The women I have loved and the men they end up with

There is a man next door, a man who makes her laugh like I can't. He's not even funny, I fume. I know the reason why she laughs at such dull jokes, I know why any woman would choose a man over something like myself. My hands are not so rough, not so large; my chivalry is often met with disgust. It is safer to be seen with a boyfriend by your side to spare the wrath of other men.

For everything I say, I love men as much as I love women. Men can be so gentle, they can be so wonderful to love. The masculine and the feminine are not opposites, they are not distinct, I look them square in the eye. A man and a woman dance in my heart, entwining in a perfect androgyne soul.

She is talking to him—she is laughing. I think of the sinner who washed Jesus's feet in perfume, dried her savior with her hair. I am no longer religious but that verse always touched me. Would she let me touch her? Could dirtying my knees in service to her wash away my sins? My hair's not quite long enough yet, I think. The hazy thoughts snap away, I curl my lip in disgust. Too mannish to be a lady, too vulnerable to be a man. I don't put up a veil, I serve quietly, honestly. A man is tough, crude, and distant, I am told. A man is a man is a man, the men around me explain. The man in me is not so proud; he serves out of a raw, self-sacrificial love. He wears his heart on his sleeve, watches the movies and murmurs to himself 'as you wish,' 'I can fix that,' 'I can carry you.' He leaps too quickly to hurt himself, too quickly to defend his loves from imagined threats, bursting his exposed heart when he hits the ground. He takes too much pity on himself, holds the flog that splits his skin wide open. My full androgyne soul, my full self, sighs. My kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder, a ghost sings to me. I never feel so womanly as when I look upon her with tears. I never feel so inhuman as when I look upon him with fury.

The woman-thing too stoic and too sensitive to be acceptably male or female, the lover with a feminine body and a masculine tongue who loves women as if they were men and men as if they were women… The standard amount of dirt is kicked in my eye for wanting women, but my love for men (a love so deeply informed by my adoration for the fairer sex) is shunned as well. I am a man myself, I can match their bravado and boldness beat-for-beat and often end up as competition because of it. I am a stag ready to thrust forward and throw my opponent, I am a rutting elk who only sees red. The anger coils and writhes in my stomach. I look at a man and hot shame burns my skin, defeat pushes up from the rage in my belly into my throat and out of my mouth. I do not feel inferior to a man because I am a woman—-I feel inferior to a man because I am a woman who loves and wants other women. I know that the girls I love would always choose a natural-born man over myself. Any man with an open enough mind to acknowledge my masculinity as well as my femininity would, too.

I search our neighbor's face, enraged at how smug he is. I have no proof, really, but my envious instinct is to assign him the worst male characteristics, assume he sees her as a trophy to obtain and discard. How ingenuine, how disgusting, how ungentlemanly. The truth is that he is a nice enough man, and I am a jealous enough woman. She will leave with him tonight, she will wake up in his bed tomorrow. I will sleep alone again, keeping as much distance between myself and her side of the bed as possible. When she slept with me, she slept as comfortably as in her own home. She touched me and her hand passed through my body.