I’m From Girardville, PA.

by Audrey Smith

Satellite overhead image of Pennsylvania from Google Earth 2022

Colby and I met in 1991 when I was dating my ex and she was dating an abusive ex. Colby’s twin sister was dating my ex-husband’s best friend. Through his best friend, my ex became friends with Colby’s ex, so the 3 guys began to play computer games together.

I never liked Colby’s ex from day one. I knew he was a pathological liar and abusive towards Colby! I felt a connection to Colby and that I could probably be good friends with her. But I never got to spend much time with her because my kids were babies and demanded so much of my time and energy. I would sometimes go visit Colby and her twin if I got a break from the kids.

Colby and her ex moved to Virginia. Whenever they came back to Pennsylvania to visit Colby’s twin, I would try to hang out with Colby.

7 years later, Colby left her ex and filed a Protection From Abuse (PFA) against him. My ex’s friend and Colby’s twin went to court with her for support. I wanted to go, but was not sure she would want me there, because, like most victims of abuse, she was embarrassed.

Colby moved into a house in State College, but my ex and I were living in another part of the state by that time. Whenever we went back to State College, I would try to visit Colby.

About this time, Colby came out as a lesbian. I remember feeling very protective of her, and not liking her girlfriend at all. On one visit to Colby’s I remember wanting to make her girlfriend jealous — wanting her to know that she should not take Colby for granted. I kissed Colby on the forehead and made a big fuss over her.

Then Colby moved to North Carolina with that girlfriend, and I was immersed for many years in the misery of living with an untreated bipolar husband. On a visit back to State College in 2005, my ex confided in Colby’s twin about some of his issues with our relationship, and she immediately called me to tell me what he said.

In 2006, Colby and her girlfriend broke up and she moved back to State College to live on her own. I filed for a no-fault divorce to make it as quick and painless as possible, but my ex did not sign the papers, so the divorce failed.

In 2007 I started emailing Colby and found her on MySpace. We messaged each other often and really enjoyed talking to each other.

In 2008, I was finally certain that my marriage could not ever be salvaged. I began to try to remember who Audrey was. And while thinking of what I wanted in a partner, I asked myself why I had limited my choices to men. I began facing the fact that I had always been attracted to women, and had major crushes on women in the past that I had refused to see for what they were.

As a very young child I identified most strongly with my male cousins, climbing trees and playing warfare instead of dress-up and make-up with the girls. I was proud to be a tomboy.

In middle school I had one or two crushes on boys, but it seemed that everyone else was more consciously aware of my orientation than I was, because people tended to think it was ludicrous for me to contemplate dating a guy. As a young teenager, I didn’t typically have crushes on the male counselors at summer camp, but I had a crush on a female camp counselor, writing her letters weekly and sending her presents — but back then I did not have the language, nor understanding, to describe what I was experiencing. It was not in the realm of the possible in the conservative, evangelical Christian world. Once I thought I was in love with the “bad boy” son of the Camp Director, but just did not know how to relate to him once we were actually dating. He was a lot of fun as a friend, but it just felt weird dating him.

In 2008 I suddenly remembered how I always blushed when I watched 2 women kiss on TV or in a movie, feeling somehow that it was an exposure of me – and I had repressed this. And why had the Indigo Girls’ music always spoken so strongly to me? Why did I feel such a close identification with the LGBT community all the while I was adamant that I was not really part of it? I would cry when LGBT issues were brought up in conversation.

So, in 2008, I finally allowed myself to consider women as potential dating partners.  At first it was just fantasy, but eventually I found myself crushing on a woman friend. I talked to Colby about my feelings for this woman after I moved back to State College.

I got a job at Penn State in May 2008. I moved back to State College and told my ex he was not coming with me. After a month of heartbreaking discussions, he agreed to file a divorce.

As soon as I moved back to State College, I started hanging out with Colby and her twin again. Colby let it be known that she had, FOR YEARS, been telling people that I was the type of woman she would love to date.  “If only Audrey was gay” she would sigh! I was initially only interested in her as a friend, but soon found myself falling in love with her. I discovered that she was my true soul mate.

In late May 2008 we started to date, and had our first kiss in early June. I was 40 years old! Within a month, we both knew that this was a forever love. We had a commitment ceremony in June 2009, and bought a house together. My kids are completely cool with it, and they love her as much as she loves them!

My dad, an evangelical Primitive Methodist pastor, is more okay with it than my mom, although he still claims to believe it is a sinful “lifestyle choice.”  I really wish they understood that orientation is not a choice. My mom can’t accept us being together as a couple, but she loves Colby — she can’t help it! So we’ll see if they come around. My siblings have been silent on the matter, except for my closest sister, who is my strong ally.

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