Coming Out to My Long-Time Girlfriend (Part 1)

| Jun 11, 2018
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This is a tough topic, but I want to talk about what it was like coming out to someone that I’d been in a relationship with for 8 years. Neither of us were ready to deal with the stress and strain. We had no guideline or template of what staying together would look like in this situation. We there were times when we thought we were doomed to break up. It was scary as hell, and I’m going to get into all of it, but first, I want to give you some background.

When people ask us how we met, it’s kinda of an awkward story. See, I met Phoebe when she and I were doing a community theater production of Annie Get Your Gun. At the time, she was 11 and I was 17. We were NOT dating at this time, obviously, though about this time in the story, people usually crack the same jokes. “Robbin’ the cradle.” “May-December romance.” “You just like girls who’s shoes light up when they walk away, huh?” The usual.

No-no. Nothing like that. She was just this weird, precocious little kid, and I was this weird, faux-confident teenager. One of the first days of rehearsal, she ran up to me while I was reading. 

Phoebe: Whatcha doin’?
Me: Oh, hello! Um, I’m studying for my drivers test.
Phoebe: Really?! Okay! I’ll quiz you!
Me: Um… Okay…
Phoebe: What do you do when you come to a green light.
Me: You go.
Phoebe: That’s right. What do you do when you come to a red light.
Me: You stop.
Phoebe: That’s right! Good job. Now, what do you do when you come to a yellow light.
Me: You go very, very fast.

And she laughed very hard, and that was it. We were friends. Me and this weird little kid. She mentioned that she and her mom were baking pistachio bread one day, and I had never heard of that, so the next day she showed up with a pan of it for me to take home, as long as I promised to bring her mom’s pan back the next day. That kind of stuff.

So, after that show ended, she just became this kid that would see me perform in shows here and there. I did stuff with my community college and acted anywhere that would let me, so she just ended up seeing me by accident a few times. She’d come back stage and say hi to me. It was kinda like having a fan.

One day though, years later, she came backstage after a performance of Return to the Forbidden Planet, a sci-fi jukebox musical where I played a lovelorn cook. I didn’t recognize her at first. She was grown up. She was really cute. She had a really eclectic sense of style that I just loved. We exchanged numbers and said we’d hang out, so I took her to go see a movie at the theater where I worked as a projectionist.

I remember a few things from this outing. One, I remember feeling WAY to old. I was now in college age with a job, and she was telling me about high school gym class drama. It felt weird. And two, we went to see Superbad, and suddenly I became so embarrassed about taking a younger girl to a raunchy movie. We gave each other some space.

When her father died later that summer, we hadn’t talked in months, but I was the first person she called. It was like her subconscious knew that I was the person to call, even if we weren’t all that close yet, but my father had died when I was 8 and then my mom got remarried and then that guy died like 4 years later, so I had some experience and could empathize a lot.

I had big dreams though, and after a great year of doing summer stock theater, I decided to move to Chicago. I was going to move on my birthday, September 27, and out of the blue, Sofi needed to come over and get help with an audition, and this was on the 26th. I sort of casually dropped the news that I was moving tomorrow, and I just saw her face fall. She would later tell me that me leaving is what made her know that she had feeling for me.

So, my housing in Chicago was set up with a girl I knew through writing for a pop-culture website, and I was supposed to help them move to a new place, but when I had been there for a month or so, they said the place they were moving to was smaller and that I wouldn’t be able to come. I wasn’t able to get a job and a new place to live within the time limit, so I had to finish my semester at Second City by taking the train in from Holland, MI once a week. I was back home with my mother AGAIN. This was the second time I tried to leave home on my own and it didn’t take. After a bit of recovery time, I needed to cheer myself up.

One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Michigan, was have my friends over for board game nights. I scheduled my first one for December 14th. I invited Phoebe. She got to meet all of my friends and got along with them. She helped me push my friend’s car out of the snow and we flirted all the way back inside. I drove her home that night. We both sang Sugar, I’m Going Down by Fall-Out Boy at the top of our lungs. I walked her to her stoop and I kissed her. It was around 1 a.m. or so on December 15th, 2008. That was the night our romance began.

She felt different than anyone I ever dated. I felt I could be myself around her. Goofy. Corny. Sometimes girly. All the stuff I hid from every other person in my life. All I knew was that this relationship felt real and special and I was going to try my hardest to keep it. Little did I know, she was about to leave too. She had just graduated and I (stupidly) thought she’d be more than happy to follow me back to Chicago, but she had other plans. . .

To be continued. . . .

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Natalie Nicole Dressel is currently a Grad Student in Writing for the Stage and Screen at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, and is also a graduate of Michigan State University with a BFA in theatre. She has 8 years experience doing stand-up comedy and is a graduate of the improv program at Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles. She is proud of her recent appearances on Comedy Central's "Problematic" and Game Show Network's "Divided"; she also is a co-host of the program "We Didn't Start The Podcast", which is currently on iTunes, and is obsessed with Ramen shops.

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