“Ever since I entered high school as a freshman, I’d see Susana randomly in the hallways. Instantly, at the sight of her, I would lose my breathe because of how beautiful she was (and still is), and then I would forget all about her. This happened for 3 years.
*Ding* It’s morning. The school bell rings. I meet up with my friend after homeroom, as I normally do.
*High chatters in the background*
Susana walks by and says hi to my friend (we didn’t know each other yet so we didn’t talk or say hi).
I look to my friend, barely catching my breath, and said, ‘Susana is so beautiful. She must be mine before she graduates.’
This was a huge concern for me. Susana was already a senior in high school. There was only 3 months left of school and we had never even spoken a word to each other.
My friend responded with little to no hope…
‘Yeah right… So many people have tried. Trust me, she’s Christian. You don’t have a chance, but good luck though.’
I didn’t even respond to her comment. When my friend brought up Susana’s religion, it was discouraging to say the least, but I was also confused. Was she saying Christian folks are only straight? I thought about that a lot that day. I was so into the now, I didn’t question the future. At the same time, my feelings for Susana were so strong that I didn’t let that comment hold me back.
I was always vocal about my feelings toward Susana, but for some reason, in high school, my friends really didn’t think I had a chance.
I felt defeated at that time and, well, just plain sad. I felt like Susana was way too cool to like me or want to hang out with. She was so popular and made just about anyone laugh. And her smile? Could make the saddest maddest person happy.
Although I felt this way, I was not going to give up. I wasn’t going to let what others think, believe, and say stop me from doing what felt right for me, my dreams, or my reality.
What does not work for them does not mean it will not work for me! I mean, I would just look at Susana and I already felt like home. I already knew that was mine. So, I let time do its thing. And it sure did.
Within days (that felt like weeks), we had our first funny conversation at school with a group of friends. Apparently, she would use my friends as an excuse to make me laugh and finally she made me laugh. That is when we spoke for the first time! I don’t remember the full conversation because I’m 10/10 sure I almost fainted. Then, what do you know, she slid in my inbox on Facebook!
*Facebook Message Notification*
Susana: Can I ask you a question?
Susana: How many gallons of water are in the ocean?
Me: LOL, TONS.
Susana: How tall is the tallest building in the world?
Me: I am not sure? LOL
Susana: So, what’s your number?
Texts all night. We’d just flirt non-stop. We were magnets. Everything was just smooth, like a dream. We would flirt and say things like ‘I need my Italian kisses in the morning’ and Italian kisses for us were kisses on each cheek.
The flirting and texting lead me to ask Susana to meet up during classes and in the hallways. I remember our first kiss. I texted her, ‘I dare you to come outside and kiss me.’ And she came outside! We met at the stairs in the math building. We looked at each other, her hand softly grabbed my face and, we had our first kiss. It was passionate. So passionate that Susana lost her breath and almost fell down the stairs. We laughed so hard and I remember thinking that her lips felt like my missing puzzle piece.
Love notes in school. Secretly meeting up in the hallways. Skipping class just to get a little kiss. Big hugs. I got to smell her sweet skin.
Friends in DISBELIEF. ‘Friends’ got jealous. Not that I was trying to prove that point or anything. I think they had a mixture of realizing they were wrong about their negative judgement and for assuming they know people when really, they don’t. During this time, it wasn’t a really good feeling but I did have other friends who were totally there for us.
Her being Christian didn’t seem to stop her at all. She wanted me as much as I wanted her. I remember asking Susana, ‘What do you think of your future? Do you think it’s wrong? Are we wrong?’ and for a while we dealt with those questions. I was worried, for the journey, but I just always knew we were meant to be. I knew we would figure it out.
I have been very privileged having a mom who is a part of the LGBT community. My dad who accepts me. Susana’s family is a little trickier. They have their beliefs that marriage is between man and woman but nonetheless treat us well and respect us. That’s important. Both of our families just give us the best advice they know how to make sure we walk the right path.
It took about 5 years to find our way. Her family did not know for the first 3-4 years. We had to find our place. Our acceptance. We took time to grieve those we love who just couldn’t accept us.
And we shrug off those who never believed in us. Old friends, some family, and strangers have told us at different times that it would not work, that same-sex couples are an abomination, and that we are not going to make it because we have been together so long and we haven’t gotten married. Those things never phased us though. Because the love and bond we have is so much stronger than those words. We have had old friends who used to tell us we wouldn’t make it and tell us today that nothing will break us and that they are proud of us. Nice, yes. But at the end of the day there is no need for outside validation. They could never understand what I feel because I have yet to learn how to put into words how I feel for Susana.
9 years of this journey and 8 years into an official relationship. I wonder what life would be like if I listened to my friend. I wonder what life would be like if I took her advice. I’m glad I didn’t.
I’m glad I lead with my heart. When you know, you know. What’s for you will always be yours.
People tend to think they know way more than you. They think they know what’s best. They low blow and shoot down your relationship for whatever reason. And that’s discouraging. Lead with YOUR heart and only seek answers from WITHIN.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Joselyn Rodriquez and Susana Valenzano. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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