What I Know About Love
by Tanya Eby
I know what love is. I'm not dumb. I've seen enough movies and I read books. Becky, my sister, says I don't have a clue. She says if I'm a lesbian, it's okay; she'll still love me. She says that in some states, like Virginia or something, lesbians can get married so I don't have to get all depressed about it. But I'm not depressed and I'm not a lesbian. I think boobs are stupid. They get in the way and they're heavy. I used to be able to run cross-country. Now I can't even jump rope. Not that I would, that's kids stuff.
Even though I haven't Done It or Seen One, I still would know love if I saw it. Love is like a platypus. I've never seen a platypus in real life, but in 6th grade I did a report on one and if I ran into one on the street and it looked at me with its great sausage-patty eyes I bet I'd say "Hey! That's a platypus." And I'd be right too.
People at school don't think I'm a girl. I mean, everyone knows I'm a girl, I mean, duh, but they don't think of me as a girl. Now Becky...everyone thinks of her as a girl. Even Mr. Naperelski, you can tell he's thinking of her as a girl. She's been Doing It for like two years now and she's had like a million boyfriends, but that doesn't mean she knows what love is. If you ask me, she's even more confused than I am. She thinks love happens when you wear short skirts and tops that show how your boobs rise...but that's not love. That's just high school guys wanting to get in your pants. And as soon as they get in your pants, they want to get into someone else's pants. It's like they're in the playoffs or something. Each girl is like one step closer to the big trophy. I don't know what the big trophy is and they probably don't either, that's the whole point. See, Becky, she acts all happy and all, and it's always Oh, Ted this and Bryan that, but just under her eyes, if you look really close, if you look deep past her purple eye shadow and heavy mascara, you see a little cloud of black. And that's not love. That's not at all what love is.
This girl in my class, well, she got pregnant. I know this now FOR A FACT but hardly anyone else does. I saw her baby. He's really cute too. Lots of curly black hair and eyes so big and wide he looks like he understands everything that's going on in the world, even the really crazy stuff. But when she was pregnant, no one knew about it, and I mean no one, not even her parents. See, she always wore really baggy clothes and she carried this huge straw bag in front of her stomach. Now, maybe that sounds unlikely that no one would notice her belly swelling like a balloon being filled with air, but no one did. She always kept to herself; she could just fade into the background (if you know what I mean), and she'd hug that bag to her like it was the only thing in her life. Maybe at the time it was. So she got bigger and bigger and came to school everyday. Then she was gone. No one noticed really, and I hate to say it, but neither did I. I saw her like a month ago. I ran into her at the Goodwill where I go to buy funky clothes and she was there buying stuff for her baby. It was sorta sad. I mean, I could have nice clothes if I wanted to look like I stepped out of a Gap ad, but her baby, well, those stained t-shirts and mismatched socks were the best he was gonna get. "Hey _____!" I said. I won't tell you her name because I promised I wouldn't tell anyone that I saw her there. "Is that your little boy?" I asked her. I could tell she was real taken aback, but maybe she was a little relieved too that I didn't avoid her or give her crap. And we talked. She said she missed school and all and her parents flipped when they came to get her at the hospital but the baby was the best thing that had ever happened to her. When she talked about him, her hands would touch his curly hair and twirl it and she'd lean in every now and then and just smell him and smile like he was a pumpkin pie or something.
I tell you, that's love. Where just the smell of someone makes you feel at home. I don't think she had love with the baby's dad but she's got it now, so it all works out for the best, I guess.
Pretty soon I'll probably Do It. I sorta just want to get it over with since everyone makes such a big deal about it. I'll probably ask Mike to do it. I sneak out and go over there sometimes and we fool around. He's taken my shirt off and everything, but if you ask me, it's all kinda dull. Sometimes when he's kissing me all over, I feel like I'm this giant lollipop and it's not at all pleasant. We'll probably do it this summer I guess. I'll make him get protection though because I'm not gonna end up like _____ no matter how good she thinks her little boy smells. Becky's probably got a whole drawer full of stuff so maybe I'll just sneak in her room and take some. Or maybe I'll ask her so she knows I'm not a lesbian.
Sometimes, though, I wish love weren't such a big issue. To be completely, totally honest, sometimes I wish it was okay to just play hopscotch and go fishing and not worry about love.
I can wait for love. I know when it happens for me, I'll be bowled over. Literally. I'll see him and it will be like a bowling ball knocked me down. I probably won't even wobble. I'll just fall right over.
I'm gonna be different from my sister. When you look in my eyes, you won't have to look past anything. You'll just see that there's this golden color to me, like how sunlight feels on your back. You'll just look at me on the street and you'll say to yourself: Oh, yeah. That's what love is.
About the author:
Tanya moved to New York in July from Grand Rapids, Michigan with two bags of clothes and one bag of books. She now resides in Brooklyn, but can't tell you how to get there because she has no sense of direction. She has worked as an adjunct professor of writing, a voice-over artist, and worked (in her formative years) for one hot summer day at an egg farm. She currently works for Carnegie Hall. It was the egg farm experience that impressed them. She has produced three plays in Michigan, but so far, none in New York. This is her first published piece.