By Olivia Wise
My first love took place when I was still a girl and did not know the difference between loving someone and being in love. (And trust me when I say I am still figuring this out.) I never had allowed myself to explore my same-sex desires and had not been in a relationship that was safe or open enough to experience queer loving. So when I met Rachel and we pursued a long-distance relationship, I knew we shared something that—being first—would never come again. Our attraction for each other was so purely organic that we never felt compelled to label our love. We just fell in love, strangely connected yet resolutely individual at the same time. From late-night conversations that were interrupted by the dawn to weekend getaways, Rachel and I shared so much. And we always found a way to communicate our love despite the distance that separated us.
Together, Rachel and I came into ourselves and began to understand what it means to be in love by opening ourselves slowly to the attraction we shared. Our time as lovers lasted more than a year and a half, and we still share so much as friends. We will always be connected, and it is because of her that I am able to be a queer, confident woman.
After ending my relationship with Rachel, I found myself in an unexpected relationship with the most dynamic and fabulous woman I have ever met. I fell in love with a woman who has seen the world and yet always made me feel at home no matter where we were. She nurtured me, and her love was different from Rachel's. Our relationship was difficult at times and we definitely challenged each other, yet our love was productive, if nothing else. She showed me so much and helped me to realize my vulnerabilities. I felt, and continue to feel, inspired by her and the love we still share. I am excited to see what our futures will bring. She is a woman of boundless potential who is going to change the world, and I know she will continue to succeed no matter where she goes. Everyone loves Monique. But I know that I have loved her and been loved by her in a way no one else could replicate. And for that, I will always be thankful.
Since choosing to cultivate my friendship with Monique, I have had some flirtations with love lately and feel something new brewing. But only time will tell. Ultimately, that is how it begins, slowly and unexpectedly. It can't be forced or predicted. And each relationship has its own rhythm and feel. Love, for me, is a kind of slow opening and mutual understanding; whatever attraction you share is not rushed but nurtured and creatively cultivated. In order for love to last, it has to be organic and it takes a lot of work. But I feel lucky to know that I have been greatly loved throughout my young life and I look forward to whatever new kinds of love come my way.
Olivia Wise 10C is a senior in the College majoring in women's studies with an English minor. She is co-president of Emory PRIDE, a Center for Women student worker, secretary of Feminists in Action, and co-producer of Emory's V-Day campaign.