Some things are better left unsaid. At least, temporarily…
by Nancy Ford
It was great to talk to you last night; thanks for calling your Aunt Nancy. Did you receive the birthday card I sent? A camp-out birthday party sounds like a fun way to celebrate—good idea! Wish I could be there with you; have a big, gooey s’more for me! I’ve been to a few camp-outs, myself. Someday I’ll tell you all about them.
It’s always wonderful catching up with you. Congratulations again on making the team. Third base! What a jock. That’s a compliment, by the way. I was never too much into playing softball, but I definitely enjoy watching it. Some of my best friends are softball players, in fact. And third base has always been one of my very, very favorite bases.
But what’s this about you not liking math and science? Okay, I admit it, neither did I when I was your age. (And that is the only time I will use the phrase “when I was your age” in this letter.) But it’s very important that you, well, learn to like it, and get a good education so you have as many options open to you as possible. I know, I know, blahblahblah.
Your mother tells me that you don’t like school so much, in general, because of the way some of your classmates treat you. Believe me, I understand. I know how some kids can be horribly mean, especially if you’re not an exact cookie-cutter replica of them. Hate to tell you this, but sometimes those mean kids grow up to be mean adults. Now, if you feel scared or threatened by them, promise me that you’ll let your teachers and your parents know right away. Otherwise, focus, girl. Focus. Don’t listen to them. Know that it takes courage and imagination to be your own person. It all depends on your perspective, not theirs.
Here’s the good news. Those meanies don’t control you now, and they won’t control you when you grow up. You’re smart and talented and beautiful. Eventually, before you realize it is happening, their meanness will make you stronger than you can begin to imagine. The joke is on them. I promise.
Your mother has also mentioned you’ve shown interest in becoming a doctor. Well, you better get comfortable with that math and science, babydoll! Here’s a suggestion: keep getting good grades and playing sports—maybe even get a scholarship for your undergrad degree, and then apply to med school here in Houston. You can live with me while you study, if you want. And don’t think I’m being all that generous and selfless; by that time, I will be the envy of my peers for having a live-in doctor.
You also mentioned that you sometimes like to style your dolls’ hair. But when I asked you if you might like to be a hairdresser, you said that you wouldn’t make enough money in that line of work. Ha—I know a few stylists who might disagree!
Actually, that’s pretty self-aware for a 10-year-old. I wonder what else you already know about yourself.
Of course, I have no intention of actually sending this letter to you—at least not this next part—until you’re a few years older, because I know what the consequences would be for both of us. But your Aunt Nancy wants you to know that, even when you were as young as six, she began to see in you a glimmer of a young lesbian-in-training. And it’s not just because you like camping, wear your little baseball cap backwards, and already have big plans for a future that will likely take you far from home. It’s not even how, when you talk about that future, you never mention a husband. Let’s call it a sense, a cosmic recognition between like-minded souls. I wonder how old you’ll be when you begin to understand the concept of gaydar.
And I wonder how old you will be when you learn that up there in Ohio I’m known as “funny Aunt Nancy,” and not just because of my sense of humor. I can’t help but wish that I’d had a funny aunt to talk to as I was growing up and learning about myself. So feel free to call me again, anytime.
I miss you, honey, and your little sister and big brother, too. I wish we could spend more time together, but as you get closer to adulthood, you will understand why I live in a big big city, far far away from our little 16-church, single-mindset hometown. Maybe by then things will be different. Maybe by the time you have nieces and nephews of your own, they’ll know you as their funny aunt simply because you make them laugh.
Whether you grow up to be someone’s funny aunt or not, I hope that you are happy just being yourself, doing whatever you wish, wherever you choose, just like me. You deserve it.
So, enough for now. Have a great birthday! Blow out all your candles! But don’t tell anybody what your wish is. Not quite yet. For now, it’ll be our secret.