The Way I Live
Spiritually, I speak from existence but mentally, I act from treatment and angst. My mom used to always say, “Beth, you are a complex girl and it’s gonna take a real man to love you.” What she really meant was that nobody was ever going to love me and I better get used to being alone. And I was alone for most of my life, I was always counting down the days for my mom to return to where I was, to whoever she left me with. It was never as scary as it sounds, or as most fucked up kids like to make it out to be. It doesn’t suck until you’re older and living through the trauma that you finally understand.
“Bazz, you want this?” Chase asks me from the chair across from me.
I raise my hand to take the joint from his hands.
“You doin’ alright?” He speaks to me again.
I nod my head yes as I inhale, hold, and exhale. The boys continue to talk while I escape into my own world again. My mind collapses on me more times than not and mostly in the most upsetting places, but my mind stops for no specific company.
“Bazz,” Shay waves her hand in front of my face before sitting down on my lap, “Snap out of it or you’ll ruin your pretty face.”
I inhale her scent and allow her to change my mood. She wraps her hand around me from behind and starts to rub circles in my back. For a girl that claims to just be my friend, she certainly puts a lot of effort into making sure I’m okay every single day. When the joint is passed to me once more, Shay grabs it before I and takes a hit. She then turns to me and places the joint between my lips and allows me to inhale. I smile at her as I exhale and pretend I am not as sad as I am.
We pack our items, a few of us carry backpacks and a few of us don’t. That’s just how it is here in Lyons, CO. A town with a population of about 2,000 and just about everyone has done everything there is to do in this town before the age of ten… which leads for an interesting high school experience. The first day of my senior year is Monday and I am not excited. I want to be something and become somebody but have you ever heard of someone from Lyons, Colorado? No, you haven’t. And that’s fine.
As we continue to walk further up the path we are on, Shay is going on about her mountain climbing experiences and telling everyone more information than they care to know about her next trip which happens to be on the same trail we are on now, just a different path. Everyone loves Shay, more than they love me, but anyone besides me could agree, she doesn’t have to talk all the time.
“Bazz, want to come?” She is now looking directly at me waiting for a response to a question that I do not know the answer to.
“I’m sorry,” I shake my head and run my fingers through my hair, “I’m sorry, I’m trying.”
Shay’s hands find my back again as she notices my discomfort. I’m not sure why I am so off today but I am. My mind wants something completely different than what my body wants - I want to be happy and enjoy our hike. I want to be able to cope with the things in my head without projecting onto other people and letting everyone know exactly what is going on in my head right away.
“Let’s head up this way,” I break my silence streak and head our group of three up the path that leads to the cliff jumping site. It has become a trend for us to always wear our swim suits even if we don’t want to swim, always just in case. I hear Shay giggle as we walk up.
“Are we jumping or hanging?” Chris asks as he sets his backpack down.
“I say jump,” Shay says as she strips her shirt. I follow her actions and remove my shirt to reveal my sports bra and a tan that nobody expects me to have. Everyone expects the damaged one to also be nervous and not confident. And I am nervous in most situations. But my overall opinion of myself is pretty good. Not arrogant by any means, but I’m not ugly or mean or anything.
Shay takes my hand and starts to run. The momentum allows me to follow in her footsteps and we jump at the same time. In the air, I feel her with me in every way. She is a very confusing girl, the type of girl my mom always assumed I’d be. I identify as non-binary and when I told my mom that I identified differently than female, she said I was in a phase and would figure my life out eventually. The worst part was that my life was finally feeling as if I was making sense and I was who I needed to be, the woman that had always accepted me, stopped. And that hurt. It did hurt a lot. But it didn’t hurt more than when she left me at her drug dealers house time and time again.
Coming up out of the water, we are all laughing. Chase and I met our freshman year of high school. We are going to be going into our senior year at the end of the summer and I am so ready to get out of this town. Chase isn’t sure what he wants to do yet, I think he honestly might stay here. Neither Shay or I understand why he would want to stay here in Lyons but the heart wants what the heart wants. Shay on the other hand is only 16 and she is a junior at the community high school. She always tells me to dream big before I make a decision based on what we do in our alone time. I’ve never loved anyone more, and I’ve never loved someone that I wasn’t dating so much. Chase always said Shay would commit right before I left for school but she doesn’t want to now because she knows she is the only one I’m talking to. She knows this because I hate people and spend all my time with Chase.
He understands me on a level nobody else does and he always knows what to say when I’m upset and the most important part, he knows just when to let me be. Which is something everyone needs and not a lot of people know how to give. The three of us make a great team, we are the perfect level of romance and friendship. Chase always talks about how he had a crush on me before my transition and that he is happy that I found someone but still thinks I missed out on him. That is usually a topic that only comes out when vodka is involved.
“Again?” Chase asks as I bury my face in Shays neck with kisses.
“Yes!” Shay yells and laughs at the same time.
We spend the rest of the afternoon smoking joints and jumping off the cliff repeatedly. When the sun starts to go down, Shay informs us all and leads us back down the pathway. Chase says goodbye to me with a slap of our hands and a fist bump to finish. He gives Shay a slight hug and starts his Honda Civic and drives off in the other direction. I open the passenger door of my Subaru and allow Shay to sit down and drop my keys in her lap before I close the door. She starts the car and turns the engine over. I slide into my seat and plug the aux cord into my phone. Caro plays over the speaker as I get the car in reverse and head in the direction of Shay’s house.
“Can we take the long way?”Shay asks as she slips her hand into mine and I rest them both on the console.
“Of course,” I bring her hand back up to touch my lips and leave her a kiss.
She turns the volume dial up more and we continue to drive. I take the back roads all the way to her house. We shared glances at each other the entire time and she squeezed my hand at her favorite parts in the song - something she told me under the influence that she did.
“I’m going to miss you,” she unbuckles the seat belt and reaches for my face with both her hands. I see her getting on her feet in the car so I scoot my seat all the way back and allow her onto my lap so she straddles me facing me still.
Engulfed in her momentum I speak, “You can always come watch a movie at mine and I can bring you back later.”
“My mom’s already watching from the window, my love.”
“She still hates me?”
Shay hides her face in my neck, “She doesn’t hate you, B, she is just judgmental and doesn’t understand.”
“It’s okay,” I wrap my arms around her and hold her close to me, “you should get in there.”
“Can we go to breakfast tomorrow?”
“Anything you want.”
“What do you want?”
“To make you happy.”
“We are single.”
I look at her and nod my head, obviously I understand that, “Do you always have to remind me?”
“I thought you didn’t want a relationship either.”
“This, Shay, feels like more than a friendship to me regardless of what it isn’t.”
She stays quiet, she knows I am right but she feels the same and I know that.
“I’m sorry,” I speak, “I know, no labels, no commitment.”