I began writing this personal narrative piece for Twin Cities Pride. Little did I know, same-sex marriage would be legal in the United States later that same week. If you choose to review, please refrain from including any hateful comments and/or debate-like personal opinions. Thank you.
Written By: Hannah Kuduk
June 26, 2015
By the time I was ten years old, I had a husband, a house, five kids, and a dog.
Not in the literal sense of course.
My husband was imaginary and never actually took any physical form, although I will admit that he may or may not have been based on a real person, my crush from elementary school who was two years older than me (which, at that time, might as well have been 20 years older). My house was a makeshift playhouse in our basement, complete with a plastic kitchen, a living room with a couch made of bean bags, and a dining room, which doubled as our crafting table. My kids were all baby dolls who aged quickly as the metaphorical years passed by, even though the dolls never grew or looked any older. I took my doll children very seriously. They all had names and personalities, they were fed plastic food three times a day, and they were even punished if they ever misbehaved. The family dog was stuffed, but it wasn't even a dog, it was a fluff-filled cheetah that I got at the Chicago zoo.
Though it sounds kind of ridiculous, it was all very real to me then. More real than you can imagine. It still is. My actual family, like all other families, was not perfect or happy at all times, so being my imaginative self, I created my own family. I escaped my troubles in a make-believe world where I made the rules, and the more I did, the more I ached for this world to be my reality. That was when I decided that when I grew up, without a doubt, I would live out this pretend world in real time.
So at ten years old, I decided my future. I would be a writer, still living close to home in Minnesota. I would have a husband, a house, five kids, and a dog, just like I had imagined. I've gotta say, it was quite a realistic future plan for a ten year old to make, especially when all of my friends at the time were still planning on being pop stars when they grew up. I told myself that I would 100% never change my mind, because I had already decided on a perfect future.
Ten years old came and went. Then eleven. Then twelve. The older I got, the more I gravitated away from my baby dolls, and my playhouse. It wasn't that I didn't want to play with them, that I lost interest, or even that all of the other kids had stopped playing with dolls years ago. I wasn't embarrassed. It just seemed to be a natural progression away as I got closer to my teen years and became interested in new things. I didn't fight it. By the time I was thirteen, the dolls were put away, the playhouse had been gradually deconstructed, and the imaginary world still lived on in my mind, but now, only as a fond memory. I channelled the memory of my pretend family into my true plan for the future, which was the same, but only became more elaborate as I began to picture it in my mind.
With middle school came new boys. Funny boys. Cute boys. Boys who were friends. Boys who I crushed on. Boys who crushed on me. Boys who didn't. Boys I chased. Boys I kissed. Boys who I imagined fitting into my future plan. Boys who weren't nice to me, but I who I still tried to mold in my overactive imagination until they did fit.
I had always liked boys. I liked a new one every year. I found them attractive. I wrote songs about them. I put posters of them on my walls. I cried about them. I read romance books about them. There was a boy out there who would someday become my husband.
But when high school came, boys were not on my mind very much anymore.
I didn't give this much thought until recently. Maybe I was preoccupied because school was harder, my friendships were difficult and evolving, I was busier, and my family life was more complicated. Of course I had a random crush here and there, but it would only last for a month or two. With more confidence than I had in middle school, i only gave a guy the time of day if we were compatible, if he was nice, and if he treated me well. Honestly my interest in boys probably lessened because I was discouraged that the nice ones seemed so few and far between.
For a little while, I thought I had a problem. I thought that my expectations in romantic relationships were too high because of my passion for books and movies with happy endings. I thought that I was being too picky because I so deeply believed in true love, and in my future plan that would someday result in my own happy ending.
Because of this awkward, transitional time in my life, I then realized that I was never so much interested in boys themselves as I was interested in the person underneath.
I never questioned my sexuality. I just kind of accepted it in one moment. While I have been primarily attracted to men, I have also found myself attracted to women, and androgynous people who are somewhere in between. Because personally, what I am truly attracted to is a passionate, confident, creative, real human being, whose soul can make others want to be a better person.
So, am I 100% straight? Definitely not, but I don't believe for a second that anyone can possibly be 100% anything. Gender and sexuality is a spectrum. In fact, almost everything is. Life is not black and white. Life is not one thing or the other. Life is not about all or nothing's and 100%'s. No person can possibly commit themselves to being 100% one way forever, because if we did that, no one would ever be growing, changing, creating, learning, loving.
Once, I tried to commit myself to being 100% one way forever.
A writer, still living close to home in Minnesota. A husband, a house, five kids, and a dog.
I'll probably still be a writer, but that's not all I will be. Maybe I'll be married to a man or to a woman, or I won't be married at all. I could live anywhere, do anything, be anything. When I can be anything in the world, why be just one thing? Why not be anything and everything in between? I want to follow my heart. Decide and change my mind. Open myself to new experiences, new love. Travel everywhere and never plant my roots. Go where life takes me. Do what feels right in the moment. Be whoever I want to be, even if it's different than who I want to be tomorrow.
I would say that life is not black and white and that most people exist somewhere in the gray area, but really, the "gray area" I speak of is not gray. It's a melting pot of beliefs, ideas, genders, cultures, sexuality, religion, differences... It is a rainbow of colors. And that's why it's so beautiful.
So...is this a coming out story?
No. This is a coming IN story. Coming in to myself, that is. I do not feel the need to be one thing, define my sexuality, my religion, my future path, or anything that makes me who I am because I am a changing, evolving, wonderful mess of a lot of things, all at one time. I am a rainbow of colors. I am not "coming out" of anywhere. I am who I am today, even though in an hour, or tomorrow, or next year I will have learned new things, changed, loved, and I WILL be different because of it.
Do what is right for YOU. Be who is right for YOU. Gay, straight, man, woman. One religion, another. One culture, another. Something that no one has heard of before. Somewhere in between. Use words to define yourself, and scream it from the rooftops because you're so proud of who you are and you know you're more than that one definition. Or don't use words to define yourself at all, and still scream it from the rooftops because you know you can be whoever the hell you want. Be here, now. Speak your truth, even if your voice shakes. Whoever you are, just be your real, unapologetic self.
By the time I was ten years old, I had a husband, a house, five kids, and a dog.
By the time I was seventeen years old, I had a whole rainbow of life stretched out in front of me, with the opportunity to choose any colors I wanted.
So, I chose all of them.