The teenage years are times in all our lives in which we grow and evolve in many ways. Most of us are exploring our feelings, finding our identities, and planting the seeds of young love. Sometimes these things happen all at different stages and times during puberty, sometimes they all happen simultaneously. Creating an entire shit-storm of confusion, crisis, and heartache. I was one such person, that the shit-storm almost turned my world upside down. But, to my surprise it wasn’t necessarily a bad storm to weather, a storm with a mixture of feelings, and emotions. They were a good, necessary part of figuring out my truth.
When I was thirteen years old, I was a very popular kid. Thinking back on it ever since kindergarten I was everyone’s friend in my grade. Everyone knew who I was, and I knew everyone, I loved and accepted everyone as my friend. I was indeed very lucky, because during kindergarten I was diagnosed with the mental-neurological disorder Tourette’s Syndrome. Everyone still loved and accepted me for me, I even got to educate people all around my school and school district about my disorder.
Going back to thirteen-year-old me. I, like many young boys was excited to get myself my first girlfriend. The pressure of society was raging through my skin and bones to be a cool guy and have a girl around my arm. I did indeed meet a girl, I knew her for a while by then. She was my cousin’s best friend and neighbor. Her name was Keri, and she was the one to first say she liked me. That’s when the butterflies happened and I, being so young and reckless, jumped at the chance to get myself a girlfriend.
Our relationship was one that had a few miles’ difference between us, but I always made sure to see her monthly, if not every weekend. It felt great to be one of the first in my class to have a serious relationship, as serious as relationships could get at thirteen, that is. It must have been a pride thing also, the pressure of society still raging through my veins and spirit didn’t help any. Our relationship was perfect, as perfect as they could be at such a young age. We always enjoyed each other’s company whenever we’d see each other. We’d always laugh, tease, and cuddle up next to each other. It was perfect.
Then, not to long after we got together, our first kiss happened. It must be one of the most embarrassing and awkward moments of my life. It was one of the weekends I was spending the night at my cousin’s house and Keri had come over to sleep as well. My cousin being a year older than us both, thinking she was a hotshot asked since we’ve been together for a while if we had “kissed on the lips yet?” My face had never turned a shade of red like it did in that very moment. We both shook our heads to that, and my cousin smirked, devil horns shooting up, and said, “Well, why not do it now?”
My first kiss happened that night and it was… nice. I liked how it felt to be so intimate with someone I cared about, but I didn’t feel any of the sparks you always heard about, either from sappy romantic people, or from Hollywood Blockbusters. Titanic is the movie that comes to mind, whenever I think of the “lightning strike” the “millions of butterflies” the “fireworks”. I was disappointed that I didn’t feel anything like that. It was a strange and confusing feeling. It was just… nice. Shouldn’t have been more than just, nice?
Skipping a head to when our first-year anniversary came around. I was still very happy to be with my girlfriend and I thought it must have been a world record to be with someone, for so long, being so young. None of my other friends had been with a girl or boy as long as I had been with my girlfriend, that I knew of. It was a nice summer day. It was just the two of us at the same beach where we went to so many times before. It was a great day, and overall a great year with someone very special. I couldn’t have been more lucky or happy to be with such a great person.
Again, let’s skip ahead to when the hormones and the feelings did their thing and our relationship became its most intense and intimate. Yes, I’m talking about sex. Never mind all that TMI stuff, it’s just human nature and human behavior. We should all be free to express it without fear of vulgarity and taboo responses. The intimacy was an amazing thing to experience, it was a magical moment in my life. The only problem was, I still didn’t have any of those magical feelings. I thought something must have been wrong with me. For me not to have the right feelings about this person who I loved and deeply cared for.
After we made “magic” for the first time, I started to notice a lot of different things. Especially about myself. I thought long and hard about what the problem with me was, when a thought hit me. “Well, maybe I’m gay.” I wasn’t scared of being called that, but I also knew it wasn’t something “normal”. It was a scary and intimidating thought. It was also the thought that got me thinking deeper. I started to notice a lot of different things. I mainly started to notice boys.
I would get shy, nervous, and sweaty whenever I would check out one of my guy friends. I didn’t know how to process these feelings, because I didn’t have them whenever I was with my girlfriend. It was unknown, dangerous territory and I was scared. I was upset also, because the thought of “I’m gay. I’m gay. I’m gay. I’m gay. I’m gay,” flooded my mind like a river of confusion and terror. I also felt incredibly guilty feeling the way I did and knowing that I had a girlfriend who I cared about more than anyone I ever had before. I went through this period for many months and they were the most confusing, yet enlightening months of my life.
As the months continued to pass and my thoughts of “I’m gay” became all the more clearer. I knew I had to tell my girlfriend what was going on in my head. I owed it to her to be honest about my feelings. Our second-year anniversary was coming up and I knew I had to tell her by then, I couldn’t waste any more time prolonging the inevitable. I couldn’t be fake and say “I love you” and not mean it, in the way she deserved it to be meant. I couldn’t break her heart by not telling her.
So, that fated day came, our second-year anniversary. It was another wonderful summer day in New England and I couldn’t enjoy it one bit, because I had to tell my girlfriend that I was gay. It was an amazing day, very similar to our first-year anniversary, until the sun started to set and I knew I had to quickly make the decision to tell my girlfriend my biggest and darkest secret. It was either then or never and I couldn’t hurt her or myself by keeping it in any longer.
“Hey Keri, there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about, for a while now.” She looks at me with her brown eyes. “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to talk to you for a while now about something that’s been on my mind as well.” I was confused by this, but nodded any way, “You go first.” I told her. She shook her head, “No, you go first. You’re the one that initiated it.” I smiled and laughed. “Ladies first!” She laughed as well, and then said “Why don’t we count to three and say what we have to say at the same time, and go from there.” I agreed with a nod.
“Okay, on the count of three?” I said. She nodded. I took one of the deepest breathes I ever took. “Okay… One… Two…Three” … And what happened next was nothing short of hysterical. At the same exact time, we both said “I think I’m gay”. After that we both stared at each other wide-eyed and flustered. Then a small smile creeped on her mouth and I found myself reflecting her expression. We busted out laughing like there was no tomorrow. Tears ran down our faces, as we both collapsed in a fit of laughter into the sand.
That was it. I was astonished, but also extremely relieved that nobody would suffer a broken heart. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard as I did that day. Naturally, we broke up, and I can guarantee that nobody has ever had an experience quite like that in their lifetime. To this day, Keri and I are still the best of friends. My cousin is still a mischievous, but wonderful person. And I am gay as fuck, writing this almost unbelievable tale, working hard to make the world a better place and achieving my goals and dreams.
Owen Tavares-Olivier is a recent graduate of Lake-Sumter State College and his non-fiction article won 3rd place in the 2017-2018 Odyssey Art & Literary Contest. He's currently a student at Rowlins College majoring in Music Education.