Dal Long

April 1997

Today I think I saw the sun shining for about two hours before the sky resumed its customary empty, gray color and dumped enough rain to dangerously swell the rivers yet again. It's rained for about a week now. God, I hate winter. Seriously, I can't recall seeing the sun for longer than a few months at a time since...oh, September. Winter in Missouri seems to last about six months, and each year sometime around mid-January I begin to collect brochures for colleges located in warmer states like Florida, New Mexico, and Arizona. Why don't I ever move to one of those places?

The most significant event of the season: an old friend made a brief re-appearance in my life. My best friend, as a matter of fact, with whom I had shared hardly a word for the past eighteen months. Taleesha, as I shall call her, and I parted on precarious terms. Officially, the reason for the dissolution of our friendship was that my parents forbade me to see her anymore and threatened to expel me from the house, as they were mortified by the possibility that we might become more than friends. (She's black, I'm white; that's just not a good combination in Missouri.) My parents' ultimatum was indeed an important factor in our mutual decision to cut off contact indefinitely, but we both knew our relationship was crumbling on its own accord.

Taleesha and I were out-spoken non-conformists in high school and made many attempts to improve the racial relations between the white and black students, and later as college freshmen, we worked feverishly to promote the cultures and religions of our school's large foreign student population. We'd been friends for five years and were constant companions and best friends for four of those years. Then our friendship suffered. I slowly (and stupidly) realized Taleesha was growing increasingly possessive of me and slandered any girl I considered attractive. "Amy? Well, you know, she and Laura are actually lesbians, of course." I suspected Taleesha was in love with me, but I could never conjure an attraction to her that was anything more than platonic. Taleesha, I think, knew this and so she never once told me of her feelings for me until the very day we parted. In tears, she confessed she loved me and then quickly asked me to quit our mutual school activities so she would not have to see me.

I tormented myself for months with the question of why I felt nothing for her. I acknowledged that perhaps a five year friendship should naturally progress to a higher plane, so why couldn't I kiss her? Talk about a complicated question... For starters, I was just beginning to admit to myself that my crushes on other guys were perhaps not just phases after all.

I discovered a lot about myself in the year and a half Taleesha and I spent away from each other. I transferred to another school with a better psych program and also forged some close friendships with people I never would have met otherwise. I accepted my attraction to men. I learned I wasn't strictly gay, for I fell madly in love with a female friend. I explored my religion more fully and re-acquainted myself with my Gaelic and Native American heritage. In short, I changed a lot and I found out I knew who and what I was, and I liked myself.

And then one day a few weeks ago Taleesha sent me an e-mail and suggested we meet for dinner and a movie. I agreed, and we spent a very enjoyable evening together, as if our relationship never suffered an eighteen month hiatus. It was like old times again. We talked a lot about how radically different each of our lives had become and how each of us had grown in ways we didn't expect. Yet I went home thinking, "She and I still seem to 'click.' Perhaps it isn't too far a stretch to see myself dating her one day." But I didn't tell her about my bisexuality.

So now I'm confused again. What role should Taleesha play in my life, if any? And I know I'm not ready to have a relationship with Taleesha. At this point in time I would like to have a boyfriend. But how do you choose between a girlfriend and a boyfriend? And how do you tell a girlfriend or a boyfriend that you've also dated people of the opposite gender? Should you tell them at all? I don't know; I'm clueless. If anyone has been down this road or is currently in a similar dilemma or just wants to drop me a line about anything at all, please do so. My e-mail address is dallaslong@dialup.websteruniv.edu

Most of January and a good portion of February saw the advent of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. As one of the fundamental tenets of Islam, Muslims should avoid eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset. The fasting is a way of allowing Muslims to know what it is like to be poor or homeless on a daily basis. The object of Ramadan is to teach charity, humility, social responsibility, and foster a sense of brotherhood. I fasted as best as I could, but ultimately started eating again after I nearly passed out a few times at school. Nor did I participate in the Eid al-Fitr celebrations marking the end of Ramadan. I guess I felt disillusioned with religion this winter. Islam suited me well after my separation from Taleesha and during my quest to "find" myself. Now it causes so many complications and compromises in my life...

Given Missouri's reputation for mass-producing hillbillies, I appreciate Jeff Foxworthy's "You might be a redneck" humor. Today I saw a man come out of the Food Mart and climb into his beat-up pickup truck. He was wearing a T-shirt that read "I was arrested by Jefferson County Police." Gawd!

[About the Author]

©1997 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.