A thousand women.
The backs of their heads.
The backs of a thousand heads.
Blond, brunette, graying.
Long hair, short, up in a bun, or cascading around shoulders.
All turned from me.
These are the eligible ones.
Lesbian of my generation.
But they are turned away.
No tone, no volume, no words can cross the chasm between us.
But I try.
I say, “I’m a great lover, a great partner, a great friend.”
I say, “I’m fun and adventurous.”
I say, “I’m intelligent and love ideas. Tell me yours.”
I say, “I’m cuddly and affectionate, sexy and passionate.”
I say, “I’m forgiving and understanding, caring and patient, loving and supportive.”
The backs of a thousand heads make no motion, offer no acknowledgement.
I keep trying, but with edge, now.
I ask, “Does my history really matter?”
I ask, “Does the way I became one of you disqualify me?”
I ask, “Does my karyotype really scour away any attractiveness, any allure?”
I ask, “Isn’t that discrimination, isn’t that narrow-minded, isn’t that UNFAIR?”
The backs of a thousand heads remain unmoving.
Across the chasm come whispers.
A thousand whispers, and I listen.
Hoping to find a key.
Hoping to find a way in.
“…I like soft butch. You know, butch, but not too butch…”
“…femme. I like femme. Little. Petite…”
“…needs a love of wine … could never date someone who didn’t love wine…”
“…and no bisexual women…”
“…yes. Bisexual women will want something I don’t have…”
“…no. No bisexual women. We all agree on that…”
I keep listening.
Tuning in to those who have encountered me.
Or others like me.
“…of course I support them. But I don’t like when they call themselves women…”
“…they don’t know what being a woman is really like…”
“…they have a right to their identities, but I don’t have to accept it…”
“…I don’t know why they have to hang around us…”
“…sure, I’d be friends. I’m a friendly person…”
“… she was easy to talk to…”
“…interesting. She was interesting…”
“…sweet and kind…”
“…she was kind…”
“…one of the nicest people I ever met…”
“…but no chemistry…”
“…wasn’t attracted to her…”
“…didn’t feel any romantic chemistry…”
“…there has to be chemistry…”
I can take it no longer.
I shut my ears to the whispers before me.
As I do, voices behind me come clearer.
Far more voices behind me.
Maybe ten million.
Millions of women.
Gay and straight.
Cis and trans.
“…I gave up dating years ago…”
“…dozens of dates. No one called me back…”
“…you never meet someone when you’re looking…”
“…don’t need to date … happy as I am…”
“…too much trouble. Who needs that?”
“…much happier now that I’ve given up…”
“… given up…”
They draw me.
Beckon me to join them.
Tempt me to turn my back on the dark place in my heart.
That spews angry poetry.
Settle into lifelong singlehood like a warm bath.
Take it on and live it.
As if it were even possible to pretend.
I shut them out.
All the voices.
Instead conjuring an image from within.
I know she’s out there.
Among the thousand turned heads.
We’d appreciate one another.
We’d want the same things.
We’d look out for one another.
We’d share adventures, heartache, and triumph.
We’d listen and understand.
Is that too much to ask?
And we’d both know that love isn’t alchemy.
Not some unholy mixing of chemicals,
hoping for a favorable reaction.
We’d know love is a sacred, precious, delicate flower.
To plant, tend, nourish.
Devote lives to keep it growing.
Imagining this woman.
Not seeing her
Not hearing her voice.
Not caring what she looks or sounds like.
But feeling her essence.
The special person she is.
The powerful possibility of growing something together.
The certainty she is trying to find me.
To speak with me.
To deliver a message.
So I listen.
I listen until I hear.
I hear clearly.
I hear accurately.
I hear words from this special person,
who I know is out there,
with whom a connection might,
I hear as clearly as if spoken aloud.
“Sorry. I just don’t feel ‘that way’ about you.”