FEATURED ARTIST – Frank-Joseph
STORY by A.E.
At fourteen, every relationship seems like it will last forever. I spent hours imagining my future with my…I don’t even know what to call him. He was my boyfriend, my one; I was his friend with benefits who he would make out with when he was bored. It took a lot longer than it should have for me to realize that we didn’t share real love, and never would. We ended, officially, in April. Two months later, in mid-June, I boarded a plane to fly to an arts camp in rural Vermont. Waiting in the check-in and orientation lines, I looked around at the motley crew and picked out one figure. I don’t know what made me look at her, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away.
During this period, I was still figuring out who I was. My lesbian encounters were limited to experimenting with understanding friends, “just to see.” I had never had a real crush on a girl before, and I wouldn’t call it a crush the first time I saw Kat. It was pure intrigue. She was someone I wanted to get to know better.
As luck would have it, we ended up in the same creative writing class, and with twelve or thirteen other kids spent hours every day writing in what we affectionately dubbed the Room at the Top of the Stairs. My writing was therapeutic and a thinly-veiled struggle to understand how I felt about my previous relationship, my own identity, and the world as a whole. In Kat’s writing, I could sense the same kind of emotions.
The three weeks of camp passed in a surreal blur. Because the camp was so far away from the town, the only people I associated with were the hundred campers, counselors, and instructors. We were our own little community, accepting, creative, and completely unaware of labels. It was such a freeing experience, and I never wanted to leave.
Before I knew it, it was the last night. We had a farewell dance in the auditorium, and it turned into a darkly lit grind fest. I was flushed and sweaty. I saw Kat nearby and made my way across the crowd to get to her. We began to dance, me in my skater-girl getup of baggy jeans, a pink tie, and DC skate shoes; I’ve forgotten exactly what Kat was wearing but I remember the way her eyes sparkled under the dim lights. We danced, drawing closer to each other. She led me outside, and to this day I don’t know whether I realized what was coming. It was a beautiful, clear night. Out in the hills, you could see every star in the sky, unhindered by city lights or eyes that didn’t want to see. There was a gazebo up on a hill. In the dark, Kat and I walked up there and sat close to each other, talking. I began to cry, knowing it was the last night and I would have to go back into the “real world.” I would have to leave her behind. Her hand brushed the tear away from my cheek. “Don’t cry, pretty girl,” she said. And we were kissing. Nothing has ever felt as right or real as the moment when our souls and bodies came together.
Against an ancient wooden gazebo, underneath a million stars, two girls fell in love. They weren’t gay or bi or queer or fags—they just existed in a moment where time froze and the universe shrank until all that was left were two hearts, two souls, two bodies.
The next day, I went home to Washington and Kat went home to Massachusetts. Both being writers, we spent the next few months e-mailing each other our writing, or song lyrics, or little notes to say I love you. Inevitably, we both moved on. I dated other boys and other girls. Some relationships meant something, others didn’t. I’ve spent the last two years trying to capture what Kat and I found in just a night. In her arms, I realized love is never a mistake. It is because of her that I am able to throw myself completely into a new relationship without regrets or hesitations. She made me who I am today. We were just two girls who fell in love, and if she ever reads this, I hope she knows how often I look up at the night sky and fall in love with her all over again.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Frank-Joseph is an illustrator and designer living in Manhattan. He works in the film industry, and pursues drawing and writing as personal creative outlets. His graphic style is influenced by the expressive line work of Rene Gruau, and J.C. Leyendecker’s masculine, idealized men. He is currently working on his first graphic novel, “Leo,” chronicling the adventures of a college freshman. Frank-Joseph graduated from Art Center College of Design with a BFA in Illustration. Until he gets a site up, you can see more of his work at franklyillustrated.blogspot.com. His other interests include dinosaurs, Mogwai, shiny objects, and the silent “p” in pneumonia.
Interested in being a Featured Artist? Just lemme know!