It was my birthday last week. I’m 34 now. I know this because in the month leading to my birthday, I asked my wife five times how old I was turning.
My life isn’t what I conceived of when I was a kid. Or maybe it is. I never really gave the future much thought. It’s difficult to imagine a world where you’re an adult when there are no adults who look like you. And I say this as someone who had a lesbian school teacher for three years in elementary school. Which, yes, was as great as you imagine. She was close friends with my mom so whenever school shut down for a blackout or a snow day, my brother and I went home with her because my mom had a big important job or something. We would play in the snow and watch movies and, most importantly, I got to sew. All day. All day sewing. She had so many patches. And a surprising number were rainbows? Weird.
Still, as a gender non-conforming kid (who was labeled a tomboy when I was, frankly, just queer) it was impossible to see myself in the world. Even my teacher wasn’t visibly queer. Lesbians existed. Gay men existed. A surprising number of my mother’s friends were gay. But they were all gender conforming, closeted, hidden. We knew what they were, but it was impolite to talk about (or maybe my mother just assumed we were smarter and more aware than we were?). I simply knew people like me didn’t exist. I was unconcerned by this fact. Probably because I was well aware that I was odd and had to make my own rules. I guess I expected I would find out what my adulthood looked like when I got there.
I knew I was going to be a lawyer. And then maybe president or a Supreme Court justice. I knew this because I was a precocious kid who liked to talk back and insisted on framing everything as an argument. As such, every adult I met said things like, “someone is going to be a lawyer when they grow up.” As if little girls can’t just have big vocabularies and a penchant for being assholes. So joke is on them I guess. Because I just grew up to be an angry lesbian.
If ten-year-old me could see me now, I think she would honestly be impressed. My hair game is on point. I’ve got a wife who is much cooler than me (and most humans). I’ve got a cute kitten. I dress like a grandpa/skater boy. I do very chill things like wear Ray-Bans and scowl. I can recite poetry. And not just fluffy sweet poetry. The good shit. Audre Lorde and Langston Hughes. Ten-year-old Ashley would find that impressive as hell.
So, friends, a question. What quality (as ethereal or tangible as you like) would ten-year-old you find dope as shit?