Folio - Salt Lake Community College Art and Litereature Magazine

"And There She Was"

Nichole Jensen

It happens once a year, the Pride Festival. A three-day weekend celebrating the equality and compassion for the LGBT community.

And what a sight it was, to be surrounded by an overwhelming amount of diverse human beings. Everyone has their own reason to celebrate. A timid closeted teen testing the waters of self exploration. A compassionate, supportive family proudly strolling the streets with their flamboyant dancing gay son. Two mothers and their happy family of children skipping down the street, sporting smiles and giggling. A young couple in their twenties, holding hands and kissing, feeling free to feel and show their love. People of different colors, religions, ages, backgrounds, and family structures, all coming together to celebrate love.

And there I was, standing on the edge of the sidewalk, surrounded by my dear friends; gay, straight, and all over the spectrum. I felt whole; I felt loved. I felt the energy of the crowd vibrantly cheering and applauding as the parade floats passed by. Colorful people cheering, dancing, waving, roller-skating, kissing, and smiling with glee. It was excitement all around.

Contrary to what’s popular for queers at the Pride festival, I wasn’t there to find a special someone. My intention was to be present and show my love and compassion to the community. We are all beautifully human, and I was there to celebrate that fact.

After a good thirty minutes of watching the parade, my eyes started to scan the crowd around me. The hot sun invited particles of sweat to form on the backs of our necks and the unfortunate ones without shade and sunscreen started to burn. I was surrounded by people—sweaty, sunburned, rainbow-clad people. To my left, I saw her.

Standing tall with confidence, a charming white smile complimenting her gorgeous skin and styled short brown hair, she watched the parade, while I couldn’t help but watch her. She was absolutely beautiful, my heart leapt and I flashed a goofy big grin. I have to talk to her, I thought.

But, the problem was, I have always been shy around women. It’s difficult being a queer woman and going off of assumption when it comes to approaching another woman. My mind starts to race: What should I say? Should I say a pick-up line or simply a friendly hello? What if she’s not into girls? What if I make her uncomfortable? Am I stereotyping her because she has short hair? What if she has a girlfriend? What if she thinks I’m just being friendly and I’m straight? Oh god, I look like I’m straight. Why does society rely on stereotypes and labels? What if I never see this gorgeous girl again? What do I have to lose, just saying hello?

Bingo. It was time to stop overthinking and just go say hi. I’m charming. I’m totally charming. I got this. If I make a total ass out of myself, the worst that will happen is that she will laugh at me and I will never see her again.

I stood there mentally arguing with myself for another fifteen minutes or so, when I noticed the parade was starting to end.

SHIT! I’m going to miss my chance. It’s now or never!

I nonchalantly tapped her on the shoulder, clearing my throat and thinking of the most suave, charming introduction I could possibly say, and as she turned around, I barely mustered the courage to nervously giggle and say, “I just want you to know that I think you’re gorgeous.”

She smiled at me, silent and appearing stunned.

Oh god. What have I done? I think I’ll just go jump in front of a slow-moving parade float now; it’s better than facing the rejection of this breathtakingly beautiful woman.

“You’re really pretty too!”

We both paused, staring and smiling. I broke the silence, and a conversation started at full speed. Beginning with, “Are you having a good time?” and eventually flowing to, “Here let me introduce you to my friends!”

By now the parade was over and the festival gates open. We walked around the festival, surrounded by cheering happy people, lines of booths, live music with big crowds, and rainbow magic. We couldn’t stop talking and laughing, and my anxious inner dialog was gone. The conversation was so natural and flowy. By now our friends had gone off to do their own thing. And we were asking a plethora of questions, slowing getting to know each other.

I wasn’t used to it. I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind or ask her anything. I could sense that she felt the same. We didn’t just ask each other the awkward-small-talk-first-date questions; we talk about deep stuff. Real stuff. Philosophy, Culture, Family, Life, the Universe, and Everything.

We walked onto the grass and people watched. I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t feel the need to fill in silence, and neither did she. We spoke when it felt natural. It was both refreshing and exciting.

After a while, she took my hand. I was in awe. I had never felt a hand interlock so perfectly with mine. It felt natural, it felt right, it felt electrifying.

Even to this day, I have held those tender hands as much as possible.

I wasn’t looking for love; I was already in a place of love. I already felt an abundance of love. I believe that’s precisely what attracted us to each other on that hot sunny day. I believe there are no accidents, and everything happens for a reason. I am so glad that I mustered up the courage to approach her. It inspires me to take risks and do things out of my comfort zone, for you never know what will happen if you just put yourself out there.