Minda Honey| Longreads | August 2018 | 11 minutes (2750 words)
My friend and I sit on the patio of a tapas restaurant in suburbia with a view of the parking lot, SUVs lined up baking in the summer sun. We sip sangria. We eat off tiny plates. We feel bougie. She tells me about her dating turmoil. She’s not sure where she stands with a man she isn’t sure she should be with. “And,” she says, “the other person he’s sleeping with is a trans woman. I’m trying to be OK with that.”
“I’ve slept with a trans woman,” I say before pushing more shrimp, shiny with olive oil and studded with minced garlic, into my mouth. An SUV pulls out of a parking spot, another SUV pulls in. I can see my friend thinking, the muscles in her lips flexing and relaxing, questions forming and crumbling, but never leaving her mouth.
I wonder if it’s her understanding of me or of herself that is changing. I do not tell her about the graduate-level writing course I took as an undergrad, or about the other undergrad in the class whose writing I loved, and who offered me words of encouragement. I don’t tell her about the night that writer walked me to my car after a reading, or about how the only thing that stopped a kiss was the thought of the boyfriend waiting for me at home. Or the years that passed, the writer resurfacing on Facebook, the Messenger chats about my move back home and about writing and work leading to chats about her being a trans woman, about the excitement of trading T-shirts and jeans for dresses and makeup. Or about our paths crossing at a house party, the hand-holding by the fire, the annoyance at drunk interlopers trying to crash our conversation, the said and unsaid, the invite back to my place, the movie unwatched, the open window in the rain, how consent culture showed us the way: “Is this OK? Do you like this? What do you want?” Yes. Yes. You.
I finish chewing, and instead of telling my friend these things I say, “It’s not a big deal,” and take a drink of my sangria. But I haven’t always been so unprejudiced.
In the parking lot, another SUV pulls out, another SUV pulls in.