To Want is to Be Queer and in Highschool in a Small Town by Kirsten Reneau

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I wanted to lick the small of her back, to taste the fuzz of her skin and bite into it like a ripe peach.  

I wanted to become so close with her that we would become one person, that her pain would be mine and mine hers, and in that way we would belong together so completely and fully that nothing could tear us apart. 

I wanted to fuck her on her trampoline.  

I wanted her to fuck me in the woods, where it was always possible someone could find us, because that was part of the joy of the secret, the excitement of hiding, that someone could always find out.  

I wanted to stop having dreams about myself as a man.

I wanted to have inside jokes about books, to tell people we were like Toad and Frog but not in a friends way, in a very gay way actually, and then one day we would get little tattoos of the characters and in that way we would carry each other around together in a very not-just-friends way but in a super gay way, the kind that would make my family uncomfortable but it wouldn’t matter because our love would carry us through anything.

I wanted to hold her hand in the grocery store. 

I wanted to show her that nothing could be as natural as the way that the breeze shook the flowers, twisting and turning them into each other so that pollen erupted out of them and became mingled together, dancing off into the wind and mountains that watched us. 

I wanted to convince myself that I didn’t care what other people thought.

I wanted to tell my grandfather. 

I wanted to stop having dreams where I was Samantha from Sex and the City and also the ones where I was with Samantha from Sex and the City.

I wanted a future where it was possible to have an apartment in the city and to get in mundane fights about the dishes like they did on TV, but those were always straight couples so a little bit, I thought only straight couples fought.

I wanted to eat cantaloupe in the summer, and when the juice ran down my leg I wanted her to lick it off me and that the sweat would mix with the juice and it wouldn’t matter which was which to her. 

When a friend jokingly asked if I had come out of the closet yet I wanted to say yes.

I wanted to read her Emily Dickinson’s letter and tell her that I understood what longing really was now, after all this, and that I was fucking sick of the yearning. 

I wanted her to tell me she loved me and mean it, like really mean it, like the kind of I love you where you don’t mean to say it but you’re feeling everything so honestly and deeply that it spills out of you like rain. 

I wanted to kiss her in the rain, holding the small of her back, like they did in The Notebook.

I wanted to stop having dreams where I was Ryan Gosling.

I wanted to become mist, no gender, no anything, just a covering across the skin of the bodies I loved.

I so desperately wanted to kiss the small of her back.



Kirsten Reneau is a writer in New Orleans. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines and won a few awards. Her chapbook, “Meeting God in Basement Bars and Other Ways to Find Forgiveness” is due out early 2023 with Ethel Press. She’s online at www.kirstenreneau.com.

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