Saturday, August 5, 2000: (18 years old)
Yesterday, we saw Coyote Ugly and it was actually a really good movie! I liked it a lot. Hopefully that doesn’t make me a lesbian.
Coco Higgins was born into a fairly conservative Christian family. She was forced to keep her hair long and to wear skirts on Sundays. She hated these things.
There was something a little peculiar about Coco, and she did a commendable job of hiding it for 20 years. An integral part of her identity remained concealed behind a facade of heterosexuality during this time, all while the two voices of Jess and Min conducted an internal power struggle unbeknownst to anyone but Coco.
Curiosity: 10 years old
A new girl transferred and joined Coco’s class. They didn’t become very good friends. In fact, Coco hardly spoke to her, choosing instead to observe her from afar.
Min: Why do you keep staring at her?
Jess: She’s very pretty.
Min: No she’s not! And you shouldn’t even be having those kinds of thoughts. It’s beyond wrong.
Coco didn’t tell anyone that she was fascinated by the new girl. Min won.
Discovery: 11 years old
Coco’s older brother was 18 years old and hid Playboy magazines in his room. He stashed them in a secret cache under his bed. Since this wasn’t a very clever hiding place, and Coco was naturally a nosy little sister, she stumbled upon them one day. She was immediately captivated.
Min: What the hell are you doing?
Jess: Umm... being aroused for the first time in my life...?
Min: But you can’t be! This is disgusting! How could you even look at this? These are women. And plus, if you were ever caught doing this, you’d probably get into so much trouble from Mom and Dad. You need to feel DIRTY and ASHAMED of yourself because this goes against nature!
Min: No “buts,” IT’S WRONG.
Coco “read the articles” just a few times more, but ultimately listened to Min and stopped. She never spoke of this to anyone and even suppressed it from her own memory for ten years. Min won.
Conformity: 13 years old
Everyone in junior high started having their first relationships and experiencing their first kisses. The school was filled with pre-teens holding hands.
Min: You should have a boyfriend too.
Jess: But I don’t want a boyfriend. I’d rather have...
Min: Oh shut up. Everyone else is doing it. Don’t you want to fit in? Besides, it’s natural.
Coco “went out” with a cute Mormon boy. He was a Kurt Cobain wannabe, and she liked Nirvana, so this was tolerable. Her first kiss tasted like cinnamon rolls. He walked her home from school, tried to show off with tricks on his skateboard, and even sang “Interstate Love Song” to her. It was short-lived though, as all junior high relationships are wont to be. Kurt broke up with her. He couldn’t look her in the eye, and he uncomfortably told her that she wasn’t “feminininine enough.” Nonetheless, Min won.
And Min won time and time again in high school too.
While Coco was dating boys to fit in, Jess was quietly harboring secret crushes on girls. But whenever Jess tried to say anything about it, Min would throw a hissy fit and condemn those thoughts. Jess’s voice slowly diminished until it was completely silent. Min won.
For the six years encompassing high school and the first half of college, Coco forgot that Jess even existed, until one day a boyfriend broke up with her.
Failure: 19 years old
Coco was in what she considered a serious relationship. She actually even liked him as a person. But after about five months of dating, meeting each other’s families, and “taking it to the next level,” he broke up with her. Coco was devastated. She sequestered herself in her dorm room and cried for weeks.
Min had no reason to speak because she saw this extreme reaction as confirmation of Coco’s heterosexuality. But a soft, whispery, familiar voice did venture an opinion.
Jess: You’re only sad because the relationship itself failed. You’re crying because you desperately wanted this one to work out just so you’d be normal. But these tears are NOT for him. They are for the lost idea of him. You know the truth.
Min: Don’t be ridiculous...
For once, Min didn’t have a strong enough counter jab. She could no longer play the morality card because Coco had stopped going to religious functions years ago and had since been exposed to a wide variety of people at her liberal school 400 miles away from home. She was even a fag hag.
Coco heard Jess’ voice but was too afraid to admit it. Jess won.
Standstill: 20 years old
Coco became really good friends with Shane, a lesbian. They had several classes together and would even wait for each other after classes that weren’t shared. They would sit on patches of grass on campus, smoke cigarettes, people-watch, do crossword puzzles, and genuinely just enjoy each other’s company. After the school day, Coco and Shane would regularly go to coffee shops to study, followed by a night of unwinding in true Berkeley fashion: altered states of consciousness, Fleetwood Mac, Fiona Apple and Junior Mints.
One night, Shane slept over because the two of them were to attend an event early the following morning. They slept on Coco’s twin-sized dorm bed together. And the shouting match between Min and Jess raged on. There was a cacophony of heated voices fighting in Coco’s head as she lay there centimeters away from Shane.
Jess: She’s RIGHT THERE. Do something!
Min: NO! Why would you do anything at all?!
Jess: You know you want to. You’ve wanted this for months and you know it. It’s true!
Min knew it was true, but took a different angle to discourage Coco. She came up with other excuses to prove that this was a bad idea.
Min: But she thinks you’re straight. What if she’s not even into you?
Jess: There’s only one way to find out! Make a move!
Min: NO! Think about this long and hard. If you do something now, you can’t take it back. It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Jess: But you’ve known your whole life. This is who you are.
Min: That is most definitely not true. What about all those boys you dated?
Jess: That was a lie. This one is real. You LOVE her.
Jess: Admit it. You’re in love with her and it’s not wrong to love someone.
Coco finally fully acknowledged both voices in her head. It was overwhelming and incredibly confusing. She admitted that she did indeed love Shane, but did nothing at all because she was too afraid. Making a move, in addition to this newfound self-realization, was too much to consider all at once.
Both Min and Jess were quiet, and it was now up to Coco to synthesize this 20 year-old mental exchange. Coco herself dared not tell anyone until she could figure it out. Jess and Min reached a stalemate.
Dreaming: 20 years old
While her friendship with Shane was developing, Coco was also taking a class on 19th Century French Art History. For the course, she read Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project, a complex work that dealt with the dialectical nature of modernity, commodity fetishism and most importantly, the development of consciousness. Coco spent an excessive amount of time neurotically obsessing over this reading because she too was finally coming to terms with her own consciousness.
“Representation is dreaming,” Benjamin wrote. “Dialectical thinking is the organ of historical awakening. Every epoch, in fact, not only dreams the one to follow, but in dreaming, precipitates its awakening.”
For 20 years, Coco was was putting up a representation of a straight person, pretending to be something she was not. Acknowledging the opposing voices was the first step in her dialectical thinking. She realized she was dreaming and something must be done.
Awakening: 20 years old
Coco woke up. She admitted to herself that she was a lesbian, and has been her whole life. She told all her friends, and subsequently her family. Some friends were shocked, and Coco’s mother wept. But in the end, Coco experienced only love and acceptance from her family. They ultimately knew that Coco was just being herself.
The voices stopped bickering.
Coco Higgins is an aspiring art historian, post-hipster, obnoxious Twitterer, proud owner of delusions of grandeur, has a knack for remembering useless trivia of all kinds, all in all an extraordinary machine.