The Woman Wondering If She Needs to Come Out

Illustration: by Marylu E. Herrera

This week, a woman who works in marketing has a few last flings in her city before moving to London: 28, single, Sydney.

DAY ONE

9 a.m. I wake up exhausted. Last night, I downloaded Bumble because I’m moving to London in a week and I figured the universe might have some kind of ironic divine timing and send me my soul mate. I’m not moving for any particular reason, honestly. I’m in marketing, but I work remotely here in Australia and am just going to continue working remotely in London.

I matched with a doctor who lives nearby and accepted his offer of negronis at his apartment. We talked for a few hours, and he rubbed my back for a while before noting a subtle curve at the base of my spine and diagnosing me with scoliosis. I acted surprised to pump his ego, but I’ve known this since I was 18. We didn’t fool around; he did kiss me, but I just wasn’t feeling it and said I was tired and left.

12 p.m. Out of curiosity, I check the conversation only to see he has un-matched me. Whatever, he was clearly using old pictures. I spite-match with a few more people.

2 p.m. I’m yawning at work and reach for my third double-shot coffee of the day. Mostly I’m just annoyed I’ve wasted a perfectly good workday exhausted over such a mediocre date.

11 p.m. Bored, swiping through Bumble. I seem to be pretty successful on here, and I opt for the opening line “Hey, you’re really handsome,” which I copy and paste to every match. I have dozens of half-finished conversations, which I know I should feel guilty about, but all the options just feel validating.

DAY TWO

7 a.m. Work has been beyond stressful this week, and most of my clothes are already packed away. I feel like a gross little gremlin cycling between the same torn bike shorts and cheap workout tanks. Luckily, I work from home, so there’s no need to impress.

9:30 a.m. For some reason, I’m choking back tears in a Zoom meeting with my camera off. It’s been a very emotional few weeks, and every minor event feels like a “last” — my last period here, my last phone bill, my last eyebrow-threading. I grew up here, and leaving feels like a very big step.

11 a.m. Besides family and close friends, I wonder who will miss me from this city. My doctor? Barista? Any secret admirers I had at the gym? For the thousandth time, I question if I’m making the right decision. Then I imagine staying and I feel miserable. I check my to-do list and tick off a few more mundane moving tasks: canceling my phone plan, booking train tickets.

3 p.m. I absentmindedly wonder what the odds are of bumping into a guy I used to date when I land in my new city. I wonder if I’d pretend not to see him, give the cold shoulder, or smile and say hi. My mother desperately wants me to message him and ask him for a coffee, but I don’t think she quite understands how much I absolutely cannot do that.

We met while he was on exchange at my university. It was three years of flying to see each other, trips away, meeting the parents, but ignoring the fact that we were sleeping with other people. I said “I love you,” he never did, and eventually he just started dating someone and asked if we could lose touch while he pursued that. He knew it was always a dream of mine to move to London because it was the first conversation we ever had, and he was desperate for me to move sooner before we broke up. But we’re not in touch and I feel a strong urge to save face after how we ended, so I just don’t think I’ll reach out.

DAY THREE

8 a.m. A co-worker three years my junior is planning her wedding. She and her fiancé already have a child together, own a home, and are tying the knot in just a few months. I envy that kind of stability and wonder if I could have it if I choose.

1:30 p.m. There’s a small work crisis that makes me contemplate cracking open one of the canned Bloody Marys in the fridge but instead makes me devour two big bowls of pasta. It’s times like this where I wish I had a partner to console me instead of turning to my friends. It feels like an uneven exchange because they turn to their partners for support, but I turn to them — it’s never exactly balanced.

9 p.m. The move feels at once too close and too far away. I hate this kind of in-between where the decision has been made but the result is yet to come, and I’m stuck in my shoe-box rental, with all my cute clothes and creature comforts either zipped into suitcases or in boxes already at my parents’ house.

I try to have a good cleansing cry, but my SSRIs prevent any such release. I take an edible and console myself with the knowledge that this is a very Fleabag-esque situation.

DAY FOUR

10 a.m. A good friend of mine comes over to bid me farewell with a coffee and morning sex. It’s fantastic, and he makes me come three times within half an hour. We’ve been hooking up whenever we get drunk for a few years now (and no, we’re not drunk now), and we’re both super-affectionate people, so we get to do all the clingy, cuddly things you would normally save for a relationship. I often joke about how he’s like a boyfriend in the way an Airbnb is your house, which he tells me he’s delighted with.

11:30 a.m. He takes me out for breakfast and then we take a wander through some local farmers’ markets playing couple — holding hands, making out, arms wrapped around each other’s waists.

I introduce him to the term friendcest as we joke about how most of our friends have hooked up, and he tells me he thinks I’ll fall in love in London. He’s getting a “tall brunette” vibe, which seems promising.

3 p.m. After saying good-bye, I feel a kind of emotional comedown. There’s no resentment or false impression about our dynamic, but it often leaves me missing the real deal.

9 p.m. I have farewell drinks with friends and quietly remind myself not to get embarrassingly blackout drunk. Among the guests is the first girl I hooked up with; we once almost had a threesome with the friend from this morning. I feel quietly relieved it never happened because I think I would have regretted it in the same way you regret oversharing.

11 p.m. She and I begin making out at the bar, so we head back to mine and hook up again. My nails are quite long, and I kept distracting myself by wondering if I’m hurting her. Once the sex was over, we talked for a few hours before she called an Uber and went home.

DAY FIVE

10 a.m. I wake up to a picture from her showing that I’ve accidentally covered her in hickeys. My bad! She has a date later today, and it’s warm out, so I hope she’s able to cover it.

11 a.m. Meanwhile, I am violently hung-over and on my way to my Nana’s 92nd birthday.

1 p.m. At her celebration, I feel crushing hangxiety about almost everything I said or did the night before. Hidden behind my sunglasses and nursing a piece of watermelon, I contemplate whether or not I feel bisexual enough to come out to my family, and if I ever will or if I even need to.

4 p.m. I check Bumble for a spot of validation and see I’ve received more than 1,750 likes. Feel vaguely better.

6 p.m. I’m packing more boxes and trying to decide whether or not my vibrator comes with me. I feel like it’s a bit of a pessimistic move to bring it, like I don’t back my chances of having good sex. I decide against it and pop it in a box with some décor and a hot water bottle.

DAY SIX

8 a.m. I go to the gym and spend the first ten minutes flirting with the manager, which is our routine. We went out once, but I announced my move shortly after, so we never caught up again. He tells me he’ll miss me and asks what he is saved as in my phone (“Bold of you to assume your number is saved,” I reply). He indulges me by playing my favorite Taylor Swift song (“Cruel Summer”) over the speakers, because he knows it’s a good running tempo, and then promises to follow me on Instagram to keep up with my travels.

12 p.m. I meet a friend for lunch, and she’s happily coupled up, contemplating moving in with her boyfriend. Almost all my friends are, in fact. It always kind of surprises me because we are only in our mid-20s. I expected more of us to be single or still hooking up and experimenting. We marvel at all the couples we know who got together in college and are somehow still together four, five, six years later — getting engaged, moving in together, buying pets. I couldn’t think of a single college hookup I could see myself staying with, and I can’t figure out if that’s isolating or reassuring.

2 p.m. I tell her about my friend’s prediction that I’ll fall in love overseas, which she echoes. Several of my friends have made similar predictions. Almost all of them automatically refer to my hypothetical love as a “he” despite knowing my attraction to women. But for some reason, I don’t feel confident enough to say out loud “I might end up with a girl” and just let it be.

3 p.m. A guy I’ve matched with on Bumble asks if we’re still on for tonight. Completely forgot, whoops. But sure, I decide I’ll go.

7 p.m. I meet him at a bar, and he’s cute. Great conversation, laughs at my jokes, mirroring my body language, and while he’s in the bathroom, I message my friends that it’s going well.

9 p.m. He decides to be bold and asks if, since I’m leaving anyway, I would like to go back to his? I accept but tell him there will be no sex happening tonight. I just didn’t feel like I know him well enough or feel comfortable enough around him to have sex. I like him so far and kind of think that with another hang or two, we’ll get there.

After an hour or so of kissing and hanging out, I head home, but we agree to catch up again tomorrow.

DAY SEVEN

9 a.m. Work is hectic. I grab a quick coffee from the café up the road.

11:30 a.m. I look up from my laptop and realize how depressing it is working from my bed in a room virtually empty apart from all the boxes. In need of a walk, I head to the nearby Sephora and stock up on travel-size skin care for my carry-on.

5 p.m. Last night’s date asks if I want to come over tonight, which I do. He suggests 9:30, which I’m unimpressed with. We agree to meet an hour earlier, and I curate the perfect comfy-casual outfit, sensing that he doesn’t plan to leave the house.

8:30 p.m. I head over to his place, hating that I feel nervous. He goes to hook up immediately, but I ask if we can chat for a bit, not feeling in the mood quite yet. Every ten minutes, he begins kissing my neck and grabbing my arse, and it’s putting me off.

10:30 p.m. We end up fooling around, and go down on each other. Afterward he claims to feel ill, so I do the polite thing and ask him to call me an Uber and I leave. At least I finished first, so I chalk it up as a net win.

11:30 p.m. I instantly began messaging my friends about the encounter. Why do I feel kind of icky about it? Was he really feeling sick?

Deep down, I know I’m creating a substitute drama to deal with my anxiety around leaving, but I put off addressing it.

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