And So Love is Said to be a Child
Barrington, RI, USA
Barrington High School
And So Love is Said to be a Child
I have lived a thousand lives with a thousand people. I have been conceived alongside them, seen every bit of joy and pain they have experienced. I am the reason your soul aches for a pair, the pulsing heart inside you––I am love, in essence.
I was with you from the start, hand in hand as you began school. Eyes wide, new to the world. I was shy, just like you, waiting for the right moment. I sat atop monkey bars, watching you as you ran around the playground, your butterfly hair clips giving you wings.
This was until you met her. Evelyn was fire and sunshine. She wore colorful dresses and kept her hair in pigtails and you were smitten in the most innocent way. I was light as a feather in this moment, chasing behind the two of you. You didn’t understand––you couldn’t possibly understand yet, but all you knew was that she made you happy.
And so I stayed with you, and no pain in the world could touch you. We were all just children. You loved her, and she loved you, as simple as that. You were not acquainted with my nuances, but merely my shape, and the feeling of sweet lemonade friendship.
For years, you didn’t know anything different.
But as all things must, your friendship began to change. The end of an era was made of bubblegum and Lola––the girl in your third grade class with older siblings, the one who knew all the swear words. I saw it coming, moments too late. It wouldn’t have mattered; I couldn’t have stopped her words.
“My brother told me when two girls kiss, they’re lesbians.” You were unbothered; for all you knew, this was just another big word of Lola’s. She turned to you, sitting with Evelyn, holding her hand.
“Are you lesbians?”
You looked up, tugging on Evelyn anxiously.
“No,” she replied, and you sighed in relief. Lola shrugged, walking away. Evelyn turned back to her book, and for a moment, you thought the universe had settled again.
But we never played the very same way again. The planets were slightly out of alignment, and you looked at me carefully, as though you had just noticed I’d been there this whole time. You touched me gently, like I could vanish at any moment.
But Evelyn did not go away, and neither did I, and for then, all was okay.
Third grade passed, and fourth grade began with you separated from her, two classrooms the equivalent of an ocean apart. You were jealousy, and I was greed. You ached for her, and I grew desperate alongside you. She had new friends, and you did not. It stung.
It was a long year, and you almost forgot me, for it was easier to push away the unknown. All the girls had started fawning over boys, and you invented a fake version of me: a version who loved Jake, a version who could make you love yourself.
I wanted to call to you, but you buried me deep, and so I waited. Fifth grade was our chance. Evelyn was back beside you, and I prepared to be released from underneath the weight of your consciousness.
“It’s so cool we’re in the same class this year.” I began to uncurl myself, but in the silence, it hit you that her trademark smile was directed toward someone else; it was Sam, across the classroom, that she was eyeing.
Evelyn was boy-crazy, and you needed to be everything Evelyn was. Easy enough. The only thing I could do is watch, helpless as you molded yourself into someone Evelyn would want you to be.
Sixth grade came with a new wardrobe and a new boyfriend, but by the start of seventh grade, you had broken up with him. You decided that heartbreak was overdramatized in the movies, because all you felt was relief. Evelyn came as soon as she heard, and I took a deep breath for the first time in months. She cuddled onto your bed and held you as you pretended that it hurt. I was stronger and brighter than I had been in so long, and it was unfamiliar to you. That night, you laid awake, and thought of me, like before.
Seventh grade was the year you met Brie. Brie was an enigma, and the first true friend you’d ever made since Evelyn. Brie was different. She was real.
“You know she’s a lesbian, right?” Evelyn barely breathed the word, as though it could scald her, and you heard Lola and smelled bubblegum. You had not, in fact, known.
Things were rocky that year. You were far from me, far from Evelyn, far from yourself. The only person you had was Brie, but she was almost untouchable to you, the way she knew herself so well.
Evelyn was right––Brie was a lesbian. But she wasn’t ashamed of it; it was just another facet of her being. You loved it and hated it at the same time, admired and feared her.
She made you consider me, often. That was the part you didn’t like––how she made you think about yourself and realize how little you knew.
In eighth grade, your mom started going to church, praying for her father’s recovery. You attended with her once. You told her it was boring. What you didn’t tell her is that for some reason you didn’t understand yet, existing felt like sin.
Brie tried to kiss you in ninth grade. In that moment, you froze, head spinning as her lips touched yours. It was your first kiss, and it felt like nothing. I was not there.
“I need to go.” You wouldn’t even look at her, so you went to the one place you could think of.
You arrived at Evelyn’s and she was there, as she always was. She opened her arms and embraced you and you knew. You knew who I was. You knew that I had been there since first grade, and you knew it was her.
You said barely a word that night, not daring tell her what happened. In the morning, you pretended everything was normal, like the only thought in your head was not I have been in love with you for as long as I can remember.
You texted Brie that day. Nothing complicated, just a simple: “I’m sorry, I don’t feel the same way.”
And then again, hours later: “Can we talk?”
On the bleachers after school, her tan legs stretched in front of her, she waited as you found your breath.
“I think I’m in love with Evelyn.” Brie wrapped her arms around you as nothing but a friend.
In the months to follow, you came closer to me than you had in years. With nudges from Brie, you reached your fingers out to grasp my hand. But you never took it. Then, Brie told you she was moving, and at once, you were very, very alone.
You did not text Evelyn that summer, or Brie, or anyone for that matter. You spent time looking at pictures of shirtless men in an attempt to convince yourself that the damage hadn’t been done. Then you paid a girl online to see her boobs and almost came close to feeling something.
But at a certain point you ceased to care. There was no more room for me to fit beside the crushing weight. Still, I lay with you in bed every night as you kept a knife to stab me through the heart. You didn’t understand––or perhaps you did––that all you were cutting was yourself.
You started making out with the only other closeted girl you knew. You’d meet her in dingy corners of the school. You never talked, just parted ways after you were done, feeling even worse had before.
Ben from geometry asked you out at the end of the year, and you said yes, and you hated him, and you hated me, and you hated yourself. You laid in bed with him that summer, at his family’s cabin, and you wondered if Evelyn had ever done this.
You never bothered to break up with him, just stopped answering his calls until finally he stopped calling.
Your birthday came and went. Evelyn texted you, and you ignored it. You started to take melatonin every night and relished the feeling of blacking out. It was nice, you thought. It felt better than kissing girls.
Eleventh grade was the same: sloppy kisses in bathroom stalls and drunken nights with girls you barely knew. You became familiar with the feeling of skin against skin and the suicide helpline Google kept directing you to.
But I did not go away. I was bruised and broken by everything you had tried to do to me, but I remained there. And I remained there as Evelyn called five times in a row before showing up to your doorstep in late December.
“Hey,” she said shakily. Her cheeks were flushed, and strands of hair escaped from her ponytail and settled around her face.
You kept your eyes down––you couldn’t look at her. She fiddled around, opening her mouth repeatedly before you finally reached out and squeezed her hand, the same way you had when you were kids.
She whispered, and you stayed quiet. “It’s been so long, and I just––I needed to tell someone I was gay.” You inhaled sharply. “And for some reason I just…felt like I had to tell you.”
You stared at her for a moment and you felt alive.
“I love you,” you murmured. “No matter what.” And she hugged you, and it was first grade and the taste of everything you had deprived yourself of.
You did not date Evelyn that year, or ever, and you were not upset. For Evelyn was only the first of many great loves.
My work is never done after just one person, but rather, I am meant to grow with you. I am meant to be innocent and willing, to be passionate and impulsive, to be wild and then to settle––to find peace.
But I must admit, the best thing is to be young with you. And so a portion of me always remained there, as a child. Even when we had grown apart, even when you had pushed me away, I was there, on the monkey bars, waiting for your return. For I knew you would come back eventually.
And when you finally did, I was ready. I took your hand and for the first time, you truly saw me. Not because of Evelyn, nor anyone else. You looked me in the eye and embraced me, at last ready to begin loving yourself.
“And So Love is Said to be a Child” is a stunning exploration of what it means to be a woman who loves women. Pouring a lifetime of queer experiences into writing, guided by the narration of love herself, Bazerman holds nothing back. With hard-hitting lines and evocative images of queerness, this piece took my younger self by the hand and told them everything was going to be okay – all that’s left to say is, go read “And So Love is Said to be a Child”!
Kendal Bazerman is a junior at Barrington High School in Rhode Island. After learning in elementary school that poetry doesn't have to rhyme, she began to write voraciously and has continued to this day. While she mainly focuses on poetry, she also dabbles in short fiction, and uses her writing as a vessel to discover herself and her communities. Outside of writing, she can be found consuming copious amounts of media, acting, and competing for her school's debate team. She writes to make sense of the world, and hopes that others find meaning and connection in her work as well.
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