I have been meaning to write you a thank you note for a while now. I want to thank you for that day in Santa Rosa in 1998.
It was right before I started my first serious lesbian relationship, which involved some level of uhauling, despite the fact that I still refuse to admit that I have ever uhauled or would ever uhaul...
I remember taking the bus to see you in Cotati, right outside of Santa Rosa. I remember that bus ride, because it was on the bus that I learned that Magoo was interested in me. I had been so dense during my short time with the Lesbian Avengers that I hadn't even noticed. I also had not even considered the idea that I might be into butches. I was on the verge of everything on that bus ride.
I was 22, had just gotten clean and sober, and was getting out of the goth scene. You were 24, and had moved to Northern Cali after living in Esalen and then LA and San Diego. I took the bus to see you and the herd of sheep right up the street from you.
Your apartment was a small boxy thing, with a huge field in back of it. You spent your days fixing the fence, so Bear and the other dogs wouldn't escape. It was grey and cloudy constantly there, and you worked with a nonprofit that did something related to yoga.
I went up to visit you on the weekends, and we would do any number of random things, creating memories out of memories by having long conversations about the way things used to be. We talked about the sheep constantly and how cute they were, despite the fact that they never once came out when I was there.
Mom and dad had just gotten separated, and we were learning what it was like to be from a broken family, officially instead of just in our heads.
One day, you suggested that I go without makeup just for that day. I think the suggestion came from a conversation in which I had revealed that I had forgotten to put on my makeup one day before going to school at San Francisco State University. I had realized my mistake on the trolly, and was relieved to remember that I always had my makeup with me...
You said it could just be for the day and reminded me that I was in Santa Rosa, and that I would know no one.
We went to Santa Rosa, and though I can't remember what we did, I do remember seeing a group of men. I remember feeling like they were staring at me because I looked so weird without makeup. You said they were probably just looking at me because I was pretty.
I did not believe you.
I am not sure how to put that day into words that do it justice. I just know it changed me. I stopped wearing makeup a few years later, and then went back to it a few years after that.
Whenever I go out without makeup, I think of you. I think of you and thank you in my head for reminding me that I don't need a mask to face the world. I am still working on really knowing that, but I know that when I do really embrace that bodily, it will be because of you.
Thank you for that.