze on Myra.
"I fucked up. Bigtime. I completely forgot, not just about our date but even what day it is" began Myra. "And, what she said. And -- I'm falling in love here, Allie. Really in love, like I've never done before. I don't know how to do this. I may fuck up again. How do we work this?"
Allie's face softened. "For real?" She looked from Myra to Ginny and back again. "I can see it. And damn, I never thought you'd have the brains to find somebody so right for you."
Now Ginny's hand found Myra's under the table. The wait person appeared: "Do you want to order?"
"Yes" said Ginny. "We'll have what she's got, except on my plate, no pig. Cranberry juice for me, milk for her?" -- she looked at Myra, who added "Yes, and a Coke too. And put her pork chop on my plate." Myra said in a low voice to Allie "I'll split it with you."
After the wait person left, Allie said to Myra "Don't do this again, okay? And don't stop going to meetings. That's all I ask."
"Okay" Myra and Ginny said in unison.
"What part of the paper do you want?" said Allie.
"Crossword" said Myra. "Editorial or horoscope" said Ginny. Myra pulled her hand out of Ginny's, got the little pen from her notebook in her back pocket, and folded the crossword section to fit on the table in front of her.
After a leisurely breakfast, the paper refolded into a blurry bulge, Allie said to Myra "So...done the deed?"
Myra was mortified. "No."
"Did she just ask what I think she just asked?" said Ginny.
Allie went on "Why, exactly, are you delaying?"
Myra looked at Ginny. "She gets to ask me these things, because I'm leaning on her thinking. At least in this area." Then she said to Allie "She says I have to get tested for genital herpes."
Allie cracked up. "I told you, I told you she was something. So when you getting the test?"
"Tomorrow morning. Aradia opens at 7:00."
Ginny was watching Myra with a growing grin. Allie was giving her a lesson, she thought.
"This your version of no U-hauls?"
"The thing about that is, Allie, dykes don't need U-hauls because one of us will already have a truck."
"Good one, My. Now, seriously, have you covered everything you need to cover?" Allie pointed at Myra.
"No. But I got a list."
"You and your lists."
"How about you, Allie? You come up with a school yet?"
Ginny looked at Allie. "School?"
Myra said "Allie wants to be an illustrator, which means either apprenticing, so to speak, in a job that will give her hands-on experience and/or finding a school that will give her the same kind of training. Has she asked you about this yet?"
"No" said Ginny, still looking at Allie.
"What's the hold-up?" said Myra. Her voice was very gentle.
"I don't...I'm not sure what will work for me."
"I can listen, Allie. I know a lot about it, I'd love to answer your questions" said Ginny.
Allie sighed. "Okay. How about you have dinner with us tomorrow night? Will a couple of hours give us enough time to talk, you think?"
"Ought to. You two have plans?" said Ginny, looking at Myra.
"Monday nights we watch Cagney and Lacey" said Myra. "You can watch with us if you absolutely do not make fun."
Ginny put on a respectful face. "Yes, dear. Any other standing dates I should know about?"
"Sometimes on Friday nights we watch horror movies and sleep over."
"Yeah, Myra?" said Allie, "This Friday I can't -- I have an actual date!"
"Do tell, who with?"
"A woman, Renee, I met doing laps at the Y. Can't tell much yet, this is gonna be dinner and circling each other with maybe in our eyes, you know."
"Good for you. The only other thing is in July, we have a date we've had for months now to see the new Alien movie as soon as it comes out."
"So, you two have a scary movie habit, I gather."
Myra looked at Ginny incredulously. "Alien is not a scary movie. I mean, it is scary but that's not an accurate definition of it."
"Okay, well, I haven't seen it, I wouldn't know."
Myra stared at her. Allie tapped the table and said "My? Like I keep saying, go slow. I gotta run, I'll talk to you both later." She stood up and patted Ginny's shoulder. "Alien is the big enchilada, Ginny. Pay attention to this one." Then she left.
Ginny looked at Myra nervously. "I don't like scary movies, Myra -- I mean, I don't like watching movies that scare me. I don't watch much TV, either."
"I don't watch much, either, but what I watch, I'm not ashamed about. Ginny...I need you to see Alien. It's part of how I look at the world. I'll watch it with you and hold your hand."
"Okay, if you put it that way. But I don't think it's showing anywhere any more."
"I have it at home. And a new VCR player. I've been assuming we're spending the day together, I guess I should ask you if that's the case."
"You have my entire dance card. Except Wednesday morning, there's a brunch I'm throwing with my friend Patty for a small group of us in our Jews Against Zionism group. I want you to meet Patty."
"Can't wait. I'm also dying to see your art work. So, there's three things -- meeting Patty, looking at your art, and watching Alien. That's a full day."
Ginny laughed. "Patty is out of town this weekend. What's this about you and a list?"
"I carry a notebook everywhere, mostly to write down poem ideas, but I also make lists constantly. It frees up my brain for being in the present moment, putting things down on paper so I don't have to try to remember them. I have a great memory, it's not about that."
"And one of those lists is about me?"
"It's about things to talk over with you."
"Should I be scared?"
"I don't think you should ever be scared about me trying to make sure we have complete communication between us. But that's just my opinion."
"Okay. How about -- If we're going to watch Alien today -- today, really? -- then let's do it while it's light out, so I don't have to go home alone and terrified. Then talking down the items on your list, making dinner, and a private showing of the Ginny gallery."
"It's a plan." They kissed, aware of some tension between them at the moment, and slid out of the booth. As they walked to the car, Ginny asked "If Allie goes to school full time, has she looked into financial aid plans? Art school can be painfully expensive."
Myra laughed. "I'm her financial aid plan....Shit, I shouldn't have said that without asking her first."
"You're putting her through school?"
"I'm putting her through life. We set up a trust so she doesn't have to work or worry, at least as long my lottery payments hold out, which is another 24 years. But that's a dire secret, Ginny. Nobody knows."
"I've wondered what you're doing with your money. I've heard rumors about you being a benefactor."
"I fucking hate that. I'm not some kinda tycoon, trying to buy my place in the community."
"I didn't think you were, honey."
Myra stood beside Ginny's open car door. "I'm being prickly, aren't I?"
"I'll stop. I'm just scared. I want to be with you, really, really want. Let's go watch the movie that changed my life. But no pressure."
Ginny laughed and leaned over to unlock Myra's door for her as she walked around.
At Myra's house, they put the uneaten buckwheat pancakes out on the back stoop for birds to discover and tidied up the kitchen first. Myra went to pee and asked Ginny to get the movie out. "It's in the stack beside the TV -- that's all I have, so far. I'm not sure about this VCR technology."
Ginny picked up the stack and read through the titles. Pillow Talk, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Calamity Jane, The Pajama Game, Move Over Darling, Please Don't Eat The Daisies, Lover Come Back, and Alien. She was laughing wildly when Myra came back in.
"You have seven Doris Day movies and Alien?"
Myra looked embarrassed. "The place I went to didn't have any goddamned documentaries."
"That doesn't explain the Doris Day thing, sweetheart."
"I heard she's a lesbian."
Ginny handed Alien to Myra, still laughing, and said "I love you more with each new wrinkle I discover about you, my woman of contradictions."
Myra lay back on the couch and Ginny stretched out on top of her. Myra put the movie on pause so they could make out for a while. Finally Ginny said "Okay. Ready. Anything I should know in advance?"
"The role Sigourney Weaver plays, Ripley, was originally written for a man. She had to jump through hoops to get the producer to give it to her, without changing a single word of the script."
"That's intriguing. Can we pause if I have questions as we go along?"
But they didn't pause, and after a while Ginny was sitting bolt upright on the couch, gripping Myra's hand and seeing nothing but the screen. By the end, tears were on her cheeks. Myra clicked off the movie and Ginny crawled into her arms.
"I get it, angel. I get it. It's you growing up, isn't it? Is Jonesy Gil?"
Myra began crying, too. "Don't tell Alice" she whispered. "She thinks the cat is her, of course."
"And they're making a sequel? So she must get rescued, right?"
"That's what we're thinking."
"Can I go with you and Allie, when it comes out?"
Myra answered with a kiss. They talked and kissed a while, Ginny digesting the movie, then just sat in silence for an even longer while.
"Okay" said Ginny, sitting up. "I was dreading item number one, and it turned out great. Let's move on to number two, shall we? Is this bulge I feel in your back pocket the famous notebook?"
"Yes, but ask first before you pull it out."
"May I look in it?"
"I'll turn to the pertinent page. Here."
Ginny read the lines in Myra's bold printing:
She looked up at Myra, suddenly wary. "Can I pick where we begin? I mean, a couple of those leap out at me."
"Go for it."
"Jewish?" Her body was suddenly stiff.
"I'm not Jewish, Ginny."
"We've already established that."
"Yeah, but is that really okay with you? I'm not sure I believe in conversion, especially since my idea of god is not likely to sit well with a rabbi, but if you need me to move more in your direction, I'm up for it. I've had a lot of Jewish girlfriends, and sometimes it's been a huge issue."
Ginny relaxed again. "So this is about you trying to be a partner to me?"
"I don't believe in conversion, either. It seems more like a Christian idea, frankly. But I do live as a Jew, and I want my most intimate life to support that. So far we're doing great. I got no requests yet."
"Well, you just let me know."
"I hope they're all this easy. The next hairy-looking one is 'Leaving town.' Are you planning to move?"
"No, Seattle's where I'm rooted. But, again, it's come up, I get involved and then she says 'Oh yeah next year I'm moving to San Fran' or 'I could never just be in one place, I need to see the world'. So, is there some part of you that's restless or going to get restless?"
Ginny laughed outright. "You are so earnest. No, Myra, I'm in love with this city and I'm in even more in love with you, and I am not going to move away from you. Think Ruth and Naomi."
Myra was starting to visibly relax, too. "Oh, what a nice reference. Okay. But you can see how these things should be covered, right?"
"I do. It's a first, but it's a good first. Okay, you pick one."
"Well, I got a couple that I'm nervous about." Ginny suddenly un-relaxed. "I mean, I think I know, but I sure could be wrong. First is -- look, I started out abbreviating and then I guess I realized I had plenty of room to write it out, isn't that funny. So, the second Mony. means monogamy. I am no longer interested in being nonmonogamous. I support the theory but I was crappy at it and did it for the wrong reasons. I don't think I'm going to change my mind. Where do you stand on it?"
"Would it be all right if I only had sex with men? I mean, they don't count, right?" Ginny was gazing seriously into Myra's eyes.
" --- You shit, you little shit. You had me for just a second there. Oh, god, my heart stopped a couple of beats." Myra pounded on her own chest.
Ginny laughed and kissed her again. "Myra, my own, we are in accord. I will be sexually and romantically monogamous until one of us changes her mind, that's as realistic as I can be. But I've never been interested in nonmonogamy, political correctness aside -- I take political correctness seriously, by the way. Yes, I understand the relevance of rooting out the manifestations of ownership in intimate relationships, but this one is just too much work. I'd rather put all my eggs in one basket. So to speak."
"Okay. You're still a shit, though." Ginny giggled. Myra went on "Reminds me of a talk some of us were once having about PC vs. PI. One of the women at the meeting had her 8-year-old daughter there, and we were laughing about the confusion that comes up about using PI for politically incorrect when that's also the name of the local paper -- the Post-Intelligencer. And this girl suddenly speaks up and says 'Well,I'm P.O.' We all stopped, looking at her, and you can tell her mother wonders if she's about to say something about being pissed off, but then this girl says 'Particular about my Oatmeal.' It brought the house down."
Ginny said "Me, too, I'm P.O. too."
"Next -- Purpose." Myra was silent for a long while. "I... it's embarrassing to me, any kind of god talk still is...I believe I have a purpose in this life. I think god wants me to do things. One of them was to be born to my Mama, so that's one fulfilled. One of them is to write, to use my writing to leave the world in better shape. I have to do it, Ginny. And I want a partner who, at the very least, completely understands that, understands it's going to be right up there near the top of my priorities. Some days at the very top. I am also starting to believe it's possible that loving you, being with you, is maybe part of my purpose. You said that thing about tikkun olam, which is in fact a big chunk of my theology--"
"Along with Ellen Ripley?"
"Yes. Exactly. If you also have a sense of purpose, I can imagine us making our primary commitment to be helpmeets for each other in fulfilling our own purposes. Including the purpose of being together. In my mind, it's a lot bigger commitment than just saying I'll love you always, which of course I will."
Ginny's eyes were that smudgy blue again. She looked so happy.
"This is what I meant, Myra, about that night at the potluck where we talked about exile. You've just described exactly what I felt, or hoped, or guessed at, that night. Yes, I was born to paint. I was born to repair the world. And now I can do that and have love, too. I say 'I do', sweetheart. Not that I'm marrying you, don't misunderstand me. You're right, this is bigger than marriage."
"Alix calls it lifelong devoted companions."
"Alix nailed it." Ginny leaned in slowly and kissed Myra as if it was the first time again, thrilling Myra to the core.
"You are the best kisser in the world" Myra whispered.
"We're a match" whispered Ginny back.
After breathing in each other's breath for a while, Myra said "I'm starting to get hungry again."
"Me, too. What's left on your list? What's that second Mon or Mony or whatever it was?"
"Money. I need some help thinking about it, about what I'm doing. I'm really stuck and I'm hoping maybe we could do some thinking together. But you know what? That's a big hunker deal of a talk, and I'd rather wait for another time."
"You got it. And let's see -- that leaves Allie, did we already do that one this morning?"
"Yes, except -- I have a lifelong commitment to her, too. We plan to have a shared life. She's all I have in the way of in-laws to bring to this relationship. I just wanted to make sure you are copacetic with that."
"I don't know if that's the right way to use the word copacetic, but I know what you mean and yes, got it. If she's family to you, she's family to me. I wish the folks I'm going to bring to our table were all so wonderful. Now -- What did you have in mind for dinner?"
"I have some fresh salmon that really needs to get baked -- I'm not a big fish eater but it caught my eye at the market. Do you like salmon?"
Ginny said "It's only my favorite thing in the world. Along with blueberries."
"Oh, good. I also have couscous and salad stuff."
"You are the best. Let's take this show into the kitchen."
"Alice was very hands-on in helping me get this salmon out of the bag and into the refrigerator. She is gonna be so happy when it re-emerges."
"That's an enormous cut, Myra. Will you let me cook it the Ginny method?"
"Please do." Myra opened up the fridge and pulled out a couple of brown eggs, a bottle of extra extra virgin olive oil, a lemon, and some fresh dill.
"What's all that for?" asked Ginny, grabbing some of the dill and another lemon.
"I'm making mayonnaise." Myra held up a whisk.
"It's all in the wrist, and the art of emulsification" said Myra.
"I can't wait to experience your talented wrists directly" said Ginny, managing to embarrass herself. Myra kissed the back of her neck and said softly "Let's spend our lives sharing our appetites with each other, shall we?"
As they sat down to dinner, Myra took Ginny's hand and said "You are my blessing."
Ginny took Myra's other hand and they looked at each for a while. Then Ginny said "Myra...we aren't dating."
Myra looked startled and instantly upset. Ginny hurried on "I mean, sweetheart, this isn't dating. This isn't like any date I've been on. To be honest, this isn't even like what I've felt when I've been involved with someone for a long time. I don't know how to explain it -- maybe I've been trying you on in my head for a year."
Myra said "Way beyond U-hauls, eh?" She kissed the back of Ginny's hand, then turned it over and kissed the palm gently.
"In the interests of disclosure" began Ginny, her face somber and a little scared. She paused long enough for Myra's pulse to quicken. "I'm in this all the way up to my neck. The only reason I'd walk away from this relationship is if you do. I'm more vulnerable than I've ever been." Her eyes were very wide.
Myra scooted over so she could hold Ginny. "Likewise. I'm not going to give up here, no matter what we have to face. You're the one for me."
Ginny waited for her fear to subside, but it did not. "Wow. I guess I just have to live in this state of ... I don't know what to call it."
"My culture would say 'grace' but I'm not sure how to translate it" said Myra with a grin. "Love in the air?"
"Love in the air" agreed Ginny.
"So what do we call it, if we're not dating?" asked Myra.
Ginny thought for a minute. "Coupling. We're coupling, that's what we're doing."
"Oh, I really like that" said Myra. Ginny kissed her, then they began eating.
After dinner, they drove in separate cars to Ginny's house. Myra had a piece of salmon wrapped in a paper towel for Juju, who stuck close to Myra's heels after that. Ginny led them back into her studio.
Her easel was set up in the corner where the two glass walls met, overlooking the back yard. Next to it was a long work table covered with tubes of paint, jars of brushes, and other clutter. Along the back wall were two cabinets of art supplies. There was a rolling stool by the table. The only other piece of furniture was a battered easy chair peppered with daubs of paint, sitting in the middle of the big empty room. Ginny motioned Myra toward the easy chair and went to a double row of perhaps a dozen canvases leaned against the long wall, facing inward.
"How should I do this? Chronologically? Or would you rather start with my sketchbooks?" asked Ginny, looking nervous.
"Show me your favorite thing first, whatever it is" said Myra. She felt nervous also.
Ginny lifted a couple canvases away from the wall and found what she was looking for. "Close your eyes" she commanded. Myra did, and heard Ginny scrape the easel a little nearer to her. Then Ginny said "Okay, you can look."
It was a self-portrait, a nude that filled almost the entire frame except for a madrone tree along the left-hand side. The figure of Ginny sat at a 3/4 angle, looking out directly at the viewer but her back knee bent, her front leg touching and caressing the trunk of the madrone. The tree was foreshortened in an interesting way, and Ginny's head was larger than was proportional for her body. It was both a lifelike representation and also indefinably abstract. The colors were unbelievably rich, the angles and shadows almost three-dimensional.
Myra burst into tears. She pulled her legs up into the chair and leaned her face forward on her knees, crying uncontrollably and not having a serious clue as to why. She kept sneaking looks at the painting and feeling the unnamed emotion smack her all over again. After a few moments, Ginny crossed to her and sat down on the arm of the chair, her arm around Myra's neck. Myra leaned against her and blubbered "Oh my god, it's so beautiful! I feel like I can't bear how beautiful it is."
Ginny got dizzy and wondered if she was going to pass out. She leaned harder on Myra, who held her up. Myra cried for another couple of minutes, while Ginny sat with her eyes closed and tried to calm the thudding heart in her chest.
After a while, Myra wiped her face on her sleeve and beamed up at Ginny. "Well, that hurdle went rather well, doncha think?"
Ginny, laughing a little crazily, slid into Myra's lap and kissed her over and over. Breaking for breath, she said "You wanna see the rest?"
"In a minute. Seriously, Ginny, it's like a physical reaction, seeing your work. When did you paint this one?"
"Spring break. Missing you and not wanting to do anything else but be here and wish you'd call."
"Oh, darling, I'm so sorry you had to wait." Myra was passionate in her contrition.
"We got together as fast as we could."
"I wish I could have watched you paint this. Why did you use a madrone tree?"
"I don't know, it's just the vision that came into my head. It's a sensuous form, and that intense color -- it made me think of you."
Myra stared at Ginny. "Had I told you that it's my favorite kind of tree?"
"No" whispered Ginny. "I can't remember that you did -- I mean, when would it have come up?"
"Where did you paint this? In this room? Did you use a mirror?" Myra looked around.
"I took photographs of myself in my bedroom mirror. They're over on the table, you wanna see how I did it?" Ginny started to move off Myra's lap, but Myra held her tight.
"In a minute. Let's just -- couple here a little bit more." Myra released her grip enough to free one hand so she could take one of Ginny's hands in her own. Inspecting it and playing with Ginny's fingers, she murmured "This hand. This hand did that."
Ginny, turning a deep red, was returning the hand play. "I just realized, you're seeing me naked before we ... reach that point in things."
"Mm-hmm" whispered Myra, kissing Ginny again.
It took hours to go through all the paintings and sketches. Ginny spent most of the time on Myra's lap. At one point, Myra realized Juju was pressed against her ankle, so she leaned forward and said "C'mon, puppy, come up here with us." She patted Ginny's thigh, but Ginny said "I don't think she can jump this high." She bent over, hanging on to Myra for ballast, and scooped Juju up. Juju nestled into a corner between them and sighed happily.
When it got close to midnight, Myra said "I am having the hardest time even considering the idea of leaving your side."
"Same here" whispered Ginny, her head tucked into Myra's neck.
"Kissing you is like eating enchanted bread -- it satisfies me completely and at the same moment leaves me even hungrier" said Myra.
Ginny leaned forward, both dimples showing. "My poet".
"I'll walk you to your car, and make out with you brazenly, confirming all Ms. Schevitz's suspicions about me."
"Across the street. A real sweetie, actually."
"Oh, Ginny, my legs are a little wobbly."
"Myra, Myra -- it won't be long until I'm going to satisfy your hunger permanently."
"I'll never be done with wanting you, Ginny Bates."
"Well, okay, that sounds good. Call me when you get home, okay?"
"I'm desperately in love with you."
"Me too, Myra."
Myra's alarm went off on Monday at 6 a.m. She lay there for a minute, unable to remember why on earth she would want to get up so early. When she thought of Ginny, a chain of associations led her to suddenly sit up and get out of bed. The clinic.
Despite being at Aradia by 6:50, she was not first in line. She filled out forms and then sat in the waiting room for half an hour as women with likely far more serious issues were seen ahead of her. When she was led back to an office, the staff member who came in to talk with her first was a counselor rather than a physician. She was an African-American named Cynthia whom Myra had not seen around anywhere, which probably meant she was not a lesbian.
"Have you ever been tested for HIV or other STD's before?" Cynthia asked.
"No, this is the first time." Suddenly Myra realized how hard this would be if she believed she were at risk.
"What prompted you to come in at this time?"
Myra explained. She grinned but Cynthia did not grin back. She went into a detailed spiel about how various things are contracted and what works against transmission. Nothing new to Myra.
Myra said "Are there any lesbians who've gotten HIV who could only have gotten it by oral sex? I mean, they really didn't ever have sex with men, no blood transfusions, just oral sex with another woman who may have had a cut in her mouth?"
Cynthia temporized. "The CDC has two documented instances of lesbian to lesbian infection of HIV, and the details of these cases are necessarily open to question because of self-reporting..."
"I know about that. I'm asking you, directly, if lesbians are getting HIV who don't expose themselves to blood-born transmission -- semen being a blood by-product."
"We don't have any data yet to indicate that, no. But this doesn't mean you should be engaging in risky sex."
"I'm in here, aren't I? Proactive? I'm just looking for clear information, because AIDS has been labeled the 'queer' disease but it's not queer, it's gay men, and even that is fucked because the real population at risk in the US is women of color, as far as I can tell. Not that we'll get any money for them, either, out of the Reagan administration."
Cynthia finally smiled, but it was a grim smile.
"Thanks for being direct with me, Cynthia. I appreciate what you do."
Myra was next taken into an exam room where she had an abbreviated pelvic and got swabbed. She went ahead and got a Pap, though her next one wasn't due for several months. Then she got dressed again and was directed to the lab. The woman drawing blood, Shirley, was a Chinese-American lesbian Myra had seen at a few rallies.
"Hi, Shirley. I'm going to look away because I'm needle phobic."
"Okay. I'm only filling in today, so you're in luck -- you won't even know I've done it."
Which was not completely true, Myra did feel the needle but it was remarkably fast and painless. As she held the cotton ball over her puncture site, she felt a little woozy. She had not eaten anything before coming in this morning. Once she was released, she sat down in a chair in the hallway for a minute, trying to clear her head.
A woman walked by and said "Myra? You okay?" Myra looked up and saw Paula, someone she saw often in political circles. Paula worked in the records portion of the clinic.
"Yeah, I'm okay. I just had a blood draw and I haven't had breakfast, so I'm a little wobbly. But I'm not on the verge of fainting."
Paula said "Sit there a sec" and went down the hall, coming back with a can of orange juice. "Drink this." She sat down beside Myra as Myra opened the juice and took a sip.
"Good. How's Rain?"
"On a Girl Scout camping trip with her troupe. It's nice being on my own this week. I'm living it up. Are you going to the Dance Brigade tomorrow night?"
"The Dance Brigade?!! In town, here? I didn't know about it."
"Yeah, I don't know why they chose a Tuesday night, but it was in the paper last weekend. I think there's still tickets left. It's at the Broadway."
"Yeah. If you go, I'll see you there."
"Thanks, Paula. For the OJ and the info." Myra gave her a hug and left. She drove up East Fifteenth and parked within walking distance of both a diner and the Red and Black. She stopped at a pay phone and called Ginny.
"You up, or just answering the phone 'cause its probably me?"
"Both. I've showered but not dressed yet. How'd the clinic visit go?"
"Why don't you meet me for breakfast and I'll tell you all about it. I have a special date to ask you on."
Myra told her where she was. Then she went into the diner, got a booth and asked for a Coke, saying somebody would be meeting her and they would both order then.
In a very short time, Ginny slid into the booth next to her. She smelled unbelievably good, and looked even better. After a few kisses, Myra felt woozy again.
"I love how you sit on the same side with me, as close as you can get."
"I waited almost 30 years for you, Myra. I don't feel shy about being your girl."
They ordered. Then Myra told her about the Dance Brigade.
(The Wallflower Order)
Ginny was as excited as Myra. "Why didn't I hear about it?"
"I don't know. I mean, I've been not out there was much, but still. Anyhow, can we go together? When the Red and Black opens, I bet they'll have tickets."
"Myra, I would adore it. I got to see them -- well, as the Wallflower Order -- at Evergreen. This will be our first date out in our community, won't it?"
"Wahoo. But I want to ask Allie, too. And let other friends know. How about your friend Patty?"
"She's got a new partner, named Pat -- "
"Patty and Pat?" --
"Yeah, funny, huh. Anyhow, I'll see if they both want to go."
"Let's meet anybody there, instead of driving with" said Myra. "That way we can neck in the car."
"Necking? Show me what you mean" said Ginny. Her dimples were deep.
After breakfast, they ambled toward the bookstore. Myra stopped at the pay phone again and called Allie.
"Oh, good, I got you. I found out the Dance Brigade is performing at SCCC tomorrow night and we, Ginny and I, are about to see if we can get tickets. Shall I get you one?"
"Fuck yeah. Wait -- did you say tomorrow night? Shit, I have a date with Renee."
"The woman from the Y?"
"Yeah. It's going good, she's great to hang out with. But we have plans to meet up with some friends of hers at their house for dinner."
"Could you rearrange?"
Allie thought for a moment. "No, better not, we don't know each other well enough to bail on her friends the day before a dinner. Damn. Well, you two have fun for me. How was Aradia?"
"Interesting. I'll tell you later. If you talk to Sima and Chris, tell them about the performance."
"Will do. See you tonight."
The Red and Black did have tickets. Seating was assigned, so Myra checked out the floor plan and got them box seats in the balcony. Then they read the bulletin board, sharing gossip and political updates, and bought the latest copy of LC.
Back on the street, Myra said "Now what?"
"Let's go back to your place and you can teach me more about necking" said Ginny.
That evening, they went to Allie's house on Queen Anne Hill. "What about dinner?" asked Ginny on the way.
Myra said "We usually order pizza."
After catching each other up, Allie sat down at her kitchen table with Ginny and pulled out a folder with notes and brochures. They began talking art as a career. Myra picked up the phone and dialed Pagliacci's. "I'd like to order an extra-large with Canadian bacon and Italian sausage -- no, wait, that's on just half of it. On the other half put mushrooms and -- onions. Plus a big bottle of Coke, another big bottle of Dr. Pepper, and hold on just a second -- Ginny, what do you want to drink?"
"Do they have juice?"
"Do you have juice? No, just soda."
"Then I'll have water here. And I want oil and vinegar dressing for my salad."
"Add on a salad, not just the small dinner salad but something with lots of veggies. But no meat on it. Oil and vinegar dressing. Okay, good, see you soon."
Allie had opened her refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of organic grapefruit juice. "Oh, great, thanks!" said Ginny.
Myra sat down with them and listened. The deeper they got into the talk, the less she understood, but she was having a blast watching Allie's face light up, her voice get completely rapid and excited. She answered the door when the pizza came, got out plates and utensils, and served the artists without interrupting them. She took a piece of Ginny's half as well as of the meat pizza for herself. Ginny fished cherry tomatoes, cucumber and oil-soaked croutons out of her salad and fed them to Myra without looking away from what Allie was showing her. Myra closed her eyes in pleasure at the feel of Ginny's fingertips in her mouth.
At a quarter till nine, Myra put away the leftovers and washed the dishes. She poured the last of the juice into Ginny's glass and set it on the coffee table in the living room. At five till nine, she bent over and kissed Ginny's neck. Ginny stopped talking, leaning back against her.
"I hate to stop you, but it's time for the show" she said.
"Wow, really?" Allie looked exhilirated. "We covered some ground, girlfriend. Can we do this again?"
"Either next Monday, or before" said Ginny enthusiastically.
Allie looked around at the kitchen. "I didn't see you clean up."
"I used my Wonder Woman apron of invisibility" said Myra.
Allie sat down in her big chair, leaving the couch to the lovebirds. Myra turned on the TV and handed the remote to Allie. "I channel surf compulsively, and Allie throws things at me. So I just get rid of temptation."
They argued during the commercials about Christine Cagney's father, whom Myra detested but Allie defended, and then Harvey Lacey, whom Myra also detested and Allie didn't much like either but she would not denounce him enough to please Myra. Ginny jumped in wherever it looked like the most fun could be had. She was leaned back against Myra, tracing one of Myra's kneecaps over and over with her thumb while her other hand was interlaced with Myra's on her chest.
As they were leaving around 11:00, Allie said to Myra "You look like the cat who got into the cream". Ginny blushed.
"I'm not going to touch that one" said Myra. "But thanks. For it all, Allie."
"My pleasure. Call me after the performance tomorrow, let's swap stories."
"You got it."
On the drive home, Ginny sighed happily and said "So, all this time, you and Allie have been having nights like this one. All the time I've known her. I didn't know what I was missing."
"Well, the first two years we were friends, she was still drinking. So no, our time together was not like this. And even after that, with her in new recovery and me not yet in mine -- it's only been this easy for a couple of years now. But that does overlap with you, yes."
"And now there's room for me? You sure?"
"Yes. She and I will still have our connection without you, don't worry about that. But if she's made this much room for you, you're in."
"Are you going to call her tonight and talk about me?"
"Yes" said Myra, grinning.
"About what's coming up, when I get scared or don't, and just bouncing off her how I'm doing. When I talk through it out loud, I get a handle on reality. My gut says I'm doing great, but I'd like my head to be sure of it, too. And she will have some big stuff to process, after the talk you two had tonight."
"Will you call me afterward to say goodnight?"
"It may be very late. But yes, if you don't mind me waking you up."
"I won't be asleep, until I hear from you."
When Myra dropped Ginny off at home, Myra handed her a house key. "This one is yours to keep."
"No rules about when I can use it?"
"Nope. I want you in my life, no limits."
It was 1 a.m. before she called Ginny. "Allie says hi, and she really appreciates you siding with her about Christine's relationship with her father."
"I got a little afraid you'd gone to sleep."
"Not without you, Ginny. Hey -- are you crying?"
"I have been."
"Oh, sweetheart, you really don't need to worry about me disappointing you, it's just not my style. Do you need me to come over?"
"No. I mean yes, I need you to be in my bed, but that wasn't what I was crying about."
Myra heard Ginny stifle a sob. "Tell me, Ginny Bates. I'm here."
"It's a little goofy. I was just lying here, thinking about how things have turned out, how good they are, you know? How there's this wide open horizon. And then I remembered when I was fifteen and first read about gay liberation, as it was then, lying up alone in my room, in my overdecorated fucking room because I couldn't lock the door against my mother, in my cold little single bed, and I read about how there was a way to live that matched my heart. I could go somewhere and find it, find my people, find love. It was all I had to hang onto for so long, that dream. I pretty much imagined getting to where I am right now. But if I had known it was going to take me fifteen years, oh, Myra, I don't think I could have held on so long." She crying hard now.
(1970's Gay Liberation Front poster)
"That's one reason I am so out everywhere I can be, Ginny, because of kids like we were. Even a tiny scrap of hope, of recognition, can keep a kid alive."
"I wish I'd met you then. I mean, I know, you wouldn't have looked twice at me and you probably would have been mean to me or something, but in my fantasy, I'm 15 and you're 16 and we find each other."
"I like that fantasy. Was there a tree outside your window? You're on the second story, right?"
"Yeah, there was a fir tree. Kinda hard to climb, if that's what you thinking."
"I'd have managed it. You're in that cold little bed, and you hear something scratching at your window. At first you think it's the wind, but then you hear a definite rap on the glass. You open the curtains, and it's me, freezing my ass off."
"I open the window and you stick your feet in over the sill. You have on those button-up jeans, and that marine blue shirt."
"You have on thermal underwear. Stop laughing, I like the feel. We close the window, whispering, and I sit down on the floor next to your bed."
"Why not in my bed?"
"Because we're teenagers. We're awkward."
"Okay. Then I sit down on the floor next to you."
"I can see you've been crying, and I ask you why."
"I pull out the article I've been reading, and I read it aloud to you."
"And I'm bowled over by the promise of it, by the possibilities. We look at each other -- there's not much light, just moonlight from the window."
"And the nightlight in my bathroom."
"And I say, 'Ginny, the thing is -- I like girls.'"
"And I say, 'Me, too, Myra.'"
"I say, 'Is there any girl you like in particular?' I'm staring down at my hands, now."
"I say 'Uh-huh.' I'm staring at your hands, too."
Myra chuckled. "I can absolutely imagine you doing that, Ginny."
"I want to go on with this story, Myra, but there's no way we can get away from our prisons, not yet. You can crawl into that bed with me and show me how to make love with a girl, but in the morning I'll still have to go to high school for three more years." Ginny was crying again.
"You're right, honey. You're right. Just cry it out. I'm sorry it took so long for me to find your window."
Ginny sobbed "I wish you were here right now."
"I will be soon, Ginny Bates. I will spend the rest of my life in your bed."
Ginny laughed through her sobs. "Well, not literally, I think."
"The way I'm feeling right now..." laughed Myra.
"Do you like to sleep cuddled up?"
"Do you sleep naked or in pajamas?"
"Naked unless it's really cold. Or I have somebody to keep me warm."
"I would live naked if I could. I'll keep you warm, Myra."
"I bet you will."
"Does it take you a long time to come, or do you come fast?"
"Ginny....I can't predict how it's going to be with you, because it will be totally different with you. I've always come pretty easily, but I 've almost never been really present for it. I will be there with you."
"Yes, you will. I'll make sure we're together. I come fast, usually. But not very hard."
"You will with me, Ginny."
"Okay....Myra, I snore sometimes."
Myra laughed wildly. "I don't care, Ginny, I honest to fucking god don't care."
"What side do you sleep on?"
"More often than not, on my stomach. It helps with my breathing."
"No, I meant what side of the bed, Myra."
"Oh. The right, I guess."
"Good. I like the left.
"Ginny, my darling -- we're gonna have sixty or seventy years to make up for lost time."
"Are you going to be able to go to sleep now, or is your heart still aching?"
"I'm getting sleepy. Late nights are hard for me, it throws me back into the tough times."
"For me, it's mornings."
"Another good match. Remember how at that party, when we played the newlywed game, I said we were basheert?"
"Turns out I wasn't joking, was I?"
"Kiss Alice for me, and then kiss yourself. But no more -- save yourself for me."
Myra was laughing again. "Yes, Ginny. Call me when you wake up."
"Even if it's early?"
"Call me. I love you."
"I love you back."
On Tuesday morning they met again for breakfast, a little too early for Myra, at Matzoh Mama's. When they went back to Ginny's house, Ginny checked her messages and told Myra she needed to return a call. Myra lay down on the couch and put a cushion under her head. Listening to Ginny's voice in the next room was enormously comforting. Within a minute, she was asleep. When Ginny found her, she untied Myra's boots and slid them off her feet. Then she got her sketch block and sat down a few feet away to draw Myra.
A couple of hours later, the phone ringing again woke Myra up. Ginny answered it but dragged the cord over to Myra and kissed her loudly, saying "Hang on just a minute" to whoever was on the line and kissing Myra again. Then she said into the phone, "Thanks, Daddy. Yes, that was kissing, but it wasn't Juju. I've fallen in love. Yes, with a woman, nothing's changed there. Her name is Myra. She's from Texas. No, but she knows where it is. No, she's a poet. I will, or you could come out here and meet her. No, she's not, but she's the next best thing. Okay, I will. She's making me blissfully happy, Daddy. Like you won't believe. No, I don't want to tell Mother about her, you do that for me, okay? I'm sorry we won't get to go to the coast this year, but I'll call you often. You stay off it, set your easel at a lower setting and do some painting, I don't care what Mother says. Okay, you too."
Ginny said unnecessarily "That was Daddy. He broke his ankle last week and we can't go to the coast this year. He left me a message but that's the first time we've talked in person."
"Do you want us to go visit them there?"
"God, not yet. Not until we have honeymoon out of our system."
"And when do you think that's going to be, Ginny Bates?" Myra was tickled.
Ginny crawled on top of her. "You snore a little, too, Myra." She kissed her over and over. Then she sat up and said, "Hey, I have an outfit I want to wear to the performance tonight, shall I model it for you?"
When Myra nodded, Ginny disappeared into her bedroom. After a few minutes, she came back out still barefoot, wearing a pair of cream-colored linen drawstring pants and a ribbed men's white undershirt. She was just slipping on a vivid red-orange linen shirt that was oversized, with roomy 3/4 length sleeves rolled up to her elbows and a long tail in the back and front. She stood before Myra and said "I could either button this up and tuck it in, letting it balloon out a little, or tie the front in a knot, what do you think?"
"C'mere" said Myra in a slightly thick voice. When Ginny stepped up to her, Myra pulled her down to the couch by the shirt flaps and began kissing her exposed neck passionately. Ginny pushed Myra back and straddled her as Myra began nudging the red shirt aside with her mouth so she could kiss around the armholes of Ginny's undershirt, burying her face in the underarms of the red shirt. Myra slid her hands under the shirt onto Ginny's belly, holding it in her hands for a moment, then creeping very slowly upwards. At the same time, Myra rubbed her cheek against Ginny's right breast. Ginny gasped, sensing an approaching convergence of mouth and hands on the same spot.
At that moment the doorbell rang. Ginny said loudly "Shit!" She pushed herself against Myra's face, but Myra had stopped all movement. She looked up at Ginny, grinning and bleary with lust. She whispered "Your nipples are about to poke through that shirt."
Ginny laughed in a frustrated way. "I gather you like this outfit" she said as she stood up, holding onto Myra's hand as long as she could in her walk to the front door.
When she answered the door, she said "Patty!" and opened it wider. Stepping in was a short pudgy woman with curly blonde hair. Behind her came a taller, even blonder woman in sweatpants and a polo shirt that showed a great deal of muscle.
"Myra, honey, this is Patty Marchand and Pat Prewitt" said Ginny, indicating Patty as the shorter of the two. "Girls, this is Myra Josong, the woman who has stolen my heart." She jumped back onto the couch, where Myra had not yet gotten completely upright. She sat squarely on Myra's belly, effectively pinning her down into the saggiest portion of her old couch. Myra grinned at the visitors around Ginny's arm and waved in lieu of a handshake.
Patty took in Ginny's flushed face and extreme animation, as well as her very prominent nipples and the untied waistband of her pants. "I hope we're not intruding" she said wryly.
"Nope, we were just making out. About all we do these days" said Ginny with pride. "What brings you to my neck of the woods?"
Pat, trying not to look at Ginny's chest, held up a pair of grocery bags. "We picked up some stuff for the brunch tomorrow you two are having, and we thought we'd drop it by now, save time."
"Oh, good, let's see what you got" said Ginny, springing up from Myra in a way that left Myra momentarily breathless and taking the bags from Pat. She and Patty went into the kitchen, chatting and putting away food. Pat stood awkwardly, reaching to put her hands in her pockets and then discovering she didn't have any.
"So, what do you do, Pat?" asked Myra, finally achieving an upright position on the couch.
"I teach phys ed at the high school" said Pat, fulfilling Myra's every stereotype. "This summer I'm coaching part-time but also taking classes in computer science. I want to be a programmer."
Myra was trying to remember which sports would require coaching in the summer. Not football, she thought. Or basketball. But she wasn't certain. Baseball, that was a summertime game. Soccer? Swimming? She didn't realize she hadn't answered Pat until Pat said "Uh...Ginny says you're a poet?"
"Well, not for a living, but yes for the revolution. You know, like Jan Clausen said, 'a movement of poets'." It was patently obvious Pat had no idea who Jan Clausen was. Myra changed tack. "I used to be a delivery driver."
Pat smiled at something familiar. "Yeah? I used to have a paper route, in high school."
Ginny came back out of the kitchen and sat down in Myra's lap again without hesitation, talking to Patty who trailed behind her. "We're going to see Dance Brigade tonight, are you going too?"
"Oh, I love them" said Patty. "Where can we get tickets?"
Myra was about to tell them when Pat said "Uh...I have a game tonight, Patty."
When Patty's face fell, Pat added "But you could go. Go without me. Is this a dance or what?"
"It's a performance by a radical women's dance troupe" said Ginny. "You could go and sit with us, Patty. I bet we could get you into our box."
Pat looked startled at this image. Patty said "No, I'd feel weird going without Pat. We'll have to catch it another time."
"I'll tell you about it tomorrow" said Ginny. She stood up as Pat and Patty headed for the door. This time Myra was able to stand and shake hands. "Good to meet you, Myra" said Patty. "Let's all have dinner soon."
Pat nodded in agreement and held the door open for Patty. After they were gone, Ginny turned and commanded "Lie back down over there."
"Honey -- we need to either decide to break our agreement or I need to not lie back down over there." When Ginny stayed put, torn by this decision, Myra took Ginny in her arms and kissed her as a consolation prize. After a while, Ginny pulled back and said, "So, can you tell I'm not wearing underwear in these pants?"
"I don't like wearing underwear."
"Then don't, Ginny. You look spectacular."
"You've made that clear. How about if we go over to your house and pick out your outfit for tonight?"
"Risky behavior. But yes, let's go."
At Myra's flat, she opened her closet doors wide and said "Help me, color angel. I bought all this new stuff that has to be coordinated, for fuck's sake." She sat down on the bed and Ginny began pulling things off hangers. Every so often Myra would say "I'm not going to wear that, I shouldn't have bought it." Those items Ginny folded neatly and piled up, saying "Goodwill will be thrilled to have them."
Eventually she had a stack of pants and a stack of tops that Myra found acceptable. She weeded out the sweatshirts, flannel shirts, overalls and jeans and hung them back up. "You know how to put those together, and that's not for tonight, anyhow" she said.
She laid the remaining pants out in a row and began trying various shirts against each pair. Myra watched in fascination. "How did you pick up this girl stuff, were you femmy in high school?"
"Fuck, no. I refused fashion and make-up. It was open war between me and my mother. But I know fabric, and line, and then of course hues. It may not be the current trend, but it will look good in a fundamental sense."
Finally she had it sorted out, and began re-hanging things in clusters. What was left on the bed was a pair of charcoal slacks with a pleated front and sharp cuffs, and a mustard-yellow poet-style shirt with wide lapels. "You did say you love the feel of these pants on you, right?" said Ginny.
"They're heavenly. Hug my ass but not my crotch. I would never have thought to put that shirt with them."
"This tone, with your olive skin and dark hair -- you are a beauty, Myra."
She felt beautiful, in that moment, an absolute knockout. She stood up and unbuttoned her pants, having already removed her shoes. When her pants were off, Ginny said "I love how you wear lady panties."
"Fat girl all-cotton comfort." Myra pulled off her jersey next, leaving her T-shirt on underneath. Ginny crowed.
"I know that shirt, I saw it when Allie was making it for you!"
"She told me. She told you what you said. I think about that every time I put it on."
She stepped over and put her arms around Ginny. "Wanna kiss me with my pants off?"
Ginny hooked one leg behind Myra's knee and tried to tumble her back on the bed, but Myra fell instead to the floor.
"Ow, ow, I banged my fucking knee" she yelled.
"Oh, god, Myra, I'm so sorry! I was trying to be smooth, that's what I get". Ginny was down on the floor with Myra, stricken, rubbing the wrong knee for a minute.
"You are smooth, Ginny, you're really good at sweeping me off my feet" laughed Myra. She let Ginny help her back up.
"I need to go pee, and I should wash up anyhow" said Myra. "And no, you can't watch. Not yet. Stay here and practice your moves with Alice."
Alice gave Ginny a look which said "Not on your life". Ginny sat down and fingered the starched sleeves of Myra's shirt. Then she wandered over and looked at the scanty jewelry lying on Myra's dresser. When Myra came back in, Ginny held up a beautifully crafted small silver labyris on a matching silver chain. "This is amazing work" she said.
Myra held it in her palm. "Yeah, I bought that the first time I went to Michigan -- the second year it happened. The artist was named Julie Springwater, never forgot it. This was my symbol of power for years, I never took it off. Then things changed."
"Well, what it stood for, the Amazon in me reclaiming the girl I once was -- I got there, I didn't need the warrior reminder any more. And Gil died. I kinda stripped down when Gil died, just did the bare essentials for a while. This piece, though, it's in my heart."
She paused, then said "You wear it, Ginny. I want you to have it. Make it your own symbol."
Ginny's eyes were wide. "Really?"
"Really. It must have called out to you. And rest assured, no one else has ever worn it, although a lot of women tried to coax it off me." She undid the clasp and slid it around Ginny's neck. Ginny shivered momentarily.
"If you have visions or dreams with this in it, don't be surprised" said Myra. "Oh, wow, the silver looks perfect next to your rosy skin." She bent down and kissed the labyris where it lay in the hollow of Ginny's neck. Then she kissed Ginny's mouth. Ginny put her hand over the labyris and kissed Myra back passionately.
After they pulled apart, Myra reached over to the dresser and picked up a gold ring with a fire opal setting. "I'll wear this tonight" she said. "It was my mother's."
She turned to dress, but Ginny said "Let me. Please."
She held the slacks in front of Myra, letting Myra balance her hands on her shoulders, and pulled the pants slowly up Myra's legs. She left them loose at the waist, and picked up the shirt next, sliding it over Myra's head and easing each arm into a sleeve. She adjusted the fit of the shoulders, turned the sleeve cuffs up one more fold, and brushed Myra's hair back upright with her fingers. Myra kept her eyes on Ginny's face the whole time. Then Ginny slid the tail of the shirt down over Myra's ass, outside her panties but inside the slacks, to the tops of Myra's thighs. She did the same for the front of the shirt, being very thorough in smoothing out possible wrinkles. Myra was starting to breath a little raggedly. With a look of concentration, Ginny lay the front flaps of the slacks together and very slowly pulled up the zipper. She buttoned the buttons on either side of the waistband and then fingered two extra buttons nearby on the waistband. "What are these for?" she asked, then said "Oh, I know."
She dove back into the closet and came out with a rack full of belts and suspenders. She found a pair of button-on suspenders that were black with a thin gold stripe. She turned Myra around gently by the waist, attached the suspenders to the rear waistband, then turned her back around to lift the straps over her shoulders and button them to the front. She adjusted the straps, managing to touch Myra's breasts several times in the process. Then she said "One more thing." She went back into the closet and found a charcoal men's dress vest with a gold-print silk back. She helped Myra into this and said "Oh, babe. You are the hottest woman I've ever seen."
"I bought those suspenders ten years ago at St. Vinnie's. I got the vest from a former roommate. I can't believe how great this all goes together." Myra had never in her life felt this good about how she looked. She preened in front of the mirror, admiring her ass and her shoulders. She asked Ginny to pick out socks and shoes as well. Ginny went with the boots -- a dyke's best friend are her boots.
They ate dinner at Aux Delice, their restaurant, and then drove to the performance hall. They strolled in slowly, arm in arm. Myra couldn't stop looking at Ginny's face; she was lit up from within. Once they got upstairs, to their box, they scraped the seats over to the railing and sat looking down into the hall below, talking about who they knew was there. Ginny had her hand curled inside Myra's, on Myra's thigh.
Once most of the audience had arrived, almost entirely women, Ginny asked "What percentage of those folks down there do you think you know by name?"
"At least a third" said Myra. "Maybe half."
"Less than that for me. But I haven't been as politically active as you. Or is that not the key?" Ginny was grinning. "How many women here have you been, shall we say, intimate with?"
"Okay -- how many have you had sex with, how many have you kissed but not had sex with, and how many have you dated but not kissed?"
"Are you going to get upset by the answer?" asked Myra.
"No. You're with me, that's all that counts" said Ginny.
Myra looked over the crowd again, retrieving her hand from Ginny so she could keep two tallies. Finally she said "Seven for sex, five for just kissing, and one for a date -- maybe on the date thing. Sometimes it's so hard to tell."
"Wow. It is weird for you, being in the middle of so much history?"
"Yes. But I have to get over it."
"Myra, there's a woman in the second row, this side, who keeps staring up here at us. Do you know her?"
"Really short, with black pigtails?"
"Don't look at her, Ginny. That's Fern."
"An ex, I presume."
"A crazy ex. After we'd been broken up for a while, she found out I was sleeping with someone else in the same political group we'd been in, and she mailed me a big cardboard box that, once I got the outer brown paper off, was completely sealed in tinfoil. When I peeled off the tinfoil and opened the box, it was full to the brim with dog shit she'd collected off the streets."
"You have got to be kidding me!" Ginny was horrified.
"And the thing is, she was living on SSI, she didn't have two nickels to rub together, and the postage was over seven bucks. People who know us both say she still talks about me all the time, how I ruined her life by not being in love with her. But she was horrible to me, Ginny. She used to hit me if I didn't want to have sex with her."
"She's tiny, Myra, she's half your size."
"Size doesn't matter when you've got the buttons I have. Or had."
"If she comes this way, I'm going to --- "
Myra said "I'll handle it, Ginny. She's mentally ill. She's my problem, not yours."
"She just got up and walked up the aisle." Ginny was agitated. She leaned out over the railing so far that Myra grabbed at her waistband and pulled her back into the chair.
"She's headed for the bathroom" said Ginny in relief.
"You need to let this go, Ginny. You need to let us just be here together."
Ginny took a deep breath. "Okay."
"This is our community, Ginny, good and bad. We'll be spending the rest of our lives with these women. I've stopped making messes, I've stopped using sex in a way that hurts someone. Sooner or later, that will be recognized."
Ginny looked at her for a long time, her face softening. "I love you, Myra. I love how brave you are."
"I love you, too. Do you have any streetfighting skills, Ginny, or were you just going to color-wheel her into submission?"
"I can take care of myself. I took martial arts in high school after I got arrested."
"You got arrested?"
"When I was fifteen -- that portentous year -- I went to a protest against Israel in downtown Denver outside the Jewish Community Center. There was some violence, the cops used tear-gas on us and then arrested those of us who didn't get away in time. A cop dislocated my shoulder, the fucking bastard, and they arrested me on charges of assaulting a police officer because I was trying to defend myself."
"Oh, my, god." Myra was so impressed she didn't know how to express it.
"I had to call my dad in the middle of the night at the hospital, where I was handcuffed to a fucking bed and writhing in pain from my shoulder. He bailed me out, eventually got the charges dropped because he was so well-connected. My mother went ballistic. I was grounded for six months. She dropped out of her social circle for a while, I had humiliated her so. I talked the school into letting me switch my P.E. to aikido, forged the permission slip, and began making sure no pig would ever manhaul me again. Eventually, of course, I figured out to just run when the teargas starts, don't pick fights with the cops. But yeah, I feel pretty confident on the streets."
Myra threw herself on Ginny, kissing her with abandon. Ginny responded ardently. They were finally interrupted by the lights going on and off, announcing the start of the performance. Breathing heavily, they sat back in their seats, wrapped around each other. Myra whispered "If I wasn't in love with you already, that story would've done it."
"I should've used it last year, then."
Myra laughed suddenly. "In the boxes across the auditorium from us, Ginny? There's Jules Lefkowitz, looking our way in disbelief, I do declare."
Ginny didn't turn her head. "I couldn't care less, Myra."
The show started. The troupe was more confrontational than ever. At one point, Ginny said "Who do you like better, Krissy or Nina?"
"Krissy, with those huge bare feet and thunderous muscle-bound thighs. Plus the leg hair. How about you?"
"Nina, the way she can flutter and still smack the wood with her feet. And how funny she is."
At the intermission, Ginny said "Do you need to go pee?"
"Do you need something to drink?"
"Do you want to sit up here and make out?"
After they came up for air, Ginny said "So, twelve of the women in this room know what I'm experiencing tonight?"
Myra stared at her. "No. I've never done this with anyone else."
"You've never made out with anyone else?" laughed Ginny.
"Yes, I've done that, but not in public."
"Yes. Think about it -- all the times over the years you've seen me in public settings, have you ever seen me kiss anybody?"
"Well, since I knew to notice you -- no, come to think of it."
"I refused to do it. It caused more than one fight."
"Why not, Myra? I mean, you're all over your friends, you're very affectionate."
"That's not behavior that excludes others."
"So why now? Why are you willing to be exclusive with me?"
"This is different. This is not about shutting them out, this is about letting me loose. I have not a single doubt inside me about any of the contact I'm having with you."
"Ooh" said Ginny. "No shame?"
Ginny was extremely pleased. "I know I shouldn't care, but I do -- this makes this night truly unique, and me truly special, doesn't it?"
"As if there was any doubt. How about you, Ginny? You done PDAs?"
"I've kissed and held hands, yes. But I've not rubbed myself frenziedly against a woman's leg or been slobberingly turned on in public, no."
Myra was laughing. "A little exaggeration, don't you think?"
"So far. But, my god, Myra, I'm almost stuck to the seat of this chair; they're going to have to steam clean this cushion."
Myra threw back her head and laughed.
For much of the second half of the show, Ginny crawled over into Myra's lap and sat with her cheek pressed against Myra's, eyes watching side by side. They shifted periodically to keep Myra's legs from going to sleep. When the final curtain came down, during the few moments of darkness and the roar of applause, Ginny turned and put her tongue lightly into Myra's ear. Myra moaned, and Ginny could hear it. As the lights went back up, Ginny said "Come on" and pulled Myra at almost a run down the stairs and into the main lobby. She diverted them away from the main entrance, to a side alcove, and turned to face Myra. Myra pushed her up against the wall, planting both feet between Ginny's and pushing her body against her tight. Ginny lifted one thigh against Myra's hip and kissed her, gasping at the rhythm Myra started between her legs.
After a minute, a cluster of women walked by them; apparently there was a side entrance down this hall. Myra stopped and leaned back to look at Ginny, laughing exuberantly. Ginny joined her. They were still laughing, their hands linked together up at shoulder level, when Myra heard her name called. She turned around; there were Sima and Chris, looking at her in astonishment.
"I told you it was them" Chris said to Sima. "You owe me five bucks!"
Myra and Ginny, unable to stop laughing, stepped apart to give their friends hugs.
"So, you two are together?" said Sima.
"What gave it away?" said Ginny.
"I knew it. I knew it ever since Sima's birthday party" said Chris. "You --" she pointed at Ginny -- "were all up and down that hallway, looking out the front window and then rushing back. Poor Laurie, hiding out in the front room, decided you must be interested in her but unable to make a move. But you were waiting on somebody, I could tell. And then all of a sudden you bust into the kitchen and arrange yourself all casual, leaned against the counter. And then Myra walks in. I knew right then."
Myra and Ginny were in stitches. "So that's what happened with that stupid Laurie" said Ginny.
"Girl, you were giving off vibes. And when Myra got there, well, I could smell something burning."
"You knew before we did" cried Myra. She turned to Sima: "You really do owe her that five bucks."
"Have you been together since then?" asked Sima.
"No, less than a week. This is our first community sighting, so to speak" said Ginny.
"Does Allie know?"
"That Allie" said Chris. "We saw her yesterday and she never said a thing. She just don't gossip."
Sima was gazing at Ginny. "I've never seen you this way -- you're lit up like a roman candle."
"That's a perfect description of what you look like tonight!" said Myra.
"It's looove!" said Ginny, breaking into a Nina-esque flowing move across the floor to a column, which she twirled herself around, pointing toes and gazing into the far distance. "I dahnce the dahnce of revolutionary love" she said, fluttering back to Myra and circling her with tiny steps. Myra stuck her thumbs into her waistband and did a little clog. Ginny threw her arm over Myra's shoulder and they stood, beaming at each other.
"Well, we just had to see if it was you, and say hey" said Sima. She and Chris gave them hugs again and headed for the entrance.
"I'm out of breath" said Ginny.
"No wonder" said Myra. "Here, hop on my back and I'll give you a lift to the car."
By the time they got to the car, Myra was winded as well. Ginny said "Let me see if I can carry you. Here, hop up on me."
Myra, using her inhaler, laughed wheezily. "Honey, if I hop up on you, we'll both crash to the pavement."
"I can carry you, I got these big strong thighs. Here, sit on the hood of my car and I'll back into you; you grab me and I can get a head start on carrying you."
Myra did as Ginny directed, spreading her legs and wrapping her arms around Ginny. But when Ginny tried to pull her off the hood, nothing moved.
Ginny turned around and put her arms around Myra's neck. "Well, then, I'll just have to find another way to let you ride me." As soon as it was out of her mouth, she began turning a deep red. Myra was equally embarrassed. They laughed together hard.
Then Ginny gave Myra a hand off the hood and opened the passenger door for her. She continued to lend a hand as Myra sat in the seat. Ginny leaned in and fastened the seatbelt across Myra, brushing her front repeatedly with hands and face, but very lightly. "There, all set" she said, and kissed Myra fleetingly as she backed out and shut the door. She skipped around the front of the car and popped into her seat. Myra was charmed, and could not look away. Singing under her breath, Ginny started the car and pulled out:
Song of the night
War of the flea
Deep inside the jungle
You will find me
As soon as she was in street traffic, Ginny reached over and took Myra's hand. She kept it laced into her own and rested it on the stick shift, using both their hands to change gears. They rode to Myra's house in blissful silence.
Ginny parked out front and turned off her car. She unbuckled her seat belt, then Myra's, and faced her. "The best date of my life" she said.
"So far is it precisely."
"I'd ask you in, but -- "
"We know what will happen. You seriously look like you're gonna rip this shirt off me."
"Let's save that for another time."
"Come here and kiss me good night, Myra." Ginny pulled Myra deep into her mouth, gently but thoroughly. As they parted, Ginny said "Will you call me when you wake up?"
"First thing. It's possible the test results will be back tomorrow, just barely possible."
Ginny crossed all her fingers. Then she uncrossed one hand and took Myra's hand in hers, saying "Here's something to remember me by." She put Myra's hand on her crotch and rubbed twice, hard. Myra's fingers came away wet.
She walked into her house backwards, watching Ginny the whole way. Ginny didn't pull off until Myra had shut and locked her door, then gone to the front window to wave. As her taillights vanished down the street, Myra put her fingers up to her nose and took a deep sniff.
Myra called Ginny at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. "You up, my love?"
"I woke up early, waiting for your call."
"Wish I could come over right now, Ginny."
"Me, too. But this brunch thing is important. This group within a group needs to talk strategy. I think we'll be done by 10 or so. Come by my house and pick me up? Let's go out into the world together."
"It's pouring, Ginny."
"July in Seattle."
"Okay, I just bought a new slicker and hat, I can model it for you."
"There's the doorbell, I gotta go, Myra. I love you so much."
"Counting the minutes."
When Ginny opened her door at 10:10 a.m., Myra was standing on her doormat wearing a knee-length bright yellow raincoat with matching Wellingtons and a floppy yellow hat. Ginny burst out laughing. "You look like Paddington Bear!" she said.
Myra jerked her hat off. "I knew it, dammit -- I just love this color and didn't think about what it would look like all together until after I'd paid for it. Listen, I've got my old poncho in the car, I can change."
Ginny pulled her in and kissed her passionately, giggling. "Don't you dare, you're adorable." Within a minute they were lying on Ginny's couch, making out. Ginny eventually sat up and said "Now, this is why I said let's go out. I'm starting to lose all ability to remember why we're waiting."
"Ginny -- my mail comes at 9:00. There was no notice from Aradia in it."
"God damn. Well, okay, Myra, if we're in public, there's at least that limit to keep me from tearing your clothes off."
"Where shall we go?"
"The Arboretum is close. I know a spot." Ginny pulled on her boots, a maroon Gore-Tex poncho with hood and a blue fisherman's cap. Myra drove them to the mid-section of the Arboretum. Ginny led the way through a grove to a small clearing with a few large boulders in it. She had grabbed Myra's old poncho and a ground blanket from Myra's hatch. She spread the blanket in front of one boulder and said to Myra "Sit there, you can lean against the rock." Then she sat down between Myra's legs, facing her, and pulled the poncho on over both their heads. "See, rainproofed together." Her face was under Myra's brim. She turned the bill of her cap backward so they could kiss unimpeded.
After a while, Myra said "This may be public, but there's no one walking by, and even if they were, they couldn't see much."
"Just a children's book character being humped by a two-ponchoed thing" giggled Ginny. "Here, I can open your raincoat and you'll stay dry." She slid her hands around Myra's middle.
"Holy moly, your hands are cold -- I can feel them through my shirt like chunks of ice. It's not chilly, what's up with your hands?"
Every phrase between them was punctuated by lingering kisses."I don't know. I'm out of my mind with desire, Myra."
"Maybe all your blood supply is being directed elsewhere" laughed Myra. "Ginny, put your hands under my shirt, let me warm them up for you, baby."
After intensified kissing, Ginny said "Oh, god, Myra, I am dying to touch your breasts. I know that's over the line..."
"Do it, Ginny, please just do it. Oh, god, yes."
"Your nipples are so hard, angel... I want them in my mouth..."
"I want your mouth on me, too, Ginny."
At that point they heard the whistling of someone walking a dog. They laughed and slowed down, Ginny tucking her face against Myra's neck. "I feel like a 1950's teenager" she said.
"Boy, talk about a fucked-up era for girls. Especially sexually."
"Whenever I used to listen to oldies, I would get so depressed about ever having a real relationship."
"I know. Ginny, remember that one called 'The Last Kiss'? When I was four or five, I'd hear that on the radio and feel just bewildered about why everybody thought it was so romantic. I mean, this guy takes his girl out, drives too fast like a fuckhead, gets them in a terrible wreck, and as she's dying of horrible internal injuries no doubt, he's making sure he gets a last kiss from her, the prick."
"Thank god for the 60s. And then thank god for Olivia."
"Olivia, Holly, before them Alix -- I believe our whole movement surfed into existence on poetry and music" said Myra.
Ginny sat up so she could look into Myra's face. She began singing. Myra was astounded at her high, clear, lovely singing voice. Ginny's speaking register was low and infinitely rich, like browned butter or the tumbling of water over big stones.
"Bread and water, like some poor man's daughter
No, never for me
Wine and money called me honey
And made me feel I was free
Like a glass raised too many times
I broke in two
Myra joined her for the last lines, her tenor harmonizing with Ginny's voice.
"I was walking around in little pieces
And I never even knew
That the way back home to me
Was the road I took to you."
Myra felt tears in her eyes. "Well, okay, that's pretty damned romantic."
Ginny's face was an inch away. "We can afford a little romance. The truth is, this is the real deal."
"Yes, it is...Ginny, honestly, what are you going to do if I do have herpes? Or turn out to have something else?"
"Honestly -- I'm not going to give this up. I've bought latex gloves and Saran Wrap, they're already back at the house." After a long silence, Ginny said speculatively "I guess, if we're willing to use them now, we don't have to wait any more..."
"I've never ever waited, Ginny. I've never had any kind of thought process about sex before. There's something symbolic in this that makes this different for me, in an important way. In some ways, you're going to be my first lover, really. First, and last."
Myra's stomach rumbled loudly between them. They laughed. "I guess I'm hungry. I didn't manage to get breakfast."
"Oh, honey -- I could have given you something from me and Patty's brunch. Come on, let's go find you some food." Ginny slid her head out of the top poncho.
"I want hashed browns" said Myra as Ginny pulled her to her feet.
"I know a place on Pike that does breakfast all day."
After eating, Ginny took Myra to the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. "I come here at least once a week" she said. She guided them to the exhibit of Mughal art. "Check this out, see if this doesn't make a much more rational connection to the geography around here than what we're building on top of the land."
They strolled arm in arm, ducking into niches to kiss, talking art (mostly Ginny) and anthropology (mostly Myra). At 4:00, they went back to Ginny's house. Myra took Juju into the back yard. When she came back in, Ginny was pulling things out of the refrigerator. "I've got some leftover schmaltz. I could sautee onions in it, then start a beet-potato-onion soup. Great for rainy days" she offered.
"Yum" said Myra. "How can I help?"
"Slice this for toasting."
"Uh, Ginny -- I don't like rye bread. Don't like caraway seeds."
Ginny stared at her in amazement. "Well, that revokes your Jew wannabe card" she said. "How about -- let's see what else I've got -- seven-grain?"
The seven-grain bread was already sliced. Myra stood there, watching Ginny starting to cut up beets. She felt like a girl who has just discovered she likes other girls because she's met that one girl, different from all the rest.
"I need to use your phone a sec" she told Ginny.
"Right there on the counter" said Ginny.
Myra called Aradia and asked for Paula.
"Hey, Paula, it's Myra....Good -- great, actually, my life has never been better....Yeah.....Listen, I'm calling because when I was in there Monday morning, I got tested for herpes and to also have blood drawn for other STDs. I know the blood work isn't back, but I wondered if you could look in my chart and see if the herpes test was done.....I know, and it wasn't in today's mail, but I was hoping you could just read the results and tell me one way or other, instead of me having to wait...I know the policy, and I know the reasons for it, and I agree with it, Paula, I really do. I'm not trying to circumvent the reasoning or get you in trouble, but--...So the card has been mailed? So, really, notification has already occurred, it's just a tape delay, so to speak, before the sound reaches me...Well, I'm a writer, I think in metaphor. Listen, Paula, don't risk yourself, I'm not asking that, but if you were to say yes or no, yes meaning positive or no meaning negative, no one would ever know. Can you see your way clear to doing that for me? Obviously it's really important to me...Yes you can do it, or yes the results are positive?...Okay, yes you can do it, and no the results are negative, is that what you're saying?...You have a great laugh, Paula, and you are the woman of the year, you just made my entire year...Okay, see you around."
Myra hung up and began turning, but Ginny was on her, kissing her wildly, then tugging her toward her bedroom. Somehow Myra had the presence of mind to turn off the stove on the way. Ginny shut the bedroom door right in Juju's face. She pushed Myra down on the bed and lay on top of Myra, kissing nonstop. After a few seconds, though, she pulled back, jerking hard on Myra's Carharts.
"I can't get this damned clasp undone" she wailed.
Myra sat up, laughing joyously. "I'll get my pants off, and you do yours, okay?"
Ginny's jeans were damp, and she had to unpeel them from her legs so they wound up inside out. One sock came with them. She didn't notice the other was still on her foot. She pulled her T-shirt over her head exuberantly.
"Oh, my god, look at you" breathed Myra.
"Oh my god do more than just look" said Ginny, hooking her legs behind Myra's knees and pulling her back onto the bed. Myra managed to land mostly beside Ginny -- bruised ribs are such a mood-killer. Their kissing had a new edge to it.
"Oh, Ginny, my Ginny."
"No, Myra, I'm not just moaning your name...mmmm...I need to say something."
"I know this is our first time, angel, and custom demands we go slow and be all the-first-time-ever-I-saw-your-face-y, you know what I mean? But I am about to burst, I don't think I can wait five more minutes. I just want your hand on me, like now."
"Oh, my god, Myra, yes."
"Oh, god, Ginny, you feel absolutely incredibly right. Ginny, Ginny, I love you with every cell in my body, I am yours body and soul."
Myra was blind with desire. There was a note in Ginny's cries, high-pitched and urgent, she'd never heard before, and it seemed to penetrate her chest. She kept making the same complete stroke over and over, not increasing her rhythm even though Ginny's hips were speeding up. It felt so good she didn't want to miss a single microsecond.
A minute later, Ginny was shrieking "Aaaahhhhh, aaaahhhhh" and Myra's mouth found her breast. A minute after that, Ginny gasped "Stop -- stop moving, stay where you are but don't move any more." Myra could feel spasms still traveling through Ginny's body. She looked into Ginny's face, kissed her, and Ginny began laughing huge belly-laughs. "Oh my fucking GOD, I had no idea it could be this GOOD, oh my god, Myra" she was saying.
"It's me and you, Ginny Bates" murmured Myra. "It's us."
They kissed until Ginny's yoni stopped pulsing. "I want to taste you, Ginny, every inch of you" said Myra.
"And you will. But first my turn." Ginny rolled Myra over and slid her knee between Myra's thighs, rubbing her drenched mound against Myra's upper thigh. She closed her mouth over Myra's left breast.
"Oh, god, it's like there's a direct circuit between my nipple and my groin" moaned Myra.
"Good wiring" said Ginny. She began kissing under Myra's breast and arm.
"Gin -- this first time, I need you to be where I can see your face. Just this time."
"Whatever you ever want, lover" said Ginny, coming up to kiss her mouth, neck, ears. She put her hand down to spread Myra's thighs apart. "You are soaked, my darling darling Myra."
"Oh, yes, oh, god, Ginny. Don't stop, Ginny."
"I won't unless you ask me to. Are you going to be able to ask me to stop if you need that?"
"Yes. But I don't want you to stop, even if I get scared."
"Okay, I won't. Open your eyes, Myra, look at me. It's me here with you, every step of the way, me your Ginny."
"Oh, ooohhhh...Ginny, I'm your girl, I want to be your girl always, your only girl..."
"You are, always. Open your eyes again, Myra. We can get swept away together and keep looking at each other, we can do this."
"Oh, god, oh, god."
"Look at me again, Myra. I love you, I love you completely, and this is how much I love you. Look at me, sweetheart."
Myra finally reached the bottom of the spiral, where everything was red and hot, and Ginny was still with her. She screamed with pleasure as Ginny sucked her breasts and she could give herself up completely. It rolled through her again and again. A little later, she said "Move -- I need to move." Ginny rolled off and Myra turned over, face down. Ginny climbed onto Myra's back, kissing her shoulders and saying "Right here, sweetheart, I'm right here." Myra began crying, huge wracking sobs into the pillow. "Hold me, Ginny" she cried.
"Right here, wrapped around you" murmured Ginny. "I'm your Ginny, I love you."
Myra cried at a torrential rate for a while, then began slowing down. After one deep breath, she went silent. Ginny realized she had dropped off, just like that. She kept nuzzling Myra's neck softly, then lay her face on Myra and drank in the entire feel of her body.
After about twenty minutes, Myra woke up suddenly. "Oh, hell" she said "I went to sleep on you, just like some stupid guy".
Ginny laughed gaily. "Not even close. For one thing, I was the one who made love to you, remember? And you couldn't have stayed more physically connected with me."
Myra rolled over so she and Ginny were facing each other again, grinning from ear to ear. "As a very smart woman once said, we are going to have such a great time together" she said. "Now do I get to go down on you?"
"I wish you would" said Ginny.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Jochild.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Posted by Maggie Jochild at 12:20 AM