“It’s so lovely you made a friend,” they say, and I want to say, “…but how do you know that she’s a friend?”

“Your drawing looks like someone I knew. She was lovely.”
“She -is-. I haven’t seen her for a week. I wonder if she’s upset with me, because I forgot about her.”
“If she’s a friend, everything will be fine once you talk to her.”

When Marnie Was There, 2014

Why, I think, should it be presumed that a connection between two women, even girls, be platonic?

I shouldn’t notice this scene, it’s so small, but it sits with me. Why do you say “friend”? Would you say that if it was a boy in the drawing?

Not that I find the older woman malicious or homophobic. In truth, the girl in the drawing may not be romantic. But I wish we didn’t assume so quickly that romantic, and even sexual, love wouldn’t exist between two young girls (after all, they aren’t five years old, they are old enough to feel stirrings of attraction).

Not that I want an assumption towards romance, either. Perhaps merely a questioning, “If she’s sincere in her feelings towards you, everything will be fine once you talk to her.” No assumptions, either way. Merely a statement of the truth. Feelings can be any number of feelings.

Growing up, I always had people assume the close female persons in my life were platonic. We shared a bed, because we were “just friends.” As if true friends are “just” anything. But certainly nothing could “happen.” When I lived in South Korea, persons of the same sex could be flirty, hold hands, because it couldn’t be anything but harmless affection between friends.  I felt like I had no voice.  I dated guys, pretended I didn’t have a crush on my friend’s wife, and I stayed “normal.”

People are always pushing their ideas of romance on my youngest one, which frustrates the beejesus out of her. She just wants to be able to have people in her life, without anyone assuming anything about her. She’s stopped making assumptions about herself, having decided she’s not interested in even seeking out a label just yet (she was before). She likes that her dad and I just let her be whatever, whenever.

It’s a small thing, I realize. But in my mind, I rewrite the words, “If she’s sincere in her feelings towards you, everything will be fine once you talk to her.” And it feels just the slightest bit nicer in my head. And the world makes a little bit more sense.

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