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INSPIRATION

Stories of 

& Healing 

JUNE PRIDE FEATURE

A Childhood Wish
by Carissa Lukan

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       I have a memory from when I was younger, sitting on the kitchen floor of my childhood home. One star was visible through the window above the sink. I ran my hands up my arms and legs, feeling the growing hairs; how dark they were against my skin. The other girls didn’t have body hair as dark as mine, or at least it didn’t seem like they did. I didn’t want to be like the other girls, anyway. They were cruel and petty, all worried about boys, clothes, and hair. I just wanted to draw, read, and play. I stared out the window at that lonely star twinkling in the black sky. Praying out loud or into my folded hands never seemed to work, so I focused on a wish. If I have to be a girl that looks like a boy, just make me a boy.

       I never spoke a word about that prayer out loud. Something told me it wasn’t right. Whether it was my peers or the church we attended, I didn’t know. Besides, if I said the wish out loud, it wouldn’t come true, and I wanted it to come true. 

       I never felt normal, always ‘other’ from those around. Games of Truth or Dare, focused on boyfriends and crushes. It never made sense to me, nor the rivalry and separation of boys and girls during activities. That’s just the way the world’s made, I thought. We were born a boy or girl and were meant to fall in love with the opposite, have kids, grow old, and die. 

       Throughout elementary school, my dark curls were long enough to reach the middle of my back, but I chopped my hair to an awkward in-between length. The resulting afro gained me the nickname ‘Bush-Head’ from my classmates. Other girls stuck to the long hair, even flattening their straight hair to look straighter, pulling it into head-aching ponytails that brushed their shoulders. I was the only one in my class with naturally curly hair and short hair at that. I didn’t quite fit in with the other girls, and somewhere in the back of my mind, that wish prodded. Everything would just be easier if I were a boy.

       By Valentine’s Day of the eighth grade, a boy asked me out for the first time. In Home Economics, he said he liked me and that I was pretty. He gave me time to consider my answer. My heart was in my throat and my stomach dropped lower and lower, with each compliment fluttering from his mouth to my ear. I told myself this was how it was supposed to happen, that everything was fine. The sick feeling was simply the mysterious fluttering butterflies and exploding fireworks that books and movies talk about. By the end of the day, I had accepted. 

The boy enjoyed drawing, reading, and playing, just like I did. We were both different and therefore deemed a perfect match by our peers. The boy wanted a girlfriend, saw me as his girlfriend, but that wasn’t what I wanted, nor what I was. He touched me affectionately, spoke loving words—the things movies and other girls said made the perfect boyfriend. But he made me feel sick. People seeing us and calling us boyfriend and girlfriend made my mind foggy. I thought, I must be truly broken if someone who is a perfect match for me makes me feel so disgusting. We lasted only a day or two.

       When COVID-19 shut everything down, I befriended someone in my high school’s GSA. Classmates had spat the word “lesbian” at me in the past and tossed the term “gay” around the playground, but no one had ever told me what those words meant, let alone that they weren’t the dirty things I thought they were. Without an adult to lean over my shoulder and criticize my searches, I began my dig, finding words I’d never known existed, let alone that they referred to people. There were lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, well-known identities with plenty of information attached to each word. Beyond those were pansexual, non-binary, polyamorous, asexual, aromantic, genderqueer, and much more.

       I scoured the internet for more flags, more identities, anything I could get my hands on. Eventually, I proudly presented a quiz to the GSA’s zoom call that included all the flags, identities and discrete codes I had researched in jewelry and fashion. Sure, asexual, aromantic and genderqueer stood out to me but I was just a straight, Catholic girl, not a queer person. LGBTQ+ people can and should exist, I decided. They shouldn’t be treated poorly because of something out of their control, especially for not being romantically attracted to people everyone expects them to.

       I think of these cascading events now; about the confused kid trying to make sense of their changing body, about the preteen’s discomfort with societal rules, and the teenager who finally reached out to explore a world beyond the one they were raised in. I carry them with me every day. Sometimes they even take control, pulling me back into my shell and constricted ideology, putting me in toxic environments. But I know they’re just scared. 

       Every time I wear my binder, dress in a masc outfit, read a book about friends instead of lovers, or introduce myself with my pronouns, I know a part of them feels safer and becomes less likely to drag me backwards. Bit by bit, I trudge forwards, unlearning previously internalized expectations of love and relationships. It does mean losing friends and drifting away from family members, but if it makes me feel at home in my body, isn’t it worth it?

       I have a memory from when I was younger. I wished for space in the world to exist the way I wanted to, with or without whomever I wanted to. It’s taken a lifetime, surviving storms and mountains, but I think I can see it. There’s still a good amount of distance, and what lies ahead is fuzzy and constantly changing, but I think I can see myself living a life that makes me happy. 

       The world taught little me that they’d be allowed control over their life and body if they were a boy, but since they weren’t, they felt broken, small, and dark. I’ve brought them into a bigger, brighter world with a diversity of people and things to learn about. Things that don’t revolve around love and sex or boys and girls. They definitely don’t have to choose between being a boy or girl. I get to be me, even though they couldn’t. Some days, I do because they couldn’t—to show them they can. Their wish is finally coming true.

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Carissa (they/he/she) is from the small town Saskatchewan and is completing their BA in Psychology while pursuing their interests in writing and arts. Currently, they enjoy writing fiction about queer characters, but love exploring different genres and testing their skills. They enjoy walking their dog, reading a book or doing some other creative hobby, ranging from sewing, drawing, painting, writing and many more.

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